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Rettová, Alena (2018) 'Translation as destruction: Kezilahabi's adaptation of Heidegger's 'Being'.' Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 81 (3). pp. 439-457.

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Tanzanian novelist and philosopher Euphrase Kezilahabi strives to “dismantle the resemblance of language to the world” (1985: 216) through challenging the fundamental philosophical dichotomy of subject and object. The result of this dismantling will be a new “language whose foundation is Being” (Kezilahabi 1991: 69; lugha ambayo msingi wake nikuwako). This is an expression of a new relationship between humanity and Being built on a holistic epistemology of experience and embodiment. Through “kuwako”, Kezilahabi expresses in Swahili the Heideggerian concept of Sein (Being). His adherence to Heidegger, however, puts him at risk of compromising the very foundation of his own philosophy: his continued critique of essentialism. This article argues that Kezilahabi salvages his concept of “kuwako” from these essentialist pitfalls precisely through his declared “destructive rather than deconstructive stand vis-àvis the Western philosophy of value and representation” (Kezilahabi 1985: 4). The destruction is implemented on the thematic level: a phase of “vurumai” (chaos) which destroys previous traditions of philosophy is staged in Nagona. However, translation is an even more powerful device to carry out this destruction: “kuwako” is not an innocent reiteration but a radical reformulation of Heidegger’s central philosophical concept, decisively informed by Kezilahabi’s lifelong propensity for existentialism.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Euphrase Kezilahabi, Martin Heidegger, Hermeneutics of translation, Swahili literature, African epistemology
SOAS Departments & Centres: Regional Centres and Institutes > Centre of African Studies
Departments and Subunits > School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics
School Research Centres
ISSN: 0041977X
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2019 15:45
Related URLs: ... F38/core-reader (Publisher URL)

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