Translation project reclaims Africa’s creative talent

Belinda Bantham -- Tue, 03/12/2019 - 09:30

Translation project reclaims Africa’s creative talent

A prominent and seasoned Setswana author and academic at the North-West University (NWU), Prof Shole Shole, is involved in a landmark literary translation project.

Prof Shole is collaborating with Mr Sabata Mokae of Sol Plaatje University in a translation project named “Transcreation for Repatriation”, or Phetsolelo in Setswana.

This collaboration involves the translation of literary English texts written by Africans about Africa, Africans and African issues, into Setswana

“In the past, historical forces of colonialism and imperialism imposed European languages on Africans as a medium of literary expression,” says Prof Shole. “This led to African creative talent being lost to European languages and cultures, and denying African languages the opportunity of serving the same purpose. In the end it deprived Africans of the pride and joy of reading works by African literary greats in their own languages.”

Prof Shole says the primary aim of the project is to reclaim African creative talent by making those texts available in African languages such as Setswana.

“This will enrich African language literature with works by African greats, and give Africans the pride and joy of reading great works by their own in their own languages,” he adds.

“For this purpose the project will make use of a special form of translation - an interventionist, post-colonialist translation,” Prof Shole further explains.

According to the two project leaders, various texts have already been identified. “We focus on books written in English by Setswana-speaking authors, books about the Batswana people and their world - their narrative, characters and setting,” explains Sabata.

Some of the texts already being translated include Taung Wells by Martin Koboekae, Sarcophagus by Tuelo Gabonewe, This Book Betrays My Brother by Kagiso Lesego Molope, Maru by Bessie Head, Call Me Woman by Ellen Khuzwayo, Matters of Life and Death by Lesego Malepe and Mhudi by Sol Plaatjie.

*The project is funded by the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture.

Prof Shole Shole from the NWU and Mr Sabata Mokae of Sol Plaatje University will reclaim African creative talent by making texts written by African greats available in African languages such as Setswana.