About us

Gichuka Bible Translation Patron

Our Project Patron is Prof. Erastus N. Njoka, the Vice-Chancellor of Chuka University. His role is to offer guidance to the translation Project and to assist in community mobilization and build strategic partnerships with stakeholders.

Prof. Njoka and Prof. Omulokoli
Gichuka Bible Translation Project Patron Prof. E.N Njoka receiving the Book of Luke from the BTL Patron Rev. Prof. Watson Omulokoli, during the Dedication of Luke.

The Gichuka Bible Translators

The Gichuka Bible Translatorsare three but they are asisted by the Project Advisory Committee and the reviewers of the Bible from the community who are the custodians of the language.

Bible Translators doing some checks with a consultant. From left:  Kenford Mwĩti Mbaka, Justus Mũgambi Gĩtarĩ, Betty Kathure Mũtegi and lastly Jeremiah Okumu, A consultant in Biblical Greek.

The Translation Project Advisory Committee

The Chuka Bible project is headed by a Project Advisory Committee of members from different churches. The executive committee chairman is Rev. Riungu Muratha (PCEA), the Vice-chairperson is Mr. Eustace Nkoroi (Elder PCEA Nthambo), and the Secretary is Rev. Mutegi Rindiri (GCC Chuka), the Vice- Secretary is Bishop Lucyline Simba (Ebenezer Church Ministries, Ndagani) and the Treasurer is Rev. Bernard Mucee (Regional Moderator Baptist Churches of Kenya).

Other Members of the Committee inclunde: Rev Sarah Murithi (PCEA), Rev Mukuru Boore (PCEA), Rev. Japheth Kinyua (EAPC Chuka), Rev Gideon Micheni  Nkubiu (GCC Kibugua), Mr. Protasio Mutema (Elder Cheera Catholic Church), Fr. Cyprian  Mbaka (Chuka Catholic Church). Rev. Arch. Edward Kanga (ACK), Mũtungatĩri Festus Murangiri (Rtd. PCEA) and  Rev. Dr. Mbiiri (MCK).

Chuka Translation Committee
From Left: Betty Mũtegi-Translator, Rev. Mũtegi Rĩndirĩ, Kenford Mwiti-Translator, Rev. Sarah Mũrĩthi,  Rev. Edward Kanga,  Rev. Mĩcheni Nkũbiũ, Mr. Eustace Nkoroi Nyaga,  Rev. Mũkũrũ Boore,  Rev. Benard Mũcee,  Rev. Festus Mũrangĩri,  Rev. Japhet Kinyua.

History of Gĩchuka Bible Translation

The approval of Chuka Bible translation has come a long way. Ten years ago, the church leaders in Chuka met in a Pastors’ Fellowship. It is in this meeting the idea of Chuka Bible was born. The Church leaders invited BTL after which the organization conducted a social-linguistic survey to assess the needs and the viability of the language. After establishing that the people of Chuka have a genuine need for a Bible in their language, BTL approved the costly and overwhelming task of the translation. On 1st June 2014 the Chuka Project Advisory Committee together with the BTL management recruited the linguistics Assistant worked with the Linguistics Department. The Linguistics assistant developed a wordlist of the Gĩchuka words and transcribed them, which formed the basis for phonological analysis. The outcomes of the analysis of the language were shared in an Orthography Development Workshop held at Chuka PCEA Conference Hall from 16th- 19th March 2015. From the workshop, we developed the Chuka Orthography. Orthography is a set of rules of writing a language, and we also came up with the Alphabet Chart. The actual work of translation of the Scriptures began on January 2016, with two translators on board. On June 2016 the third translator joined the team.

Office Location

The Translation Office is located at the Chuka PCEA Presbytery Offices.

The process of Bible Translation

Many people think that translating the Bible is easy, and that you just need to wake up and start translating. On the contrary, it involves a lot of efforts from different partners.  The Process of Bible Translation is a long winding path. I can summarizer the process in two stages. One is the preparation stage and the second is the actual translation stage.

The Preparation Stage

The first step towards Bible translation is usually Language development. Before the Bible can be translated into a local language, the language must be in the written form. Surprisingly, the Gichuka language is only spoken but not yet written form.

The second step is conducting an orthography workshop. After collecting and analyzing the words, representatives of the Chuka Community were  invited to a workshop to make their contributions and decisions on how they want their words written. The end product of the workshop is the Gichuka Alphabet and a writing system, technically called orthography. This orthography spells out how the Gichuka words are written, thus dictating rules of writing Gichuka Language. After this, an Alphabet chart, primers and story books in Gichuka were published to test the orthography and to assist in teaching people how to write and read Gichuka.

The third step is recruiting and training translators. The translators are taken through courses in translation. These are very intensive and practical courses which equip the translators with the necessary tools to handle translation of the Bible.

The forth step is the actual translation work. BTL prefers starting with the New Testament (NT), followed by the Old Testament (OT) of the Bible.

The Translation Steps

Translation Steps can be summarized in the translation Ladder below:

Translation Steps

 Step 1: Exegesis: Exegesis is done by the translator. It is the discovery of the meaning of what the writer intended to say in the source language (Greek for New Testament and Hebrew for the Old Testament).

Step 2& 3: Drafting & Supplementary helps: Once the meaning has been discovered, the translator then re-expresses the meaning in his language (receptor language). After drafting, the translator looks at other supplementary helps like Bible dictionaries to see if the intended meaning is accurate, clear and natural.

Step 4: Keyboarding. Once the translator is sure of what they want to say, they then type in the computer software meant for Bible translation.

Step 5: Team Checking. The translation team goes through the entire book, verse by verse trying to verify if everything that was done by one translator is accurate, clear and natural. The team also checks the spelling of words.

Step 6 & 7: Review Key terms & preliminary testing:  The translation team decides on what to call some key terms in the Bible such as salvation, High Priest, Messiah, hell and Holy Spirit. Mostly such terms are key to the theology of the Bible, and they are foreign in the target audience. Therefore, after drafting the translators need to test their draft with a sample of the language speakers, to find out whether the content will be understood easily. Preliminary testing also tells whether the sentence construction is natural to the community.

Step 8: Back Translation: The consultants who check the accuracy of the translated Scriptures do not understand the mother tongue. Therefore the mother tongue Scriptures are translated back into English or the language that the consultant will understand.

 Step 9: Consultant Check. Once one book of the Bible is translated, a consultant who is highly schooled in Biblical languages, i.e. Greek and Hebrew. The consultant sits with the translation team to check the accuracy of the translation. Whatever meaning that was intended by the original text of the Bible should be expressed into mother tongue.

Step 10: Community testing and review. The community reviewers are very resourceful people into the translation exercise. When they read the translation, they are able to detect whether the translation sounds natural or not. They also check whether the words used are appropriate, and whether the translation is clear to the readers. The community gives their input and the translation is revised, if necessary. When the translators fail to get the most suitable word, the community reviewers help.

Step 11: Final editing. After the community review, all the recommendations of naturalness given by the community reviewers are taken into account. The translators edit the text to incorporate all the changes into their translation.

Step 12: Final read through & publishing : The translators together with some community members sit to listen to the Scriptures being read aloud. This helps in detecting any overlooked mistakes. Once all the corrections have been made, the Bible is published, dedicated and distributed for use in the community.

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