Tuesday, September 12, 2006

That Untranscribed Interview

Belonging somewhere in the mass of possessions that would qualify to be called my "archives" - newspapers, newspaper cuttings, contributor's copies of magazines and anthologies, crumpled sheets holding jottings, excerpts, quotations, etc - is an audio tape of an interview. An interview with the Sudanese writer and Professor of Literature Taban lo Liyong. I met him at a literary festival in Kampala, Uganda in October of 2005, and got him to sit with me for an "exclusive" "no-holds-barred" (what other words do those journalists use?) chat. He said quite a lot, and he was at his combative, controversial best, talking extensively about Africa and its politics and literatures; the war in the Sudan; touching on Soyinka and Achebe and Ngugi with the ease and familiarity of someone who truly belongs in their company. Sadly, the tape remains untranscribed, because the interviewer is too lazy to face the task. It seems actually daunting, the thought of sitting and playing the tape over and over again, rewinding a short length of tape until it has covered a distance equivalent to the circumference of the earth. But it is a task that must be done, and DO IT I shall. I'm sure there are modern transcribing tools that make it as easy as, uhm, uhm, - writing a dissertation with google as Adviser - but for me, TechSavvy-challenged homo sapien that I am (that's not true, just the unnecessary self-deprecation required for personal blog entries), I shall have to do it the long (hand) way. Maybe it is my experience transcribing a previous interview that discourages me - the painful straining to faithfully reproduce speech on the page.

I'll certainly be back here to let you hear my song of conquest.

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