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Vamba Sherif

Vamba Sherif - foto Serge Ligtenberg
Vamba Sherif - foto Serge Ligtenberg

(Liberia, 1973) is a writer and journalist who grew up partly in Kuwait. He fled that country during the Gulf War and came to the Netherlands in 1993. His debut novel Land of the Fathers (1999), partly based on his grandmother's stories, deals with the clash between the slaves returning from the US and other Liberians. Zwijgplicht (Oath of Secrecy, 2007), a whodunit about a man investigating a disappearance, describes the way power and its abuse function in Africa. His novel The Witness is a sharp portrayal of present day-Netherlands as a migration country. His novel The Black Napoleon (2015) portrays Samori Touré, who, in the second half of the 19th century, founded the Wasulu-empire in western Africa. His journalistic work, including film reviews, appears in publications like The New York Times, Trouw and One World.

(WN 2019)

Archive available for: Vamba Sherif

  • Winternachten 2019 – Saturday Night Unlimited

    Thinking about Holland FFWD

    "Thinking of Holland / I see broad rivers / winding slowly through endless lowlands" is perhaps the best-known Dutch opening verse. In Memory of Holland written in 1936, Hendrik Marsman describes the lanscape and the struggle against water. Seven young authors went fast forward to today, allowing the poem to inspire their future vision of the Netherlands. Poets Asha Karami and Derek Otte, singer-songwriters Lounar and Raj Mohan, performer and visual artist Roberta Petzoldt, and writers Simone van Saarloos and Vamba Sherif presented their new versions. Programmer and host Francis Broekhuijsen opened the programme by reading Marsmans classic poem.

  • Ways of Dialogue - Libanon 2016

    Ways of Dialogue Lebanon

    With: Maaza Mengiste, Martijn Knol, Usha K R, Vamba Sherif, Witold Szabłowski

    Van 13 tot en met 20 november reisden vier schrijvers met Writers Unlimited naar Libaonon, voor een tournee van een week naar Beiroet, Tyre, Baaklin, Beqaa en Tripoli. Martijn Knol (Nederland), Witold Szablowski (Polen), Vamba Sherif (Liberia/Nederland) en Usha Kuniga Ramaswamy (India), treden samen met Libanese schrijvers en dichters op. Uit Libanon namen deel de schrijvers Hanan Al Shaykh, Sawsan alAbtah, Rasha alAmir, Abbass Beydoun, Youssef Bazzi, Mark Daou, Maya elHajj, Zena el Khalil, Iman Humaydan, Hussam Itani, Hala Kawtharani, Roseanne Khalaf, Issa Makhlouf , Sahar Mandour, Bilal Orfali , Alawiyah Sobh, Assaad Thebian, Fadi elTofeili, Fawzi Yammine, Hyam Yared, Khaled Ziadeh en Rewa Zeinati.

    Rond het thema 'Ways of Dialogue' droegen de schrijvers voor uit eigen werk en lazen ze fragmenten uit hun literaire traditie. Centrale thema's in de programma's waren de verschillende tradities in deling van macht en besluitvorming. Het was de tweede tournee in een serie in de Arabische wereld. De eerste in de serie vond plaats in mei 2016 in Marokko. Deze tournee was een samenwerkingsproject met PEN Libanon. De optredens waren zowel voor algemeen publiek, als voor studenten van middelbare scholen en universiteiten.

    Dit project van Writers Unlimited wordt mede mogelijk gemaakt door het Nederlandse Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken. PEN Libanon werkt voor dit project samen met o.a. Centre for Arts and Humanities (CAH), American University of Beirut; Centre for Arab and Middle Eastern studies (CAMES) en Aaliya's Bookshop, Jemayzeh, Beirut.

  • Winternachten 2015 – SATURDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    The Text of My Life: Vamba Sherif

    In the Filmhuis Studio the festival's guest writers present their favourite literary texts and explain why a particular poem, novel excerpt, or song lyric influenced their life and work. Which memory, what feeling does this text call up for them? A continuous interview programme, in which the audience also talks with the writers. Hosted by Wim Brands and Fidan Ekiz. In Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2015 – SATURDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    This is Our Way — Public Discussion

    This is our way, and that is their way... How do you deal with one another in an environment where so many cultures live side by side? What language do you speak? What do you do on one another's holidays? In the Netherlands we can't quite figure it out. Tonight three writers—two of them from countries with long histories of multiculturalism—provide ideas for dos and don'ts. No laws, just manners. The public will discuss these ideas. Do we adopt them or not? In Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2012

    African Meet & Greet in Dakota Theater

    With: Adejoke Babington-Ashaye, Helon Habila, Kopano Matlwa, Nancy-Josee Ntumba Ciakudia, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Vamba Sherif

    This year Writers Unlimited goes into town, organising informal meetings with the foreign writers. On Saturday 21 January the festival hits Theater Dakota, for a Meet & Greet with the African writers Helon Habila (winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize), Kopano Matlwa (rising star in South African literature) and Nii Ayikwei Parkes (poet, writer and BBC radio commentator). Also a performance by singer and lawyer Adejoke Babington-Ashaye!

  • Zuid-Afrika 2010

    Poetry Lunch Hour

    With: Bernice Chauly, Lamis Saidi, Raj Mohan, Vamba Sherif

    Poetry readings by Lamis Saidi (Algeria), Vamba Sherif (Liberia/Netherlands), Raj Mohan (Suriname/Netherlands), Bernice Chauly (Malaysia), and the South-African poets Nunke Khadimo, Mannini Mokhotu, Moenier Adams, Ronelda Kamfer and singer Reba Son.

  • Zuid-Afrika 2010

    Reading in Athol Fugard Theatre Cape Town

    With: Bernice Chauly, Lamis Saidi, Raj Mohan, Vamba Sherif

    An evening with poetry and prose readings by Bernice Chauly (Malaysia), Lamis Saïdi (Algeria), Vamba Sherif (Libera/The Netherlands), Raj Mohan (Suriname/The Netherlands), Urvashi Butalia (India), the singer Reba Son (India), and the South-African authors André Brink, Nunke Khadimo, Mannini Mokhothu and Neo Muyanga.

  • Winternachten 2010 – Winternachten 2

    The need for chaos

    Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe/Switzerland) and Vamba Sherif (the Netherlands/Liberia) both live in a very much regulated society, but write about chaotic and deregulated societies. Joris Luyendijk talks to them about the question whether chaos and disorder are a prerequisite without which no literature would come about – think about Dutch writers travelling to the Balkan or Afghanistan for inspiration. Do Dutch writers have to look for chaos in order to write literature which really matters? Or do you, as a writer, have to be afraid of chaos and even in the most extreme circumstances have to go in search for something lasting? One can wonder if Gappah and Sherif would have become writers had they been born in the quiet surroundings of the Alps or the flat and regimented landscape of the Netherlands.
    In English.

  • Winternachten 2006 – WINTERNACHT 1

    The remake of Uncle Tom's cabin

    "Aha, you must be the lady who started the civil war and has abolished slavery", said president Lincoln at the time to Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's cabin. Can literature have such an important role? When history has overtaken fiction, as is the case in this novel, must a novel be adapted to make it more relevant? Writers Frank Martinus Arion, Vamba Sherif and Christine Otten attempt this. They rewrite parts of Uncle Tom's cabin and explain why their version is better suited to the modern reader than the original. Panel chairman is Pieter Steinz. Dutch spoken.

  • Winternachten 2001

    Live Anthology and Debate

    With: Anna Enquist, Ardashir Vakil, Bas Heijne, Basil Appollis, Breyten Breytenbach, Ellen Ombre, Henk van Woerden, Ian Buruma, Jan Eijkelboom, Jit Narain, Lasana M. Sekou, Michaël Zeeman, Rajeev Balasubramanyam, Vamba Sherif

    What is the most beautiful poem on diaspora? A number of Winternachten guests read their favourite poem from each other's literatures. The writers were introduced by Basil Appollis.
    Dutch writer Henk van Woerden gave the introductory lecture (in Dutch) to a debate on the theme of 'diaspora and the writer'. This debate (in English), hosted by Michaël Zeeman, appeared to be a good start for the Boekenweek, a annual event for the promotion of Dutch literature, following a few weeks later in The Netherlands.

  • Winternachten 2001 – Winternacht 2

    Connected through slavery and colonialism

    Ellen Ombre, the venomously and precisely observing Surinamese-Dutch writer, poet Lasana M. Sekou of St Maarten, and Netherlands-based Liberian writer Vamba Sherif, share a common offspring. The West African history of slavery and colonialism ties up these writers, born so far apart. Hosted by Ed van Eeden (Dutch spoken).