“…I could be nowhere else – This is a great day!”
This was the response of one of Kenya’s top government officials to the long-awaited launch of the Bible in the Kiembu-Kimbeere language on June 16. Dr Silas Njiru, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Transport, was the guest of honour at the launch, declaring it “an extremely historic spiritual moment” for the people.
Only days earlier, six people, including Kenya’s internal security minister, had lost their lives in a helicopter crash. Their funeral was to take place on the very day that the Kiembu-Kimbeere Bible was launched, yet Dr Njiru still kept his commitment to the Aembu-Ambeere people, making a short speech before leaving for the funeral. He spoke both as a government representative and as a Christian who identified directly with his audience.
A more fulfilled community
“I know from personal experience what it is like to not have the Bible in your mother tongue,” he told the Aembu-Ambeere people, adding a sentiment that would be seconded by Christian leaders around the world: “A community that is fully aware of the Bible and the teachings of the Bible is a more fulfilled community than one which is not.”
The people from the half a million strong community of Kiembu-Kimbeere speakers who attended the launch were equally enthusiastic about the release of the full Bible in their heart language. While many speakers have managed to read the Bible in the neighbouring Gikuyu language, it presented a number of struggles. Many words and concepts became lost in translation between the two; some words in Gikuyu are in fact considered offensive in Kiembu-Kimbeere. In all, the available alternative simply hadn’t been able to satisfy their thirst to truly understand God’s Word.
Bishop Henry Kathii, former General Secretary of the Bible Society of Kenya and now head of the diocese of Embu, echoed the hearts of so many of his community when he shared at the launch:
“We’re so excited! We’ve never had the Bible in our mother tongue. When we read the Gikuyu Bible, we had to skip over the parts we didn’t understand and that made us unhappy. But now everybody will be able to understand. We’re so grateful to God!”
Watch video footage from the launch here: