I am currently working in Sub-Saharan Africa, researching literary translation and creative writing training provision in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon. The project is managed by Dr Ruth Bush and Dr Madhu Krishnan at the University of Bristol and forms part of the Arts Management and Literary Activism (AMLA) programme. I have been working alongside consultants, Sulaiman Adebowale, Director of Amalion Publishing in Dakar, writer and translator, Edwige Dro in Abidjan, and Dzekashu MacViban, writer and Editor of Bakwa magazine in Yaoundé. They have each introduced me to local writers, translators, publishers, academics, teachers, students, journalists and others with a keen interest in cultural communication and activism through writing. Colleagues, Dr Doseline Kiguru and TJ Dema are doing equivalent research in Botswana, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Our feasibility studies seek to map out current training, which differs significantly across different countries depending on language politics, teaching priorities and funding etc. However, extensive experience and passion for writing and translation is clearly visible across all three countries I’ve visited. It is hoped that findings will inspire further support for training, but also bring together literary enthusiasts across continents and countries to create connections and generate new ideas and debate. So far, I have conducted around 50 interviews across the three countries and am coming to the end of the feasibility stage of the research. I have been very grateful for the warm reception I have received everywhere I’ve travelled and the willingness people have shown to participate in the project. Hopefully, this research will continue beyond the feasibility stage to initiate workshops, seminars or writing and translation “hubs” where experts and enthusiasts can share their knowledge on literary translation, writing and publishing. Findings will be written up in a report to be shared at the end of the feasibility study in July 2018.
Finally, thanks to everyone I’ve met in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon. What an experience!