BY IKENNA OBIOHA
Asides having a thriving tech presence in Africa, China is going beyond its plain business approach of making profits to establishing deep cultural relations with the black continent through literature. A method they believe would help the Chinese populace learn more about the black continent’s cultures, thus bridging the racial gap that exists between them.
Joining a shortlist of African authors whose books are to be translated into Chinese is Nigeria’s Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her anthology will be translated to Chinese language by April of this year.
She joins African writers like Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and Tawfiq al-Hakim as one of the few African authors to have their work translated into Chinese. Unlike the rest – who were selected not based on current popularity of their work– Adichie stands tall as the only one to have her entire body of work translated to Chinese.
This need for these cultural exchanges and fusions partly stemmed from the perception which the Chinese people relate with the average black person, especially in the work space. Hence the need for a mass education of its people, a move initiated not only to promote trade ethics amongst them, but also to help project confidence in each other.
Addressing the shortcomings of poor, ineffective communication between people of different races (Sino-African) and ethnicities, assistant professor at the School of Translation Studies in Jinan University, John Wang said:
“Most Chinese readers haven’t got the faintest idea about Africa and African literature. Translations help find a common ground, and showcase African literature as an important part of world of literature”
Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, The Thing Around Your Neck, Americanah, We Should All Be Feminists, and Dear Ijeawele all reflect various shades that is widely relatable to the Chinese people. Issues like immigration, gender equality, and racism are relayed across all her books, but what’s more intriguing is the tales she tells through the voice of a black, proud woman with limitations. Inarguably, this sets the tone for people finding their voice in a foreign land or the least, searching for a stand in their personal life… and the Chinese people are not exempted from these factors as they face these prejudices that come with skin colour and language barriers.
Adichie stands out in her own right as a contemporary novelist with great influence, and this no doubt shows in the context, and texture of her work as one that transcends many social, economic and political barriers. Adichie has yet left another footprint, this time in China, after conquering the Africa and the American literary world.