Fiston Mwanza Mujila
— The tour disillusioned me a bit, in the good sense of the term. I had another image of the United States, that is to say an image of a place, a continent that was more accessible. I realise that everything about the United States is big, huge. We began our tour in New York. We visited Boston, then Providence. We toured the state of Texas: we went to Houston, Dallas and Austin. We visited Seattle, then came back down, to LA, and finally we’ll head to San Francisco. So I am astonished by the vastness of the United States. You can’t do this country by train because it’s all so big, it’s all so vast, and I am fascinated by this hugeness, which actually makes me think of the Congo, a country that is pretty big, vast, spreading, extending into the distance, a monster that soaks its feet in the ocean. The United States is similar. It soaks its head in the Atlantic and its feet in the Pacific. And I think it’s fabulous that a country should have such giganticness, such hugeness, such vastness. It makes me think of what poetry should be, because I envision poetry as being something like the United States, or like the Congo, something huge, vast, flowing, something of the order of a river, of the order of a pregnancy, an eternal pregnancy. What fascinates me so much about this hugeness, this vastness, I think, is how it can be assimilated to what one calls the American Dream. If there is an American Dream, there is also a Congolese Dream, a dream that one might limit to Kinshasa; the dream that drowns. By which I mean that Kinshasa is the kind of city that when you arrive it’s like being in the United States, where there are no limits, there are no barriers, no borders; you can succeed or fail. You hold every possibility in the palm of your hand. You can see beyond the sea, beyond the ocean.
But I also wanted to underline something. Since I’ve been in the United States, I have understood that these states are very powerful, through their history, their diversity of population, and all of their potentialities. It’s a country where everyone, in a certain way… there is a certain kind of integration. You can arrive in the United States and not necessarily feel like a foreigner, as you do in certain states where… Even if there is police brutality against certain populations, the black population – and we see this from Europe and Africa – at the same time the United States is the stuff of dreams, and what’s important for me, as a human being, as a Congolese person living in Austria – because Austria is also one of my countries (I have several countries) – is to be able to dream. I think that ‘dream’ is the first word we should teach our children, that we should teach our cousins, our neighbours and the people we mix with, because when you dream you can travel beyond the ocean, beyond the sea, you can enter a fictional world. I don’t think one can make literature without dream; every dreamer is a potential writer.