The Runyoro-Rutooro Dictionary “Katondogorozi” has been launched. The 600 page dictionary was authored by 90 year old Lazarus Tinkasimiire Rubongoya.
The contents in the dictionary include local proverbs, a list of words, their meanings and pronunciations and a brief history of the Tooro and Bunyoro Kingdoms among others.
At the launch of the dictionary on Saturday in Fort Portal, Rubongoya says that it took him 50 years to finish the dictionary, which he attributed to the insecurity in the 1970s and 1980s.
Rubongoya, who is confined in a wheel chair as a result of an accident 1998, says that he is happy to have finished the dictionary before he dies. He also said that elders in Tooro and Bunyoro, who have rich knowledge in culture, should emulate him and leave a legacy before they die.
Rubongoya also requested the government to purchase the books and distribute them in all schools and tertiary institutions in Tooro and Bunyoro regions. Rubongoya asked people to read, understand and apply the words in the dictionary.
President Yoweri Museveni, who was the chief guest at the launch, said that he is disturbed by people who take keen interest to study and speak foreign languages like English, but neglect their mother tongues, a tendency he says threatens indigenous tradition. He also told the people in Tooro and Bunyoro to emulate Rubongoya and publish literature rich in culture.
He contributed 30 million shillings to purchase copies of the dictionary for community and school libraries in Kabarole district. He said that the government will purchase more copies of the dictionary for schools in the Tooro and Bunyoro region.
Faustino Nyakana, a member of the dictionary editorial team, says that the dictionary helps to simplify pronunciations and meanings of some of the words in the local language. Nyakana also says that the dictionary will help improve and popularize the teaching of Rutooro and Runyoro in schools, which isn’t common.
The dictionary is one of the several books that have been authored by Rubongoya, who also worked as a Runyoro and Rutooro newsreader at Radio Uganda in the 1960s. Other publications include Modern Rutooro-Runyoro grammar, Naaho Nubo-the way of our ancestors, Linda Engeso N’orolimi Rw’ihanga, among others.