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Archive for the ‘isiNdebele’ Category

New Ngugi wa Thiong’o story translated into over 30 African languages in record-breaking issue of Jalada Africa

Ngugi wa Thiong'o
In the House of the InterpreterA Grain of WheatThe River BetweenWeep Not, ChildPetals of BloodDreams in a Time of WarWizard of the Crow

 
The latest edition of Jalada Africa contains a new short story by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o translated into over 30 African languages, making it the “single most translated short story in the history of African writing”.

The short story was originally written in Kikuyu as “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”.

This is an impressive first foray into translation for Jalada Africa, a Pan-African writers’ collective based in Nairobi, Kenya. Translation Issue: Volume 1 is the culmination of a four-month project, and features collaborative work by professional and amateur translators as well as language enthusiasts from 14 African countries.

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.”

nullThe 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.

  • Jalada Africa encourages writers and translators who do not find their African languages featured in this issue and who would like to volunteer to contribute a translation of this story and to future Translation Issues to get in touch with at jaladatranslations@gmail.com.
nullnullnull

 

The aim of the project was to renew interest in publishing in local languages and increase access to such stories.

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.”

Read a short excerpt from the English version:

A long time ago humans used to walk on legs and arms, just like all the other four limbed creatures. Humans were faster than hare, leopard or rhino. Legs and arms were closer than any other organs: they had similar corresponding joints: shoulders and hips; elbows and knees; ankles and wrists; feet and hands, each ending with five toes and fingers, with nails on each toe and finger. Hands and feet had similar arrangements of their five toes and finger from the big toe and thumb to the smallest toes and pinkies. In those days the thumb was close to the other fingers, the same as the big toe. Legs and arms called each other first cousins.

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.

“Despite long-running conversations on the need for publishing in indigenous languages on the African continent over the past five decades, writing and translations remain minimal and the little that exists continues to rapidly decline,” the publication says. “Since our Languages Issue, we’ve deliberated on the best ways of making writing in our languages a continuous activity.

“We were convinced the previous anthology did not capture all the facets of languages we were interested in. There are millions of speakers in African languages and not many writers in African languages. Why? Can this be changed?”

 
Related stories:

Image courtesy of What’s Good Africa

Book details


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Download a free children’s story – available in 11 official languages – and pass on the power of stories this World Read Aloud Day

 
National reading-for-enjoyment campaign Nal’ibali has teamed up with Yvonne Chaka Chaka for World Read Aloud Day on 24 February, 2016.

Last year, with the support of hundreds of South Africans, Nal’ibali read aloud to over 166 000 children and it hopes to double or even triple that number this year.

Yvonne Chaka Chaka will be giving her own special reading of Neo and the Big Wide World in isiZulu to children at Orlando Stadium in Soweto.

In addition, Orlando Pirates Football Club will launch its Reading Stars Programme.

Scroll down to find out more and download the book.

 

“If we want our children to grow up as strong and powerful readers, we must demonstrate reading for them,” Nal’ibali managing director Jade Jacobsohn says. “When you read aloud to a child, you show them what reading looks like and how to make sense of text. Exposing them to new words and expressions used in stories helps to develop their vocabularies and provides a rich pool of language for children to draw from when they want to read and write on their own.”

Carole Bloch, executive director of PRAESA (the Project for the Study of Alternative Education), a co-founder of Nal’ibali, adds: “The power of reading aloud to children is incredible. Not only is it richly rewarding and enjoyable for any age, it is also the way we establish the foundational, knowledge and motivation young children need as they are learning to read – and indeed for all learning.

 

“There are over 17 000 000 children in South Africa with only around 5 percent being read to by their caregivers. World Read Aloud Day celebrates the joy of sharing a good story and we hope that even more adults in South Africa will join us this year. Then let’s grow that 5 percent to 50 percent by continuing to explore books and stories throughout the year.”

How to get involved

This year’s special story, Neo and the Big Wide World, by Vianne Venter and illustrated by Rico of Madam and Eve Fame, is freely available for download from Nal’ibali’s web and mobisites.

Members of the public can also sign up on these sites to share how many children they will be reading to, and stand the chance to win one of four Bargain Books hampers worth R1 000 each!

 

Neo and the Big Wide World is available in all 11 official languages, and a further two: it will be available in Braille in the February edition of Blind SA’s youth magazine, while Sign Language Education and Development (SLED) has collaborated with Story Bosso runners up Kerrin Kokot and Jayne Batzofin to produce a signed video of the story which can be viewed on the Nal’ibali website.

The story will also appear in a commemorative edition of the Nal’ibali’s supplement produced in partnership with PRAESA and media partner Times Media.

 

You can access the World Read Aloud Day story online here:

And for a burst of storytelling inspiration, listen to Yvonne Chaka Chaka reading the story in English and isiZulu!


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Nal’ibali calls for more books in local languages for International Mother Language Day

 
Knowledge is power. Where do we keep knowledge? Books! So lots of books means … lots of power!

This is the central message of an inspiring new video produced by Nal’ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, with which they are launching their call for more books in South African languages.

The call is made as part of the Nal’ibali celebration of International Mother Language Day, happening on 21 February. This year’s theme, as selected by the UN, will be “Quality education, language(s) of instruction and learning outcomes”.

All children deserve to learn to read, and to be read to in the language that they are most familiar with and comfortable in. In this way their experiences of books and stories become far richer through greater comprehension of the tales within. This is a crucial component in building children’s motivation to read, a desire which we know has significant implications for their future learning success. – Jade Jacobsohn, Managing Director of the Nal’ibali campaign.

A look at the Children’s Book Availability Report by The South African Publications Network (SAPnet) reveals that very few children are able to read books in their mother tongues owing to a lack of such books:

Between 2000 and 2015, 53 599 children’s books were published in South Africa. Of these 21 714 were English (40%), 12 934 were Afrikaans (24%), 3 638 isiXhosa (6%), 3561 isiZulu (6%), 2 341 Setswana (4%), 2 273 Sepedi (4%), 2 200 Sesotho (4%), 1 309 Xitsonga (2%); 1 144 Tshivenda (2%), 1 119 Siswati (2%) and 912 isiNdebele (1%). This does not take into account the number of these books that are school textbooks. The remaining books published were dictionaries.

 

Watch the video and be inspired to heed to Nal’ibali’s call for an increase in the production and distribution of books in indigenous languages:

YouTube Preview Image

 
Related story:

 

Press release

Nal’ibali launches powerful PSA this International Mother Languages Day

Highlighting the critical lack of books available in all African languages to children in South Africa, Nal’ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, has produced a powerful public service announcement that illustrates the breakdown of books available per language and calls for support for African language reading materials for children. The video has been developed in recognition of International Mother Languages Day on Sunday, 21 February.

“All children deserve to learn to read, and to be read to in the language that they are most familiar with and comfortable in. In this way their experiences of books and stories become far richer through greater comprehension of the tales within. This is a crucial component in building children’s motivation to read, a desire which we know has significant implications for their future learning success,” explains Jade Jacobsohn, Managing Director of the Nal’ibali campaign.

“Without this, many African language speaking children are likely to continue to find learning to read and write a burdensome and difficult task. The accelerated growth and use of a multilingual children’s literature is a sign of appreciation of and care for the cultural and educational interests of all children. It also offers the chance to embrace diversity and grow common understandings”, adds Carole Bloch, Executive Director of PRAESA (the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa) cofounder and literacy content and quality assurance partner of Nal’ibali.

What motivates children to read? Research has shown that choice and relevance are two of the most critical components. When children can choose from a wide selection of books and stories that they understand, inspire them and are relevant to their lives, they are more likely to want to read.

However, a recent report issued by SAPnet (The South African Publications Network) shows that of the total number of books published in South Africa between the year 2000 and 2015, 40% of these were in English, 24% in Afrikaans and just 6% in isiXhosa and isiZulu. The remaining official languages were represented with percentages smaller than six. Most notably, the percentage of books for isiNdebele is just 1%*, an alarmingly small portion of books given the population breakdown per language.

It is also important to note that these figures do not take into account the number of books that are school textbooks, as this would further reduce the number of books available.

“We want our children to grow up to be strong and powerful readers, and to have the best chance of success in the classroom and in the workforce. We need to increase quantity and access to literacy materials in all languages. We need to start by promoting the importance of mother tongue languages and celebrating them,” concludes Jacobsohn.

Using languages which people understand deeply plays an important role in social and economic development. African languages must be accorded cultural capital. Nal’ibali would like to thank SAPnet and the Cape Town Central Library for their kind support in the production of the video and the Nal’ibali campaign.

For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign, to watch the video or to access children’s in a range of South African languages, visit www.nalibali.org and www.nalibali.mobi. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter: nalibaliSA.

Ends


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In Celebration of International Dictionary Day: 13 New and Revised Indigenous Language Dictionaries to be Published

International Dictionary Day is celebrated annually on 16 October, which is tomorrow.

This day was established in tribute to the famous American dictionary writer, Noah Webster, who was born on 16 October 1758. He is heralded as the father of the modern dictionary.

The South African National Lexicography Units, one for every official South African language, will be celebrating this important day – and the importance of dictionaries in general – by starting the release of no fewer than 13 new or revised editions of indigenous language monolingual, and indigenous language bilingual dictionaries. By the end of November all 13 new dictionaries will have been published.

The Lexicography Units were established by the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) in 2001 to focus on lexicography and terminology development in South Africa, their task being to compile monolingual explanatory dictionaries and other products to help with language development. Each unit is managed by a board of directors and registered as a Section 21 (not-for-profit) company, which allows the unit autonomy to raise funds to carry on its work.

For more information on the new dictionaries, read the press release below:

* * * * * *

 

SALU

 
The eleven South African National Lexicography Units (one per official language) are the structures of state Constitutionally and Legislatively mandated, in the case of our indigenous languages, to produce dictionaries and other material that will “elevate their status and advance their use”.

While the Units are national entities they are based in the province or provincial district in which their language predominates, but the result of their work benefits all speakers and learners of the language no matter where they reside.
They are located as follows:

Xitsonga – Limpopo
Tshivenda – Limpopo
Sesotho sa Leboa – Limpopo
Siswati – Mpumalanga
isiNdebele – Gauteng / Mpumalanga
isiZulu – Kwa Zulu Natal
isiXhosa and English – Eastern Cape
Sesotho – Free State
Setswana – North West
Afrikaans – Western Cape

The nine indigenous language Units have recently formed an overarching structure – The South African National Lexicography Units – in order to:

Launch and maintain an awareness creation programme to inform the public and all government departments and agencies, including schools and tertiary education institutions, of the Units, their work, achievements and our new publication development plans.
Persuade the above agencies to implement and use our dictionaries, and to involve them – - in particular Government’s other indigenous language support and development structures, tertiary institutions, National and Provincial Departments of Education – in revisions of existing dictionaries and the identification of new projects which will elevate the status and increase the use of our languages.
Remind Government agencies of their Constitutional obligation to our indigenous languages and persuade the private sector to play an active role in this regard.
Co-ordination of the Units book development activities ensuring that no indigenous language, on the basis of having fewer speakers, is disadvantaged over any other language.

Our national awareness campaign was launched about five weeks ago and saw the attached poster, together with a covering letter, being distributed to all Honourable Members of Parliament, the NCOP and as of today six of our nine provincial Legislatures. The response has been most encouraging and we hope for a similar response from both government and the private sector.

International Dictionary Day

We are pleased to announce that between International Dictionary Day – 16th October 2015 – and the end of November 2015 no fewer than thirteen new or revised editions of indigenous language monolingual, and indigenous language bilingual dictionaries will be published. A further two dictionaries will be available early in 2016. It is the largest publishing event of its kind ever undertaken in our indigenous languages.

These are:

isiZulu English Bilingual Dictionary
isiNdebele Afrikaans English Trilingual Dictionary
isiNdebele Monolingual Dictionary
Tshivenda English Bilingual Dictionary
Tshivenda Monolingual Dictionary
Sesotho sa Leboa Monolingual Dictionary
Sesotho sa Leboa English Bilingual Dictionary
Setswana Monolingual Dictionary
Setswana English Bilingual Dictionary
Setswana Maths and Science English – Setswana Dictionary for Grades 4 to 9
Sesotho English Bilingual Dictionary
Xitsonga English Bilingual Dictionary
Xitsonga Monolingual Dictionaries

Due Early 2016

Siswati Monolingual Dictionary
Siswati English Bilingual Dictionary

These will add to the published dictionaries listed below:
isiXhosa Three Volume isiXhosa – Afrikaans – English Dictionary
isiXhosa One Volume Monolingual Dictionary
isiXhosa Maths and Science isiXhosa – English Dictionary for Grades 4 to 9
isiZulu Monolingual Dictionary R 275.00

Ends


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An Inappropriate Text for an Appropriate Evening – Read Antjie Krog’s Keynote Address from the 2015 Sunday Times Literary Awards

Antjie Krog

 
Poet, author and activist Antjie Krog delivered the keynote address at the 2015 Sunday Times Literary Awards on Saturday. She made a call for white South Africans to perform an act of radical outreach, similar to that of Nelson Mandela 20 years ago when he donned Francois Pienaar’s jersey at the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

Krog made various statements which drew spirited reactions from the crowd – some not as positive as others (scroll to the end to see the reaction on Twitter).

Read her speech in full, and see the images Krog used to illustrate her point:
 

* * * * * * * *

 
Inappropriate Text for an Appropriate Evening

Allow me tonight to open with an incident from Country of my Skull.

During a public meeting with the then Minister of Finance he was asked whether there was a post-Truth and Reconciliation plan to get from whites what was needed to repair the past. He answered: even if we take everything whites have, it will never make up for what they did. What we need, to address inequality is a 6% growth rate.

This was of course the truth. Nothing could ever repair the damage of three centuries. But in another way it was also a mark of a general unwillingness by all of us to do some complex thinking.

With the wisdom of hindsight one wishes there had been a Rhodes Must Fall group to ignite a proper conversation on the consequences of not changing our world. What was it that black people desired after apartheid? What were the outlines of their dreams? Also, what was the biggest challenge: establishing racial equality and then attending poverty? Or a drive to reduce poverty through various mechanisms of which a crucial one was race.

It would have been important for whites then to have heard the conditions under which they were to be accommodated or rejected: we don’t want whites here; or: we want whites, but only poor ones – or only rich ones; or: we want whites willingly to take responsibility for everything that fails; or: for three centuries the country has invested its best and most powerful resources in you, so for three generations you will use your accumulated skills, knowledge and resources to eradicate for ever the Verwoerd education system, or mend the distorted transport system, or build an appropriate health system; or perhaps even: every white should report to a township school and assist with rendering services from cleaning toilets and safeguarding buildings and people, to teaching and marking as and when necessary.

However problematic or unpractical these suggestions might sound, they would have focused all of our minds on what kind of society we wanted to live in. And what we were willing to pay for it.

I mean, whatever was negotiated and understood, misunderstood or taken for granted – was there anybody in South Africa who thought that the country materially had to stay as it was with all the resources remaining in specific areas and classes? Remember Yeats:

Hurrah for revolution and more cannon-shot.
A beggar upon horseback lashes a beggar on foot.
Hurrah for revolution and cannon come again:
The beggars have changed places, but the lash goes on.

How many Afrikaners assumed that they could raise their children and grandchildren in a ghetto of ethnic privilege and language, avoiding everything that had to do with the continent they so blithely named themselves after? Did whites really think that setting matters right stopped at charity, NGOs, philanthropy, paying domestic workers more than a living wage and allowing a black middle class to grow?

At this post-Marikana stage it is perhaps time to speak frankly – to engage in brutal public conversations. It is especially time for anger. I respect anger. Anger is often where important change begins. Not the anger of destruction, but the anger which brings clarity of direction and resolute lucidity. When someone in anger says: “We must kill the whites … ” it is important to hear real responses: and then what? Or: how? OR more importantly: on what principle? This is not to play around irresponsibly with fears, rage and desires, but to bring into the open what is being murmured under angry breaths, what festers in horrific killings, emotional repression and violent neglect of human dignity. It is time to discuss and argue these things. How do we get to radical change? How will the means influence the outcome? If there are race-killings, expropriations, squattings as a consequence of unrelieved poverty and dashed expectations of change – what will happen? And who will care enough to start dealing with the root causes and wounds?

Recently a comprehensive research project was done on racism on campuses. An interesting element was that apparently all the students, irrespective of colour, expressed a desire to move: ‘beyond race’. Yet, the moment they themselves begin to talk about their circumstances and dreams, they fell back into old apartheid categories. Thus one of the conclusions is that we are not enabling students to move beyond the racial lexicon of apartheid. The irony, as Neville Alexander noted: is that those born free from racial classification are now forced by government practice to classify themselves when filling in forms as white, coloured, black or Indian.

In the absence of a plan to get what is needed from whites and the absence of new content to the pronoun ‘us’, a question: what would most South Africans older than thirty two, respond, when asked to name a visual image which brought home like a thunderbolt the profound moment of radical change?

Probably:

Mandela in a Springbok jersey / Mandela taking the national salute:

Mandela Wearing a Springbok Jersey

 

Or

Mandela with Mbeki and de Klerk:

Reconciliation in Action

 
But as they ask in IQ tests: what should the next frame look like?

Who Will Fill the Empty Frame?

 
In the first two images, outreach is from the black side.

Personally I want an image showing whites in an equally radical act of outreach. After the TRC there was intense hope for a White Prince of Reconciliation: a powerful not-guilty white man to say: on behalf of all whites, I am sorry, we want to build with you a new society of sharing, tell us what to do. That never happened. The Home For All campaign, eliciting tons of scorn and ridicule, barely raised eight hundred signatures, so after twenty years the third frame is still empty.

And yet, many whites are doing things. Enormous things. Small things. Wonderful things. (So do black people, but the frame needs the input from whites!) Many people, old and young, are being assisted by whites, many lives are being saved, talents nurtured and sponsored, and every person assisted is a person assisted, whatever the motives or the affluence from which it originated. So why don’t whites have an image to put in here? Is it just bad PR or is it that charity and aid often immobilise efforts of radical change while simultaneously allowing government to blissfully ignore the poor.

But whites working shoulder to shoulder with blacks, as equals, as partners, as fellow citizens, could present an image of a sweeping paradigm shift able radically to change the South African landscape for the good. But what should blacks and whites be doing to psychologically complete the visual frame series inspirationally? Let’s have phone-ins with plans and a referendum choosing among them.

Because what was promised in 1994, didn’t happen. A systemic fault line prevented the momentous emblematic political transformation from being complemented by an equally momentous emblematic socioeconomic transformation. Was everybody so caught up in placating the interests of capital that we assumed that it was enough that affirmative action was meant for those already employed and BEE for those mixing with the elite? How on earth could we think this was ethically correct? Or that it will hold?

In one’s frustration one is pushed to imagine whether the empty frame calls for a two year Radical Reconstruction Period in which all energy, all resources and every South African is used in order to achieve massive structural change. The image that comes to mind is of a particular kind of scrambled egg, one made after the yolk and white has been fried hard. Everything is put on hold, salary increases, price increases, even the constitution is used to take us towards systemic changes, until the collective spatula has cut the whole lot to pieces for a proper, fairer mix.

Will that do the job? First a step back. Ten years ago I felt that all land should be nationalised. Then one could say: the land truly belongs to all the South African people, all of us; those on farms merely have leasehold. But with the current set of leaders it seems problematic to execute any plan demanding of clear ethical thinking, selfless motivation and moral example.

Every week there are problematic responses to headline issues. One remarkable example is the open letter of President Zuma to Mozambican writer Mia Couto saying that the government is driving a campaign to tell South Africans not to kill other Africans as they assisted the ANC in their struggle against apartheid. Does the President notice that he implies that those who did NOT actively support the ANC in exile – the Somalians, the Moroccans, the PAC-supporting Zimbabweans – are fair game?

Listening to ANC politicians and spokespersons is often like entering an ethical desert where all life is centred on riches that will dawn like a lottery win on individuals doing the protect Zuma-tapdance. The poor suddenly have to become entrepreneurs. The rhetoric of freedom and justice has evaporated into increasingly shabby talk about a developmental state, while the examples of leaders suggest freedom from apartheid means freedom to shop and especially freedom not to be accountable.

When last did we hear anybody talk about a just society, a better life for everybody, suggesting that enough was a feast? In strikes and wage bargaining one seldom hears the words: justice, fairness, empathy. And why would we – being bombarded by the vulgar excesses of celebrity life and vainglorious luxury on television, billboards and magazines only acknowledging the right to consume?

To return to the Rhodes Must Fall group: it has surely done well to create awareness of the need to face issues; of the kind of activism that understands the importance of thinking as a form of collective activity. But precisely for that reason, and because collectivity can humanise a space, it is important to press for clarity of thought to educate us all. Are they teaching us that to reject Rhodes solely on grounds of his racism is implicitly to endorse the inequality, exploitation and state violence of the present?

Fanon warned decades ago how quickly liberation can degenerate when it lacks humanist content. Movements without it, fall into undemocratic and brutal ways especially when a ruling party, masked by the mixed rhetoric of Africanism, Ubuntu and possessive individualism, begins to focus only on sectional and ethnic interests. He suggested that in order not to create new hierarchies, we should establish ‘relations of comradeship, of solidarity, of love, relations which prefigure the sort of society we struggle for.’

But let us return to the seemingly impossible image of the hard fried egg that needs to be scrambled.

How to Scramble a Fried Egg?

 
The essence of colonialism is space – the expropriation and personal consuming of space. The colonial and apartheid worlds were worlds divided and dividing. Therefore decolonisation must mean the making whole, the recreation, reappropriation and reconfiguration of space. It means more than simply eradicating the lines of force that keep zones apart; it requires fundamental social and economic change.

For example: during this suggested two year Radical Reconstruction Period all suburbs and farms are given two years of free range to scramble themselves. Every house in the suburbs should be confronted by the fact of shackness, every park filled with squatters, every street with vendors. Every home and land owner, every suburb, every farm free to negotiate a living space with whomever moves in.

Liberation remains incomplete when the colonial or apartheid city is not reorganised, but simply taken over. A ban should be put on changing the name of any town/street/space before that community has fundamentally, practically and collectively prioritised the poor. Those who finish their studies, and those who have retired, should work for a year in the town or city of their birth to remove backlogs and shortages in courts, hospitals, schools, administrative offices, infrastructure support, corruption investigations, child care etc. For no salary. The town will provide food and a place to sleep.

We are facing a disaster in the absence of a crucial social unifying vision of a humane society. The times are pitiless. No vision is coming to save us. Let us dirty our hands with the tactics of the kind of communality needed to create openings into which new rhythms, new language and new modes of being human can be poured.

"Us" - An illustration of South Africans

 

We did it once. We surprised ourselves in doing what was not thought possible (a political transformation despite our historical and current political context). The times are demanding from us to do so again: bringing about the impossible: an economic transformation despite a neoliberal context and rotten leadership. And in order to pull it off, we need to have all the conversations, deferred from 1994, with as much courageous imagination, new vocabulary and wild dreams as possible.

and so this us comes
heartstained and upwards
the us comes
with cataclysmic breath
in the mouthclose sound of birds
with care we break the frames

and our bodies
begin to
read: those with less power

eating
our tongues begin to feel: the destitute

our neck hairs rise:
when on flattened cartons a fallen man turns over

our ribs
slip: at the maiming of a trampled body’s light

this us are the beggars
this us are the poor
this us live intact and with honour

unwon we must become
unfastened
with wrists that bravely pile up stars
 

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Related stories:


Read some tweets sent out during Krog’s speech:.

 

* * * * * * * *

 

Country of My SkullA Change of TongueAntjie Krog and the Post-Apartheid Public SphereMede-weteSynapseAntjie Krog
Skinned\'n Ander tongvalDie sterre sê tsauMet Woorde Soos Met KerseBody BereftVerweerskrifFynbos Fairies

 

View some photos from the event:

 

Book details

  • Die sterre sê tsau: /Xam-gedigte van Diä!kwain, Kweiten-ta-//ken, /A!kúnta, /Han#kass’o en //Kabbo edited by Antjie Krog
    EAN: 9780795701740
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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Literacy? There’s an App for That

Nalibali Literacy App

To celebrate International Literacy Day today, the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign has joined forces with Mxit Reach to launch a literacy app.

Mxit Reach is a division of Mxit, a mobile social networking platform, dedicated to free mobile educational, health care, agricultural and community applications, and has five million monthly users.

The app, which is available to anyone with a mobile handset, including non-smart feature phones, enables users to receive stories or motivational tips in a language of their choice. It also contains a story library, including audio book and literacy quizzes, and a virtual reading club section where users can share their book reviews. To encourage meaningful engagement, users can earn points and other rewards by completing stories and submitting reviews.

Carole Bloch, director of the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa (PRAESA), which is driving the Nal’ibali campaign, says a love of reading must be initiated at home, preferably in a child’s home language.

“Research shows that being told stories and being read to at home are the things most likely to help make children successful learners at school,” Bloch says. “Stories, particularly when read or heard in home languages, help children develop their language skills and imagination as well as their thinking and problem-solving skills. But not all South Africans have access to children’s books and stories – particularly in their mother tongue.

“What most South Africans do have, is a cellphone, with mobile penetration now over 100 percent in the country. By harnessing this tidal wave of mobile communication technology use in our country, we hope to get even more adults reading and enjoying stories with their children so it becomes part of their daily lives.”

Adults are encouraged to sign up for the app with their children, as literacy development is most successful when stories are read and enjoyed together.

“There is a tendency for parents to engage less with their children around ebooks and other forms of digital content,” Bloch says. “Language and literacy skills are best developed in the discussion and engagement that takes place when caregivers and young ones share a story together – and this includes the sharing of stories found on digital devices.”

To sign-up for the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment app download Mxit on your phone at m.mxit.com. Go to Apps > Search > Nalibali.

For more information visit www.nalibali.org or www.nalibali.mobi.

Image courtesy of Nal’ibali


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Twenty in 20 Anthology Launched as National Book Week Kicks Off

Twenty in 20 anthology

 
Twenty in 20Twenty in 20: The Best Short Stories of South Africa’s 20 Years of Democracy was launched at the start of National Book Week.

The launch was attended by the Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture Rejoice Mabudafhasi, South African Book Development Council CEO Elitha van der Sandt, and SABDC chairperson Jane Molony, as well as Twenty in 20 judges Mandla Langa and Karabo Kgoleng.

The Twenty in 20 project, a collaboration between Books LIVE, the Department of Arts and Culture and Short Story Day Africa, kicked off in May, when we made a call for submissions of the finest short stories written in South Africa, in English, since 1994.

After over 200 submissions, judges Langa (chair), Kgoleng, Mtutuzeli Matshoba and Fiona Snyckers chose a longlist of 50, and then a final list of 20 short stories, which have now been collected into an anthology that will provide pleasure for generations to come and serve as a long-standing reference for South African literary posterity. From Chris van Wyk’s 1995 miniature masterpiece, “Relatives”, to Makhosazana Xaba‘s extraordinary 2013 tale of betrayal, “Running”, we hope you enjoy the fruits of the Twenty in 20 project, a Twenty Years of Freedom initiative.

Langa said the collection represented “what it means to be South African, what it means to be creative, what it means to take that journey that South Africa has taken for the past 20 years”.

“When we started on this exercise of looking through the short stories we wanted, as South Africans, to do things right,” Langa said. “To come up with the short stories that best represent the spirit of the 20 years of our democracy.

“We believed in the issue, in the principle, that literature comes from the Latin word ‘literatura’, which means letters, which means we were looking for letters that best help us understand ourselves as South Africans and also material that goes to the spirit of writing, which is being able to imagine to ‘the other’, being able to see the world through the eyes of ‘the other’. And we believe that the empathy that comes out of that is what really brings about peace in any community.”

The Twenty in 20 Continues South Africa’s Great Tradition of Short Story Writing

Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture Rejoice Mabudafhasi said she was “delighted” to launch the Twenty in 20 anthology, as it continues a great tradition of short story writing in South Africa.

“In July it was with sadness that we learnt of the passing of the South African literary giant and Nobel Laureate in Literature Nadine Gordimer. She was a renowned anti-apartheid critic and cultural activist who, from a young age, showed principled commitment in an artistic freedom of expression and the ideal of a non-racial and democratic society. Her contribution to the national literary treasury is immeasurable and not even her death can erase it.

“Gordimer saw her fiction as part of the struggle against apartheid; to document the havoc that institutional lies, prejudice and discrimination wrought on private lives.

“But South Africa has a rich tradition of short story writing, with not only Nadine, but also Bloke Modisane, Casey Motsisi, Can Themba, Bessie Head, Es’kia Mphahlele, Njabulo Ndebele, Mbulelo Mzamane and many, many other notable literary voices.

“With this inspirational earlier generation we encourage younger generations to continue with this great tradition while confronting present day challenges.”

Only 6% of Books in South Africa are Published in Indigenous Languages

Mabudafhasi added, however, that South Africa has a long way to go to promote a “culture of reading”, and that the writing community has a responsibility to contribute to its growth.

“In the general sector in South Africa, 49 percent of the books published are in English. 45 percent in Afrikaans. The remaining six percent is shared among the nine indigenous languages,” Mabudafhasi said. “This deep imbalance manifests itself in many ways including economic beneficiation. So we still have a great task ahead of us.

“The writing fraternity has the responsibility to add meaningful value in our endeavour to address the lack of a culture of reading and contribute towards the attainment of a broader imperative of developing a caring society. A thriving literary landscape and a widespread culture of reading can serve as a catalyst for the creation of a prosperous society.

“In the South African context, where our emphasis must be placed on economic growth and development and the creation of sustainable jobs, we need to recognise that the prerequisite for entrepreneurship, inventiveness and innovation is the basic skills of reading and writing.

“Out of reading and writing we also develop our analytical capacity, so that we can address even more complex matters and problems that affect our people and ourselves.

“Reading statistics suggest that only 14 percent of the South African population are active book readers and a mere five percent of parents read to their children. National Book Week is an important initiative to encourage people to value reading as a fun activity and to showcase how reading can be incorporated into one’s everyday lifestyle.

“In the words of our late president Tata Nelson Mandela: ‘If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.’”

Mthethwa: Nat Nakasa Emphasised Shared Nationhood Through Writing

Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa said it is vital for South Africa to “write, tell and read our own stories”.

“National Book Week marks the beginning of Heritage Month in South Africa. This is no accident, as books are an integral part of telling our own stories, celebrating our heroes, and moving our society forward. One of the African proverbs puts it eloquently: ‘Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.’

“As we celebrate 20 years of democracy this year, we must write, tell and read our own stories. The importance of books as sources of knowledge and information makes reading a vital ingredient of developing society. The challenge is for South African writers to use their pen to define our identity, tell South African stories and empower communities.”

Mthethwa referred to the speech made by Nat Nakasa, in his address to the English Academy of South Africa in 1963, before he was forced to leave for Harvard University forever on a one-way exit permit.

“The late iconic journalist and editor Nat Nakasa said: ‘It is the general idea of a shared nationhood, the idea of a common experience, which I want to focus attention upon. I believe it is important for our writers to illuminate all aspects of our life from a central point in the social structure. That is, whatever their colour or views may be, they must accept their presence in the country as members of one community, the South African community. After that they can choose to be what they wish. Without this view of life, the writer will continue to lack closeness to his subject, his work will suffer from the inadequacy of his own insight into the human situations he handles.’

“Ours is a period when few writers can claim to be relevant without clearly defining their role and using their talent to help us find our true identity and where we are going as a nation. As custodians of our nation’s heritage, it is the responsibility of the Department of Arts and Culture to promote the culture of reading and writing, develop a sustainable book publishing industry that encourage the development of all South African languages, and resurrect the memory of our unsung heroes like the legendary Nakasa.”

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Books LIVE, Jennifer Malec, Ben Williams, and others, tweeted from the launch using #livebooks:


 

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9000 Books to be Given Away During National Book Week (Plus: Programme Preview)

National Book Week 2014

The programme for the fifth annual National Book Week, which will take place from 1 to 7 September, has been revealed.

For the first time, the event will feature a “travelling bus” and a week-long tour around six provinces, during which National Book Week ambassadors, motivational speakers, authors and storytellers will visit towns from Ganyesa in the North West Province to Worcester in the Western Cape.

The slogan for the 2014 National Book Week is “Going Places”, with an emphasis on encouraging reading as a “fun activity”. Events will focus on promoting literature in indigenous languages, local authors as well as library awareness and access.

As part of the South African Book Development Council‘s (SABDC) Indigenous Languages Publishing Programme, every child or adult that “engages” with the National Book Week tour will receive a new book in the language of their region, with 9 000 books to be handed out.

In addition, the final Twenty in 20 stories, a collaboration between Books LIVE, Short Story Day Africa and the Department of Arts and Culture, will be launched as a new anthology. Find out more about the project and see the final twenty stories here.

Elitha van der Sandt, CEO of the SABDC, says: “In South Africa, the book is one of the most under-utilised tools to contribute to economic, social and educational empowerment. Reading a book has the power to transform the individual, the community and the country at large. Reading remains one of the few ways in which we access information. We need information to thrive in this world.

“Accessing that information allows us to make more informed decisions about our lives. It allows us to actively participate in the economy, in all aspects of life.

“National Book Week will therefore take the power of the book to many places. As the bus will be going places, so shall we be promoting the magic of the books to our diverse people, allowing them to go to faraway places, dreams, agonies and accomplishments of cultures everywhere.

Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa believes books could play a crucial role in his department’s Mzansi Golden Economy strategy, which aims to create 5 million jobs over the next 10 years.

“The importance of reading in order to achieve success in life is foundational for the individual and essential for nation building and social cohesion,” Mthethwa says. “The Department of Arts and Culture’s Mzansi Golden Economy strategy recognises the power of the books sector to contribute to job creation, poverty reduction, skills development and, above all, economic growth. Thus as such, the National Book Week is a strategic intervention to promote a reading culture that will enhance the prominence and socio-economic impact of the South African books sector both locally and globally.”

2014 National Book Week programme preview:

National Book Week 2014 Programme by Books LIVE


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Selected Poems of Antjie Krog, Translated by Denis Hirson, Karen Press and Others

Country of My SkullVerisindaba, the website promoting Afrikaans poetry, has published a selection of English translations of the poetry of Antjie Krog.

The poems come from various sources and were translated by the author, along with Denis Hirson, author of The Dancer and the Death on Lemon Street and I Remember King Kong (The Boxer), Karen Press, author of Home and The Little Museum of Working Life, Richard Jürgens and Tony Ullyatt.

Christmas before the first democratic election

after the rains

the veld gives herself like a slut to the green

of bleak barren plains suddenly nothing

to be seen everything feasts everything

carouses green among thorn trees and braggart tussles

is the vapour of jitters and glue-lick

the hump of karee the foxtrot of wild olive

and for Christmas the cat-bush tiptoes red stipples

wait, see there: the ginger-green pools swell every afternoon

ample with boons of clouds reflecting lightning white

the excess is so unimpaired

so sudden

so cicada-singing

so well-disposedly generous

that it attests to a bloody insensitivity about us

us to whom these velds belong

lied and belied we feel we to whom these velds belong

eroded bewildered assaulted we feel we to whom these velds belong

we fold out hands around our share of chicken and trifle

perhaps the last Christmas together like this

this, on this farm

(From: Gedigte 1989 – 1995, Hond, (1995))

(Tr. by the author)

Mankepank en ander verse Die sterre sê tsau Met Woorde Soos Met Kerse Body Bereft A Change of Tongue

The Dancing and the Death on Lemon Street I Remember King Kong (The Boxer) Home The Little Museum of Working Life

Book details

  • Die sterre sê tsau: /Xam-gedigte van Diä!kwain, Kweiten-ta-//ken, /A!kúnta, /Han#kass’o en //Kabbo edited by Antjie Krog
    EAN: 9780795701740
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Phase 2 of the NLSA’s Reprints of South African Classics Series (Slideshow)

joe

In 2009, South Africa’s Department of Arts and Culture, in collaboration with the National Library, undertook the task of re-printing 27 key classic texts in indigenous South African languages. More recently, the 2nd phase of the project was launched, adding a further 19 previously out-of-print titles to the collection. The aim of the project is to help promote literacy in African languages and culture as well as endorse a culture of reading. Dr Joe Phaahla, Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, gave a keynote redress at the launch of the project at the National Library in Pretoria. Said Phaahla, “It is through literature that a people’s way of life, including norms and values, are chronicled and transferred from one generation to another”. The 19 reprints will include the works of OK Matsepe (author of Mahlatse a madimabe), DM Jongilanga (author of Apha Naphaya), DPS Monyaise (author of Bogosi kupe), LD Raditladi (author of Mokoma ditlhare).

Mahlatse a madimabeApha NaphayaBogosi kupeMokoma ditlhare

Some of the 27 titles that were launched in 2009 were Mulunguntima by TH Khosa (Xitsonga), Mafangambiti by TN Maumela (Tshivenda) Hawu babe! by GA Malindzisa (Siswati), Senkatana by SM Mofokeng (Setswana), Mehlolo ke dinoha by SP Lekeba (Sesotho), Lenong la gauta by HD Bopape (Sepedi), Inkinsela yaseMgungundlovu by Sibusiso Nyembezi (isiZulu), Buzani Kubawo by WK Tamsanqa (isiXhosa) and Iinkesi ezome kere by MS Mahlangu (Ndebele). Here is a slideshow of the titles, followed by the speech launching the second phase of the series:

Slideshow: 2nd phase of the SA classics series

 

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It is a great honour for me to stand before you this evening to mark yet another milestone in our efforts to develop, preserve and promote our literary heritage. The Reprint of Classics is an attempt to preserve a treasure trove from which generations after generations can quench their thirst for knowledge. This project is one of several initiatives through which we develop a vibrant culture of reading.

Just a week ago I was in Brugge, Belgium, where we discussed areas of cooperation including literacy promotion and language development, among others. This visit further affirmed the importance of language in the sustenance of culture and identity. The Dutch and Belgians are very proud of their language, so should we.

It is against this backdrop that Literature, and particularly that written in African languages, is very close to my heart. It is through literature that a people’s way of life, including norms and values, are chronicled and transferred from one generation to another.

One of the most vocal proponents of language preservation in the African literary landscape is Ngugi Wa Thing’o. In his book, Decolonizing the Mind (1986), Ngugi eloquently argues, “Language caries culture, and culture caries, particularly through orature and literature, the entire body of values by which we perceive ourselves and our place in the world…” The Department of Arts and Culture, as the custodian of our nation’s cultural heritage, is driven by the vision of promoting the culture of reading and writing and encouraging the use and equitable development of all South African languages.

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Complete 2nd phase reprint information

South African Classics: List of Second Phase of Reprints for 2010

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Photo courtesy TimesLive


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