China News Agency, Johannesburg, April 14th: Wu Qinjian: Why has Africa become the darling of world literature in recent years?

  China News Agency reporter Wang Xi

  2021 can be called the "Year of African Literature". African writers or literary works with African themes have successively won the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Booker Prize for Literature. African literature has suddenly become a focus of attention in the world's cultural field. As well as the unique customs and customs, it is deeply loved by the world's literary fans.

  As the most influential Chinese African literature expert, Wu Qinjian has been focusing on the development of African culture in recent years, especially the research and promotion of African literature.

Wu Qinjian recently accepted an exclusive interview with China News Agency's "East-West Question", talking about the development of African literature and the exchange of literature between China and Africa.

The following is a summary of the interview transcript:

China News Service: Could you briefly introduce the development and characteristics of African literature in recent years.

Wu Qinjian:

Different from European and American literature, the oral characteristics of African literature and its unique national culture have become its biggest bright spot, and it has a distinct regional character.

Modern African literature was born under the colonial rule of European and American countries, and gradually developed with the awakening of African people's national consciousness. It is an indispensable and important part of world literature.

Viewers enjoy "Hand-painted Dynamic African History" at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art in Cape Town, South Africa.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Wang Xi

  The development of modern African literature has roughly gone through four stages: First, in the first two decades of the twentieth century, the stage when imitation and reference to European and American literature coexisted with local oral literature.

At this stage, on the one hand, the collection and sorting of native African myths, legends, epics, and fables are the main focus; During the 1940s, a group of African intellectuals continued to excavate and affirm the local history and culture through literary means, in order to awaken the African people's sense of pride and identity for Africa; The movement is surging, countries have declared independence one after another, and writers have also written stories of African people's heroic resistance to colonizers and national independence; The main theme of the creation is to reflect on the real social problems after the end of colonialism.

China News Agency reporter: Why has Africa become the darling of world literature in recent years?

Wu Qinjian:

The literary theme of the "post-colonial stage" has always attracted the attention of the world cultural field.

Although themes such as "post-colonial" and "diaspora" are not emerging themes, whether in real life or in literature, the physical and spiritual harm caused by "colonialism" to people in Africa and other regions has not yet been fully resolved. and reflection on the social problems of the post-colonial stage have always been the eternal themes of this type of subject.

  Especially in recent years, the attention to the living conditions of African ethnic groups has made literary creations on such topics "just in time" and more likely to resonate.

For example, Gourner, the winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature, has written with a focus and inclination on issues such as the "post-colonial stage": focusing on the living conditions of human beings, and telling a distant story of "diaspora" for the world with compassion .

Stories like this are both fascinating and thought-provoking.

Namibian Himba women.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Wang Xi

  Secondly, African writers are often able to examine the current situation of Africa from a world perspective and discover the unknown side of the African continent.

Especially in the form of artistic expression, most African writers can boldly innovate on the basis of traditional national characteristics and actively integrate other cultural elements, thus presenting a unique sense of colorfulness.

  In addition, African literature is more novel and interesting than traditional classic literature with its strong national characteristics and local customs.

These unique elements make African literature unique in the world, attract more readers eager to learn about Africa, and become an important window for the outside world to understand Africa and its culture.

The "Ostrich Market" on the streets of Oudtshoorn, South Africa's "Ostrich Town".

Photo by China News Agency reporter Wang Xi

China News Agency: Could you please brief us on the current situation and prospects of China-Africa literary exchanges?

Wu Qinjian:

China-Africa literary exchanges have a long history.

At the end of the Qing Dynasty, China introduced literary works from Egypt, South Africa and other countries successively, which injected a ray of fresh air into China, which was in a period of social change, and opened a window for Chinese intellectuals to understand Africa. After the founding of New China, Especially in the 1950s and 1960s, China and Africa also maintained a high degree of compatibility in literature due to their similar historical experiences of getting rid of colonial rule and striving for national independence.

During this period, China introduced African literary works, including The Old Black Man and the Medal. Most of these works served ideological propaganda, and the exchange of visits between Chinese and African leaders became the main driving factor for Sino-African literary exchanges; after the reform and opening up , China has introduced African literary works mainly by African writers such as Kuche, Soyinka, Mahafouz and other African writers who have won the Nobel and Booker Literature Prizes. South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt and other countries where they are located have also become African literary translators. media hotspots.

In August 2018, the "Blossoming Flowers" of the theme flower bed of the "Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation" attracted the public.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Jia Tianyong

  Since the beginning of the 21st century, with the successive advent of platforms such as the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese and African literatures have been able to communicate on a newer and broader platform.

Compared with previous periods, the horizon of Sino-African literary exchanges in this period has been greatly expanded, and the types of translation and introduction are also more abundant, and more writers and their works from African countries have been introduced into China one after another.

  In fact, literary exchanges have now become one of the important drivers of Sino-African cultural exchanges, and will play an increasingly important role in the future as Sino-African relations continue to develop in depth.

China News Service reporter: What are the main problems of current Sino-African literary exchanges?

Wu Qinjian:

African literature is very complex. There are works written in English, French, Portuguese, etc., as well as works written in African languages ​​such as Arabic and Swahili.

But at present, except for Egyptian writer Mahfouz, who became the first Arabic writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, literary works written in local African languages ​​are hardly known to the world.

In South Africa alone, for example, there are 11 official languages ​​other than English, each with its own literature.

The large number and rich content far exceed the impression of Chinese readers.

The same problem exists for Sino-African literary exchanges.

In particular, there are too few talents who master non-universal African languages ​​such as Xhosa and Zulu, which has affected the process of Chinese literature lovers' further understanding of African literature.

On the central square of Rosebank, the financial center of Johannesburg, South Africa, local art groups perform traditional African folk songs and dances on the street.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Wang Xi

  In recent years, driven by platforms such as the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the “Belt and Road Initiative”, a deep understanding of African literature is no longer out of reach.

However, in addition to major languages ​​such as English, French, and Arabic, enhancing the understanding of African languages ​​will be the key to future Sino-African literary exchanges.


Interviewee Profile:

Photo courtesy of the interviewee

  Wu Qinjian, a senior Chinese media person in South Africa, was born in Shanghai, graduated from Nanchang University, and is the editor-in-chief of the South African 365 news website. He enjoys a good reputation in the South African media, especially the Chinese-language media.

In addition to reporting on hot news and local customs in South Africa and Africa, Wu Qinjian has been focusing on the development of African culture for many years, especially African literature. African literature expert.