Frederick Philander recently attended a five-day conference on Namibian Literature at Windhoek’s Polytechnic of Namibia. The event, the first of its kind in the country, was held under the auspices of the Polytechnic Library and was opened by the Rector, Dr Tjama Tjivikua, who said it was the first academic effort to recognise and acknowledge 15 worthy Namibian writers since independence.
“This event provides a unique opportunity for all of us to be jubilant about Namibian literature in view of the fact that African oral history is dying, losing the essence of our own existence,” he said.
At the opening event, Fred Opali, of the English Department, looked at the recent history of African literature and contextualised current Namibian writing. Here’s Philander’s somewhat rambling coverage:
In Opali’s view many African authors have been either nurtured as such or have been trained in institutions of higher learning in Africa.
“Others were exposed to writing in secondary schools that fed their relevant universities. The step that the Polytechnic is taking is thus instructive in the development of Namibian literature. I believe that the debates that will be undertaken this week will reflect significant issues in the establishment of Namibian literature and I hope that the result will help to diversify the nature, form, and content of African literature today,” he said.
“African and Namibian literature had in the past been laughed about, mocked at and scoffed at as bantustan literature and was considered to be merely an appendix to English literature. Unfortunately it is still considered as such.
That is why I consider this five-day event as a watershed for Namibian and African literature,” he concluded.