Against All Odds
African Languages and Literatures into the 21st Century
This DVD contains original footage and material from an international conference held in 2000 in Asmara, Eritrea on African languages and linguistics. The conference brought together over 250 writers, scholars, academics, cultural activists, artists and publishers from all regions of Africa, Europe and North America. It takes up the legacy of the famous African writers conference held at Makerere University in 1962, and culminates with the formulation and ratification of the ‘Asmara Declaration on African Languages and Literatures’, a declaration of linguistic independence for the continent.
This film brings together a star line up and of literary writers and scholars intervening in the language debate from all parts of the African continent and the diaspora, including Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Nawal al Saadawi (co-chair), Kofi Anyidoho, Abena Busia and Kassahun Checole. Much of the conference was conducted in African languages, including Hausa Fulani, Kiswahili, Zulu and Tigrinya. All African language texts are sub-titled in English. The film includes footage of a Tigrinya translation of the play by Ngugi wa Thiong’o, I Will Marry When I Want.
The contributors contend that African languages, oral and written, are the continent’s most valuable cultural asset and resource, challenging the notion of ‘there being no languages in Africa’. On the contrary, they advocate for African languages ‘what intellectuals the world over have done for their languages’; for an understanding of languages as a key link in development and democratisation processes, imperative to literary expression, cultural confidence and popular use. The material presented remains unpublished elsewhere; the production of this CD hoping to make it accessible to a wider audience.
(price includes 15% VAT)
ISBN 9781904855866 | 55 pages | 229 x 152 mm | 2007 | Hdri Publishers, Eritrea | Hardback
"Braving all odds, Charles Cantalupo of Penn State University, Zemhret Yohannes, director of Research and Documentation for the People's Front for Democracy and Justice, the doyen of Kenyan letters Ngugi wa Thiong'o, and Egyptian writer-cum-activist Nawal El-Saadawi took up the legacy of the 1962 Makerere Conference to promote "African Languages and Literatures into the Twenty-First Century.""
- Research in African Literatures
"Against All Odds combines the debate of world renowned scholars and writers who spoke at the conference with performance by Sbrit, the Eritrean National Dance troop, a visit to "The Story of the Book in Eritrea" exhibition, poetry reading, dramatic performances, and an outdoor festival. It is a fascinating introduction to some of Africa's most famous writers and recommended for all schools with African Studies programs."
- Educational Media Reviews Online