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!
I have always been interested in how far translators can take adaptation, and to what extent we can justify such an approach when translating poetry and prose into English. Can we simply take inspiration from the source text without being restricted by its style and content? In my research on the translation of Francophone African literature, I found that translation strategies in an African context were much more fluid and perhaps less rigid than in the North. Many African texts written in French are also highly embedded in orality with a strong performance element, so it could be more fitting to take a more flexible approach to their translation and pursue an African (rather than French) model of textual rewriting. This article in The Linguist explores these ideas in more depth, with examples from Francophone African poetry.
Read my latest article in The Linguist magazine, “Representing Africa” here. As a researcher and translator of Senegalese works, I am particularly interested in African anthologies of poetry and prose and the extent to which they represent or ‘translate’ into a collection, a diversity of African cultures. This article explores anthologies, and includes insight from a number of Senegalese writers and publishers about their views on cultural representation in literature.