Moving Cultures, Transcultural Encounters
The talk will explore the dynamics of transcultural dialogue between Telugu-speaking areas of India and the legendary Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. Though separated by more than 5,000 km distance and without any common bonding in political, social, cultural and economic relations, how this Gikuyu author got a familiar treatment as one of their own authors and commanded highest respect, goes beyond literary appreciation. It has to do with a collective memory of oppression and struggle. It is a kind of discovery of one’s own self in a literature from afar. It is an attempt to draw inspiration for one’s own continuing struggles. In this transcultural dialogue, cultural differences become secondary to political unity. I would also like to give a personal touch to this line of argument by referencing the interactions many Telugu people and I had with Ngũgĩ in the course of last two decades and more.
Venugopalrao Nellutla is a student of political economy by training, but remained poet, translator, literary critic, journalist and public speaker by choice. Working in both Telugu and English mainstream journalism for more than two decades, he left it to launch Veekshanam, an alternative, small Telugu monthly journal of political economy and society which he has been editing for the last 15 years. He has about 25 books in original Telugu and translated as many into Telugu from English, besides editing more than 20 books. His recent publications include Understanding Maoists: Notes of a Participant Observer from Andhra Pradesh (Setu Prakashani, Kolkata, 2013).