Joe Mulumba

Name: Joe Mulumba
Age: N/A
Country/State: United States; Texas
Origine: RDC/DRC ~ Bukavu
Profession: Student @ Portland State University
Quote: “Le mensonge donne des fleurs mais pas de fruits. Lorsque tu ne sais pas où tu vas, regarde d’où tu viens.”

I have defined myself as a writer before understanding what goes into the making of one. I am in my last year of graduate school and I don’t know if I am any closer to being one even though I deliberately let people know that I am a writer. As a child, I was told that writers are poor and I should find myself something else in order to make a living and from all the writers I have come across and have come to appreciate, few are those who had the financial means to consecrate their lives to writing. As sad as I was to be told that I couldn’t become a writer, it didn’t stop me from writing short stories inspired of dragons and princess tales from books and other romantic stories which my classmates managed to steal from me. I didn’t know the value of those stories so I never claimed them and I still believe that storytellers don’t own their stories, and every reader is to add his/her own twist to it. After I lived through the war in 1998 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, family and friend urged me to put down on paper my experiences, but I never found the courage to finish telling that story, even though it wasn’t gruesome like the other stories I have heard, I couldn’t find the courage to do so until two years ago where I wrote both the English and French version in a matter of days. Traumatic events seem to be important in the making of writers, but it’s also the willingness to fight your own demons through writing that has always attracted me about writing. The loss of family members, loneliness, abandonment, identity issues, cultural shock, depression, suicidal thoughts never showed up in my writing until one of my instructors suggested to me to let my demons out and I am glad I have because they would have killed me sooner or later.

I see suffering and pain in my work at the hospital and I am sometimes reminded of what millions of Congolese have gone through for the last decade because of greed and senseless politics in my country. These constant reminders make revisit my desire to be a writer when the world is suffering and whether I should drop the pen and grab either a syringe or a gun. I did four years of science before turning to doing an English major and that was one of the hardest and best decisions I have taken in my life. I was at a place where I had to choose my battles: Do I fight and cure some diseases or confront the eternal questions of life for which no one has the right answer? I don’t think stories come to a writer, even though I have a couple of them I have had through dreams, but usually you have to hunt for them. Armed with the knowledge of the impossibility of becoming a full time paid writer anytime soon, I am on my way to becoming a teacher when I finish this master degree. Even though I am shy by nature, my thirst for knowledge will, I hope, sufficiently cover up for that natural inclination. Meanwhile, given the fact that one must work to support oneself, I haven’t been able to fully expand my writing skills to their maximum and even though the work experience is valuable, I wouldn’t mind having the financial means to devote myself more to my craft.


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