Ngamije wins Morland Writing Scholarship

Rémy Ngamije

Local author Rémy Ngamije has won the prestigious Morland African Writing Scholarship for 2023. The US$18 000 grant is awarded to four African writers and allows them to take a year off to complete a book.

Ngamije wins this award alongside Rafeeat Aliyu (Nigeria), Mubanga Kalimamukwento (Zambia) and Kiprop Kimutai (Kenya). The Rwandan-born Namibian author is the first Namibian writer to win the scholarship after being the first local author to win the Commonwealth Short Story Regional Prize in 2021.

“I think the primary delight of being the first person with both of my heritages – Rwandan and Namibian – is knowing there will be future writers from both dispensations who shall also be awarded this special opportunity,” says Ngamije.

“My secondary feelings mirror most literary writers when they are recognised in this way: they feel tired,” Ngamije says.

“Opportunities such as these are fiercely competitive and scarce. Applying for them and waiting for news of them can be an anxious process. In the end, when you are announced as a recipient or winner, you are too tired to process anything more complex than relief.”

This year, the Morland African Writing Scholarship received over 500 applications from published authors from over 20 countries and from the diaspora. Ngamije was previously shortlisted for the award in 2020 and 2021.

Considering what the grant affords authors, Ngamije says it offers perhaps the most precious thing.

“All writers and artists are always fighting against time. Time to dream, think, draft, write, edit and refine, and then hopefully publish their work,” Ngamije says.

“A scholarship like this literally buys time; it keeps the stress of hustling at bay just long enough to commence and complete a piece of work.” he says.

“I have a six week Civitella Ranieri Residency in Umbria, Italy, in 2024. That, again, is all about buying time. It really is the most important thing for creators.”

In addition to being an author, Ngamije is also the founder of Doek, an arts organisation that works to develop, publish and award local storytelling through Doek! Literary Magazine, Doek’s bi-annual anthology, literary festival and the Bank Windhoek Doek Literary Awards.

Happily, Doek’s fiction editor Kalimamukwento is also a recipient of this year’s Morland scholarship.

“Her talent and work ethic are beyond words,” says Ngamije. “What she has given to Namibian literature as Doek!’s fiction editor will only be realised in many years’ time when some of the country’s award-winning writers can trace their origins to her tracked changes.”

The book Ngamije will be working on next year is described by scholarship judge Muthoni Garland on the Miles Morland Foundation website.

“Rémy Ngamije’s darkly humorous novel is about the son of a dictator accused of raping and killing a famous American singer which results in wide-ranging political and economic ramifications. It is narrated by a salsa-obsessed assassin who works for the dictator,” writes Garland.

“What I have learned since the publication of ‘The Eternal Audience of One’ is that writing is that thing that as soon as you find it, the world conspires to keep you away from it,” Ngamije says.

“I love my work with the literary magazine, with the awards, the anthology, the festival, the workshops – everything. But what brought me to all of these things is writing. I look forward to resetting to factory default.”

Ngamije’s debut novel ‘The Eternal Audience of One’ is available at Windhoek Book Den.

–; Martha Mukaiwa on X (Twitter) and Instagram;

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