By Edward Nawotka
In our profile of the international literary magazine Wasafiri, Kenyan novelist Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o suggests that Africans and Asian writers who want a global audience need to be published in English.
English does offers both a gateway to a broader international readership and a larger pool of potential translators. That said, it’s also a form of compromise for some: “Obviously, for Africans and Asians, our base is our languages, and we want visibility without becoming invisible in our own languages,” said wa Thiong’o “At present we are visible by being invisible in our own languages.”
He then asks, “So, how can we be visible in such a way that becoming visible in English does not necessarily mean becoming invisible in one’s own language and culture?”
It appears to be an intractable problem: Write in English and make the compromise or write in your indigenous language for a smaller, and perhaps even more appreciative, audience.
Is Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o right? And what can be done?
Tells us what you think in the comments below or let us know via Twitter using the hashtag #ppbonus.