Did you know about the Kebu Language, Uganda’s most endangered Language?

5 Mar 2019 Igloos

Uganda, a country in  East Africa has a total population of about 40 million people according to 2010 population census. The country has numerous dialects totaling to about 45 spoken across the four regions of Northern, South, East and West. However, some of the dialects are at the verge of extinction.

Over the years, there have been reports of a number of endangered Ugandan tribes and dialects in some parts of the country. Such as Kebu, IK, Talinga- Bwisi and Kenyi

Kebu, Kebutu, or Ndo Oke’bu is a community living in West Nile sub region of Uganda and it is said to be the most endangered community in Uganda.

In April 2018 in Zombo district, Mr Ephraim Waringu, the Thebiz  of Kebu Rigangi ( Kebu cultural institution) urged the Kebu people (his subjects) to value their culture and speak their language. He said in so doing, it will help to preserve the culture of already endangered language. Though a recognized language in the Ugandan Constitution, it is said to be endangered with most of its speakers getting diffused in other languages such as Alur, Lugbara and Madi.

The Kebu are a minority tribe occupying parts of Kango, Zeu, Alangi, and Akaa sub counties in West Nile sub region at the border with the DR Congo.

Despite the above, a few conceited efforts are being made in order to save the Kebu language. The most common event being the Annual cultural convention that usually attracts the Kebu from Democratic Republic of Congo, Bunyoro Sub region, Arua and the surrounding areas. In fact, in 2018 annual cultural festival, the theme was “Kebu londa uru” which literary translated means “Kebu do not be afraid, wakeup” This shows the urgency required to save the language from extinction.

Other efforts that are being made to save the Kebu language include; Seeking recognition with government as a fully-fledged cultural institution, and Seeking inclusion in media broadcasting. Unlike major languages in the country such as Luganda, Ateso, Runyakitara, Lusoga, Adhola, Acholi, Lango, Lugbara and Lumasaba, the Kebu language has very few incentives that could help to save it from extinction.

It is not  even clear if the Kebu people have a Kebu Bible Translation, although this is something that can be done professionally.

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