Cartoonist Takes the Mickey out of China’s Africa Grab

In How a Lone Ghanaian Cartoonist Stood up to China just published in Quartz Africa, freelance journalist Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu profiles a young artist

“Jollof War” casualty: As West African politicians bicker over which country makes the best version of this beloved rice dish, Xi Jinping makes off with the real prize.

who has emerged as a thorn in the side of China as it works overtime to forge a friendly, ‘win-win’ image for itself as a partner to African business.

Earlier this year, Ghana’s Bright Tetteh Ackwerh drew and published a cartoon that annoyed China’s ambassador to Ghana, who reportedly presented a written complaint to the host government.  But this seemed only to inspire the illustrator, and he has since gone on to sketch several more satirical ones. The one shown here at left is my favorite.

 

非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Newsbriefs: November 2017

A South African investigative journalist’s The President’s Keepers — documenting the ‘cancerous cabal’ that is reportedly bankrolling Jacob Zuma’s presidency — has become a best-seller even as the state moves to ban it. According to a report in Quartz Africa (Jacob Zuma’s corruption scandals are getting South Africans to read again), the State Security Agency and the South African Revenue Service have both taken action aimed at pressuring the publisher to take the controversial book off bookshelves nationwide.

“Who gets to document African realities? Who are the ‘gatekeepers’ of African publishing traditions? To what sort of audience does African writing cater?” Is NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names really “poverty porn”? These are some of the issues addressed by Jeanne-Marie Jackson in a lively article, New African literature is disrupting the standard lists of Western publishers (making readers happy).

Q & A with isiZulu translator of George’s Secret Key to the Universe, Phiwayinkosi Mbuyazi: When I encounter a word I’m not sure about (in fact even one with which I have a slight hesitation!) I quickly consult my heftiest English-Zulu Dictionary. If the word is not there – or it’s not satisfactory for what I need – I begin the process of creating a new word. In order to create new words I ask myself what does a word or object reminds me of or, if it does something, how does it do it? What does it sound like? Are there root words I can mash up to get me closer to something that will trigger the right intuition to a mother tongue speaker?

China is making big inroads among African university students, on the ground and in the PRC. A few numbers from Claire van den Heever’s piece, Confucius Institutes across Africa are Nurturing Generations of pro-China Mandarin Speakers: 40 Confucius Institutes are operating in Africa; 50,000 African students are studying in China, up from just 2,000 in 2003; and China has “promised to provide 30,000 scholarships to African students by 2018.”

A woman in Harare has gone to court, challenging the constitutionality of the practice of paying lobola, or bride price, reports Daniel Nemukuyu (Wants Lobola Abolished): I did not participate in the pegging of the lobola price. I was never given a chance to ask for the justification of the amounts which were paid. This whole scenario reduced me to a property whereby a price tag was put on me by my uncles and my husband paid. This demoralised me and automatically subjected me to my husband’s control since I would always feel that I was purchased.

African Fiction: Exports to China on the Rise in 2017

Believe it or not, China imports more from Africa than just oil, diamonds and exotic parts of endangered species to maximize male, erh, performance (壮阳).

Fiction writing, for instance. According to my newly updated mini-database of African literature in translation — 非洲文学 : 中文译本 — there are almost 100 contemporary African works (mainly novels) now published in Chinese in the PRC.

Mabanckou: The award-winning Francophone novelist makes his debut in Chinese

Since the “golden age” of translation in the 70s and 80s, when the Chinese government subsidized translation and publication of writing from Africa in the wake of decolonization and independence, there has been a long gap during which almost nothing was published unless its author won a Nobel or the like.

But 2017 has yielded a bumper crop, with newly launched translations of 7 works from:

Alain Mabanckou (Congo-Brazzaville)

Boualem Sansal (Algeria)

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria)

Kamel Daoud (Algeria)

Mandla Langa (South Africa)

Nadime Gordimer (South Africa)

Take a look here. Note those with “2017” highlighted.

非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Newsbriefs: September 2017

Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, speaking in Glossing Africa, questions the practice of briefly defining, footnoting, or otherwise clarifying the usage of indigenous terms in one’s fiction writing: There’s a part of me that just deeply resents the fact that there’re many parts of the world where the fiction that comes from there is read as anthropology rather than as literature. And increasingly that kind of anthropological reading then means that . . . you’re explaining your world rather than inhabiting your world.

“We don land gidigba!”

The BBC has launched a Lagos-based online news service that delivers news exclusively in West African pidgin English — a mixture of English, local languages and street slang — spoken by millions of people across ethnic and cultural lines in the region. Reporters will be stationed in Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon.

 At The Republic, SOAS Ph D candidate Oreva Olakpe documents “parallel institutional arrangements Nigerian migrants have established in China,” including “an informal justice system” that “facilitates dispute resolution at a micro level — which, practically, the Chinese government cannot enforce due to the clandestine existence of many individuals.”

非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Newsbriefs: July 2017

Cartographer Alexander Akin asserts that an ancient Chinese map of Africa — proudly cited by China as proof of early Sino-African ties  — may be a copy of a Korean version, and not based on the expeditions of the explorer Zheng He (1371–1435).

The way media in other parts of the world — including China — portray Africa attracted attention at the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) 2017. Africans in Yiwu explores the lives of 18 African families who have settled in Yiwu, Zhejiang Province.

 

Alibaba’s Jack Ma recently visited Kenya and Rwanda with 38 fellow Chinese billionaires in tow. He spoke at the YouthConnekt Africa summit, an initiative launched by the Rwandan government to encourage entrepreneurship among the country’s youth, and at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. Reports Quartz Africa: From an underdog to one of the richest men in the world, Ma’s story is one that resonates in Kenya. Ma applied for 30 jobs, including at KFC when it opened in his home city of Hangzhou. He was rejected from all of them. Unlike Zuckerberg who created Facebook from his Harvard dorm room, Ma struggled to go to college — he failed the entrance exam three times, and started Alibaba from his apartment.

Boubacar Boris Diop and His Wolof Publication Initiative

Boubacar Boris Diop, Senegalese author of Doomi Golo which he wrote in Wolof (and later translated into French), has launched the “Céytu” initiative to publish major works of francophone literature in Wolof. The language is spoken by about 11m people in Sénégal,Mariama Bâ Bataaxal bu gudde nii Mauritania and the Gambia. In this interview with Anne Bocandé of africultures.com, he explains the three works he has begun with:

Une si longue lettre [好长的一封信] de Mariama Bâ s’imposait par sa valeur propre mais aussi par l’exceptionnelle traduction, qui existait déjà, de Mame Younousse Dieng et Arame Fal ; L’Africain de Jean-Marie Le Clézio, est un tour de force en ce sens qu’il reste une confession à la fois intime et d’une ahurissante précision documentaire ; la pièce de Césaire sur l’assassinat de Lumumba a beau dater des années 70, elle reste actuelle quand on pense, par exemple, au destin tragique d’un Thomas Sankara, aux événements du Burkina et même au rôle plus que douteux de l’ONU dans des événements allant du génocide des Tutsi du Rwanda à la Syrie ou la Libye. J’avais une folle envie de traduire Une saison au Congo et maintenant, je souhaite faire jouer la pièce dans les grandes villes du Sénégal.

To read the full interview, click here.

To visit Céytu: Littérature en Wolof, click here.

非漂 [Fēi Piāo] April 2017 Newsbriefs

Chimamanda Ngozi, the Afropolitan: . . . because she has walked so confidently into the realm of non-fiction, and has agreed on multiple occasions, to take up the mantle of “spokesperson,” there is an increasing expectation that she is up to the task; that she can in fact authentically speak on behalf of the fans who adore her. Over time those fans have included young women enthralled by her popularization of existing mainstream feminist ideas and LGBTI communities across the diaspora and in urban European, American and African contexts. 

April 8 Marseilles event: Paroles et danses sacrées ! Poésies Poesis et chants vaudouet Chants vaudou with Hyacinthe Kougniazondé (griot né au Bénin); PéPé Oleka (musicienne Nigérienne); Sùnnù Wedo (“urban griot”); Mona Georgelin (professeure de danse gwoka); Médard Sossa (chorégraphe, danseur, percussionniste et chanteur).

Congo’s Francophone author Alain Mabanckou’s Black Moses (translated from his novel, Petit Piment) has been longlisted for the prestigious translated literature award, Man Booker Int’l Prize 2017. Amazingly, none of his works have been published yet in Chinese. 刚果法语作家阿兰‧马邦库: 为何没有中文译本?

Fox 2000 has reportedly acquired the movie rights for 23-year-old Nigerian-American author Tomi Adeyemi’s debut young adult West African fantasy novel, Children of Blood and Bone, which is the first in what will be a trilogy. This despite the fact that the book has yet to arrive in a bookstore. Henry Holt Books for Young Readers will publish under Macmillan Publishers. Adeyemi joins the likes of Chimamanda Adichie and Chinua Achebe who have had their novels Half of a Yellow Sun (半轮黄日) and Things Fall Apart (这个世界土崩瓦解了) adapted for the silver screen. And watch the trailor for Adichie’s more recent Americannah here.

Among Three Percent’s candidates for its 2017 Best Translated Book Prize are several works whose originals were penned by African writers. On the 25-Doomi Golo by Boobacar Boris Diopstrong fiction list are Senegalese author Boubacar Baris Diop’s novel Doomi Golo: The Hidden Notebooks and Egyptian author Basma Abdel Aziz’s novel The Queue, and on the 10-strong poetry list is Moroccan author Abdellatif Laabi’s collection In Praise of Defeat. You can read background info about these three here. Doomi Golo is reportedly the first novel ever to be translated from the Wolof into English. But perhaps more interesting is Diop’s story about how he rendered it himself in French, although this act of auto-traduction took him five years. When it came out in Wolof, a friend commented: « Tout à fait entre nous, tu t’es bien fait plaisir en écrivant dans ta langue maternelle, c’est très bien, bravo, mais mets-toi à présent au travail et donne-nous le même roman dans une vraie langue. Ne penses-tu pas que ce sera plus simple pour tout le monde ?» For a fascinating explanation of the process, see Écrire entre deux langues. De Doomi Golo aux Petits de la Guenon.

Factoids re: Africa-based Confucius Institutes (孔子院), according to the official Hanban web site: There are 46 institutes now up and running (mainly within a university), with at least one located in 36 of Africa’s 54 countries, including 8 in South Africa, 5 each in Ethiopia and Kenya, and 3 in Tanzania.

非漂 [Fēi Piāo] March 2017 Newsbriefs

Call for Papers

Workshop on Strategies for the Promotion of African Language Literature. To be held at the University of Vienna May 2-4. Deadline for abstracts: March 15, 2017.

 

Topics

J.O.J. Nwachukwu-Agbada’s Nigerian Written Literature Since 1914: . . . to write a piece of African literature without the injection of African traditional materials is like preparing a soup without thinking of salt. African oral materials found even in snippets confer authenticity on the modern African literary heritage. Thus Achebe, Soyinka, Okigbo, Okara, Aluko, Clark, Ike, Amadi, etc. are today remembered among other reasons for what they have made of orature which they inherited from their different cultures . . . recent writers are even more aggressively adept at appropriating folk materials: Osofisan, Okri, Osundare, Fatoba, Sowande, Ofeimun, Enekwe, Nwabueze, Ezenwa-Ohaeto . . .

Full text of speech by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o in Pretoria in early March, Decolonize the Mind, Secure the Base: The entire African language speaking majorities are taxed directly or indirectly so that 90 percent of the resources available for language education can go to English accents. In some countries African language have been unceremoniously axed out of the curriculum or made into electives. Some advocates of English dominance not only want it so but would actually like to see the literary disappearance of native languages altogether. 

非漂 [Fēi Piāo] February 2017 Newsbriefs

Potpourri

Welcome to LagosFive greatest Old African novels to read before you die . . . cheveux naturels in Sénégal, Men may say they don’t like it and of course they hate the cost but they are attracted to the look . . . resident Chinese in Africa by the numbers . . . interview with Abubakar Adam Ibrahim: Northern Nigeria’s ‘literary provocateur’ . . . Chibundu Onuzo’s novel Welcome to Lagos reviewed at The Guardian . . .

Upcoming Literary Events

Time of the Writer’s Festival

Date: March 13-18th, 2017

Theme: The Past Paving the Future

Host: Centre for Creative Arts, U of Kwa-Zulu Natal

Participants include: Fred Khumalo, author of Bitches’ Brew; Nomsa Mdlalose, folklorist and author of children’s books published in isiZulu, Setswana, Afrikaans and English; Lidudumalingani Mqombothi, awarded 2016 Caine Prize for African writing for his short story Memories We Lost;  Nakanjani G. Sibiya is a short story writer, novelist, poet and playwright who has authored/edited 50+ isiZulu literary works across genres, including his debut novel, Kuxolelwa abanjani?

Paper, Airwaves, Screen: From Text to Audience in African Popular Culture

Date: 12-13th July 2017

Venue: University of Bristol, UK

Keynote speakers: Lydie Moudileno (U of Pennsylvania), Tsitsi Jaji (Duke U)

Recent artworks, including Bili Bidjocka’s Infinite Writing and François-Xavier Gbré’s National Printworks, evoke the fragile material status of writing and reading. They also remind us of the power that each can yield. In light of development agendas pertaining to literacy (e.g. UN Sustainable Development Goal 4), this conference will attend to the cultures of reading and reception that emerge in popular culture on the African continent.

非漂 [Fēi Piāo] January 2017 Newsbriefs

Alibaba: The House that Jack Ma Built is the business book that most inspired Nigeria’sthe-house-that-jack-ma-built
Iyinoluwa ‘E’ Aboyeji — co-founder of Flutterwave and Andela — last year: There are so many parallels between the intrigues of startups in China and our nascent African Startup ecosystem, he says.

Evan Mwangi reviews John Mugane’s The Story of Swahili and Alamin Mazrui’s The Cultural Politics of Translation: East Africa in Global Contexts, and wonders: Is it time for a slave rebellion in Swahili literary studies?

Etisalat Nigeria has announced the shortlist for the 2016 edition of its pan-African literary prize, the Etisalat Prize for Literature: The Seed Thief (Jacqui L’Ange, South Africa); And After Many Days (Jowhor Ile, Nigeria); Mr & Mrs Doctor (Julie Iromuanya, Nigeria).

Pwaangulongii Dauod tells us How to Write about Northern Nigeria: Your main character should be an imam, or a beggar, or farmer, or a herdsman. Or, all of it. But must be an illiterate and a Muslim who is not interested in science and technology.

 
jamal-by-alkibar-jrThe attempt by terrorists to impose Sharia law upon northern Mali resulted in the mass exodus of many musicians who had made the region famous. But music has returned to the north, and this is a review of Jamal, the first album by the new Malian group Alkibar Jr. that hails from Niafunké. Elements of Songhai, Peuhl and Tamasheq rock/blues figure on the disc.

 

African Theatre 15: China, India & the Eastern World: Newly available volume focuses on China, and features topics such as: How the PRC is  using “soft power” in its extensive engagement with South Africa, and, through its support for theatre festivals, with Lusophone countries in Africa; Construction of theatres, opera houses and cultural facilities as part of its foreign aid programs in Algeria, Cameroon, Mauritius, Ghana and Senegal; and what China is “importing” culturally from Africa.

奇玛曼达·恩戈兹·阿迪契小说 《紫木槿》 出版了:Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the high-profile female Nigerian novelist who is spending much of紫木槿 her time in the US, now has at least three of her works out in Chinese. The
latest, published in January 2017, is her novel, Purple Hibiscus. The other two are The Thing Around Your Neck (绕颈之物) and Half a Yellow Sun (半轮黄日).