Top: Roxane Bayer and Veripuami Nandee Kangumine. Bottom: Nina Van Zyl and Jean-Claude Tjitamunisa.

After a competitive shortlist and some tough decisions made by the judges, we finally have the four winners of the 2023 Bank Windhoek Doek Literary Awards. The winners explore a diverse range of themes, representative of Namibian storytelling.

Founded by Remy Ngamije, the Bank Windhoek Doek Literary Awards are awarded every two years to celebrate the works of 4 Namibian literary artists—two writers (fiction and nonfiction), a poet, and a visual artist—published in Doek! Literary Magazine. Each winner receives NAD5000 and a trophy.

The second edition of the awards was adjudicated by Dr Nelson Mlambo, a lecturer specializing in African literature, Natasha Uys, a well-known journalist and the winner of the 2021 Nonfiction Award of the BWDLAs, and Namafu Amutse, one of Namibia’s most talented visual artists, who also won the inaugural Visual Arts Award of the BWDLAs in 2021.

The winning works highlight the diversity of storytelling alive in Namibia, as well as the growing commitment to crafting stories that have local and universal appeal. Read about the winners and their works below:

Roxane Bayer won the Fiction award for her story “Letters To Chloe”, published in Issue 7: November, 2021. Read the judges’ remarks below:

Roxane Bayer’s winning short story is a sensitively written piece about the changing nature of friendship and how it affects two friends who slowly grow apart. Bayer’s writing is both poised and poetic, and has keen observations of the devastation caused by the loss of companionship.

Bayer is a Namibian writer who obtained a BSc in Earth Science from Stellenbosch University and her undergraduate and honours degrees from the Namibia University of Science and Technology in Journalism and Media Technology. She has been published in The Namibian and Now Now: The 2023 Doek Anthology.

Nina Van Zyl won the Nonfiction award for her essay “Motherhood”, published in Issue 8: May, 2022. Read the judges’ remarks below:

Motherhood—both its joys and sadnesses, its gifts and its burdens—continues to be rich literary terrain for Namibian writers with numerous submissions delving into the complexities and challenges of the important social state. Nina Van Zyl’s “Motherhood” explores her pregnancy and child-rearing experiences. Searing and honest, Van Zyl’s writing adds a distinctly Namibian voice to the burgeoning literature—both in Africa and the rest of the world—of women’s experiences of motherhood.

Zyl is a Namibian freelance writer, illustrator and photographer. She holds a BA degree from the University of Stellenbosch. In 2021, her visual essay “Threshold” was longlisted for the Bank Windhoek Doek Literary Awards.

Veripuami Nandee Kangumine won the Poetry award for her poems “Daughters Of A Witch”, “There Isn’t A Word In Your Language For Being Touched”, and “The Jackal Who Prepares You For Marriage”, published in Issue 7: November, 2021 and Issue 10: May, 2023 respectively. Read the judges’ remarks below:

Veripuami Nandee Kangumine composes poems that provide visceral sensorial explorations of trauma and violence. Her winning trio of poems—”Daughters Of A Witch”, “There Isn’t A Word In Your Language For Being Touched”, and “The Jackal Who Prepares You For Marriage”—are ruminations in the language of loss—of identity, of innocence, and of bodily autonomy, daily and generational occurrences that women in Namibia suffer and endure. With careful compositions, stanzas that sing off the page and into the heart and mind, Kangumine’s poetry is hailed as heralding a new age of Namibian poets.

Kangumine is a Namibian poet and writer. In 2021 she was named by Isele Magazine as one of the young African Poets to watch. Her work also appears in My Heart In Your Hands: Poems From Namibia (UNAM Press, 2020) and Doek! Literary Magazine. She is a fellow of the Narrating Namibia, Narrating Africa Doek Emerging Writers Program.

Jean-Claude Tjitamunisa won the Visual Art award for “The Gift”, published in Issue 9: September, 2022. Read the judges’ remarks below:

Namibian visual artists continue to produce works of photography and illustration that are stunning and haunting. In this regard, Jean-Claude Tjitamunisa’s photography series “The Gift” has been one of the most well-received visual offerings in Doek! Literary Magazine. His use of black masculine figures to explore gentleness and sensuality has defined his photographic style. This win is a testament to his talent, his skill, and his determination to continue producing authentically Namibian visions.

Tjitamunisa is a Windhoek-born creative. He recently had his first solo exhibition for his abstract-architectural body of work titled “Unseen” which was published in Issue 3: Stories From A Small Alace… and longlisted for the 2021 Bank Windhoek Doek Literary Awards. He is the Head of Social Media and Marketing for design agency Turipamwe.

Congratulations to all the winners!