“Thinjiwe!” International Translation Day Celebration a Big Success
“Igazi lethu limpompoza ngokufanayo/ Sonke sabelana ngoko kusenz’ abantu (As diverse as we are, we are all human/ As diverse as we are, we have one space to share/ As diverse as we are, we have one life to live).” With these inspiring words, Xolisa Tshongolo of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) illustrated the art of literary translation on International Translation Day, 30 September 2014 at Archives.
The celebration was organised by DCAS and was attended by 28 language practitioners from the Western Cape
Government, Western Cape Provincial Parliament, national Parliament and the City of Cape Town.
Watu Kobese, an international chess master and the author of the first isiXhosa chess book, spoke about translating the game. Chess is a war game that originated in India hundreds of years ago. What is now a knight was called an elephant at that time. As the game spread across the world, the pieces have been named in the symbolic idiom of each language. The isiXhosa name for the bishop in chess is intlola, which means a spy or scout during a time of war. This is in line with the role of the bishop in medieval Europe – a strategist and adviser to the king. In isiXhosa culture, a conquered king is not killed; he is taken to the victor’s kraal (ukuthimba). The new name for chess is therefore uthimba (“capturing the king”). Checkmate is thinjiwe! (“The king has been captured!”) Kobese said, “I look forward to the day when I see a taxi driver standing over a chessboard shouting “Thinjiwe! Thinjiwe!”
International Translation Day is celebrated every year on the feast of St Jerome, the patron saint of translators of all beliefs. Dr Franci Vosloo of the University of Stellenbosch said Jerome is the man who translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into a form of Latin that ordinary people could understand. Translation is an increasingly important profession in the era of globalisation and at a time when language rights are seen as human rights. Language and culture are intertwined with one another, and translators need to be bi-cultural as well as bilingual.
Thoko Mabheqa, an isiXhosa lecturer of many years’ experience, made a heartfelt plea to those in attendance: “Let us not complain that our languages are not recognised. Let us encourage our children to take pride in their mother tongues.”
Through the Language Forum, DCAS is building the capacity of language practitioners so that the people of the Western Cape can enjoy the right to be served in their own languages, better together.