- Category: PA 2006
KAMA SYWOR KAMANDA was born in 1952 in Luebo, Congo, to a family of Bantu-Egyptian origin. After publishing his first collection of stories at the age of 15, he studied literature, journalism, political science, philosophy and law, and worked in journalism. In 1970, he participated in the creation of the Union of Congolese Writers (Union des écrivains congolais). Forced to leave the Congo in 1977 due to his political activities, he lived in various European countries before settling in Luxembourg.
In 1985, he was the founding president of the African Association of Writers, of which L.S. Senghor was the honorary president. As a poet, story teller and novelist, Kamanda subsequently produced a considerable body of literary work, including a dozen poetry anthologies, several hundred stories, and several novels.
He finds his inspiration in ancient Egypt, the country of his ancestors, and in its rich Bantu traditions, the memory of which is honoured in his writings. His stories draw their imagery from African traditions, but constitute a universe at the boundary between the fantastic and the author’s own reality. His books of poetry focus on the themes of celebrating Africa and of the pain of exile and solitude, all against a backdrop of fervent celebration of love. He travels constantly for conferences, poetry readings and festivals.
Kamanda’s work have been translated into many languages, including English, Japanese, Italian, and Greek, and has earned several major prizes and distinctions, including the Paul Verlaine Prize from the Académie française (1987), the Louise Labbé Prize (1990), the Black Africa Grand Prize for Literature (1991), and the Théophile Gauthier prize (1993) from the Académie française. In 2005, the International Council for Francophone Studies (Conseil international d’études francophones) conferred upon him the prestigious Maurice-Cagnon Certificate of Honour, for his unique contribution to the world of Francophone literature.
Kamanda comments "... Thanks to the poetic process, we gain our freedom ... [and] shed the fear instilled.