X, 97 pp.
1 facsimile reproduction
Text language(s): German, Hausa
In the year 1999 the city Frankfurt / Main (Germany) celebrated the 250th birthday of its greatest son Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832). At this occasion it turned out that not a single work Goethe’s has been translated into one of the approximately 2,000 African languages until now. To change this sad deficit, Herrmann Jungraithmayr, african linguist at the Goethe University of Frankfurt, and his long-time colleague Yahaya Ahmed, a Hausa from North Nigeria, started translating Goethe’s poems into the Hausa language, placing emphasis on the poems which have a reference to the world of the Islam (in Westöstlicher Divan, one of Goethe’s anthologies: „Im Islam leben und sterben wir alle.“ [We all live and die in the Islam.]). The Hausa language – one of the most important languages in West Africa – is spoken by about 30 million people, mainly Muslims.
This is the first attempt to built a poetic bridge between two totally different cultures – the old Christian Europe and the Islamic Central Africa –, and it is a courageous initial transporting a piece of Goethe’s open mind into the sentimental value and mental world of the Hausa people. So for the first time Goethe is entering the world south of the Sahara with its excess of phantasy and mental creative power. The elaborate introduction gives the reader many detailed information about the history of origins of the poems, the importance and prominence of Hausa as a lingua franca and a literature language, and about the procedural method of the translation process.
Adjacent, twenty Goethe poems and their translations are presented. A poem written by one of the editors himself completes this book. The whole work is bilingual, well arranged, and easily manageable, the German texts can be found on the left pages fronting the Hausa translations on the right pages.