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Translating ‘Sing Like A River’ into ‘Yira Ng'o Mugga’
by Susan Kiguli
Download 'Yira Ng'o Mugga’ (Word format)
I enjoyed the translation of this poem very much basically because it proved such a fascinating mental, emotional, visual, aural and oral exercise: my true feeling of what a poetic experience should entail. I first worked on my own until I was satisfied that I had on paper a dynamic translation of the original poem. I then asked two of my colleagues in the Institute of Languages here at Makerere University to listen, read and help with ensuring as good a translation as possible. The colleagues are both experts and lecturers in Luganda. Both of them are translators of Luganda into English and sometimes other languages. One of them is very good at Luganda grammar and the other is a well-known Luganda dramatist.
The joint editing was an absolutely intriguing exercise. It forced us into a captivating poetic analysis. We all agreed that one could not translate or even edit a poem without capturing the spirit of the original. I think it was a beautiful experience trying to capture the spirit of the original because Luganda poetry thrives on image and I think the strongest aspect of the original are its images, paradoxes and rather staccato rhythm. I and even my colleagues, to whom I have read the poem, think the Luganda version appeals to us because it has crystallized the images for us and accentuated the sound of the poem. The poem is sound and image and a Luganda listener could not ask for more.
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