Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s story The Upright Revolution (or Why Humans Walk Upright) is the story at the centre of Jalada Africa’s latest anthology dubbed The Translation Issue.
The story which was initially written in Kikuyu and translated into English by Kenya’s leading author is a folk tale about the human body parts and a battle that led to the human being finally standing upright. It is a story that would be told to children at the campfire to great effect.
The unique thing about this project is not the story itself; the Jalada collective decided to go all out and make translations of the story in as many languages as possible. Some of the people who have been hard at work translating the story include Ngala Chome, Richard Ali A Mutu, Richard Oduor Oduku, Sihle Ntuli , Mwangi Wa Mahugu (Mwas), Tendai Huchu, Louise Umutoni and Suzana Mukobwajana.
The story is set to wow children in Amharic, Dholuo, Kikamba, Lwisukha-Lwidakho, Luganda, Kiswahili, Hausa, Ikinyarwanda, Igbo, Somali, Shona, Nandi, IsiZulu, XiTsonga, Lingala, Sheng and many more languages.
In fact the story has been translated into 30 languages and the good people at Jalada are looking for more languages to translate it into. The world record for a short story hasn’t been announced by our friends at the Guinness; the most translated book is the Bible and the most translated document is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The former has been translated into 531 languages and 2,883 languages while the latter has been translated into 370 languages. Perhaps with African languages in the thousands this simple story can finally put Ngugi into the book of world records?