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Shakespeare for a Ugandan Readership | Early Modern and Open Access

By January 1, 2017 No Comments

This is part of a regular series here at TSS: Early Modern and Open Access regularly showcases peer-reviewed articles (or other resources) of interest to early modernists that are freely available in open access formats.

 Citation and Link:

James Taabu Busimba, “Re-language-ing Shakespeare for a Ugandan Readership: Potentials and Pitfalls of Translating King Lear in a Ugandan Language,” Early Modern Culture Online 6 (2015)

First Paragraph (in lieu of an abstract):

This article is one of the outcomes of recent research I carried out in Uganda between June and September 2014. During this period I was interested in the obtaining presences of William Shakespeare and John Ruganda in contemporary Ugandan audiences: theatres, schools, universities, cultural centers, cinema halls and the everyday readers. While interacting with Cornelius Gulere Wambi, one of my key respondents, I was pleasantly struck by his ongoing “new project” in which he was concurrently translating five drama texts from English into Lusoga, one of the major indigenous Bantu languages, very close to the rather dominant Luganda spoken in the central and southern parts of Uganda. The texts which Gulere was translating are Austin Bukenya’s The Bride (as Omugole), Wole Soyinka’s The Trials of Brother Jero (as Ebikemo by’Owoluganda Yero), Sophocles’ Antigone (as Nantamegwa), Francis Imbuga’s Betrayal in the City (as Nkwe mu Kibuga) and William Shakespeare’s King Lear (as Kyabazinga Mukama). Overall, these plays are an innovative intervention in the literary realities invigorated in Lusoga expression and adorned in new language and diction. However, my research interests directed me to Shakespeare’s King Lear translated as Kyabazinga Mukama, particularly in the context of providing further alternative writings and readings of Shakespeare in a contemporary African cultural space. By the time of drafting this paper, Gulere Wambi has translated King Lear’s Act 1 to a tentative conclusion. The translation is based on the free online edition of King Lear, published by PSU. So far, his translation of King Lear from English to Lusoga is clearly a project in re-language-ing or, even more inclusively, an exercise in reconfiguring Shakespeare. Gulere’s is a relanguage-ing which in itself is a form of editing and at the same time a specific mode of presenting Shakespeare to both the new and qualified Lusoga readers.


Author Lindsay

Lindsay Ann Reid is a regular contributor to The Scrivener and Early Modern and Open Access. She holds a PhD from the University of Toronto and is a Lecturer in English at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

More posts by Lindsay

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