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Historic launch of ‘Kriol Baibul’ at Katherine


Over 2000 people attended the official dedication service and launch of the Kriol Baibul, the first complete Bible in an indigenous language, held yesterday, Saturday, 5 May, at the Katherine Christian Convention conference centre in the Northern Territory.

Rev Daniel Willis CEO of Bible Society of NSW said, “The service was conducted in Kriol with the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne Philip Freier, formerly Archbishop of Darwin, taking a key role.”

“It was a very moving event with every member of the translation team presented with their own copy of the Bible. Some team members had been involved from the very start of the project, over 27 years ago,” he said.

The Member for Katherine, Fay Miller MLA represented the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory. Greetings were received from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth together with a strong commendation from His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia and Mrs Jeffrey.

Supporting the translation, Archbishop Freier said, “As well as being welcomed by an estimated 30,000 speakers of the Kriol language, it is also a great opportunity for the Australian community to celebrate the survival of Aboriginal language as a living reality in contemporary society. I also welcome and appreciate the work of Indigenous translators, non-Indigenous consultants and translation resource workers as an example of Reconciliation, a practical and lived response to the call to be one in Christ.”

“All those who attended received a copy of the Lord’s Prayer in Kriol, plus a portion from Acts, chapter three,” said Mr Willis. “Bible Society NSW has also announced that we will produce an audio recording of John’s Gospel to be distributed on CD, mp3 and the web.”

“The translation itself was a wonderful cooperative effort,” said Mr Willis. “At times it was thought that it might not be completed, but the Reverend Canon Gumbuli Wurrumara challenged indigenous Kriol speakers in 1993 to complete the project themselves, after it stalled in 1991,” he said.

Whilst there has been some school materials in Kriol, this is the first formal written text in the language and in the same way that Luther and Tyndale’s translations of the Bible formalised German and English, it is believed that this Bible will do the same for the Kriol language