Clémentine Faik Nzuji

Throwback Thursday: DR Congo’s Clémentine Faik Nzuji

One our Throwback Thursday this week, we feature Clémentine Faik Nzuji, DR Congo’s first female writer.

Clémentine Faik Nzuji, also known as Clémentine Faïk-Nzuji Madiya, is a Congolese poet and writer. She was born in Tshofa, Kabinda District in the Belgian Congo. She has been called “the first poet of real significance” among a group of African writers who emerged in the late 1960s. She was also the first female writer in the Belgian Congo now called the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Nzuji, who holds a doctorate in African studies from the University of Paris, is married and the mother of five children refer to her family in many of her poems.

She has produced a large catalogue of books in her career from the late 1960s. She started with a series of poetry collections over a three year period starting in 1968. They include Murmures [Whispers] published in 1968, Kasalà in 1969 and Le temps des amants [The Time of Lovers] in 1969. She followed these with Lianes [The Creepers] in 1971.

In 1976, she tried her hand at the short story with her collection Lenga et autres contes d’inspiration traditionnelle [Lenga and other traditional stories]. This collection came together with a new poetry collection Gestes interrompus [Broken deeds].

She took a bit of a break until her short story Cité de l’abondance [City of Abundance] won the 1986 annual Competition of the Overseas Royal Academy, Brussels. She also contributed to Cluzeau Fiancée à vendre et treize autres nouvelles [A fiancée for sale and thirteen other short stories] with her short story Frisson de la mémoire [A ripple of memory] in in 1993.

Apart from her own writing, she founded the Pléiade du Congo, a literary group in Kinshasa and headed and helped found the International Centre for African Languages, Literatures and Traditions in favour of Development (CILTADE) at the Catholic University of Louvain.

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