A creative cultural project leads to translation of world-renowned speech into Welsh


12.03.2021

A creative cultural project to celebrate the contribution and identity of Swansea’s Welsh Bangladeshi community has led to the translation of an historic speech into Welsh by renowned poet and UWTSD Emerita Professor Menna Elfyn.

Menna Elfyn

The speech, delivered by the Founding Father of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu on the 7th March 1971 is listed in the UNESCO Memory of the World International Register.

Her Excellency Saida Muna Tasneem, High Commissioner of Bangladesh to the UK and Ireland, invited translations for the original speech into Welsh, Scots and Irish for a special publication titled "A call for freedom in languages" and hosted an event to honour the strong cultural connections between Bangladesh and the UK on the 50th anniversary of the famous speech.   

The creative project, which led to the Welsh translation by Professor Elfyn, was the idea of Dominic Williams, lecturer in creative writing at UWTSD and founder of write4word, a language arts company based in West Wales, and entrepreneur Mabs Noor, events director at the Patti Pavillion in Swansea.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

The translation of the Bangabandhu speech came originally from the development of an arts project to explore the boundaries of spoken word and the cultural identity of the Welsh Bangladeshi community through participatory arts practice. It stemmed from two texts - the 1971 ‘Speech of Bangabandhu’ by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and ‘I am Sheikh Mujib’ a contemporary monologue by Anisur Rahman, who is also involved in the project.

Dominic Williams said: “The plans I made in September 2019 to coordinate a significant creative celebration of the centenary of Sheik Mujib with the Welsh Bangladeshi community took on a particular focus following my invitation to London and conversation with Her Excellency Saida Muna Tasneem in January 2020. I have been privileged to become part the High Commissioner’s very insightful and empathetic ambitions for a celebration of the shared cultural histories of Bangla and the indigenous minority languages of the United Kingdom”.

Mabs Noor said: “As a member of the Welsh Bangladeshi community I am proud of our shared cultures. It has been a pleasure to work alongside Dominic Williams and an honour to be involved with Professor Menna Elfyn in realising the vision of Her Excellency the High Commissioner. I look forward continuing the legacy of that vision in joining Dominic in our shared goal to lead a creative community project”. 

Emerita Professor Menna Elfyn of creative writing at the University added: “It is a source of pride for me to translate into Welsh an historic address that had such an influence on the future of Bangladesh as a nation and that this address has now been approved and confirmed by UNESCO as part of World Heritage".

Professor Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones, Director of the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, said: “I’m delighted to work once again with Emerita Professor Menna Elfyn, one of Wales’s leading poets and indeed one of our most translated poets. She has rendered this historic speech, part of the UNESCO world heritage, into Welsh, with scholarly precision, reflecting its content and tone. We look forward to more opportunities to collaborate with partners in Wales and further afield in relation to UNESCO’s priorities.”

Note to Editor

1       University of Wales Trinity Saint David is part of the UWTSD Group, a confederation of several institutions, which includes the University of Wales, as well as Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion as constituent colleges. The Group offers a continuum from FE to HE for the benefit of learners, employers and communities. 

UWTSD’s vision is to be a University with a commitment to the well-being and heritage of the nation at the heart of all its activities. Central to the vision is the promotion and embedding of a dual-sector educational system which educates learners of all ages and backgrounds, and stimulates economic development in the region, across Wales and beyond

 The University’s was founded in 1822 and will celebrate its bicentenary in 2022.  Its 1828 Royal Charter is the oldest of any university in Wales.  The University’s campuses are located in Swansea Carmarthen, Lampeter, Cardiff and London and it has a Learning Centre in Birmingham and the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies is situated in Aberystwyth.

UWTSD is committed to placing students at the centre of its mission by providing a relevant and inspiring bilingual curriculum, providing a supportive learning environment, investing in its campuses and facilities and ensuring that students, from all backgrounds, are given the opportunity to achieve their potential.  

 

2         write4word

write4word is a small community interest company based in west Wales that works with the language arts. It works locally and internationally to develop writers and use writing to develop people. This means it leads creative writing and spoken-word projects that balance outcomes related to literary and performance excellence as well as social and individual well-being.