Le ventre du crocodile : Other Peritextual Material

The original text includes no additional paratextual material other than the normal details of the publication and copyright. The French translation contains similar information. It also contains a number of explanatory footnotes and a list of 28 titles in DAPPER littérature. The authors are from Africa, Asia, South America and the Caribbean; those from the USA and the UK are by black writers; there is one South African white female living in Mauritius, and a white South African male, Michael Williams. That the titles are part of a series indicates selection on the basis of origin: 20 of the works are from different countries, four are by African Americans, and five are by South Africans. A reader may assume that these authors are well-known writers in their own countries. The other South African authors are Lindsey Collen, Achmat Dangor, Zakes Mda, Es’kia Mphahlele and Lewis Nkosi, each of whom is likely to be better known than Williams. The publisher has classified the novel as adult literature by including it in this series, a classification reinforced by the reference on the back cover to the Jake Mulligan series of detective novels for adults written by Williams.

In Le ventre du crocodile, Valérie Morlot explains some lexical items from other South African languages in footnotes, some in the text, and others such as townships (2004:30) and muti (35) (medicine) are to be understood from the context; for example, muti is bought from a sangoma, footnoted as a “healer” (35). The word veld, common in South Africa and elsewhere, is footnoted as “wild grassland in South Africa” (20). Toyi-toyi, a common protest dance, is described in a footnote as “a popular protest dance, performed by lifting the knees high, jumping on the spot or moving slowly forward, accompanied in demonstrations by slogans and chants” (23). Shebeen (30) is footnoted as

“an illegal bar in the townships” and skollie (59) as “a thug, often a member of a gang”. Some footnotes provide more detail, including both referential and connotative meaning. For example, boer (62) is explained as: “designating the Dutch farmers who settled in South Africa; the term, when used by a Black person, is synonymous with the coloniser or, if used by someone from the township, with the oppressor”. Another example is the definition given of Amandlal: “In Xhosa and Zulu, ‘power’, ‘force’. This expression was a kind of rally cry for liberation groups in South Africa, especially for the ANC” (235). Freedom in our time is footnoted as: “Refrain from a ‘liberation song’. These songs were chanted during protest marches in South Africa” (236). Morlot’s approach is to give translations for simpler terms, and to provide context and explanation for more complex terms. Keeping the words and expressions gives her translation a foreign flavour and emphasises the otherness of the text. Had she attempted to incorporate the words in French translation in the text, with no explanations, meaning and significance may have been lost.

The Mending Season : Covers

The cover of the German translation (Figure 4.3) differs significantly from that of the original (Figure 4.4). The large image on the cover is a close-up photograph of a smiling young black girl, looking away to the right, holding what seems to be a blade of grass to her mouth. She is wearing a blue scarf or doek on her head. The author’s name is at the top in a bold white font, and the title below in sentence case in larger, bright yellow letters. At the bottom is the logo and name of the publisher, Baobab. The image tells the reader that the story features a happy and content young black female, anticipating or remembering a pleasant event. The title of the original, The mending season, implies that something is healed in the narrative, which suggests an unpleasant and damaging event. The German title Im Schatten des Zitronenbaums is descriptive, and refers to a large lemon tree in front of the protagonist’s house, which provides privacy for the family. There is no implication of potential conflict in the narrative.

In contrast, the front cover of The mending season (Figure 4.4) shows one half of a lemon tree, heavy with fruit, in the foreground on the left. On the right, slightly set back, is a row of brightly coloured houses leading down a hill. In the background, in a muted blue-grey tone, lies what looks like a township with low-cost housing and several large buildings. The sky is reddish-orange with signs of smog hanging over the township. The author’s name appears at the top in black upper case letters, with the title below in larger, bolder, lower case letters. At the bottom of the cover is the publisher: OXFORD Southern African fiction. The cover illustrates the setting of the novel and the context of the narrative.

Front cover of Im Schatten des Zitronenbaums [Basel

Figure 4.3 Front cover of Im Schatten des Zitronenbaums [Basel: Baobab Books, 2012|


OXFORD : 'Ältlwm.iirkan



Figure 4.4 Front cover of The mending season by Kagiso Lesego Molope © Oxford University Press Southern Africa 2005 reproduced by permission of OUP Southern Africa Pty Ltd

The back cover of the original is a mirror image of the front. In the foreground, superimposed on the lemon tree, is a photograph of the author, with a brief biography: she was born in Atteridgeville, near Pretoria, and currently lives in Canada: “Fluent in five languages, Kagiso has worked in women’s rights advocacy and documentary film-making.” On the left, there is a description of the novel and a quotation from a prominent South African writer, Sindiwe Magona, commenting that “iVIolope weaves the dreams and aspirations of a young girl with the hopes of a nation about to give birth to itself ... the narrator tells her tale so well, so convincingly.” At the top left, in a smaller, less prominent font, is a summary of the story:

1990, the start of the school year: Tshidiso finds out she will not be returning to her township school. Instead, she has an opportunity to attend a convent in the city, recently become multi-racial.

Thrown into a new world of fancy cars, expensive clothes and “proper” accents, Tshidiso is faced with tough choices - who to be

Crossing Continents 87 friends with, who to stay true to, how to deal with a racial incident on the netball court that threatens to tear the school apart.

Courageous and independent, Tshidiso will appeal to all who question the world and their place in it.

The information about Molope identifies her as a woman who promotes women’s rights, comes from a relatively poor township, and who emigrated to Canada. The synopsis tells us that the protagonist is “thrown” into a new world, with no identified agent or actor. This world is defined by symbols of material wealth and “proper” accents, none of which Tshidiso possesses. Phrases such as “tough choices” and “racial incident” hint at conflict, with the description of Tshidiso as “courageous and independent”, implying a satisfactory outcome.

The back cover of the German translation has a yellow background, with a short background to the story, and a small map of the world. South Africa is shaded blue, with “Ein Roman aus Südafrika” (a novel from South Africa) beneath, situating the novel firmly in a South African geographical space. There is a marked shift in the assumptions and impli-catures in the summary of the narrative:

1990 ändert sich in Südafrika vieles. Nelson Mandela kommt frei und Schwarze dürfen seit neuestem sogar die Restaurants in der Stadt besuchen.

Tshidiso kannte bisher nur das Leben im Townshp, nun sitzt sie plötzlich zusammen mit Weißen im Klassenzimmer in Pretoria. Sie ist gleichzeitig stolz und verunsichert. Auch die schwarzen Mädchen aus der Stadt sind anders als sie...

... Eine bewegende Geschichte, die sich auch heute und fast überall ereignen könnte.

[It’s 1990 and a lot of things are changing in South Africa. Nelson Mandela has been released from prison and Blacks can now visit restaurants in town. Up to now Tshidiso has only known life in the township, and now she suddenly finds herself sitting next to white girls in the classroom at a school in Pretoria. She feels both proud and insecure. Even the black girls from the city are different from her ...

... A moving story, that could still happen today almost anywhere in the world.]

The educational objective of the agents involved is evident in the additional contextual information that is provided. Attention is drawn to the history of apartheid and the separation of racial groups, and to the rising black middle class. Tshidiso’s feelings of inferiority and insecurity are highlighted, but she is also described as “proud”. The statement that thestory could happen anywhere underlines a belief that the work has universal appeal and is not peculiar to South Africa, making it more appealing to German-speaking readers.

The covers of the German translation are extended into a fake dust jacket fold; the front part has a quotation from Molope that refers to Tshidiso’s ethical dilemma: “No one can simply look on from the side lines. Everyone plays a role in changing the world.” The inside of the back cover features the same photograph of Molope as on the back cover of the original text, with a more detailed biography including when she was born, what she studied at university, and telling the reader that this is her second book, following Dancing in the Dust, which is a prescribed book in many South African schools. Another statement by the author is quoted: “I write stories that tell what it is like to grow up as a black woman in South Africa.” Again, the target text reader is given more information than the source text reader, contributing to its use in an educational context.

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