Renowned Liberian academician and author Robtel Neajai Pailey has done it again. This time around with the translation of the Pan-African anti-corruption children’s book Jaadeh! into one of Liberia’s most spoken local languages, Bassa.
Released in January 2019, Jaadeh! is a dual language sequel to the critically acclaimed anti-corruption children’s book Gbagba. Both books were illustrated by Liberian visual artist Chase Walker and published by One Moore Book.
While gbagba loosely translates as trickery or corruption in Bassa, jaadeh is its opposite. And so, the eight-year-old twin main characters Sundaymah and Sundaygar encounter examples of the opposite of corruption in the second book.
In a telephone interview with the Daily Observer, Dr. Pailey explained that she commissioned Bassa prelate and linguist, Bishop Amos W. Gbaa, Sr., to translate Jaadeh! into Bassa to honor the language and to have it taught in schools in Liberia and elsewhere.
“It is sad that many Liberians do not value their local languages and the situation is getting worse with many young people unable to speak any of the country’s 16 languages—myself included”, said Dr. Pailey.
She continued: “In response to this situation, I decided to collaborate with Bishop Gbaa to have Jaadeh! translated into Bassa to encourage its use in schools, homes, churches, mosques, etc.”
Although the Bassa language is not widely taught in Liberia, it is, however, taught at Spiritan Academy, one of Monrovia’s elite schools, which sent student and faculty representatives to the official launch of Jaadeh! at the University of Liberia on 10 May.
According to Dr. Pailey, the translation of Jaadeh! into Bassa is the start of her quest to have both anti-corruption children’s books translated into the most widely spoken local languages in Liberia and Africa, including Kpelle and Hausa in West Africa, Swahili in East Africa, Zulu in Southern Africa, and Berber in Northern Africa.
She said: “I look forward to piloting Gbagba and Jaadeh! throughout Africa, collaborating with linguists for translations into other languages, and co-producing more multi-media tools, including TV animations.”
According to Dr. Pailey, the inspiration for writing Gbagba and Jaadeh! came from working in Liberia’s highest political office and experiencing corruption first-hand in every sector of society.
Since its publication in 2013, Gbagba has been adopted as a supplemental reader for 3rd through 5th grades in Liberia and for Primary 3 in Ghana. Through a grant from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), the book has also been adapted into a radio drama and full-length stage play by the legendary Flomo Theater as well as a song and music video by prominent Liberian rapper Takun J.
Jaadeh! has similarly been adapted into a song and music video featuring Takun J and US-based vocalist Ella Mankon Pailey, Dr. Pailey’s younger sister. There are plans to produce other multi-media adaptations of Jaadeh!, including a Youtube video of the book being read in English and Bassa by Dr. Pailey and Bishop Gbaa.
Visit www.gbagba-jaadeh.com for more information about both books.