„It is important to me that African stories be told by African people.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Literatures of African authors in Cologne

For more than ten years now, the projectstimmen afrikas has been offering authors from the African continent and from the African diaspora a stage in Cologne. As they introduce those of their works that have been published in German by reading excerpts from novels, short stories, or poems, and then engaging their audience in conversations about them, authors encourage an immediate and lively exchange. The range of topics and forms of expression illustrated by these literatures, and the encounters with extraordinary people make each reading quite an event.

stimmen afrikas also organizes an annual reading to which interested laypeople, experts on Africa, culture vultures and literary scholars alike are quite welcome. The growing audiences they attract show how much these readings are appreciated, cherished even, by both the audience and the invited guests who enjoy returning.

„What you’re doing here is quite wonderful!", says a regular participant. Fatou Diome, author from Senegal, found her audience to be „very open-minded and warm-hearted. I could have gone on for hours!“, she said. Samson Kambalu from Malawi was also quite thrilled: „It was fantastic. I’d love to do this again!" And Youssouf Amine Elalamy from Morocco pointed out that "It is important for Africa’s voices to be heard outside of Africa, too.“

Diversity and peculiarity of African literatures

Modern African literature, written in the languages of the colonial powers, emerged in the middle of the 20th century from an increasing awareness of cultural autonomy and parallel to efforts made towards political emancipation.

After the majority of African countries had become independent in the 1960s, their anglophone and francophone literatures became increasingly political and critical and often focused on post-colonial conditions, neocolonialism, political persecution and oppression. At the same time, novels and short stories by African women writers mostly depicted women’s moving fates.

Given the content and stylistic diversity of contemporary African narrative art,stimmen afrikas endeavours to convey a differentiated picture of a continent that is as little-known in Europe as is the transcontinental African diaspora. We aim to paint an authentic picture of the very lively and dynamic contemporary literatures from Africa and the African community abroad as much as of the lives and thoughts of their people.

To develop alternatives to stereotypes that are still widespread, we organise panel discussions on cultural political themes and publish related works, such asDecolonising the Mind by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, edited bystimmen afrikas in cooperation with theAfrika Kooperative Münster, and published in German (Dekolonisierung des Denkens)by Unrast Verlag in 2017.stimmen afrikas’ latest publication, entitledImagine Africa 2060 - Stories on the Future of a Continent, was published in German (Imagine Africa -Geschichten zur Zukunft eines Kontinents) by Peter Hammer Verlag in 2019, and is an anthology of African short stories initiated on the occasion ofstimmen afrikas’ 10th anniversary. "CROSSING BORDERS: translate - transpose - communicate“, our festival to be held from 6 to 9 November 2019 in Cologne, is one of the highlights of our literature series.

For details regarding earlier events, please refer to the Veranstaltungsarchiv

Christa Morgenrath
A project by Allerweltshaus Köln e.V.