The classic British novel Animal Farm, about how the aims of a revolution can become twisted and its leaders can be corrupted, has been translated into the Zimbabwean language Shona for the first time, academic Tinashe Mushakavanhu has written.

The 1945 book, by George Orwell, is an allegorical tale about how the animals on a farm rise up and force the human farmers out. It then follows what happens to the revolution which originally declared “all animals are equal” but then amended that to “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.

In an article in The Conversation, Mr Mushakavanhu suggests that “since independence in 1980, Zimbabwe has in some ways become like Animal Farm… the country’s post-liberation leaders have hijacked a revolution that was once rooted in righteous outrage”.

The translation, which is called Chimurenga Chemhuka, Shona for “animal revolution”, was the culmination of an eight-year project led by novelist Petina Gappah and poet Tinashe Muchuri.

Mr Mushakavanhu writes that Orwell’s allegory fits well into a tradition in Shona writing which uses the technique “to conjure up worlds of tradition and custom, and also to examine human foibles”.

The translation and its use of different Shona dialects allows for new interpretations, he adds.

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