8 Reasons we are Excited about the Jalada #TranslationIssue

  1. The Kenya-based Jalada collective has a new anthology out. Titled The Upright Revolution: or Why Humans Walk Upright, the anthology technically comprises one story. The magic is the translation. One story told in more than thirty languages.
  2. The original story Ituĩka Rĩa Mũrũngarũ: Kana Kĩrĩa Gĩtũmaga Andũ Mathiĩ Marũngiĩ in Kikuyu is by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, that great African writer who requires no introduction. He translated it to English and it is on this translation that majority of the others are based.
  3. Moses Kilolo, Jalada managing editor says that the anthology issue includes 30 translations of the story. The languages included are English, Ahmharic, Dholuo, Kamba, Lwisukha (Luhya), Kipsigis, Kinyarwanda, French, Arabic, Luganda, Kiswahili, Afrikaans, Hausa, Meru, Lingala, IsiZulu, Igbo, Ibibio, isiNdebele, XiTsonga, Nandi (Kalenjin), Rukiga, Bamanankan (bambara/mandingo), Lugbara, Lubukusu, Kimaragoli, Giriama, Sheng, Ewe, and Naija Langwej.
  4. The issue includes three recorded readings: Kikuyu, English and Sheng. There is a promise that it will soon be available in PDF, EPUB, MOBI, KINDLE.
  5. Jalada calls on translators who fail to find the story in their African language to submit their own translations.
  6. The project engaged translators, editors, assessors and proofreaders from across fourteen African countries, with some countries more represented than others.
  7. A good number of the participating translators and editors have been or are associated with one or more Writivism activities before and at present: Moses Kilolo, Richard Oduor Oduku, Peter Ngila, Louise Umutoni, Nakisanze Segawa, Okwiri Oduor, Richard Ali A Mutu, Tendai Huchu, Memory Chirere, and more. Congratulations to you all for this achievement. We are proud to contribute in our own ways to this revolutionary moment in the production of African Literature.
  8. Our preliminary observations on the endeavor follow:

8.1. Ngugi wa Thiong’o! The issue is a Ngugi moment in itself. The story that gets translated is written by Ngugi. We have a Ngugi revolution on our hands. The great African writer has several times called for conversation among African languages through translation. He has been an advocate for the translation of literature in African languages from one language to another.

8.2. Ngugi has also claimed that literature by Africans in ‘European’ languages is Euro-African literature than authentic African literature. True African literature is that in African languages, he has argued. That this issue includes English and French translations shows the continued relevance of ‘European’ languages. Arabic is another special matter. The distortion of Ngugi’s argument is usually to say that he discourages writing in non-African languages. This issue proves that Ngugi’s revolution is one of Translation.

8.3. The sheer volume of work involved in executing such a project deserves loud praise and support.That Jalada is based in Kenya, with majority Kenyan members and working with a story originally written in Kikuyu, a Kenyan indigenous language has not stopped the collective from reaching out to other African countries and producing work in non-Kenyan languages. The project is inspiring in countless ways. We can’t wait for the second, third, fourth etc Translation issues from Jalada. And for more replicating this model.

Enjoy the feast.

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