The Kafa People

The Kafa people, who together with the Sheka (who speak a similar language) number over 900,000*, claim that coffee originated from their area, and their name supports that claim. Coffee still grows both on their farms and in the forests of the Kafa region. Other people groups have taken over much of the land that used to belong to the Kafa, and in order to survive some have tried to hide their Kafa identity. The publication of the New Testament and other books in the Kafa language has helped restore respect and appreciation for the Kafa language and culture.

There are currently two men working full-time on the Kafa Old Testament translation. Matewos (Matthew or Matt for short) persevered through intense persecution during the years of Communist rule. He worked on the Kafa New Testament and at the same time earned a degree in nursing. Then he studied at the Evangelical Theological College in Addis Ababa, earning a Bachelor of Theology degree and learning both New Testament Greek and Hebrew. He is a gifted leader and relates well to people. He is currently working on his Master’s in Biblical Translation at Africa International University with plans to become a translation consultant. I believe God will use him greatly in that capacity. Please pray for strength, wisdom, and perseverance as he writes his thesis,
assessing the strengths and weaknesses of two Kafa dialects: the one used for the New Testament, which was published fifteen years ago, and the one used currently in the Kafa area schools. He will also assess the causes hindering the distribution of the Kafa New Testament in the past ten years and give suggestions for measures the translation team and church leaders should take to ensure effective distribution and use of the full Bible when it is published.

Tekalign (Teka) joined the team in July 2014 in place of Gezahegn (Gus), whom the Lord called home the end of February that year after months of battling liver cancer. Tekalign immediately fit into the team, participating in the consultant check sessions and taking over the major part of our public relations effort (writing updates for supporters, SIM administrators, and the general public).

Fekadu, working part-time on a contract basis, also participates in our consultant check session and makes a valuable contribution to the team.

The entire Old Testament has now been translated, and the consultant check is nearing completion. Some revisions will be needed in the New Testament to be sure that there is consistency in the use of key Biblical terms, spelling, etc. We hope to submit the entire Kafa Bible for publication before the end of 2017.

To learn more about the Kafa Linguistics Project go to Kafa Linguistics Blog at or – the latter if it works!

*Summary and Statistical Report of the 2007 Population and Housing Census, published by the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Population Census Commission. Page 84.

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