Mohammed, Wunpini Fatimata

  • Wunpini Fatimata Mohammed
  • Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Abstract Title: Mediated Translations: Theorizing African Languages and Indigenous Knowledge Systems

Bio: Wunpini Fatimata Mohammed is a faculty member of the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at The Pennsylvania State University. Her research interest focuses on indigenous knowledge systems, broadcast media, feminisms, development communication, and film.

Abstract: While there is an extensive body of literature on English language media production, distribution and reception in Ghana, very little research has focused on indigenous African language media. This essay examines the importance of translation in supporting the production of media in African countries like Ghana. I argue that translation not only makes knowledge available in other languages but supports the documentation of indigenous knowledge systems in the academy. Translation in this vein is both a methodological and theoretical undertaking that constantly questions the legitimacy of the Western canon while demonstrating the embeddedness of resistance in indigenous African languages. I draw extensively on indigenous African knowledge systems to present various strategies of translation in my research and how translation manifests in the findings of my research on indigenous language media in Ghana. I assert that to build on the knowledge of Africa in translation it is imperative to take into consideration the importance of multidisciplinary research. My work on translating Africa within the context of media raises questions about what constitutes knowledge, what knowledge systems are valued, and the ways in which we can inadvertently participate in the erasure of the existence of indigenous African communities in media research. To hinge my work on indigenous African knowledge systems means that my work in documenting the media histories of communities in Northern Ghana merely supplements the already existing oral epistemological systems that have preserved and transmitted knowledge from generation to generation.