The Chichewa version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet book titled Romio ndi Julieti published by Dzuka Publishing, a subsidiary of Times Group is finally out.
Dzuka Publishing Manager Maureen Masamba said.
With this year being the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare, they have partnered with British Council to commemorate the anniversary through the Chichewa version of Romeo and Juliet.
“The commemoration of 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare has thus been attached to the Queen’s 90th birthday celebration to be held today in Lilongwe,” said Masamba.
According to the programme, British High Commissioner to Malawi, Michael Nevin is expected to launch Romio ndi Julieti and thereafter Mzuzu University students will stage the Romio ndi Julieti play.
“As Dzuka Publishing we are excited to be part of this event and after the launch we will have a place where we will display the book,” she said.
Romio ndi Julieti was translated by renowned writer Stanley Onjezani Kenani after being approached by freelance theatre director and Bilimankhwe Arts Artistic Director Amy Bonsall.
“Stanley Onjezani Kenani was approached by Amy Bonsall to translate the book into Chichewa as part of her PhD research requirement,” said Masamba.
She said as Dzuka Publishing Company Limited, they thought it was an exciting challenge to publish a Chichewa translation of a Shakespeare book.
“Romeo and Juliet as a book has been used in the secondary school curriculum for several years, and Chancellor College English Department has graduated students who have studied Shakespeare for years,” she said.
Masamba added that for them as publishers, it was more of a social responsibility other than the economic benefit of it.
“As publishers, it is our duty to make available as many publications on the market as possible to encourage the society to develop a reading culture,” she said.
Masamba said those who have read and enjoyed the original English version of Romeo and Juliet will definitely love the Chichewa version.
“The translation is reader friendly, that is to say that the Chichewa used is the unconventional type, the day to day kind of Chichewa that people are familiar and can identify with. The book has both the English text, and the corresponding Chichewa text for ease referencing if need be,” she explained.
Mzuni drama lecturer Misheck Mzumara, who also starred in the play, said recently that as Mzuzu University, they were interested in Bonsall’s research as they would like to know how the translation of Romeo and Juliet could assist in the learning and teaching of Shakespeare in Malawian schools.
The Mzuni drama lecturer played Romeo in the 2012 production but this time he played Capulet.
Bonsall said they thought of translating Romeo and Juliet to Chichewa after noticing that it was a good choice as it was on the curriculum in Malawi.
She said there are so many themes that are relevant to Malawi that are explored within the play citing parent’s disapproving of what their children are doing, different families fighting and the differences between the generation.
Kenani said he translated Romeo and Juliet because Bonsall asked him to.
“I accepted the challenge because I considered translating Shakespeare intellectually stimulating. In the process, I learnt a lot about both English and Chichewa, especially because some of the commonest English words do not have their Chichewa equivalent,” he said.
Kenani said he was happy that Dzuka Publishing agreed to publish this translation.
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