- 9 January 2023
by Frieda Mukufa & Sylvia Schlettwein
Over three days the Narrating Namibia, Narrating Africa Literary Festival took place in Windhoek from 7 to 9 September 2022. Organised and hosted by the Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach, Doek, and the University of Namibia, the festival took place at the Namibia Scientific Society with three days of panel discussions, readings, and performances by the featured authors and poets, and performances by Narrating Namibia fellows, who had attended three week-long creative writing workshops facilitated by Remy Ngamije. These workshops for emerging writers consisted of tuition sessions on fiction as well as non-fiction writing, and on how to be a poet, both in writing and performing. At the end of the course, the fellows had a complete composition that they performed at the Narrating Namibia, Narrating Africa
The three panel discussions featured established writers and poets and prompted lively discussions on pertinent topics. On Wednesday 7 September the festival kicked off with the Night of Poets. The conversation with Namibian poets Hugh Ellis, Keamogetsi Joseph Molapong, Mimi Mwiya, and Prince Kamaazengi, was moderated by Sylvia Schlettwein and Rémy Ngamije, Doek! Literary Magazine’s editor-in-chief. At the end of the evening, poets from the Doek fellowship performed poetry or read from their short stories.
The second evening, on Thursday, 8 September, was themed Writing Back for the Future. Lauri Kubuitsile from Botswana, Chuma Nwoloko from Nigeria, and Valerie Tagwira from Zimbabwe engaged in conversation and read from their works. The evening was moderated by Prof. Dr Annette Bühler-Dietrich from the University of Stuttgart and Rémy Ngamije.
The last day saw moving performances and a raw, emotional yet honest conversation on Continental Violence, African Silence between Ugandan playwright George Seremba and Hugh Ellis, moderated by Joseph Molapong and Sylvia Schlettwein. A showcase of the poetry and writing of the last group of Doek fellows rounded off the Narrating Namibia, Narrating Africa Festival.
This festival was invaluable, not only because it provided an opportunity for Namibian and other African writers to discuss the Namibian writing landscape, but also because of the opportunity it provided to young and emerging writers, who were able to network with established authors and literary academics. The sense of community and creative, academic and intellectual discourse experienced during these three short but intense days injected the Namibian writing scene with a well-received booster.