Introduction / History
Uganda’s Sapiiny people call their language Kupsapiiny, sometimes spelled with an ’a’ at the end. They live in eastern Uganda on the slopes of Mount Elgon. Traditionally they raise cattle, many Sapiiny also rely on subsistence farming, cultivating maize, beans, wheat and potatoes. They sell their produce when they are able, but poor roads in some areas make it difficult to transport their crops to the market. More than 60 percent of the Sapiiny people live in poverty.
Clan elders provide leadership and, along with traditional prophets, establish laws, norms and values. Circumcision, performed on adolescent boys, provides cultural identity. Some Sapiiny also practice female circumcision, although in secret because it is illegal.
What are Their Beliefs?
Christianity came to the Sapiiny in the 1930s through the efforts of a large Christian denomination. Other denominations and Christian groups came in the 1970s. Now 70 percent of the Sapiiny people identify themselves as Christians, although only about half of those are deeply rooted in their faith and growing. Although they believe in the Creator, many see Him as distant. Many also fear ancestral spirits and practice traditional religion, keeping totems and relying on the revelations of local prophets and clan leaders for guidance.
The existing Kupsapiiny New Testament is not widely used. It is essentially a word-for-word rendering of the English Good News Bible and is not the way the Kupsapiiny naturally speak so they are beginning a new translation.
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