Biography of the author K.S. Kamanda

 Kama Sywor Kamanda was born on November 11, 1952, in Luebo, Congo. He is a French-speaking Congolese writer, poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, novelist and philosopher.

Birth and Education

Kama Sywor Kamanda is the son of Kamenga Malaba Isaac, a settler of Egyptian origin and Ngalula Kony Beneck. He has eight siblings.

He was born at a time when the Congo was experiencing turmoil of political instability. He grew up in the family estate known for its coffee, rubber and cotton plantations. His education was taken care of by private tutors and by his 105-year-old grandmother who introduced him to the sacrificial rites of ancient Egypt and to ancestral mystical beliefs. Absorbed by his learning and by the life of the estate, Kamanda was a solitary child and student, having no friends. He was very attached to his mother.

Entrance to college and beginning of writing

The year 1959 saw an intensification of the struggle for independence throughout the country. The poet’s father financially supports Lumumba and other supporters of South Kasai independence. In 1960 the independence of the Congo was proclaimed; it is the beginning of the civil war giving rise to a serious political crisis following which occurs the assassination of Patrice Lumumba. The writer’s family takes refuge and settles permanently in Kinshasa where the young Kamanda enters the Saint-Gabriel college. There, he wrote the first stories of “Tales of African evenings”. From an early age, he was interested in the history of Africa, epics, legends, local cultures and traditions. At school, he immersed himself in foreign literature and discovered, thanks to his French teacher, “Andersen’s tales”, “Baudelaire’s flowers of evil” and “La Fontaine’s fables”.

Studies, work and exile

An avid reader, he quickly became familiar with the great classics of world literature. After the literary studies in humanities, he diversified his studies in Kinshasa: journalism, political science and philosophy. He wrote his first poems in French and frequented literary circles. Kamanda had no taste for money affairs or the talent for trading to take over the family business. When the poet’s father fell ill, all the Kasai plantations were abandoned. And the economic crisis that occurred after the independence of the Congo completed the impoverishment of the family. Kamanda found himself having to go out on his own. He published articles in magazines and in the daily “Elima”. A fierce opponent of the totalitarian regime, whose violence, economic predation and incompetence of the political elite resented very badly, he left his native country in 1977 to go into exile in Madrid. The authoritarianism and the persecution of the dictatorial power had finished getting the better of the committed poet and the protesting resistance fighter. It is also the decisive moment when he decided to change his life and his plans. He left for Brussels a few months later and then for the University of Liège, to pursue law studies.

The double commitment: literary and political

Cantor of African memory: a first political commitment

Kamanda has played a key role in raising awareness of the financial autonomy of African people as a solution to racism and poverty. He has contributed to the emancipation of the elite and the struggle for democracy in Africa since the 1970s. He has contributed to the denunciation of totalitarian regimes and to the resistance against economic predation, bad governance, violent state and other scourges of which the peoples of Africa are still victims. A committed writer and opinion leader, he is a visionary, human rights defender, theoretician of new African thought and philosopher. Although avant-garde, he remains a maverick in his ideological choices and preserves his independence with regard to all the dominant currents. A convinced opponent of the lies of history and the infantilization of indigenous peoples by the neo-colonial system, he expresses the wishes for a just and equitable human society, resolutely based on love and shared knowledge. He speaks in his own way of the ills of contemporary Africa, revealing himself to be a great observer of social and political realities. Exploiting the achievements of historical memory, it wonderfully narrates the present, but also the unknown past of the African continent. Kamanda knows, understands and expresses with as much conviction, certainty and passion the life of the people of the continent, but also that of the queens, kings and legends specific to the African populations.

He strongly influenced and encouraged many generations to get involved in the debate of ideas, encouraging them to develop a reflection on civic engagement at the time of truncated independence. Thanks to his innumerable positions, he was able to enable young Africans to free themselves from the fear of state violence and to free public speech. Kamanda aspires to political change. He dreams of more democracy, more financial autonomy, better governance throughout Africa, and particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has devoted himself exclusively to a literary career since 1981. Today he is also a writer, guest lecturer at many universities around the world and author of cultural and political criticism.

Literary career

Kamanda knew how to combine in the writing of his tales, personal memories, tradition and imagination. It is not a collection of stories, but a literary work in its own. As a playwright, storyteller, poet and novelist, Kamanda has produced a considerable and world-renowned literary work. Since the publication in 1967 of his first book, Les Contes des veillées africaines, he has written some thirty works totaling a thousand poems, a dozen plays, four essays and various collections bringing together hundreds of tales. His literary output also includes four novels and six collections of short stories.

Writer of tales, he distinguished himself by his literary tales inspired by his personal experiences, his imagination and, by the traditions and realities of the black continent. Fairy tales, his tales are steeped in the culture and civilization of all African lands. His literary genius was universally recognized during his lifetime. Given the originality of form and substance to which his writings bear witness, it is difficult to classify him in a literary movement.

A poet, Kamanda has been able to breathe new life into contemporary poetry, thanks to the richness of his language and his mastery of metaphor. As per the literary criticism by some of the greatest poets of his time, including Mario Luzi and Léopold Sédar Senghor, they underlined the power of his verses and the richness of his imagery. “Kamanda’s poetic cry touches us and overwhelms us all the more because it is precisely poetic. Suffering from uprooting and dualisms, quest for love and hope. Elegiac poems where the complaint takes the word as a fertile source, to say the dry land, the indifference of the other, the dead end.”The fight that the poet leads is so fundamental, the choice of his words so obvious that they rank him among the greatest champions of misery and compassion. Violent like Hugo, using litanies like Péguy, lyrical like Eluard. His work takes on all the accents of the universal clamor which, from the beginning to the end of time, never ceases to speak to the attentive ear. Kamanda has received numerous awards, including, in 2009, the Heredia Prize from the French Academy for his poetic work: integral edition.

A novelist, Kamanda has never ceased to carry his Africa and his dreams within him. His writings reveal a true resistance fighter against totalitarian powers, but also an accomplice of men and women who fight in silence for the respect of their rights or their survival and that of their children. A committed writer, he has always considered himself a “soul lost between dreams and illusions, the joys and sorrows of the African world”. His novels depict the life of African peoples in the era of dictators under the influence of racist and neo-colonialist sects, and the social and economic consequences of black populations being deprived of any financial power to influence their own destiny. It highlights the contradictions of blacks from all continents who, on the one hand, exclusively serve the interests of their executioners against those of their own community who fight for their rights and resist predation; and, on the other hand, they are also victims of ideological and religious issues with a racist vocation that go beyond them.

A playwright, Kamanda surprises with the originality of his theatrical themes and his erudition. His knowledge of Africa past and present is indisputable. He shares with his readers a large part of the African memory of which he wants to be the spokesperson, if not the guarantor. In his plays, it is the past but also the present of Africa that inspires him. Ancient Egypt finds through him a new literary existence. The Pharaohs and Queens of ancient Egypt finally find a literary life and an author who pays them a long-awaited and a thousand times hoped-for homage. It is a literary recognition of the great African sovereigns, to which they were entitled, but which nobody until now had thought of legitimizing. Ramses II, Candace 1st, Tutankhamun are plays by Kama Sywor Kamanda that testify to the contributions of Africa to universal civilization. Kamanda does not lock himself in his native Africa; he travels the world and takes us with him through his imagination, his poetry and his love of the peoples and cultures of the world. Thus in: We can love each other without understanding each other, it is Japan in all its traditions that he invites us to discover.


Literary Works of K.S. Kamanda


Short Stories

  • 1993 : Amertume, Diversité, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, États-Unis (ISBN 0-395-90933-3)
  • 1994 : L’Ultime confession, Archipel, no 4, p. 33-41, Anvers, Belgique
  • 1995 : L’Énigme, Le Non-dit, Belgique
  • 1995 : Les Gens du fleuve
  • 1996 : Le Chagrin du danseur, Archipel, no 7, p. 107-122, Anvers, Belgique
  • 2020 : L’Angoisse des éphémères






  • 1987 : Prix Paul Verlaine de l’Académie française7
  • 1990 : Prix Louise-Labé
  • 1991 : Grand prix littéraire d’Afrique noire pour La Nuit des griots8
  • 1993 : Prix Théophile-Gautier de l’Académie française
  • 1999 : Prix Melina Mercouri, Association des poètes et écrivains grecs
  • 2000 : Poète du millénaire 2000, International Poets Academy, Inde
  • 2000 : Citoyen d’honneur Joal-Fadiouth, Sénégal
  • 2002 : Grand prix de poésie de la Société internationale des écrivains grecs
  • 2005 : Professionnel de l’année 2005, International Biographical Centre, Cambridge
  • 2005 : Certificat d’honneur pour contribution exceptionnelle à la francophonie, Certificat Maurice Cagnon, Conseil international d’études francophones
  • 2005 : Écrivain invité d’honneur de l’Exposition Universelle du Japon à Aichi
  • 2009 : Prix Heredia de l’Académie française [Médaille de bronze] pour son Œuvre poétique, édition intégrale
  • 2019 : International Price of Poetry « Kathak » (Gold medal) pour l’ensemble de son œuvre poétique, Dhaka, Bengladesh
  • 2019 : Grand Prix de Poésie Mihai Eminescu, Craiova, Roumanie


Studies on Kama Sywor Kamanda

  • Laurence Sudret, Les Contes du Griot de Kamanda, « Classiques et Contemporains », 259 pages, éditions Magnard, 2005 (ISBN 978-2-210-75482-9), pour les classes de sixième, collège et lycée.
  • Chantal Bertagna et Françoise Carrier-Nayrolles : « Français » » Fleurs d’encre » 385 pages, et 368 pour l’édition suivante, 6e – Hachette Éducation (ISBN 978-2-01-120485-1) édition 2014 (ISBN 978-2-011-25515-0), édition 2009.
  • Charitha Liyanage, The life and work of Kama Sywor Kamanda, 78 pages, 2020 (ISBN 979-8637211067).
  • Davoine Sophie, Kama Sywor Kamanda : Histoire d’une œuvre, histoire d’une vie, 2019 (ISBN 978-613-8-47063-2).
  • James Gaasch et Valérie Budig-Markin : Diversité » La nouvelle francophone à travers le monde », 242 pages, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston – New York (U.S.A.) ouvrage destiné aux étudiants des Universités Américaines (ISBN 0-395-90933-3) deuxième édition, 2000.
  • Jean-Louis Joubert, « Littératures francophones d’Afrique Centrale « , 255 pages, Acct/Nathan 1995 (ISBN 2-09-882-403-3).
  • Isidore NDAYWEL È NZIEM : » Histoire Générale du Congo, de l’héritage ancien à la République Démocratique « , 955 pages, Duculot éditions, 1998 (ISBN 2-8011-1174-0).
  • Marc Alyn, Kama Kamanda, Hommage, Éd. L’Harmattan, 1997.
  • Isabelle Cata, La Quête du rêve d’absolu : Recréer le monde, pénétrer l’infini, mesurer le néant, une réflexion critique sur l’œuvre de Kama Sywor Kamanda, Paris, Édition Dagan, 2015, 170 pages (ISBN 978-2-919612-72-7).
  • Isabelle Cata et Franck Nyalendo, Kama Sywor Kamanda, chantre de la mémoire égyptienne, entretiens et étude critique, 144 pages, Luxembourg, éditions Paul Bauler; 2003 (ISBN 2-919885-51-0).
  • Jacques Chevrier, L’arbre à palabres. Essai sur les contes et récits traditionnels d’Afrique noire, Paris, Hatier, 2006.
  • Marie-Claire De Coninck, Kama Kamanda Au pays du conte, Paris, Éd. L’Harmattan, 1993.
  • Locha Mateso, Anthologie de la poésie d’Afrique noire d’expression française, Paris, Hatier, 1987.
  • Pierrette Sartin, Kama Kamanda, Poète de l’exil, Paris, Éd. L’Harmattan, 1994.
  • Marie-Madeleine Van Ruymbeke Stey (dir.), Regards critiques, Paris, Éd. L’Harmattan, 2007.
  • Pauline Raillon, « Enjeux et pouvoirs de l’œuvre littéraire : Kama Kamanda, entre dualité et cohérence, l’impossible soi : Mémoire de Master II, Université de Paris IV Sorbonne.
  • J.R. Mazanza Kindulu et j.c. Nlandu – Tsasa, « Les nouveaux cadres Congolais : figures d’aujourd’hui et de demain », 326 pages, éditions l’Harmattan, 2005 (ISBN 2-7475-8125-X).
  • Silvia Riva, « Rulli di tam-tam dalla torre di Babele : Storia della letteratura del Congo-Kinshasa », 452 pages, Edizioni Universitarie di Lettere Economia Diritto (ISBN 88-7916-144-X), 2000.
  • Silvia Riva, « Nouvelle histoire de la littérature du Congo-Kinshasa, 422 pages, éditions l’Harmattan, 2006 (ISBN 2-296-00981-6).
  • Pius Ngandu Nkashama, Les années littéraires en Afrique, 1987-1992, l’harmattan 1993.
  • 500 Greatest geniuses of the 21st century, American biographical institute, p. 255, 2009 (ISSN 1940-8498).
  • Kama Sywor Kamanda, p. 261, 2000 outstanding intellectuals of the 21st century first edition, 2002, International biographical centre Cambridge, England (ISBN 0 94887564X). Pierre Mason, Dictionnaire des écrivains Luxembourgeois.
  • Douglas Killam & Ruth Rowe :The companion to African literatures, Oxford, 2000, éditions James Currey – Bloomington (U.S.A.), Indiana University Press (ISBN 0-253-33633-3).
  • Kheira Mérine- Étude critique de l’œuvre romanesque de kama sywor kamanda :l’Afrique au centre des débats. E.U.E.2021 (ISBN 978-613-9-50595-1).
  • Pauline Raillon- Enjeux et pouvoirs de l’œuvre littéraire :Kama Sywor Kamanda, entre cohérence et dualité ,l’impossible soi. E.U.E.2022 ISBN 978 613 9 515752


  • « Kama Sywor Kamanda, un poète humaniste et universel » : Écrire magazine, no 73, septembre 2002. 
  • « Qui êtes-vous Kamanda ? » revue Sépia no 26-27,1997-98 (ISSN 1145-5934). 
  • « Kama Sywor Kamanda », Diva Magazine no 1, juillet-août 2016, p. 34-37. 
  • « Kama Sywor Kamanda, interview », Amina Magazine, no 569, septembre 2017, p. 72.
  • « Kamanda, p. ccxxxii, Great Minds of the 21st Century » 2006/2007, American biographical institute (ISSN 1545-9225).
  • « Kamanda », p. 135, International book of honor sixth world edition, the american biographical institute, 1999 (ISSN 1087-397X).
  • Horanyi Lilla : « Les sources d’inspiration de Kamanda », Fabula, p. 25-29.
  • The Marquis Who’s Who 2003,2004,2005,2006,2007,2008,2009 et 2010, American biographical institute.
  • The Who’s Who of America, American biographical institute.

Collective work

  • 50 ans après, quelle indépendance pour l’Afrique ? essais politiques collectifs, 636 pages, éditions Philippe Rey, 2010 (ISBN 978-2-84876-156-5).
  • « Poésie nègre et liberté », Éthiopiques, no 61, 1998, p. 120.
  • Marc Alyn, Kama Kamanda, Hommage, Éd. L’Harmattan, 1997.