Katubza Dawn

So far, I have read about four great books by writers (former refugees) from Dzaleka Refugee Camp. There is so much to learn from these works, especially if you are interested in Displacement, Forced Migration, and Refugee issues. To my best knowledge, the four books below (including my ‘unofficially’ published memoir, Run Elvin) are the only books written by people from Dzaleka Refugee Camp.

Refuge-e: The Journey Much Desired by John Michael Koffi

Refugee for Life by Innocent Magambi

You are my Friend by Alestide Bertrand

My Father’s Son by E. Vin. Mudah

But the writing tradition in Dzaleka Refugee Camp goes as far as the early 2000s. Why haven’t we had many writers from Dzaleka?

During my senior years at Umodzi Katubza Primary School (between 2005 – 2006), we had a school literary magazine: Katubza Dawn. It published a wide range of written works, including poetry, essays, plays, biographies, fiction, non-fiction, satires, and more. Those who remember Katubza Dawn will probably remember the two White ladies (Elizabeth and Vaughn Mgunda), school coordinators. Among these two, I don’t exactly remember who initiated this project; all I can tell is: the magazine had inspired a creative writing culture on campus. We created for publication and competed to get our work across with support and encouragement from our class teachers. 

Well-crafted stories were selected and submitted to editors for a final review and consideration for publication. Finalists were rewarded. Those whose work qualified for publication were publicly recognized during the school’s Assembly. Now, I never had work of my own published in the magazine, but I remember writing one short poem: The Secret, in which I praised and sought the secret behind our school’s reputation for best performance in the region. Umodzi Katubza held the distinction of graduating bright students in those years, many of whom made it to reputable secondary schools across Malawi. My poem never made it through publication. However, my failures never held me from appreciating my school mate’s work. I grew up with great love for art. Thus, I had great respect for anyone who had the skills and courage to express themselves through art. Often, I found my fractured self    reflected in their work. I would meet myself through their work. I read their work with a sense of pride and admiration. Most importantly, I read the magazine to gather inspiration    to create my own. 

Published by Gabriel Ndayishimiye

Gabriel Ndayishimiye lives in London, Ontario. He is a writer with a passion to contribute to Black history and literature; and the author of “Run Elvin” (forthcoming), a memoir written for youth from marginalized backgrounds. This book tells Gabriel’s academic/life experiences from refugee camps in East and Southern Africa and now from the metropolis of the western world. The story aims to inspire and motivate such demographic of youth to take up given opportunities to be creative, achieve success, and develop resilience to fight the challenges of life.

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