Street Smart Stories

An innovative new company called Grapevine is publishing exciting new literature from across the world on WhatsApp and Telegram, making it accessible to all. The organisation was founded by creative technologist Tim Kindberg and artist Lily Green. Simply take a photo of some Grapevine artwork (found on postcards, book covers, stickers etc), send it to Grapevine via WhatsApp, and you’ll be sent the related literary content: extracts of a short story, poetry and more.

I worked with Grapevine on one of their pilot projects, running an online workshop with Cameroonian writers and artists as they developed their ideas for Grapevine. The two winning ideas were produced by the groups and the Grapevine team. The images can be seen around Cameroon on posters and stickers on taxi windows.

Take a photo of one of the winning images below, send it to Grapevine on +44 (0)7380 333721, and hear the audio for yourself!

Art: Dante Besong; Audio: Anjie C Nkweti (“The Shoe Mender”), Sidney Bendie (“Frank”), Tita Hans (“Moussa”); Text: Anjie C Nkweti (“Moussa”), Sidney Bendie (“Frank”), Tita Hans (“The Shoe Mender”); Intro text: Edmund Nnane; Proof: Nnane Ntube

Cedric Chopbukuned (Graphiste), Annie Claire Ngomo, Edouard Bengono Essola, Géraldin Mpesse, Gils da Douanla, Raoul Djimeli, Davy Djomeni

Your Feet Will Lead You Where Your Heart Is

I’ve been working with a team from Bristol University and Bakwa Books in Cameroon to produce a bilingual anthology of Cameroonian short stories by emerging creative writers and literary translators. The book, entitled Your Feet Will Lead You Where Your Heart Is / Le Crépuscule des âmes sœurs will be launched by Bakwa Books in May 2021 and is available now on the Bakwa website.

My involvement came about following a feasibility study on literary translation training that I produced in 2018-19. It highlighted the local need and desire for increased literary translation training in Cameroon for the many established and upcoming professional translators already working in related fields. In 2021, we ran creative writing and translation workshops in Yaounde, and the participants worked with award-winning writers and translators such as Ros Schwartz and Edwige Dro to develop their skills. I also ran some of the workshop sessions and the reading group, and we (along with Roland Glasser, Mona de Pracontal and Sika Fakambi) mentored the translators as they worked on their stories.

The result of these activities can be found in the fabulous collection of short stories published by Bakwa. I talk more about the project, along with co-editor (with Bakwa founder Dzekashu MacViban) and translator Nfor E. Njinyoh, and workshop participant, Felicite Ette Enow at a special online event for Dr Jennifer Arnold’s Reading across Cultures conversation series at Cork University. The talk can be viewed on the Reading Across Cultures facebook page.

Ousmane Sembène’s Representations of Reading

I translated an article by Senegalese academic, Louis Ndong for a special issue of Research in African Literatures on African audiences. The article, entitled Literary and Cinematic Scenes of Reading in the Works of Ousmane Sembène, explores portrayals of reading in well-known texts such as Le Docker Noir (Black Docker), Xala and Le Mandat (The Money Order). Ndong discusses how Sembène’s representations of reading are established through the genres of texts consumed, the reader’s education level, whether their education is religious or scholarly, and the reader’s perspective in the narrative. You can read the full article (with Jstor access) here.

Translation and Fluidity in Cameroon

I presented a keynote paper at the University of Glasgow’s Annual PG conference in Comparative Literature and Translation Studies. The conference explored how “Comparative Literature, Translation Studies and Translation study, question, shape and create flows by connecting texts, art forms, ideas, languages and disciplines”. The full title of my paper was: Translation and Fluidity in Cameroon: Political Interventions, Literary Activism and the Flow of Words across the Francophone-Anglophone Divide. 

Organised by Dr Henriette Partzsch, Lucy McCormick, Charlotte Le Bervet and Dr Shanti Graheli, the conference was held online due to the Covid-19 pandemic (many other international events have had to be cancelled). By moving the event online, the conference attracted a record number of participants, highlighting the potential of the medium for other future such global events.

Presentation Slides

Handout and Bibliography

Feasibility study

Étude de faisabilité

Other Resources on Translation Studies in Africa

Literary Translation Training in Africa: Report Available for Download

I recently worked with a team from the Universities of Bristol and Exeter to produce a feasibility report on Literary Translation and Creative Writing Training in West Africa. As part of the project, managed by Dr Ruth Bush and Prof Madhu Krishnan (Bristol University), I travelled to Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon to meet in-country consultants, Sulaiman Adebowale, Edwige Dro and Dzekashu MacViban. While overseas, I conducted over 60 interviews with translators, writers, academics, students, journalists, politicians and more. The interviews and meetings that took place helped me map out current training opportunities, which differ significantly across the three countries depending on language politics, teaching priorities and funding. My research report is now available to download here in both English and French (translation by Edwige Dro):

Feasibility study

Étude de faisabilité