The launch of the translation of ’amaBooks collection of short stories Where to Now? Short Stories from Zimbabwe into the isiNdebele version Siqondephi Manje?Indatshana zaseZimbabwe took place at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo on Saturday March 29.
The book launch was supported by Bulawayo Agenda and coincided with the Zimbabwe International Book Fair taking place at the Large City Hall. The audience were welcomed by Voti Thebe, Director of the Gallery, and Debra Mabunda, chair of the board of Bulawayo Agenda.
The book was introduced by the co-director of ’amaBooks, Brian Jones, who explained that the collection is the fifth in the series of short writings that the company have published to date, but that it was the first of their titles to be translated into isiNdebele. The translator of the work, Dr Thabisani Ndlovu, spoke about the process of literary translation and how it is an exacting job to capture the essence of what the writer wanted to say. He went on to discuss how many words that are currently used by people when speaking isiNdebele have been incorporated from other languages but ‘Ndebele-ised’. He felt it important that literature was produced that reflected common usage so that young people could identify with it and want to engage in reading. The language used by the translator should depend on context, for example: a teacher in school would tend to use more formal language than two young men talking in a beer garden.
Dr Ndlovu spoke of the diversity of the pieces in the book that came from a variety of cultures and were written in a number of styles. This diversity is what helps to make Where to Now? such an interesting read, and this is reflected in Siqondephi Manje?.
Following readings from the book by Mzana Mthimkhulu and Thabisani Ndlovu, who have stories in the anthology, and by Pathisa Nyathi and Sithandizile Dube, who read from stories by Sandisile Tshuma and NoViolet Bulawayo respectively, there followed a lively discussion, moderated by Butholezwe Nyathi, about the state of the isiNdebele language, its future and writings in isiNdebele.
The event concluded with a brief explanation by Itai Zimunya of the role of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, the partner with ‘amaBooks for the translation of Where to Now?.
Amongst the audience of about 100 people were academics, students, writers and members of the reading public. It was a well supported event and clearly demonstrated the interest in works in isiNdebele.