Catholic Catechism, Bible Translated into Local Languages in Angola, Kenya

Archbishop Emeritus Francisco Viti of Angola’s Huambo Diocese who just translated the Catechism of the Catholic Church to Umbundu and Copies of Bible Translated to Samburu in Kenya

More than two decades  after Pope St. John Paul II approved the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) as the official teachings of the Church, Angola’s Church leaders have implemented the translation of the document into Umbundu, the country’s second most spoken language after Portuguese. In Kenya’s Maralal Diocese, the natives can read the New Testament in Samburu language.  

“The Catechism is a safe and authentic reference text for the teaching of Catholic Doctrine,” Vatican News has quoted Archbishop Emeritus Francisco Viti of Angola’s Huambo Diocese, who did the translation as saying.

“It is an exposition of the Catholic faith and the doctrine of the Catholic, one can know what the Church professes, celebrates, lives and prays in its daily life. For this reason, I decided to translate it into Umbundu,” the 86-year old Archbishop added in the Sunday, December 15 Vatican News report.

Explaining the dynamics of the translation, the Angolan Prelate revealed, “The translation was very difficult because it implied philosophical, theological and scientific terminology, even the problem of Bioethics.”

Umbundu is the most widely spoken Bantu dialect in the Southern African nation of Angola, with an estimated one third of the country’s 31.83 million population being native speakers of the language.


Pope St. John Paul II  approved the CCC in French in June 1992 and promulgated it on October 11, 1992 through his Apostolic Constitution ‘Fidei depositum’, on the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

Five years later, on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Polish-born Pope approved and promulgated the “definitive text” of the Catechism in Latin through his apostolic letter ‘Laetamur Magnopere’.

In 2005, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI promulgated the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a summary of CCC. 

In Kenya, the semi-nomadic pastoralists belonging to the Samburu community in the north central part of the country are able read the New Testament in their native Samburu language after the translation and the official launch of final copy Saturday, December 14.

According to a local media report, “The New Testament copies were transported on a donkey from Bible Translation and Literacy office in Maralal town to Kenyatta Stadium as Christians sang and danced.”

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The Catholic Bishop of Maralal, Virgilio Pante and Kenya’s Deputy President, William Ruto were among the dignitaries at the Saturday event.

According to Bible Translation and Literacy, a Christian organization that translated the New Testament, the initiative was inspired by lack of good understanding of Christianity among the Samburu people who are Nilotic speakers.

“There is little understanding of Christianity among the Samburu and a tendency to mix this with traditional religion,” the organization has explained and added, “In a recent survey, many community leaders and church pastors interviewed expressed their desire to see the Samburu language written and Scriptures translated.”

“Most of them attributed the lack of growth in the Samburu Church and the low understanding of Christianity among the Samburu to lack of Scriptures in their language,” the organization has explained.

Another inspiration for the translation, the organization has noted, is the confusion that the Samburu people were experiencing while using the Bible of fellow Nilotic speakers, the Maasai, particularly “issues with comprehension and offensive or derogatory lexical terms.” 


The translation was funded by Samburu Church leaders and partners who, from 2008, fundraised for the initiative. The funds drive was mainly through giving of a cow, which according to a myth by the pastoralist community, “ate the Bible”, cutting off communication between the Samburu people and their God.

The organization has printed about 1500 copies of the translation, with each selling at Ksh. 150.00 (US$1.50). 

“Translation of the Old Testament is ongoing and hopefully in a few years, the Samburu people will have a complete Bible,” the Bible Translation and Literacy organization has stated.