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Bakwa Magazine, in collaboration with the University of Bristol, is pleased to announce that applications are open for an exciting literary translation workshop aimed at building networks and sustainability for literary translators in Cameroon.

The workshop, scheduled for 21-26 October 2019, will be co-facilitated by established literary translators Ros SchwartzGeorgina Collins, and Edwige Dro. Over the course of the workshop, participants will attend a range of practical sessions introducing them to literary translation across genres and forms, as well as more theoretical issues. Participants will also work on translating a short story from the Bakwa Young Writers’ Workshop. After the workshop, they will be paired with an expert mentor who will work with them for ten weeks to complete a short story translation. Within the framework of this workshop, we asked translators to reflect on the craft of literary translation. Throughout this month, we will publish these reflections on our YouTube channel.

We are looking for passionate translators who wish to take their craft to the next level. We want to read translations which challenge us with their creativity, which highlight the distinct range of voices in Cameroon today and which excite us with their innovation and care.

To apply for the workshop, applicants should submit the following:

  1. A translation of the text below from French to English.
  2. A written reflection on your approach to translating the text in question (300 words max).
  3. A brief (200 words max) statement of motivation on why you want to take part in the workshop. The practical focus of the workshop will be English-French and French-English literary translation, with discussion of broader issues in literary translation and the publishing world. If you are also interested in working on translation into Cameroonian national languages, please indicate which language(s) in your application.
  4. A one-page CV.

The application materials above should be submitted by email to with “Literary Translation Workshop” as subject line. Applications close on 30 August 2019 and successful participants will be informed mid-September.

All successful applicants will be required to participate in the full range of activities: the workshops, the mentorship period, and the translation of short stories to be published by Bakwa Books in 2020.

Excerpt for French to English translation

‘Ils atteignirent l’enseigne et aperçurent alors l’escalier qui s’engouffrait dans une bouche ouverte. Suivant les autres, ils l’empruntèrent. En descendant les marches, le coeur de Jojo battait la chamade. Il avait tellement rêvé de voir le métro. Pourtant lorsqu’ils furent en bas, il fut un peu déçu. Il ne savait pas au juste ce qu’il s’attendait àvoir, mais ce n’était certainement pas cette scène-là. Tous ces gens qui couraient dans tous les sens lui donnaient le tournis. Ils apparaissaient et disparaissaient dans des trous, lui rappelant les termitières de son enfance. Oui, ces hommes et femmes-là avaient le même mouvement de panique que les termites lorsque, pour s’amuser dans les champs, il cassait avec méchanceté leurs gigantesques nids de terre.’

— J.R. Essomba, Paradis du Nord, Paris: Présence Africaine, 1996.

This project emerges partly from Dr Georgina Collins’ feasibility study, Literary Translation and Creative Writing Training in West Africa (2019), which maps existing literary translation training opportunities and networks in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal.

For more information on literary translation, take a look at our YouTube channel in August; we will be uploading translators’ reflections on the craft of literary translation throughout the month.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, journalist, & Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. The recipient of the inaugural The Future Awards Prize for Literature in 2019, he is a judge for The Gerald Kraak Prize and was a judge for The Morland Writing Scholarship in 2019. He is Nonfiction Editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is Curator at The Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His work in queer equality advocacy in literature has been profiled in Literary Hub. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies/English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English in a private Nigerian university. Find him at, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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