The publication of African language literature is more firmly established in the 21st century than ever before. Yet as African language literature forges ahead, its translation lags behind. The greatness of African literature in European languages is inestimable, but how could African language literature, both in its original languages and in translation, be any less and not much more? Still, African language literature remains in a state of antetranslation—a small and not the main part, as it naturally could be, of African literature. Achebe’s “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness” (1977) relates the incalculably adverse legacy of colonialism and neocolonialism, but its near universal assent might also reinforce the antetranslation status quo. Achebe scorns the “African woman who has obviously been some kind of mistress to Mr. Kurtz,” but what if she were invoked as a patron saint or nkisi n’kondi to move beyond antetranslation?


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