•  IMG_1085_k.jpg

    Presenter Anna Jäger with Maaza Mengiste (Ethopia/USA), Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Kenya) und Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe)

  •  IMG_1268_k.jpg

    Presenter Anna Jäger with Nii Parkes (Ghana/GB), Colleen Higgs (South Africa), José Eduardo Agualusa (Angola) and Hemley Boum (Camerun/France).


African Perspectives - Writers and Literary Experts in Conversation

read more
Languages of Imagination
Telling Archives

African Perspectives - Writers and Literary Experts in Conversation

Together with Litprom we are looking forward to the event with Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o (Kenya/USA) Nii Parkes (Ghana/GB), Colleen Higgs (South Africa), José Eduardo Agualusa (Angola), Hemley Boum (Camerun/France) Maaza Mengiste (Ethopia/USA), Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Kenya), Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe), and others.

You can finde the videos online at the YouTube channel of the KfW Foundation in English with German subtitles.


Keynote Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

The symposium will begin with the renowned and highly esteemed writer, playwright, essayist and teacher Prof. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. In his keynote lecture “End Literary Identity Theft: The Future of African Literatures in the World” he shares his appeal to emancipate African languages within literature – an approach to decolonise the mind.

Florian Kniffka (LMU München) and Prof. Dr. Frank Schulze-Engler (Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main) will in turn discuss the expectations African literatures face in German-speaking countries. Some Afterthoughts…

The author

Ngugi wa Thiong’o was born in Limuru, Kenya in 1938. He teached literary studies at Yale University, New York University and University of California amongst others. He received the Nonino International Prize for Literature in 2001 and the Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize for his lifelong striving for peace and justice in 2018.

Panel discussion

Panel discussion with Nii Parkes (Ghana), Colleen Higgs (South Africa), José Eduardo Agualusa (Angola), Hemley Boum (Camerun/France), moderated by Anna Jäger (Curator SAVVY Contemporary in Berlin)

Writers and cultural practitioners from four trans-lingual countries on their challenges and experiments with African and colonial languages: what does it mean to write and publish in multiple languages and why is that important?

Followed by Juergen Boos (Director of the Frankfurt Buchmesse) on the role of the cultural landscape in Frankfurt, Germany, in the dissemination and perception of global literatures. Some Afterthoughts… with Daniela Leykam (KfW Stiftung)

The authors

Colleen Higgs
Colleen Higgs founded Modjaji Books, an independent feminist press in South Africa in 2007 which has published more than 150 titles so far. Before, she worked for the Centre for the Book. In 2011 she was honoured by the Mail & Guardian and featured in their Book of South African Women. She also is a writer, having published a series of memoirs “My Mother, My Madness”. She lives in Cape Town.

Hemley Boum
Hemley Boum was born in Duala, Cameroon in 1973 studied social sciences in Yaoundé and international trade in Lille, France. She lives in France. Her novel  “Si d’aimer” was shortlisted for the Ahmadou-Kourouma-Prize in 2013. Her novel “Les Maquisards” received the Grand Prix littéraire d´Afrique Noire in 2015.

José Eduardo Agualusa
José Eduardo Agualusa, born 1960 in Huambo, Angola, spends most of his time in Portugal, Angola and Brazil, working as a writer and journalist. His books have been translated into 25 languages. In 2016, he was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize and received the International Dublin Literary Award in 2017.

Nii Ayikwei Parkes
Nii Parkes was born in the UK in 1974 and grew up in Ghana. He writes fiction and poetry and performs his work on international stages. He is a Champion of the Farrago UK Poetry Slam and also works as editor und curator. His debut novel “Tail of the Blue Bird” was published in 2009 and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize. He lives in London and Accra.

Panel discussion

Panel discussion with Maaza Mengiste (Ethopia/USA), Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Kenya), Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe), moderated by Anna Jäger (Curator SAVVY Contemporary in Berlin).

There is no future without knowledge of the past: three writers engage in a discussion on how to develop a new narrative. A conversation on the kind of archives that go “beyond shelves”.

Zoë Beck and Jan Karsten from CultureBooks discuss their experiences translating and publishing global voices in Germany and Europe. Some Afterthoughts… with Anita Djafari (Litprom e.V.)

The authors

Maaza Mengiste
Maaza Mengiste was born in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, in 1971. During the communist revolution in 1975 her family had to leave Ethiopia and moved to Nigeria, Kenya and finally the US. She studied Creative Writing at New York University, where she is teaching today. Her acclaimed debut novel “Beneath the Lion’s Gaze” was translated into several languages. Her new novel, “The Shadow King” is shortlisted for the 2020 Man Booker Prize.

Petina Gappah
Petina Gappah was born in Sambia (former Rhodesia) in 1971 and grew up in Harare, Simbabwe. She studied law in Cambridge and Graz. In 2009 she received the Guardian First Book Award for her short story collection “An Elegy for Easterly”. She published another volume of stories “Rotten Row”, as well as two novels “The Book of Memory” and “Out of Darkness, Shining Light”. She was a fellow of DAAD in Berlin. Gappah lives in Harare, Edinburgh and Geneva.

Yvonne Adhiambo Owour
Yvonen Adhiambo Owuor was born in Kenya in 1968. Her short stories were published in international literary magazines. In 2003, she received the Caine Prize for African Writing. Her debut novel “Dust” was shortlisted for the Folio Prize in 2016 and received the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature. “The Dragonfly Sea” is her second novel. She lives in Nairobi.

The symposium will end with a poetry reading by Koleka Putuma.

The author

Koleka Putuma is a spoken word artist and dramatist. She was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in 1993. Her volume of poems “Collective Amnesia” was a huge success in South Africa and named City Press Book of the Year in 2017. In 2016, she received the PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize, in 2017 the Rising Star Award at the Mbokodo Awards and in 2018, Forbes Magazine named her one of the 30 most promising African creatives under 30. She lives in Cape Town.

Daniela Leykam
Programme Manager Arts & Culture