Bible Translation and the Formation of Corporate Identity in Uganda and Congo 1900-1940

25 Aug 2017

Engaging debates around ethnic nationhood and knowledge production, this article examines the influence of Bible translation on corporate identity formation in Toro and Ituri (1900–40). It studies translations instigated by one individual to investigate textual agency wherever it leads. The translator Apolo Kivebulaya promoted adherence to Christianity as an inclusive and linguistically-plural global community. His translation for the Mbuti, which had limited circulation among its intended audience, shows an aspect of this global community at work, remaking the international image of the Mbuti. His earlier Runyoro-Rutoro translation, however, encouraged a local and political form of corporate identity in which translation and Old Testament stories helped to form an ethnic moral economy. In focusing upon Bible translation among the Toro and the Mbuti, the article moves from the politically influential Ganda, the focus of much historiography of Christianity in East Africa, and explains the roots of later revivalism and patriotism.