Short story by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o translated into over 30 languages in one publication

The Kenyan author’s story The Upright Revolution: Or Why Humans Walk Upright is ‘the single most translated short story in the history of African writing’

Jalada Africa’s groundbreaking Translation Issue features a new story by Ngugi wa Thiong’o in 33 languages.

The Pan-African writers’ collective released its latest issue, focusing on translation, last week. It includes Ngũgĩ’s story Ituĩka Rĩa Mũrũngarũ: Kana Kĩrĩa Gĩtũmaga Andũ Mathiĩ Marũngiĩ, which the award-winning author originally wrote in Kikuyu, a Kenyan language, and then translated himself into English as The Upright Revolution: or Why Humans Walk Up Right.

The fable tells the story of how “a long time ago humans used to walk on legs and arms, just like all the other four limbed creatures”, but how “their rhythm and seamless coordination made the other parts [of the body] green with envy”, and “they started plotting against the two pairs”.

Professor wa Thiong’o is uniquely placed to be the first distinguished author and intellectual featured in Jalada’s periodical translations issue. He has, for many years, been the most vocal proponent in publishing in African languages.

Ngugi wa Thiong’o

“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,” said the novelist and playwright.

Managing editor Moses Kilolo,  said that the story itself wasMoses Kilolo “a reminder that we are one, and that in our togetherness we have the power to transform the future that we hope for ourselves”

African Writers Trust joins Jalada Africa in celebration of the diversity of African Languages and the rich cultural heritage of the African continent

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