La Shamba is a newly launched South to South writing collaboration project bringing a diversity of language and viewpoints to the global literature space online.
The project is the brainchild of Mexican writer Luis Felipe Lomelí and South African author Zukiswa Wanner, who were selected for the Bogota39 and Africa39 lists, respectively, for their literary talent and propensity for shaping emerging reading cultures. La Shamba is capturing readers from both sides of the Atlantic by publishing stories in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish (so far), doing some justice to the linguistic variety and cultural wingspan of Africa and the Americas.
A new story from each side of the pond goes up each month, and La Shamba encourages readers and writers to contribute translations of the stories published online.
Ivorian writer, editor and translator Edwige-Renée Dro contributed ‘Les chaussures’ (The Shoes) to the transnational literary experiment. Her short story describes both the burden and bounty of large families.
‘Le chaussures’ unpeels the complex layers of seniority and influence of men and women in a traditional village setting. The characters jostle and their responsibilities shift when the narrator’s brother, Karim, buys a pair of fancy shoes causing an uproar.
The story can be read and enjoyed in both French and English.
It begins, in the latter:
Yesterday, Baba called us. Of course, Baba always calls us. If a father doesn’t call his children, what kind of a father is he? So, he calls us to say, “Go, fetch water for me”, or “Your mothers have brought the food over. Come let’s eat”, or to say, “Go and run this errand.” But this was another type of calling: this calling gathered us all the children, and we are many. Maybe we are 14, but I have never counted us. It is bad to count people who are still breathing; only the dead are counted.
Keep reading on La Shamba
- Efemia Chela is Francophone & Contributing Editor; follow her on Twitter