The Week on Sunday – The Reward for Love is Death!
Very briefly -
The December issue of Chimurenga, The Chronic is out and the $7 digital edition price is worth it if only to read two pieces. First Nick Mwaluko’s “XXYX AFRICA” a review of “three new excellent works: Queer African Reader, African Sexualities: A Reader, and Queer Africa: New and Collected Fiction.” The best book review I have read, possibly ever!
“LGBT Africa held two truths: you fuck, you die” How’s that for the spectacular! African Queers woke up on Friday morning to learn that this statement was in fact too near the truth. In Uganda the Anti-homosexuality Bill was finally passed and is awaiting President Musoveni’s signature before becoming law. This places it in the same status as the Nigerian Same Sex Marriage Bill which is also waiting presidential approval. These two Bills have played havoc with the lives of Ugandans and Nigerian Queers for some 5 years. Just when you think they are forgotten, their ugly heads rear up and slap you back to homophobic reality. Ugandan queers responded by sticking to their party plans a bit like the last supper. Celebrate, share stories, eat, drink for tomorrow they might be, as Kasha Jacqueline wrote on Twitter, starring in a Ugandan version of ‘Orange is the new Black’.
The death Nick speaks of comes in many forms. Death as criminal punishment, death from loneliness, death from invisibility, death from the pain of the closet and ‘keeping safe’, ‘being normal’! But there’s another possibility,
“Maybe just maybe, a tribe is in my future if I survive this moment. If I claim the body that holds the story to voice my song, if I taste the death-wish during illegal fucking , if I re-imagine the world behind my eyelids, recreating reality to make it mine. Is this why some of us refuse to hide? When I live in integrity, don’t I like myself more ? Aren’t I more alive?
Guy Regis Jr, is a Haitian playwright, poet, filmmaker, translator who has translated Albert Camus, and Maurice Maeterlinck into Haitian Kreyol. Presently he is translating Marcel Proust’s ‘Remembrance of Things Past’. Haitians speak Kreyol but even though it’s been the official language since 1987, children are still forced to learn in French. Regis explains the development of Kreyol from a fluid language to one ‘rendered uniform’, codified and recognised and importantly some educators are now teaching in Kreyol. Regis makes two interesting points. First contrary to popular opinion, Kreyol and French differ significantly. The syntax is different and Kreyol is drawn from other languages including Taino, various African languages and Spanish. The second point is on the art of translation. To translate you have to ‘reach the heart’ of the text so for example the opening sentence of Camus’, The Stranger is ‘Today maman died’ . The obvious Kreyol would be “Jodi a Manman m mouri”. However a more simple and unemotional interpretation and closer to the French original is “Manman, m mouri Jodi a”.
Over the past 10 months I’ve been teaching ‘African Literature’ to a small group of students. The biggest frustration voiced by the students is the unavailability of any African writers either in original French or translated into French let alone into Kreyol. It would be wonderful if Guy Regis would one day take on the task of translating some African texts into Kreyol!