Black Letter Media wasn’t created out of a vacuum, this company is inspired by an age-old culture of storytelling. And so, this International Mother Language Day, I’m making a pledge, as a reminder that Afrika has so many untold stories, undiscovered and hidden storytellers for whom this movement was created.
This is my Black Letter Media pledge; a commitment to always face, head on, the challenge to:
- Refocus “the centre of our literary engagements [away] from European languages to a multiplicity of locations in our languages.” (With thanks to Ngũgĩ)
- To seek out, consciously and diligently, writers who work in Afrikan languages
- To shine a light on writers working in indigenous languages, who already have been published in the educational publishing sector
- To connect academics working in the Afrikan literature departments with those working outside academia
- The point of this is to facilitate a critical reading culture around Afrikan language literature
- This would involve publicising essays, reviews, reading guides only accessed by academics
- Seek out and publish children’s literature than is authentic and isn’t just a translation of Western children’s literature
- To work with, connect with, translators to translate across Afrikan languages not just to English and Afrikaans
- To create spaces, platforms, outside of spaces controlled by private sectors or the government, where Afrikan language literature is created, published, sold, shared, developed, critiqued and enjoyed
- To stop asking for permission
- To stop waiting for “they/them” to do it for us and start to do it ourselves
- To create and nurture multilingualism by networking across language barriers.
If you – writer, reader, publisher, bookseller, educator, parent, critic, translator, leader – agree with the points I’ve listed above, I’d like to encourage you to co-sign by getting in touch online or by email and by sharing this with your network. Discuss, interrogate and add to these points and let’s get to work.
duduzile zamantungwa mabaso
publisher, Black Letter Media
“They say, until the lion learns to speak the tale of the hunt will be told by the hunter. At Black Letter Media we say, here lions tell their own stories…”
(related blog: https://blackletterm.com/international-mother-language-day/)