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October 2013

African Women, Indigenous Languages

This month we present work by women writing in indigenous African languages. In these stories and poems translated from Gun, Hausa, Luganda, Runyankole-Rukiga, Tigrinya, and Wolof, writers depict characters struggling with poverty, isolation, the oppression of women, the devastation of war, and the long tradition of political corruption. Haregu Keleta's teenage girl flees an arranged marriage to join the Eritrean People's Liberation Front in the war against Ethiopia. In two tales from Uganda, Glaydah Namukasa explores three generations of a family ravaged by alcoholism, while Hilda Twongyeirwe's disaffected bureaucrat finds his loyalty at odds with his ambition. In an excerpt from her sprawling novel, Nigeria's Rahma Abdul Majid tracks the harsh lives of women in the remote villages. And Marame Gueye reveals the slyly subversive lyrics of traditional wedding songs in Senegal. In our special feature, Pablo Neruda's biographer Adam Feinstein introduces five odes by the great poet, appearing in English for the first time in Ilan Stavans's lovely translations. 

Ode to the Andean Cordillera
By Pablo Neruda
The cold candelabra / of your elevated / solitudes of snow
Translated from Spanish by Ilan Stavans
Ode to Ángel Cruchaga
By Pablo Neruda
Ángel, I rememberin my childhood,southern and shakenby rain and wind,suddenlyyour wings,the flightof your sparkling poetry,the starrytunicfilling the night, the roads,with phosphoric resplendence,you…
Translated from Spanish by Ilan Stavans
Ode to the Flowers of Datitla
By Pablo Neruda
Under the pines, the earth concoctssmall unsullied things:slim grassesfrom whose threadsminuscule lanterns hang,mysterious capsulesplump with lost air,and shadowsare different there,filtered and…
Translated from Spanish by Ilan Stavans
Making the Ordinary Extraordinary: Pablo Neruda’s Odes
By Adam Feinstein
When Pablo Neruda published his first of three collections of odes—the Odas elementales (Elementary Odes)—in 1954, he was probably unaware that his Russian hero, Pushkin, had written 130 years…
My New Home
By Glaydah Namukasa
Mukulu says that if there is anything that keeps him alive, it is alcohol.
Translated from Luganda by Merit Ronald Kabugo