Friday Finds: Najlaa Eltom’s ‘The Struggle Is Patriarchal’

Najlaa Eltom is a Sudanese writer, translator, activist, and poet:

Her first poetry collection, The Doctrine of Thinness, appeared in 2007, and her second came out in 2016. She currently lives in Sweden.

Her “النضال ذكوري,” was recently translated — in The Babel Review of Translations — into English and Swedish. The English version, “The Struggle Is Patriarchal,” was translated by Yasmine Haj and opens:

In 2006, while working as part of the administrative and financial department in the headquarters of one of the UN agencies in Khartoum, I was assigned to follow some affairs at the office in Kadugli, capital of South Kordofan State. One of my tasks was to help hire some workers and employees in what was called a “welcome station” for Sudanese returnees to South Sudan as part of the Sudanese Voluntary Return programme. We needed about six cleaning ladies and guards, as well as two observers and an administrator. We followed the procedures required for job postings, after which I continued working with the others. I had no expectations concerning the hiring process; it was a minor task, and there was much else to do during the two short weeks. However, we were flooded with job applications, and what was supposed to be a minor task transformed into a moment encapsulating a history of violence, war, and the complexities of social injustice that the Nubian mountains have suffered throughout centuries of exploitation.

Keep reading on The Babel Review of Translations.

If you have a subscription to Banipal, you can find translations of her poetry in issues 55 and 62.