Rémy Ngamije started off the second day of Afrolit Sans Frontieres Virtual Literary Festival on Instagram Live on March 24, 2020.
The Afrolit Sans Frontiers Virtual Literary Festival is an initiative from writers of African origin curated by Zukiswa Wanner. Sixteen writers from 10 African countries are sharing their work from 15 different cities in English, French, Lingala, and Portuguese to a global virtual audience online over eight days. The first day of the festival had Richard Ali Mutu in Kinshasa before crime fiction writer Leye Adenle engaged from his London base.
Rémy Ngamije is a Rwandan-born Namibian short story writer, essayist, columnist, poet, photographer, and the author of The Eternal Audience Of One (Blackbird Books, 2019). He is the editor-in-chief of Namibia’s first literary magazine: Doek! His short stories have appeared in Litro Magazine, AFREADA, The Johannesburg Review of Books, The Amistad, The Kalahari Review, American Chordata, Doek!, Azure, Sultan’s Seal, and Columbia Journal.
Rémy Ngamije was the first writer for the second day of the festival and started his session by reading a sex scene from his book The Eternal Audience Of One. This was followed by audience engagement where he spoke about the reaction to his book. He stated that the local reaction in Namibia has been mixed in what is a very small literary community in Windhoek. Some have questioned his story which was expected to be native “Namibian” seeing as he was born in Rwanda and then moved to the country at the age of seven. He felt that there was no one story of being Namibian; one person writing a story doesn’t mean that no other story can be written. He didn’t feel the need to represent Namibia because he is not the standard-bearer to bring the country to the world. The writing in Namibia is there but what is lacking are the opportunities to be published he added.
His writing process is panic as there is not enough space or time to write. He also shared his working routine that included his writing and reading hours. On reading, he felt that it is very important to do and the work of other writers doesn’t change the way that you write. An example is with music, you can listen to all types of music but you will always have your own voice.
He spoke about the challenges of children of immigrants, the literary magazine Doek! which is always looking for submissions and his love of petty gossip (J).
Would he expect virtual festivals like the one he was participating in to be the way to go in the future? He still believes that physical literary festivals will never go away as the opportunity to meet beloved writers is amazing. For a small community like his in Windhoek, the virtual festival might be a way to do it. It’s a good idea and he is behind it especially where cost is concerned.