The Blank Book - Africa

Bagwere of Uganda

1 Timothy


Location:          Eastern Uganda
Population:       Approx 300,000
Religion:           Nominal Christian
Main Industry: Subsistence farming

Bagwere Lady

Over 99% of the Bagwere live in small villages on their traditional tribal lands (called Bugwere) in eastern Uganda, just west of Mount Elgon on the Kenyan border and just south of Lake Kyoga.  Traditionally they survived by fishing and hunting wild animals such as buffalo and hippopotamus, but nowadays along with fishing they practise subsistence farming.   The main crops are maize, soy beans and rice, while other crops include millet, ground nuts, cassava, sweet potatoes and cooking bananas.

The standard means of transport is by bicycle.  There are no large towns or hospitals, but the main town is Budaka, a large trading centre with a number of schools.  Their language is Lugwere, which is related to Luganda, the dominant language in central Uganda.  Lugwere is used in primary schools if the teachers are Bagwere, but there are no books - those who learn to read do so in English.

Bagwere children

The Bagwere people have been disadvantaged throughout much of their recent history, leaving the group with a poor economy, a weak educational system, and a church with many nominal Christians.   Providing them with a writing system will improve their education, and thereby their economic opportunities. 

Providing them with a New Testament in their own language will enable them to correctly understand God’s truth, build themselves up in the faith and evangelise their own people.  The desire expressed by many Bagwere for these things, and their readiness to move ahead, increase the urgency of moving this project forward.

Even though a majority of Bagwere would identify themselves as Christians, only 20% attend church on Sunday and most pastors will admit that only a small percentage of these are actually born again and trying to live a Christian life.  The vast majority of those who call themselves Christian mix traditional religion with Christianity.  The traditional tribal religion, with which about 20% of the Bagwere openly identify themselves, is what mostly impacts their day-to-day life. 

Most churches are small and use the Luganda or the English Scriptures, neither of which is well understood by either the congregations or their leaders.  Pastors tend to be poorly educated or not educated at all. Doctrine and church practices vary widely and this is due to a lack of understanding of the Scriptures. 

Islam is making its presence felt in Eastern Uganda and Muslim evangelism is very active.

The Bagwere church desperately needs the word of God in Lugwere if it is to grow and deepen and shake off the current entanglement with traditional religion.  Then “God will not be just a Sunday visitor”. 

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Workers from Africa, Asia and Latin America are stepping forward to take up the responsibilities and challenges of Bible translation in languages in their countries. While many are willing, national translators need help. Training, technical and financial support are necessary for them to succeed. Translated Scripture is checked for clarity and accuracy. The results? Another people group receiving God’s message in their own heart language!

The Blank Book enables you to connect with Bibleless people groups around the world. The Blank Book is a way to help you help others by supporting the translation of a book of the Bible into their language.

Every year, the project workers plan ahead and if translation is possible will start one or more books of the Bible. We look for these new starts and through the Blank Book try to get complete funding for some or all those books. Each book will need to be drafted and go through a number of checks with consultants and local speakers. The drafting and checks will take some time, even years. This will vary according to context.

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