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Prolific Congolese writer to visit Grand Valley State

Posted on March 11, 2014

Kama Sywor Kamanda, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1952, published his first collection of stories at age 15. The prolific writer, who has received international recognition, is invited to Grand Valley State University for a series of events that focus on his life and work. All events are free and open to the public.

Kama Sywor Kamanda Poetry Reading & Book Signing
Monday, March 24, from 6-9 p.m.
Loosemore Auditorium, DeVos Center
401 West Fulton, Pew Grand Rapids Campus

Kamanda will also visit the Allendale Campus to give a talk about the Congo, on Tuesday, March 25, from 11a.m.-noon, in Kirkhof Center, room 2250. NOTE: He is unable to attend the French Mélodies event on March 26, as previously planned. This festive celebration includes students, faculty and some members of the community reading poems (some original), singing French songs and playing French musical pieces.

Kamanda studied literature, journalism, political science, philosophy and law at the Université de Kinshasa and the University of Liège. He worked as a journalist and helped to establish the Union of Congolese Writers in 1970, before leaving the Congo for political reasons in 1977. The writer lived throughout Europe before settling in Luxembourg. In 1985 he was the founding president of the African Association of Writers.

As a writer, Kamanda has produced more than a dozen volumes of poetry, hundreds of stories and several novels, all in French. Many of his works have been translated into Japanese, Italian, Greek and English, including Tales and Wind Whispering Soul, both in 2001. His poetry and stories often draw their imagery from African traditions, with a focus on the pain of exile and solitude, and the fight for what he once called “a real and just humanism,” where dreams can become reality for men and women from all continents.

Among the many awards and distinctions Kamanda has received for his work are the T. Gautier Prize, Heredia Prize, Prize of the Académie Française, Prize Louise Labbé, French Academy Paul Verlaine Award, Black Africa Grand Prize for Literature, Poet of the Millennium 2000 Award from the International Poets Academy in India, and a Master Diploma for Specialty Honors in Writing from the U.S. World Academy of Letters in 2006.

For more information, contact Isabelle Cata, French Section coordinator in the Modern Languages and Literatures Department, at 616-331-2477, or


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