Saturday, 20 April 2013

Multilingual African literature please.

This week I had to write my Yoruba essay. I decided to talk about language and identity. One thing that upset me when reading for the essay was the opinion of Onoge (I don't know the first name) that even if African writers adopted African languages today, they would still be unable to communicate with the majority of Africans.

My high school friend once read Harry Potter in German. Was there a need to write Harry Potter in German if it had originally been written in English? Why yes of course! Why? Because Germans love their language and will not roll over to English just because lots more people speak it. That's the reason why I spent 5 years learning French, because there are languages and the owners of those languages believe in their importance. Can we not train and hire translators to write Chimamanda Adichie's recent book 'Americanah' into Igbo and Yoruba, and Twi, and Swahili, and Zulu, and Hausa, and Wollof and must I go on. All of the languages listed have speakers who speak English, some even speak multiple African languages. If all goes well by my 25th birthday I would be able to speak Twi, Ga, Yoruba, French and English and by 30 I hope to add Swahili and either Zulu or Xhosa to those. I would be more than happy to translate a book written in an African language into another African language. 

That is not to say I have anything against African literature currently written in English, I'll be honest English is the only language I can read fluently BUT what I won't accept is people telling us that we must wake up to the "inescapable fact that our literary culture is part of the colonial legacy, not part of indigenous African experience" and thus we cannot change the structures with which we were left, or at least negotiate them better.

1 comment:

  1. I really like the write Chinua Achebe. 'Things Fall Apart' is simply great. Haha. Hope you are doing great. We should read each other's blogs more often.