(c) Dmitrij Leltschuk
As a child he discovered already his love for books. He devoured all books which he could find, he secretly read at night - "even though I didn’t understand everything," says Fiston Mujila Mwanza. The writer and poet is the first scholar of the Sylt Foundation kunst:raum sylt quelle who comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo. From the beginning of September to late October he is guest on Sylt, his residence is funded by the Foreign Office.
Mwanza Mujila was born in Lubumbashi, where he went to a Catholic school
and the university. He studied humanities and human sciences. Three
years ago the 29-year-old man left his home country that is plagued by
war and violence in order to write without censorship. He received
scholarships in Belgium, France and Germany. Most recently he was a
fellow of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, then Town Writer of Graz
(Austria), now he is on Sylt.
Increasingly, he writes his poems and essays in German – even though
French is his mother tongue. Currently he works on the poetry collection
"Der Fluss in meinem Bauch". As a child he dreamed of becoming a
saxophonist playing jazz. "But there was no saxophone, so the jazz
rhythm is now added to my poems. I write like a jazz musician." The
subjects of his poems pick up chaos, civil wars, 32 year dictatorship of
Mobutu, which undermine his home country since its independence in 1960
from Belgium. He has experienced the consequences. "In my country there
are many wars, many problems. For me it’s like a therapy to write
about. I want to make holes in the wall of silence that surrounds still
too much." The writer, who is cautious and open-minded at the same time,
emanates vitality – in spite of all. He hopes to return to his
homeland. His dream is to become a professor at the University of
Lubumbashi and as a publisher to help young African writers to go their
First he returns from Sylt back to Austria. Until August 2010 he worked
as city writer of Graz in a very unusual literary project. Mwanza Mujila
went into the prisons Graz-Karlau and Garsten, where he worked with
prisoners literary. The result of this cross-border project is the
anthology "Nach dem Sturm". The book contains articles from prison
inmates. The motivation for this project lies in his past. The
University of Lubumbashi, where he studied, was near a prison. The
purchase and transportation of prisoners, "the image of human bodies,
which had been put together into a ball of indescribable" has engrafted
him. Was not afraid to talk to criminals? Why? was the counter-question.
"We are all humans, we all have the same fears, phobias, dreams."
In Graz he wants to graduate if it is possible. "I would love to write
my thesis about the Congo’s novel. There are not many experts on African
literatures and it would be nice to become one of them", he says slowly
as he watched the birds on the Rantum Becken.
Sylt he likes especially of the nature. "Sylt is very poetic, the
weather, the nature, the people, the food." And he dreams that once upon
the time tourists are on the banks of the river Congo to discover the
beauty of his homeland like they do now on Sylt. "Water is freedom."