Kama Sywor Kamanda

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Kama Sywor Kamanda

Kama Sywor Kamanda is an award-winning writer and poet from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Kamanda Kama Sywor was born on November 11, 1952, in Luebo, Democratic Republic of Congo, from father Malaba Kamenga and mother Kony Ngalula.

After publishing a first collection of stories at the age of 15, Kamanda 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, Kamanda lived in various European countries before settling in Luxembourg.

In 1985, Kamanda 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 anthologies of poetry, several hundred stories, as well as several novels.

Living in perpetual exile, this universal writer has gained worldwide notoriety that has seen him travelling constantly for conferences, poetry readings and festivals.

Kamanda's works have been translated into many languages, including English, Japanese, Italian, and Greek. This writer 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 Gautier 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 world francophone literature.

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 numerous 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.

"My poetry speaks of men and women from all continents who fight for a real and just humanism where their dreams can become reality. It’s a poetry of life, of love, of hope and of the exaltation of values that encourage the blossoming of the individual within a community where harmony depends upon the contribution of each member." ~ Kama Sywor Kamanda

Literary works[edit]


  • Les Contes des veillées africaines, 1967, 1985
  • Les Contes du griot, t. I, Préface de Léopold Sedar Senghor, 1988
  • Les Contes du griot, t. II (La Nuit des griots), 1991, 1996
  • Les contes du griot, t.III (Les Contes des veillées africaines, édition augmentée), 1998
  • Les Contes du crépuscule, 2000
  • Contes (édition illustrée) 2003
  • Contes (Les œuvres complètes) 2004
  • Contes africains (Grund) 2006


  • Chants de brumes. Preface by Jacques Iozard, 1986, 1997, 2002
  • Les Résignations. Preface by Mateja Matevski, 1986, 1997
  • Éclipse d’étoiles. Preface by Claude Michel Cluny, 1987, 1997
  • La Somme du néant. Preface by Pierrette Micheloud, 1989, 1999
  • L’Exil des songes. Preface by Marc Alyn, 1992
  • Les Myriades des temps vécus. Preface by Mario Luzi, 1992, 1999
  • Les Vents de l’épreuve. Preface by Salah Stétié, 1993, 1997
  • Quand dans l’âme les mers s’agitent. Preface by Jean-Baptiste Tati Loutard, 1994, 1998
  • L’Étreinte des mots. Preface by Maria Luisa Spaziani, 1995
  • Le Sang des solitudes, 2002
  • Œuvre poétique, 1999
  • Oeuvre poétique (édition intégrale), 2008


  • Lointaines sont les rives du destin, 1994, 2000, 2007
  • La Traversée des mirages, 2006
  • La Joueuse de Kora, 2006
  • L'Insondable destin des Hommes, 2013


  • Au-delà de Dieu, au-delà des chimères, 2007
  • L'Homme torturé, 2013

Translated works[edit]

  • English : Wind Whispering Soul, 2001 ; Tales, 2001
  • Italian : Le miriadi di tempi vissuti, 2004 ; La stretta delle parole, 2004
  • Japanese : Les Contes du griot, t. I, 2000 ; t. II, 2005
  • Chinese : Les Contes du griot, t. I, 2003 ; t. II, 2004

Prizes and distinctions[edit]

  • French Academy Paul Verlaine award, 1987
  • Louise Labé award, 1990
  • Black Africa Association of French-Speaking Writers, 1991
  • Special Poetry Award, Academic Institute of Paris, 1992
  • Silver Jasmin for Poetical Originality, Agen, 1992
  • French Academy Théophile Gautier award, 1993
  • Melina Mercouri award, Greek Poets and Writers Association, 1999
  • Poet of the Millennium 2000 award, International Poets Academy, India, 2000
  • Honorary Citizen Joal-Fadiouth, Senegal, 2000
  • Poetry award, International Society of Greek Writers, 2002
  • Exceptional Contribution Honor Certificate Maurice-Cagnon, International Council for French Studies, 2005
  • Master Diploma for Specialty Honors in Writing, World Academy of Letters, United States of America, 2006
  • French Academy Heredia award, 2009


  • Marie-Claire De Coninck, Kama Kamanda : Au pays du Conte, Paris, Ed. L'Harmattan, 1993.
  • Pierrette Sartin, Kama Kamanda, Poète de l'exil, Paris, Ed. L'Harmattan, 1994.
  • Marc Alyn (préf.), Kama Kamanda, Hommage, 1997.
  • Isabelle Cata et Franck Nyalendo, Kama Sywor Kamanda, Luxembourg, Ed. Paul Bauler, 2003.
  • Marie-Madeleine Van Ruymbeke Stey (dir.), Regards critiques, Ed. L'Harmattan, 2007.


  • Cata, Isabelle, La Quête du rêve d'absolu: Recréer le monde, pénétrer l'infini, mesurer le néant, une réflexion critique sur l'oeuvre de Kama Sywor Kamanda, Paris, Edition Dagan, 2015.
  • Cata, Isabelle; Nyalendo, Franck (2003). Kama Sywor Kamanda: chantre de la mémoire égyptienne. Paul Bauler. ISBN 978-2-919885-51-0. 
  • Chevrier, Jacques (2005). L'arbre à palabres. Essai sur les contes et récits traditionnels d'Afrique noire. Hatier International. ISBN 978-2-7473-0453-5. 
  • De Coninck, Marie-Claire (1993). Kama Kamanda : Au pays du Conte. Editions de L'Harmattan. ISBN 978-2-7384-2055-8. 
  • Kamanda, Kama Sywor (1998). Les Contes du griot, vol 1,. Présence africaine. 
  • Kamanda, Kama Sywor (1992). Les myriades des temps vécus. L'Harmattan. ISBN 978-2-7384-1478-6. 
  • Mateso, Locha (1987). Hatier. ISBN 978-2-218-07941-2.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Sartin, Pierrette (1994). Kama Kamanda, Poète de l'exil. L'Harmattan. ISBN 978-2-7384-2459-4. 

External links[edit]