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The Other Half of History

The Other Half of History is the first ever anthology of Francophone African women's poetry and includes over 50 poems written in French, alongside my translations into English. In total, 29 poets from 13 different African countries are represented. There is also an in-depth introduction, and a preface by writer and literary activist, Kadija Sesay. The book launch was held in October 2007 at The Herbert gallery in Coventry, and was opened by Professor David Dabydeen and attended by the Mayor of Coventry. To see pictures from the event, click here.

The Other Half of History was chosen as one of African Writing Online Books of the Year 2007, and in 2010 received a great review from Modern Poetry in Translation (Series 3, No. 13) - click here to read the review.  My translation of a poem by Rachida Madani was selected by Oxford Brookes University Poetry Centre as their Poem of the Week in May 2008.  Click here to read the translation.  The African Journal of New Poetry also reviewed the collection.  Published by Heaventree Press, The Other Half of History is available at amazon.co.uk.

Below is one poem featured in The Other Half of History.  It is written by one of my favourite Senegalese writers called Mame Seck Mbacké, who I was fortunate enough to meet and interview in Dakar in 2008.  The poem below is in French and in English translation.  I have also included some notes at the bottom of this page. 

 

martyrs           

 

Notes:

  • Ousmane Sembène is a Senegalese writer and film director.  He produced a film in 1987 entitled Camp de Thiaroye.  The film tells the true story of the massacre of African troops by the French (for whom they had fought during the war) at a base in Thiaroye in Senegal.  Over thirty African soldiers were killed and many more were injured.  The shocking killings were triggered by a dispute over pay.
  • Mossi, Bambara, Dogon, Sanga and Lebou are all names of ethnic groups and communities living in Western Africa.  
  • The capital of the Kossi Province of Burkina Faso is known as Nouna.
  • Ngor is a lebou village in Senegal not far from Dakar, and just north of the Cape Verde peninsula.
  • The River Niger that flows through Mali is also known as the Djoliba in Bambara.
  • The Moro Naba was the great king of the Mossi people.  The seat of the Moro Naba is in Ougadougou, now the capital of Burkina Faso.
  • Rufisque is a busy town and small port to the east of Dakar in Senegal. 

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The Other Half of History

“the extent to which a text is translatable varies with the degree to which it is embedded in its own specific culture” (Snell-Hornby 41)