非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Quote of the Week: Fear & Loathing in Xinjiang

…what we are witnessing in the XUAR is a new form of ethnic cleansing that draws from all of these mass atrocities of the past while benefiting from the technologies of control available to states in the 21st century. It is a form of ethnic cleansing where the object of purging is not physical territory, but the human terrain of the ethnic group itself. Whereas ethnic cleansing during the breakup of Yugoslavia sought to cleanse a territory of other ethnicities in Xinjiang, the Chinese state appears to be trying to cleanse Uighurs of their “Uighurness.” A recent document on China’s state policy in the XUAR makes these intentions clear, noting that the goal with regards to the Uighurs is to “break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins.”

(Excerpted from Fear and Loathing in Xinjiang: Ethnic Cleansing in the 21st Century, by Sean R. Roberts. He is an associate professor of the practice of international affairs at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.)

War crimes in Congo-Kinshasha, and a report gathering mold in a NY office drawer

As I speak to you, a report is gathering mold in an office drawer in New York. It was drafted following a professional investigation into war crimes and human rights violations perpetrated in Congo. This investigation explicitly names the victims, the

Denis Mukwege: Founder of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Congo-Kinshasha, where he specializes in the treatment of women who have been raped by armed rebels.

places and the dates, but leaves the perpetrators nameless.

This Mapping Report by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights describes no fewer than 617 war crimes and crimes against humanity and perhaps even crimes of genocide.

What is the world waiting for before taking this into account? There is no lasting peace without justice. Yet, justice is not negotiable.

Let us have the courage to take a critical and impartial look at what has been going on for too long in the Great Lakes Region.

Let us have the courage to reveal the names of the perpetrators of the crimes against humanity to prevent them from continuing to plague the region.

Let us have the courage to recognize our past mistakes.

Let us have the courage to tell the truth, to remember and commemorate.

(Excerpted from the acceptance speech of Nobel Laureate Denis Mukwege, Nobel Peace Prize, in Oslo on December 10, 2018)

非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Newsbrief: December 2018

See our 2018 Round-up: AfroLit in Chinese Translation for a summary of African fiction — novels, short story and poetry collections, and drama — published in Chinese over the last year.

Wax Print, a documentary by British-Nigerian filmmaker and dressmaker Aiwan Obinyan: From the villages of Indonesia to the cotton fields of America, from European industrial mills to the bustling markets and sewing schools of West Africa, the story of one fabric and how it came to symbolize a continent, its people and their struggle for freedom. Watch the official trailer. Meanwhile, China’s incursion into the wax print trade — from counterfeiting to establishing legitimate wax print factories — further threatens the Africanness of the fabric.

France looks set to make good on Macron’s promise to return Africa’s stolen art and artifacts, but this will take time and requires changes to French law. In a piece by Lynsey Chutel (African Art), some fairly astounding numbers are cited to help quantify how thoroughly Europe looted Africa’s artistic heritage during the colonial era: there are reportedly 90,000 African artworks in French museums, 180,000 in a single Belgian museum, and 37,000 in one museum in Austria.

Quartz Africa reports that South Africa has banned a tongue-in-cheek commercial that imagines Africans colonizing Europe. Personally, I kinda liked it. Click here to see the article and watch the ad.

Cassava Republic co-founder Dr. Bibi Bakare-Yusuf: Brittle Paper African 2018 Literary Person of the Year

The short list for Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature has been announced. Founded in 2014 by Dr. Lizzy Attree and Dr. Mukoma Wa Ngugi (Cornell University), the competition has the express goal of recognizing writing in African languages and encouraging translation from, between and into African languages.  The winners will be chosen from the shortlisted writers. The winners will be announced in January 2019. Shortlisted works and authors (Tangazo la Orodha Fupi):

Fiction

  • Mungu Hakopeshwi a novel by Zainab Alwi Baharoon (Tanzania)
  • Kilinge cha Hukumu ya Dhambi by Yasini Hamisi Shekibulah (Tanzania)
  • Makovu ya Uhai by Shisia Wasilwa (Kenya)

Poetry

  • Wino wa Dhahabu by Bashiru Abdallah (Tanzania)
  • Moto wa Kifuu by Jacob Ngumbau Julius (Kenya)
  • Sauti Yangu by Mohamed Idrisa Haji (Tanzania)

 

At the festival: Author of “If I Stay Right Here,” Chwayita Ngamlana

The Abantu Book Festival is underway in Soweto during Dec 5-9. Click here to download the full festival program. Visit here for pix & bios of 55 participating authors.

Nigerian Writer Adichie: “I do not want to use my art as an armour of neutrality”

Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been awarded the Pen Pinter Prize, which is given to an outstanding writer who shows “the real truth of our lives and our societies.” Here is an excerpt from her Oct 9 acceptance speech, as quoted in The Guardian:

“But my writing gave me a platform to speak about issues that I have always cared about,” she [Adichie] said. “”I do not want to use my art as an armour of neutrality behind which to hide”. I am a writer and I am a citizen, and I see my speaking out on social issues as a responsibility of citizenship. I am struck by how often this speaking out is met, in Nigeria, not with genuine engagement, whether to agree or disagree, but with a desire to silence me. A journalist once helpfully summed it up for me: people don’t like it when you talk about feminism, they just want you to shut up and write.”

非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Quote of the Week: Yan Lianke on the virtues of literary translation

In an ideal world, I want to write for my countrymen, but I know that’s not possible and likely won’t be possible in my lifetime . . . That’s why I’m so grateful that translation has offered me a lifeline.

(Chinese author Yan Lianke (阎连科) as cited in The New Yorker’s Yan Lianke’s Forbidden Satires of China)

非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Newsbriefs: September 2018

Interview with Alain Mabanckou : La langue française c’est la langue de la dictature.

Teju Cole on excellence in writing: I met Philip Roth a couple of times. I didn’t particularly know him, but I was invited to his funeral and I went. While I was standing by his graveside . . . an old lady came
up to me and said, 
I’m so glad you came. Just before Philip died, the last time I saw him, he wanted to discuss your essay about James Baldwin and he particularly liked that part. . . she’s telling me this while I was looking at the man’s coffin inside the grave with some handfuls of earth on it. A couple of things happened there for me. One is that I was immensely moved. Another thing that occurred to me was: whatever thing that got me to that point, I need to keep doing it to the best of my ability. 

Michael Orthofer reviews Thomas Mofolo’s Chaka, a novel based on a real-life figure, also known as Shaka Zulu, who lived from ca. 1787 to 1828: While Chaka begins as an almost psychological study into what might have made Chaka the man — and ruthless militarist — he became, in focusing on his horrible and numbing childhood, Mofolo nevertheless can’t resist providing a supernatural explanation to his success. Chaka’s powers — even medicine-enhanced — do also come from within, but Mofolo makes Isanusi and his interventions essential to Chaka’s success (if one can ultimately call it that …).

Low-cost hair extensions: When salons do not openly advertise openly the provenance of their bundles, China is the often unspoken source of most natural and synthetic hair circulating in Africa.

Tanzania clamps down on flow of data about the country, writes Abdi Latif Dahir: In a bill tabled in parliament this week, the government aims to criminalize the collection, analysis, and dissemination of any data without first obtaining authorization from the country’s chief statistician. The key amendments to the Statistics Act also prohibit researchers from publicly releasing any data “which is intended to invalidate, distort, or discredit official statistics.” Any person who does anything to the contrary could merit a fine of not less than 10 million shillings ($4,400), a jail term of three years, or both.

Ndugu Maillu points out the elephant in the room — an unwillingness to publish in indigenous languages: What is the future of literature in vernacular in Kenya when all the publishers have developed set minds that publishing in vernacular is not worth any commercial effort? Even the Jomo Kenyatta Foundation does not touch publishing in vernacular despite being a national cultural foundation. Similarly, the Kenya Literature Bureau is allergic to it although it is a government institution. Only during colonial days did Kenya Literature Bureau publish some books in vernacular. Only the Bible, supported by missionaries, has been translated and published in vernacular.

非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Quote of the Week: Bantu Swahili — How to Steal a Language from Africa

Swahili poetic wealth was attributed to the linguistic and cultural oomph injected by Arabic into Bantu languages. A few hundred kilometers from the coast at Milimani Primary School in Naivasha, Kenya, we recited Arabic words during compulsory Swahili language lessons. Our Swahili teacher encouraged us to learn Arabic words in order to improve our Swahili proficiency.

Yet this language happens to be a treasure Africa cannot afford to give away. Apart from being one of the most widely spoken languages on the continent—enjoying over 100 million speakers—it happens to be exceptionally beautiful to the African ear. To listen to Swahili spoken in native fluency is to be immersed in a musical performance. To master the language is to learn how to stage the performance and get carried away in its self-assured rhythm, to become a bard of your own experiences. A flawless deliverance of Swahili is a cultural badge of honor in East Africa.

 

(Excerpted from Bantu’s Swahili, or How to Steal a Language from Africa by Kamau Muiga)

非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Newsbriefs: August 2018

It took 50 years, but Come Back, Africa! Fourteen Short Stories from South Africa has been translated into Chinese and recently launched in the PRC, as 《大地的葬礼: 南非经典短篇小说翻译与赏析》. Edited by 谭惠娟 and 倪志娟, it features short stories by Alan Paton, Es’kia Mphahele, Lewis Nkosi, Alex La Guma and others. Which makes you wonder: Where are the Chinese translations of more contemporary fiction writers? Check out Brittle Paper for excerpts and the latest news on the African literary scene.

In The 40-year-old “prophetic” novel that predicted the troubles of modern-day Zimbabwe, Tinashe Mushakavanhu reminds us of the prescient novel The House of Hunger and Dambudzo Marechera, its mercurial author. His rebelliousness . . . is captured in his outlandish behavior at the 1979 Guardian Fiction Prize ceremony where he threw plates and cups at walls and chandeliers, partly a response to the way he had been packaged for a rich white audience whom he accused of celebrating him while his people were suffering and being killed by the Rhodesian forces.

Writer Chibundu Onuzo chides Economist Intelligence Unit for finding Lagos one of the ten least liveable cities in the world:  To paraphrase Benjamin Disraeli, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and global liveability indexes.

In War and Literature in Mogadishu, Najala Nyabola asks: In the week before the book fair, a car
bomb in Mogadishu killed a number of people, while a popular young entrepreneur named Mo Sheikh Ali was assassinated in broad daylight. What does it mean to hold a book fair in the middle of so much uncertainty?

People’s Literature Publishing House has just launched 《隐居》, the Chinese translation of Secret Lives, and other Short Stories by Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. The English edition was first published in 1975, and is described by Penguin as bringing together “a range of  Ngugi’s political short stories. From tales of the meeting between magic and superstition, to stories about the modernizing

The first collection of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s short stories to appear in Chinese

forces of colonialism, and the pervasive threat of nature, this collection celebrates the storytelling might of one of Africa’s best-loved authors.”  The Chinese edition contains 17 stories, including 穆古莫, 黑鸟, 梅赛德斯的葬礼and 再见,非洲. Ngũgĩ began writing in his native Gikuyu and Swahili in 1967, but it is not clear if any of these works were penned in — or translated direct from — these indigenous languages.  Three of his novels have previously been rendered in Chinese, all published in the 80s: A Grain of Wheat一粒麦种》, The River Between大河两岸》and Weep Not, Child孩子,你别哭》.

Banned in Nigeria: Quartz Africa reports on a music video by rapper Falz, This is Nigeria, his “take” on Childish Gambino’s This is America. Not too hard to understand why the authorities are less than pleased. Just check out the video (below) featuring chibokesque girls in hijab. A taste of the lyricsThis is Nigeria/Praise and worship we singing now/Pastor put his hands on the breast of his members/He’s pulling the demons out/This is Nigeria/No electricity daily o/Your people are still working multiple jobs/And they talk say we lazy o

Mozambique’s Lusophone novelist Mia Couto (米亚·科托) will appear onstage in three forums at Shanghai Book Fair’s “Int’l Literary Week” (上海国际文学周) on August 14, 16 and 17. See here for news on the recent publication of 《母狮的忏悔》, translated from his novel A confissão da leoa. Three of his novels should be out in Chinese within 2018. For details, click here and scroll down to “Couto” under “C”. 上海国际文学周专访: “人们对非洲最大的误解” and “战争、殖民、疾病、贫穷,除了这些粗暴的标签,我们对非洲一无所知”.

Self-portraits of Senegalese photographer Omar Victor Diop (at left) “reframe African revolt through the lens of football fandom.”

Looking back at the design of the “African Writers Series”: In Judged by its Covers, James MacPhee highlights a dozen or so covers from Heinemann’s flagship project — famously dissed as “the Orange Ghetto” by Woyle Soyinka — and comments on the graphics.

The Nigeria Prize for Literature longlist — which focuses on drama this year — is out. A shortlist of three is expected in September and a possible winner (sometimes there isn’t one!) will be announced by the Advisory Board in October. The award rotates among four genres: fiction, poetry, dram and children’s literature, repeating the cycle every four years. With the total prize value of US$100,000 for the individual winner, it is the heftiest literary award in Africa. The 2018 longlist comprises 11 plays chosen from 89 entries, selected by a panel of three judges: Matthew Umukoro, professor of Theatre Arts at the University of Ibadan; Mohammed Inuwa Umar – Buratai, Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the Ahmadu Bello

China’s Confucius Institute penetration of Africa: From zero sites in 2004 to 48 today, second only to France’s Alliance Française

University (Zaria); and Ngozi Udengwu, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Theatre and Film Studies at the University of Nigeria (Nsukka).

Call for submissions (thru Sep 28) in post-Mugabe era: The Village Square Journal in Lagos seeks “reflective essays, short non-fiction, poetry and visual art that explore the current mood of Zimbabweans.”

Michael Orthofer reviews francophone author Alain Mabanckou’s The Tears of a Black Man. Writes Mabanckou: Born in Africa, in the Congo-Brazzaville, I spent a good part of my youth in France before settling in the United States. Congo is where my umbilical cord is buried, France is the adopted homeland of my dreams, and America is a corner from which I can observe the footsteps of my wanderings.

非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Quote of the Week: Culture doesn’t just live in museums

Lagos is judged [by Economist Intelligence Unit’s index] one of the 10 least liveable cities in the world, and London comes much higher in the desirability rankings, at number 48…In the culture and environment category, which

From Nigerian illustrator William Chechet’s “We are the North”

 

includes recreational activities, Vienna scored 96.3 out of 100 and Lagos just 53.5. Now I’ve been to Vienna, and I’ve lived in Lagos, and there is no way Vienna is 43 points ahead of Lagos in culture and environment. Just ask Emmanuel Macron, who recently made a pilgrimage to Fela Kuti’s New Afrika Shrine in Lagos. Lagos is a city of galleries under bridges, where artists paint and display for free. It’s a city of owambe parties that last until dawn. Every weekend there is a royal wedding that shuts down roads and stops traffic. Lagos is a city of fashion, home to the third biggest film industry in the world, and its Afrobeat music pulses out to reach the ears of a global audience. It’s obvious the statisticians didn’t know where to look.

(Excerpted from Who says the most liveable city is in the west? Culture doesn’t just live in museums by Chibundu Onuzo)

African Literature: On China’s Cultural Radar Yet?

Can Literary Imports Change Chinese Perceptions of Africa?, my piece on AfroLit in Chinese is up now at Sixth Tone:

Since the founding of the modern Chinese state in 1949, there have been three waves of African literary imports. The first, which emerged in the 1980s, was ideologically driven. Empowered by

Nigeria’s Chimamanda Adichie is hot in China: Her “Dear Ijeawele” (亲爱的安吉维拉), is due out in 3Q 2018 — her sixth book to appear in Chinese.

Beijing’s policy of promoting solidarity with the Third World and newly independent nations, state-run imprints like the Foreign Literature Publishing House translated and published a substantial number of African works such as those by the Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka, the Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiong’o, the Senegalese poet (and former president) Léopold Sédar Senghor, and the Algerian writer Mouloud Mammeri. Anthologies of translated African folktales for children even appeared.

To learn about the 2ndand now the 3rd— most recent wave — click here.

For more about African writing in China, read Feminist: A Dirty Word in Xi Jinping’s China?, or check out my bilingual database of African prose in Chinese translation (非洲文学:中文译本).