- 2016/2017 apexart New York City (NYC) Fellow
- 2014 Winner Burt Award for African Literature, Kenya Chapter
- 2010 Penguin Prize for African Writing nominee
- Ist Prize, Adult Fiction Category – NBDCK Literary Awards, September 2008 Book Week
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o Story Translated Into Over 30 African Languages
- Written by Moraa Gitaa
Created: 24 March 2016
Jalada Africa’s latest edition released today contains a new short story by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o translated into over 30 African languages. This makes it the “single most translated short story in the history of African writing”. The short story was originally written in Kikuyu titled “Ituĩka Rĩa Mũrũngarũ: Kana Kĩrĩa Gĩtũmaga Andũ Mathiĩ Marũngiĩ”, and was translated by Ngũgĩ himself into English as “The Upright Revolution: Or Why Humans Walk Upright” - and it is on this version that the other translations are based.
Jalada Africa is Kenya-based Jalada collective and are setting the pace because of late, translations and linguistics have been garnering a lot of attention and this is the first foray into translation for Jalada. Translation Issue: Volume 1 is the culmination of a four-month project, and features collaborative work by professional and amateur translators and language enthusiasts from 14 African countries - translators, editors, assessors and proofreaders
The story is available in Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiZulu and Xitsonga, as well as the original Kikuyu, Ahmharic, Dholuo, Kikamba, Lwisukha-Lwidakho, Ikinyarwada, Arabic,Luganda, Kiswahili, Hausa, Meru, Lingala, Igbo, Ibibio, Somali, Nandi, Rukiga,Bamanankan, Lugbarati, Shona, Lubukusu, Kimaragoli, Giriama, Sheng, Ewe, Naija Languej, Marakwet and French.
Audio recordings of the story are also available in Kikuyu, English and Sheng. The anthology will soon be available in PDF and ebook formats.
In his introduction to the issue, Jalada Africa managing editor Moses Kilolo says: “Professor Wa Thiong’o is uniquely placed to be the first distinguished author and intellectual featured in our periodical translations issue. He has, for many years, been the most vocal proponent in publishing in African languages.”
Ngũgĩ says: “The cruel genius of colonialism was to turn normality into abnormality and then make the colonised 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.”
Jalada Africa is planning more editions of translation, featuring a previously unpublished story of no more than 3,000 words. Writers and translators across the continent will 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 2,000 African languages.
Jalada’s September 2015 anthology, The Language Issue, also celebrates Africa’s diversity in language, with fiction, poetry, spoken word, visual art and essays in 23 African languages as well as English, French, Polish and Mandarin.