Pan-African writers’ collective, Jalada Africa has published the short story, Ituĩka Rĩa Mũrũngarũ: Kana Kĩrĩa Gĩtũmaga Andũ Mathiĩ Marũngiĩ by eminent author, Ngugi wa Thiong’o in over 30 African languages; effectively making it the single most translated short story in the history of African writing.
Ituĩka Rĩa Mũrũngarũ is a previously unreleased fable by the revered scholar and author and serves as Jalada Africa’s Translation Issue: Volume 1. It is a vast body of collaborative work by professional and amateur translators plus language enthusiasts from 14 African countries.
The story is available at www.jalada.org in Kikuyu, Ahmharic, Dholuo, Kikamba, Lwisukha-Lwidakho, Ikinyarwada, Arabic, Luganda, Kiswahili, Afrikaans, Hausa, Meru, Lingala, IsiZulu, Igbo, Ibibio, Somali, isiNdebele, XiTsonga, Nandi, Rukiga, Lugbarati, Shona, Lubukusu, Kimaragoli, Giriama, Sheng, Ewe, Naija Languej, Marakwet plus French and English.
The aim of this unique four-month-long project was to generate renewed interest in publishing in local languages and increase access to locally relevant content. It comes hot on the heels of Jalada Africa’s September 2015 anthology, The Language Issue, which celebrates language through fiction, poetry, spoken word, visual art and essays, in 23 African languages as well as English, French, Polish and Mandarin.
“Despite long-running conversations on the need for publishing in indigenous languages on the African continent over the past five decades, writing and translations remain minimal and the little that exists continues to rapidly decline. Since our Languages Issue, we’ve deliberated on the best ways of making writing in our languages a continuous activity. We were convinced the previous anthology did not capture all the facets of languages we were interested in. There are millions of speakers in African languages and not many writers in African languages. Why? Can this be changed?” – Jalada Africa.
The Translation Issue is a confirmation of the boundless possibilities in literature and digital publishing. Jalada Africa believes that language is a reservoir of the past, a motif of the present, and a tool for imagining futures.
“The cruel genius of colonialism was to turn normality into abnormality and then making the colonized accept the abnormality as the real norm…Mother tongue first; then add to it, as necessary, that’s the way of progress and empowerment. So [Jalada’s] actions will empower Africa by making Africans own their resources from languages – making dreams with our languages – to other natural resources – making things with them, consuming some, exchanging some. The moment we lost our languages was also the moment we lost our bodies, our gold, diamonds, copper, coffee, tea. The moment we accepted (or being made to accept) that we could not do things with our languages was the moment we accepted that we could not make things with our vast resources.” – Ngugi wa Thiong’o.
Jalada Africa intends to periodically publish a new volume of The Translation Issue featuring one story of no more than 3000 words that’s been previously unpublished. Much like on Volume 1, writers and translators across the continent shall be invited to submit and edit translations in their African language of knowledge and/or study.
The ultimate goal is to have each story translated into 2000 African languages.
For more information or queries:
Moses Kilolo // Jalada Africa, Managing Editor
+254 727 476 071