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Shine the Light Kenya... Helping make a brighter future for our children.
Arthur Ruffel Barlow

(1888-1965)
Arthur Ruffell Barlow, Church of Scotland missionary and linguist, joined his uncle, David Clement Scott at the Kikuyu Mission Station in 1903 at the age of seventeen. He assisted with the mission's work unofficially until 1908 when he was formally employed by the Church of Scotland.

Due to his interest in and grasp of the kikuyu language and dialects, he was often employed as a translator and his intimate knowledge of the kikuyu people made him a trusted counselor. He was a good friend of Jomo Kenyatta, the First President of Kenya.

In 1909, he became the first resident missionary at Tumutumu and acted at various times as the superintendent at both Kikuyu and Tumutumu. He was one of the founders of the Kenya Missionary council and acted as its secretary for several years as well as playing a prominent role in the debate on church and mission union in Kenya.

Barlow continued with his work with the kikuyu language and he prepared a grammar which became a standard and initiated a Bible translation. His knowledge of the language and culture and interest in questions such as land reform and the rights of Africans meant that he was often consulted on African matters by the government. After he retired, he continued his linguistic and translation studies at first working for two years under an arrangement with the Church of Scotland. He published Studies in Kikuyu Grammar and Idiom in 1951.Barlow devoted a large amount of time in his later years to the production of a kikuyu-English dictionary on which he worked with Canon Henry Leaky and Leonard Beecher, both of the Church Mission Society. The dictionary was published in 1964.

He returned to Kenya from Scotland during the Mau Mau uprising and in 1953 took the role of Officer in Charge of the Translation Bureau of the African Information Services. He left Kenya for the final time in 1959 and died in 1965.

External Info:

DACB.org Entry