Like J.F Kennedy said, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. Instead of spending his retirement in bliss, Musoke has embarked on a journey to translate the Holy Bible in his mother tongue (Runyala) to benefit many of his tribesmen.
When one retires after more than 40 years of service, it is often assumed that this is the time to stay away from stressful work and possibly spend more of one’s evening years engaging in less demanding activities.
Surprisingly, Musa Kato Musoke, 67, a retired secondary school agriculture teacher is not yet done after realising that he can help his people in Buruuli to have the Holy Bible translated to the Ruruuli- Runyala language.
“I have a passion to protect the Ruruuli- Runyala language and culture which is at the verge of extinction. Many Baruuli felt helpless and chose to identify themselves with other cultures and languages that seemed more prominent in terms of numbers and written literature. This partly contributed to my resolve to stop my people from self-censorship as a minority cultural setting and tribe which needs to protect its long preserved cultural heritage despite the pre-colonial errors which left them pushed to the wall,” Musoke says.
He is not only translating verses of the Bible from English to Ruruuli- Runyala, but has already written several literature in the Ruruuli-Runyala language with emphasis on the rich culture long forgotten by many Baruuli both in Nakasongola District and in other areas across Uganda.
“A culture without written literature to guide the young generation is dead. My attachment to a science subject such as Agriculture did not deter me from pursuing the call to save my culture and people of Buruuli,” Musoke asserts in his interview with the Daily Monitor recently.
In 2016, Musoke retired from teaching at Bugema Adventist Secondary School in Luweero District, and instead of sitting back, he sought a retirement option that would enable him remain relevant in his community. He had tirelessly tried to identify himself with his Buruuli culture without much success because many of his colleagues who belonged to the same tribe were always quick to identify themselves with the kiganda culture including adopting their names. This, he says, replaced Buruuli names which had significant meaning.
To get skills, Musoke attended a training seminar at Summer Institute of Languages on Entebbe Road in Wakiso District and as a representative of the Buruuli language board from the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Musoke later attended the African Bible University where he received more training on the basics in writing, translation and language use between June 2016 and June 2017.
“I had already exhibited the desire to promote the Ruruuli culture in my early days as a teacher at Bugema Adventist Secondary School when I started publishing literature in Ruruuli language. I published a chart displaying the 129 Buruuli clans including Ruruuli/ Lunyala proverbs.” he reminisces
The success story
Musoke says he has already succeeded in publishing the Gospel of St. Luke in Ruruuli- Runyala with 10 more books of the New Testament under review after the translation process.
“These books are not hastily published before thorough scrutiny by relevant language experts and Bible scholars. This partly explains why the translation process is slow to ensure that mistakes and errors are ratified before final publication is done,” he says.
In the course of having the Ruruuli culture stored in literature form, the cost of publication is on voluntary basis. “The work I do for my tribe and Ruruuli culture is on voluntary basis. My ability to have this literature published is constrained by the lack of financial resources. I use my own resources often backed up by donations from some of my former students who have picked interest in what I do,” he adds. He says he sometimes spends sleepless nights doing research and moving beyond Nakasongola, his home district, to get artifacts from the Baruuli who live in Kayunga and Kiryandongo, among other districts.
“We commend him for his tireless effort and love for his culture and language. He is at the helm of transforming our culture into written literature. This is the only way we can preserve our culture as Buruuli. The Holy Bible scriptures are what every Christian family cherishes. It has been a big challenge for many of our people who have to first study and learn a second language especially Runyoro and Luganda. Having the Bible scriptures translated in Ruruuli-Runyala language will be a great blessing to the people of Buruuli.”
Samuel Kasirye, prime minister of Buruuli Chiefdom.
“Buruuli is a blessed tribal group with rich cultural identity. Unfortunately, most of its literature has not been documented, an act I attribute to deliberate actions by different players who had hidden agendas against the Buruuli tribe and culture. We are proud to have people like Musoke who love their tribe and culture. His work is commendable.”
Wilson Muruuli Mukasa, Public Service Minister and MP for Buruuli County
“His passion for translating the Holy Bible scriptures from English to Ruruuli- Runyala language gives us hope as people of Buruuli. To have people dedicating their time to enrich Ruruuli culture through ensuring that we have written literature is very commendable.”
Mohammed Bagonza, speaker of Buruuli clans