Monday, July 25, 2016

First Chinese-to-Kiswahili Poetry Book Launched

By Alexander Nderitu (

Twaweza Communications, in partnership with Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, have produced the first poetry book to be translated from a Chinese dialect into Kenya's national language, Kiswahili. The verses were written by renowned Chinese poet Jidi Majia and translated into Kiswahili by Kenyan writer Philo Ikonya (from an English version). The 128-page book, entitled 'Maneno Ya Moto Ya China', was launched on 22nd July 2016, at the Confucius Institute in the University of Nairobi. Those in attendance included Prof. Kimani Njogu, Prof. Kithaka wa Mberia, cultural analyst Dr. Nyairo and Prof. Jane Mutiga.

Some remarks:

Prof. Kithaka Wa Mberia (poet, playright, UoN linguistics lecturer): 'Many influential works have come to us through translation - Neruda (Spanish), Pushkin (Russian). Nyerere brought Shakespeare to us...When we understand other cultures, we minimize suspicion and misconceptions...We should not just translate literature from the big powers. Hopefully, some Kikuyu, Pokomo, Kiswahili poetry will also be read in Beijing or Berlin or elsewhere because someone translated them.'

Prof. Njogu (Twaweza Communications): 'Every dissertation written by a Korean is translated at the expense of the Korean gov't...We need a National Book Translation Fund...and a National Book Policy.'

There have been a few other Sino-Swahili translations (eg. Chairman Mao's 'Little Red Book') but 'Maneno Ya Moto Ya China' is believed to be the first such translation of a creative work.

Assorted images from the book launch:

 Alexander Nderitu at the Confucius Institute:

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