Introducing the Tsikinya-Chaka Centre (University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa)

The Tsikinya-Chaka Centre is a Research Unit in the School of Literature, Language and Media at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Centre engages with Shakespear as a multilingual phenomenon.

The centre promotes transnational research, supports artists and their performances, and coordinates a digitisation project of Shakespearean translations into African languages. Among their projects, they also have a podcast series.

This podcast series profiles the research interests and creative practices of the Centre’s affiliates and their colleagues. The title borrows from Sol Plaatje’s description of a linguistic exchange in which “Shakespeare” became “Tsikinya-Chaka” in Setswana, a name he renders back into English as “Shake-the-Sword” – explaining that the translation is “more free than literal”. Freedom and licence are principals they emphasise when it comes to approaching the subject of Shakespeare, multilingualism and transnationalism. And they plan to shake things up!

Each episode addresses a multilingual Shakespearean phenomenon, with the first season focusing on African languages and countries. Expect insights into Shakespeare and Kiswahili, or comparisons between Nigeria’s tradition of Yoruba translations/adaptations and new work being done in Naija (“Nigerian Pidgin”). This is not a podcast treating Shakespeare in translation as an exotic novelty or fringe interest; instead, it is front and centre.

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