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DHAKA INTERNATIONAL TRANSLATION FESTIVAL

The idea of holding the Dhaka Translation Fest (DTF) 2018 was not all that calculated. To begin with, it sprang from a casual adda of a group of writers, poets, translators and cultural facilitator – Bina Biswas from India, Gauranga Mohanta, Rashid Askari, Walid Ahmed and Ahsan Iman from Bangladesh. Later they added some urgency to it and shared it with some eminent authors, poets, critics and translators from Bangladesh and beyond like Hayat Saif, Syed Manzoorul Islam, Kaiser Haque, Fakrul Alam, Hasan Azizul Haque, Selina Hossain, Kamal Chowdhury, Dr. Partha Banerjee, Dr. Alka Kurian, Nabina Das, Abhijit Mukherjee, Chandra Gurung, Hadaa Sendoo, and a few others like Ahsan Iman who too fanned the flame of holding the fest without delay.  And in its wake, the Dhaka Translation Fest (DTF) 2018 saw the light of day on one fine October morning on the historic premises of Bangla Academy, Dhaka. We know it should have been held a month back on or around 30 September in conformity with the International Translation Day. The idea of celebrating the international translation day was first launched in 1991 by International Federation of Translators (IFT) to express solidarity with the world translator community with a view to promoting the translation profession and thereby mutual cultural understanding. This was later fully vindicated   by a UN General Assembly resolution passed on 24 May 2017 that declared  September 30 ‘International Translation Day’ to mark the death anniversary of the Bible translator St. Jerome and to recognize  the role of professional translation in promoting social, cultural and linguistic integration.

That the DTF took place is our pride and joy. It turned a rendezvous for writers, poets, translators, critics and publishers from Bangladesh, India and beyond. The speakers, moderators, panelists, discussants were persons of great presence and the festival premises was vibrant during different events of the celebrations. There were lively discussions on issues of translating different genres of literature, exchanges of views on the nuts and bolts of translation strategies and skills, problems of untranslatability, fears of transgression and the ultimate promise and compromise of translation as the spirit of the fest.  

The DTF charter heralds its motto:  ‘Unite Thru Translation.’ It seeks to define a new role of translation as a tool of bringing together human beings by breaking social, political, cultural and linguistic barriers. It leads us to the vision of a humanitarian world to live in, which is achievable by, among other things, the unification of cultures and societies through numerous works of translation. The act of translation, that had, since the times of the translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh, been a matter of individual endeavour, is now a matter of greater interest and moral obligation. The postcolonial literary and cultural consciousness advocates the interpretation of one’s own culture to be done by themselves and the acceptance of others’ on the same footing. This leads to mutual understanding and unification of cultures, societies and languages.

And to this end, literatures of the world are in urgent need of robust translation. Translation can be an ideal vehicle for increasingly crossing national, cultural and linguistic boundaries. On this account, the DTF can be considered as the start of something new and big in context of the translator community of Bangladesh and South and Southeast Asian region. Though translation festivals are not something of a rarity and many countries have already held or are holding translation fests or stuff like that [Mention may be made of   the Japan Translation Federation (JTF) Translation Festival 2017],   it has not yet assumed considerable importance and extension especially the way DTF aims for a greater cultural unification. And hence, the end to signify the process of unification and extension well justifies the means of holding the DTF 2018. It is a landmark step to organise the festival accommodating a constellation of connoisseurs of translation from home and abroad.