The Banyala are Bantu ethnic group that originated from Uganda and are a result of intermarriages between Banyoro and Baganda. After migrating from Uganda, the Banyala settled in Kakamega and Busia counties. Since culture does not exist in isolation, some aspects of the Banyala culture have been influenced by interaction with other Luhya sub- groups, including borrowing and sharing of some words and meanings. According to 2009 National census, Navakholo where the Banyala reside had a population of 137,165 people while Busia had a population of 743,946 which comprised of a mixture of Banyala and a few other Luhya dialects including Luo. The population has continued to increase over the years. The Banyala’s main economic activity is farming. Like other Luhya sub-groups, the Banyala practice male circumcision as a cultural rite of passage.
The language of any community changes with time owing to external influences. If there exists no forms of preserving culture, it erodes and with time ceases to exist due to assimilation. The Church leaders expressed the uniqueness of Banyala language and the need to preserve the uniqueness; that very few of their neighbors understood Kinyala whereas the Banyala could understand most of their neighbors’ dialects. One way of preserving this unique dialect would be the translation of the Bible in Kibanyala.
A coalition of pastors from Banyala speaking group approached BSK requesting to have a Bible translated in Kinyala, as they could not fully relate with the other existing Luhya Bibles which include; Lunyore, Lubukusu, Logooli, Lukakamega; Lutirichi/Lwitakho/ Lwisukha and Oluluyia Bible (for the Marama/ Shisa/ Tsotso/Wanga).
Following the request, BSK planned for a meeting with Church leaders in Navakholo Kakamega County to forge a way forward on the possibility and necessity of the translation project for the Banyala. This project was started at the beginning of 2018 with a group of two translators –from pentecostal churches. Later on two translators were added from the Catholic Church and Friends/Quarkers. By the end of 2018 a reviewers team from all the churches in the area had been put in place.
By the end of 2018 six books had been translated and three had been checked by reviewers while the translation consultant had almost completed checking the gospel of Luke.
The team hopes to publish the gospel of Luke within three years and also record the Jesus Film. It is also envisioned that the New Testament will be ready for launching within five years of the existence of the project. For now the team has continued to show impressive progress towards attaining a Bible in Kinyala language.
Banyala translators at work