Chinese Literature in Africa: Meaningful or Simply Ceremonial?

To understand the dynamics of Sino-African cultural exchanges better we did a survey of Chinese literature available in translation across Africa.

The results are far from exhaustive. They suggest that the strategy has had limited success. But they also highlight isolated cases that exemplify the potential for mutual enrichment.

The research suggests that the translation of Chinese literature in Africa primarily fulfils a ceremonial and diplomatic function. The ceremonies around book donations to African libraries are a key example. Much more needs to be done to generate meaningful cultural interaction and exchange.


# 1.   

Author Catherine Gilbert suggests "that there should be efforts to build collaborations between Chinese and local African publishing houses without going via a European or Western intermediary."

That makes sense, and translation into indigenous African languages is part of what needs to be happening. She notes:

A collection of poetry by the award-winning Chinese poet Jidi Majia has recently been published in Kiswahili. The collection, Maneno Ya Moto Kutoka China, is heralded as the first creative work of Chinese literature to be translated into the lingua franca of Kenya, Tanzania and much of southeast Africa.

Ironically, as noted in First Time, this collection of poetry was translated from the . . . English translation.

Bruce Humes, November 22, 2016, 1:02a.m.

# 2.   

If you're interested in Africa's literary "exports" to China, visit my newly compiled mini-database of African titles published in Chinese and distributed in the PRC:


Bruce Humes, November 22, 2016, 1:05a.m.


Your email will not be published
Raw HTML will be removed
Try using Markdown:
[link text](
End line with two spaces for a single line break.