Internationale Poetry-Biennale  -  Filmfestival  -  Salon  -  Netzwerk

Samstag, 5. November, 21.30 Uhr


Stella Nyanzi

Festival Focus Writers in Exile - PEN Germany

Die Dichterin Stella Nyanzi aus Uganda nutzt ihre Gedichte oft, um Versagen, Verletzungen und Exzesse des korrupten, brutalen und autoritären Militärregimes von Präsident Yoweri Museveni zu kritisieren. Sie wurde wegen Cyber-Belästigung und anstößiger Kommunikation zweimal festgenommen, angeklagt, strafrechtlich verfolgt und in Hochsicherheitsgefängnissen eingesperrt. Wegen eines Gedichts, das sie anlässlich des Geburtstags des Präsidenten im Jahr 2018 schrieb, wurde sie zu achtzehn Monaten Gefängnis verurteilt.

Sie floh mit ihren Kindern nach Deutschland, wo sie derzeit Stipendiatin des Writers-in-Exile-Programms des PEN Zentrum Deutschland ist. Stella ist auch eine mehrfach preisgekrönte medizinische Anthropologin, eine Aktivistin für soziale Gerechtigkeit und eine Oppositionspolitikerin, sie gehört der politischen Partei Forum for Democratic Change an.

Ihre neusten Gedichtveröffentlichungen sind No Roses from My Mouth. Gedichte aus dem Gefängnis 2020, und Lobreden meines Mundes. Gedichte für ein vergiftetes Uganda, 2022.

Stella Nyanzi is a poet from Uganda who often utilises her poetry to criticise the failings, violations and excesses of president Yoweri Museveni‘s corrupt brutal military authoritarian regime. She was twice arrested, charged, prosecuted and imprisoned in maximum security for cyber harassment and offensive communication and sentenced to eighteen months in prison because of a poem she wrote to mark the president‘s birthday in 2018.

She fled with her children to Germany where she is currently a scholar of the Writers-in-Exile program of PEN Zentrum Deutschland. Stella is also a multiple-award winning medical anthropologist, a social justice activist, and an opposition politician belonging to the political party called Forum for Democratic Change.

Her most recent poetry publications are No Roses from My Mouth. Poems from Prison 2020, Eulogies of My Mouth. Poems for a Poisoned Uganda, 2022.


Exile: A Poem of Hope

Exile – away from home!
Fleeing from political persecution,
Fleeing with a bag of just a few essentials,
Fleeing with my children on my back.
My two sons on one shoulder each
And my daughter on my back.
Fleeing from the murderers,
Fleeing from the abductors,
Fleeing from those who kidnap women and men
Simply because we are in the opposition.
Exile – a place to breath uuuu aaaah
Without fear of death,
Without fear of arrest.
Exile – a place to dream and dream again of liberation.
Exile – a place to tell stories of when we were home.
Remember, Baraka, when we were home.
Remember, Wasswa and Kato, when we were home.
Exile – a place to think about the dictators who have forced me to flee away
Just as my mother and father fled away when I was a child,
A young-young child.
Exile… exile…
They call me “an exilee.”
They call me “an asylum seeker.”
They call me “someone waiting for refugee status determination.”
They call me “a person who ran away from home.”
They didn’t say “ran away from home.” No, no, no, no, no!
They said, “she fled from home.”
And yes, I fled to exile:
Exile in Kenya,
Exile from Uganda to Kenya,
Exile in Africa…
An African in Africa – is that exile?
Is exile about Africans in Africa?
Exile – dreaming of home,
Thinking of home,
Wishing to be home.
The taste of matooke on my lips would be good,
But it’s a taste I am learning to forget too soon…
Huh, exile!
But exile will not be forever.
Exile is not forever.
Exile is not surrender.
Exile is just retreat to re-strategise.
To tell my child,
“I gave you the opportunity to start afresh.”
To tell my daughter,
“Now, you can go to college!”
“You want to go to London School of Economics? Child, you will go to London School of Economics!”
To tell my son,
“You will have a mother everyday overseeing your homework and teaching you those chess moves. You play chess, but you don’t play as well as you would have played if you were playing against your mother every night!
To tell my other son,
“Hey, son, exile is a moment for you not to wait at night…”
Has Mama come home?
Will Mama come home?
Have the police taken Mama away?
I am an exilee with a daughter aged sixteen,
And two twin sons aged thirteen.
And yet I am dreaming of a day when I will return home -
Not an exilee but a Ugandan living in Uganda,
An African living in Africa,
A world citizen living in the world.
I refuse your name as an exilee…
My name is Stella Nyanzi.

A Writer With Children In Exile

Before boarding the Egyptian plane
Flying me on metallic wings to freedom,
I resolved any sane mother’s bane:
I snatched my children from the dictator’s venom.
Amidst loud accusations that I am insane,
I rescued my children in ways too strange to fathom.
For me, there is no freedom…
There is no freedom without my children.
And so, I came to exile
Carrying my three children.
The allure of freedom could not beguile
Without my children I would be sullen.
What is a lioness yearning for her toothless cubs?
What is freedom when motherhood’s shame stabs?
What would freedom taste like
If I was haunted by constant fearful longing:
Fearing my sons were serving the tyrant?
Fearing my sons made my jailers’ nieces pregnant?
Fearing my daughter was falling for oppressors?
Fearing my daughter was joining the repressors?
Fearing the kidnap and dismemberment of my children?
Fearing their body parts would be used for my exchange?
Fearing the coming accusing look in my children’s adult eyes?
Fearing to fail totally as a mother as time in exile flies?
What is my freedom without my children’s freedom?
And so, I packed my three dependent children first
Before packing myself into the plane to exile.
I resolved that their safety is my priority thirst.
Alas, I am the crazy writer with children in exile.