Nkiacha Atemnkeng, Sada Malumfashi start Sylt Fellowship 2018.

Nkiacha Atemnkeng, Sada Malumfashi start Sylt Fellowship 2018.

Nkiacha Atemnkeng and Sada Malumfashi have started their Sylt Fellowship in the North of Germany. The residency runs from November 1, 2018, to January 31, 2019.

The Sylt Foundation, founded by Indra Wussow, initiates and supports innovative contemporary literary, visual art, and performance projects with the aim of encouraging cultural dialogue and artistic interaction. In the recent past African writers have benefited from this foundation as they spent time on the Sylt Island in the North of Germany. Some of these are Mildred Barya, Andrée-Marie Diagne Bonané, and Abubakar Adam Ibrahim.

In 2017 the fellowship came to the African literary scene as a partnership with the Cameroon-Nigeria Literary Exchange Program. Those who would qualify for the three-month residency, announced at the opening festival of the Ake Festival 2017, were Cameroonian writer Nkiacha Atemnkeng and Nigerian writer Sada Malumfashi. The residency which started on November 1 will run all the way to January 28, 2019.

Nkiacha Atemnkeng has been published in the 2015 Caine Prize anthology, Lusaka Punk and Other Stories, The Africa Report, Culture Trip, This Is Africa, Brittle Paper, Bakwa, Saraba, and Gyara. He attended the Caine Prize workshop in Ghana in 2015, and the Miles Morland Workshop in Uganda, facilitated by Giles Foden. Atemnkeng who is excited about his residency give us his experience so far.

It was a long journey from Douala via Brussels to Hamburg. I had to take the train to Altona, then Westerland in Sylt. But the ticket machine thing in Hamburg was in German. First hurdle! Fortunately, a Ghanaian with whom I travelled with helped me to buy the ticket – he’s been a driver in Hamburg for 20 years. In Altona, it was a Libyan and a Syrian who helped me to buy it. (We third world folks know our problems, so it seems we sort of just bond in the West, as the Germans were a little cold). My African brain was stunned at the abundance of trains. My tropical body suffered with the cold.

The picturesque sight of windmills, cattle and sheep in never ending farmlands along the way was a new sight. The icy calm of the North Sea, the hills of sand dunes covered by unusual foliage, the ghostly woods and cemetery silence of Rantum where I live, can easily make a good “Game of thrones” set. Even the horde of affluent hotels, shops and homes in Westerland, which are crisscrossed by luxurious German cars and bicycles all have this air of serenity about them. No noise. Unlike my rowdy and dysfunctional city, Douala. If I did not come along with the Nigerian writer, Sada Malumfashi, then Sylt would have been very lonely. However, I need the solitude and quiet of Rantum for introspection, to enable me complete the first draft of the Douala airport manuscript I started writing in Cameroon, tentatively titled “Gate A-22”.

Sada Malumfashi who lives in Kaduna, Nigeria is interested in the intricacies of language and works on translations from Hausa to English. Malumfashi has had work in Transition Magazine, New Orleans Review, The Africa Report and Saraba Magazine; he also made the shortlist of Writivism’s Koffi Addo Prize for Creative Nonfiction 2017. On the fellowship Malumfashi says,

My experience so far has been that of a journeyman acclimatizing to a new environ. But what has struck throughout the journey is a tale of two train rides. The train ride from Hamburg was a view of glass buildings rising to the skies; graffiti and bawdy human size paintings making scenes on walls along the rain tracks – classy, sexy and inviting. Boarding the train on a ride towards Sylt – the northernmost tip of Germany – however provides one with a view of windmills, ranches, lots of train stops and crossings. Here, drivers and passengers seat with comfort in air conditioned cars and board the train to cross over to the island on a train ride inside luxury cars. Hopefully my stay here in Sylt will be a window to new stories as well as a ride to the end of stories already boarded.


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