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East Africa as a Literary and Linguistic Contact Zone
This wide-ranging collection deals with the dynamics of current developments in literature, language, and culture in Kenya and Tanzania. It testifies to a spirited exchange of ideas between writers and academics and promotes transdisciplinary dialogue among several academic fields – anglophone and Swahili studies, literary studies and linguistics, East African and German academic discourse, Kenyan and Tanzanian perspectives. The contributions create a ‘contact zone’ of their own that will generate productive impulses for transdisciplinary research and allow readers to gain new insights into trajectories of Swahili and anglophone writing in East Africa.
Topics covered include literary language choice and translation, popular fiction and codeswitching, Swahili hip-hop texts, HIV/AIDS discourse, the advance of ‘Sheng’ and ‘Engsh’ in literary-linguistic space, contemporary women’s literature in Kenya, and special studies of Abdulrazak Gurnah and David G. Maillu.

CONTRIBUTORS
MIKHAIL D. GROMOV • ABDULRAZAK GURNAH • SISSY HELFF • LILLIAN KAVITI • EUPHRASE KEZILAHABI • SAID A.M. KHAMIS • ALDIN K. MUTEMBEI • YVONNE ADHIAMBO OWUOR • UTA REUSTER–JAHN • ALINA N. RINKANYA • GABRIEL RUHUMBIKA • CLARISSA VIERKE • KYALLO WADI WAMITILA
In: The Politics of Adaptation
In: The Politics of Adaptation
In: The Politics of Adaptation
Rethinking Orality, Literacy, Performance, and Documentation Practices
This book is the first ever major effort to document and study hundreds of texts from an African (Ugandan) oral culture for children – folktales, riddles, and rhymes – and at the same time to make them available in the local languages and to focus on their cultural and national value. The author surveys the history of collecting in Uganda and situates the texts in their broader geographical, historical, socio-cultural and educational setting, including the early collecting efforts of heritage-minded Ugandans and European missionaries. Most of this preservational work is elusive and under-explored – so that the present book constitutes a major pioneering summary of Ugandan oral culture for children.
The book addresses key questions such as: What happens when we collect, transcribe, and translate an oral text? How do we transfer components of the oral text to the page? What are the challenges of translating oral forms targeting specifi¬cally a child audience, and what choices ought to be made in the process? The book provides possible ways of rethink¬ing the debate about orality and literacy as modes of representation – the generic interrelationship between the oral and the written text, and how the two can enter dialogue through transcription and translation. The latter are effective means to archive these oral forms for children and use them to promote literacy and numeracy skills in predominantly oral communities.
In the current institutions of formal education in Uganda, this coexistence of orality and literacy is evident in the class¬room environment, where the oral text is turned into words on the page to encourage literacy. Through transcription, the collector is able to capture oral texts in other forms – audio, written, visual, and digital. With the new technologies available, the task is not as arduous as in the past, and the information thus captured is made available in all its wealth for purposes of instruction or entertainment.
Contemporary African Drama and Greek Tragedy
This book explores contemporary African adaptations of classical Greek tragedies. Six South African and Nigerian dramatic texts – by Yael Farber, Mark Fleishman, Athol Fugard, Femi Osofisan, and Wole Soyinka – are analysed through the thematic lens of resistance, revolution, reconciliation, and mourning.
The opening chapters focus on plays that mobilize Greek tragedy to inspire political change, discussing how Sophocles’ heroine Antigone is reconfigured as a freedom fighter and how Euripides’ Dionysos is transformed into a revolutionary leader.
The later chapters shift the focus to plays that explore the costs and consequences of political change, examining how the cycle of violence dramatized in Aeschylus’ Oresteia trilogy acquires relevance in post-apartheid South Africa, and how the mourning of Euripides’ Trojan Women resonates in and beyond Nigeria.
Throughout, the emphasis is on how playwrights, through adaptation, perform a cultural politics directed at the Europe that has traditionally considered ancient Greece as its property, foundation, and legitimization. Van Weyenberg additionally discusses how contemporary African reworkings of Greek tragedies invite us to reconsider how we think about the genre of tragedy and about the cultural process of adaptation.
Against George Steiner’s famous claim that tragedy has died, this book demonstrates that Greek tragedy holds relevance today. But it also reveals that adaptations do more than simply keeping the texts they draw on alive: through adaptation, playwrights open up a space for politics. In this dynamic between adaptation and pre-text, the politics of adaptation is performed.
In: The Politics of Adaptation
Proverbial Lore in Modern Ugandan Society
This is the third collection produced by members of a six-year research project, funded by the NUFU (Norwegian Programme for Development, Research, and Education), whose concern was to find, preserve, and analyse ‘orature’ – spoken forms of all kinds, both their unique qualities and their equivalence in importance to ‘literature’. A major focus was the ways in which forms of orature can be made relevant to the demands of rapidly developing nations faced with insistent problems (HIV/AIDS, administrative needs, shifts in social and familial structure, the changing roles of women).
Both innovative and archival, the essays explore older legends and modern performances to outline their positive and dynamic contribution to a protean society. Some contributors address the ways in which traditional forms may be adapted: e.g., via new media to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic and to educate children in social and individual responsibility. Traditional narratives and children’s songs can function to counter cannibalism and child sacrifice.
Less dark aspects of contemporary society also receive attention. Traditional patterns of leadership are adapted to today’s conditions, especially by offering women models in the form of earlier figures and their actions. Two essays analyse the use of proverbs in the speeches of political candidates and discussing traditional music festivals as celebrations of traditional kingship and rule. Others examine the nature and operation of specific forms of orature – riddles and their subtle alteration according to performer and audience; concepts of heroism; stories of origin; and variants of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’. These sensitive analyses are framed by pieces from members of the research project in Norway and Uganda.
In: The Politics of Adaptation
In: The Politics of Adaptation