Article one: African fabrics and the role of Khanga in Swahili cultural preservation


“…For literature to remain a veritable tool and agent of social change, it must continue to reflect the conflicts and crises thrown up by the society.” Prof Edwin Onwuka, Covenant Uni., Ota Ogun State, Nigeria- Dept of Languages.

Our appreciation of the khanga as an active preserver of Swahili culture will use as its point of departure a true love story whose outcome is heavily influenced by the writing on a khanga . Abdi, a good non-Swahili boy falls in love with Fatma, a pure Swahili girl. Her father would have none of it and insists on getting her married to her first cousin who is just back from Abu Dhabi with lots of Arab money that can only be adequately spent in obtaining a worthy wife, a wife like Fatma. But Fatma loves Abdi, and she cannot see her life without him. Her grandmother knows and supports it too.

Amarula, a play: Thematic plurality.

There is nothing like a live performance. You can look at things on television, and you can look at things on YouTube, but when you get in a room full of people and you say one joke, and everyone’s laughing at the same thing, it’s a really great experience. -Loni Love

To watch Amarula- a tragic, love comedy performance which brings to the front themes ranging from explicit family values, ‘cross-generational’ love affairs, intimacy in return for good university grades and fear- is to be titillated, to be shocked and to be tickled to laughter, all at the same instance.

The Ghosts of 1589

As the sun plunges into the westerly end of the ocean in slow motion, basketball-like, beyond the weather-beaten skyscrapers and slow-moving traffic, way beyond the docked masses of iron, further, further beyond the nondescript fusion of sea and sky, Mombasa undergoes a gradual metamorphosis as the world elsewhere closes its mouth for the night.

Lethargic day life paves way for an exuberant night life soon as the hint of the sun is swept off the sky. Shop corridors and pavements which were otherwise dull during the day light up, tables and chairs dragged from back rooms as workers in sagging tight jeans, plastic sandals, and earphones dangling from their ears clean away the day-time madness, pouring soapy water on the pavements which suck it in pretty fast having being dehydrated the entire day by Mombasa’s unforgiving heat.

Strangers in their own land.

Webs of lines are etched deeply into his face. A set of languid, deeply burrowed eyes tell the tale of a man tortured by life. If you pick a random event from precolonial Kenya, this man was probably a little older than that. With each hunching movement he clenches his gum and complains that a terrible ache pierces his back ‘like needles’. The elderly man had long forgotten what it felt to have joints that moved with ease without torturing him with a sting of pain.

As I help him onto a well-aged three- legged seat under a towering palm-tree, he lets out a shriek like a man who had stepped on thorns. This man is a member of a little Known Pemba community living in the Kenyan Coast.

Hekaya Issue 01: Jihadi Brides and other stories.

Hekaya Issue 01 Jihadi brides & other stories

The Digo widow

Mrs. Mwanaidi Juma is seated in front of her rectangular makeshift hut. A few meters from her is a warm open hearth beside an old towering coconut tree. On her right there are three monster mango trees that allow the late afternoon sun rays to permeate and dance on her face.

Her new neighbor Mrs. Lulu Rashid has visited her for the first time. Standing on a snaking root of one of the mango trees, Lulu drinks tea from an old plastic cup as she listens keenly to her host.

“You see this tree,” Mwanaidi says, towards the gigantic coconut tree while shielding her eyes from the sunrays. “It was the first one we planted together in nineteen-eighty-two.”

Jihadi Brides

Outside, the men are about to perform ablution required before acts of worship, washing their faces and limbs. I listen to them as they make the niyya-intention to do ablution and recite, ‘’Bismillāh i’r Rahmān i’r Rahīm. In the Name of Allâh, the Beneficent, the Merciful.’’

Syria is hot. I always thought Mombasa my hometown was hot but this heat beats the dense humidity of my coastal hometown in Kenya. The midday scorching sun makes the black hijab covering my head and face feel like a hot iron-box and I’m sweating profusely. Peeping from my veil, I catch a glimpse of the men doing ablution intent on purifying themselves, yet I know no matter how much they scrub, they can’t purify themselves of their filth.

Three counts of Rose

Rose stared at the clock wishing it could move quickly so that she could live her life. The time had finally come to appear before the Church Council. She had been accused of many things and wrong doings. This was the time to set the record straight. The provost at the reception of the church office had served her with nice lemon tea and snacks and informed her that she would beckon her to go in at exactly four thirty. Rose loved tea, lemon tea and she wondered how the provost knew this. 

Not like that

It was a warm Saturday morning; an ideal time to divorce oneself from demanding tasks. James was listening to the subtle sounds of nature when a shadow obstructed the warm rays of sunshine on his face.

‘James,’ he heard his mother speak from above him.

‘Yes mum?’ he responded without as much as cracking an eye open.

‘We are heading for a meeting at the Kombo’s and then we will go and see a farm near them,’ she said.

‘Town or the farm?’ he asked lazily.

‘Out of town,’ she replied.

The client

I met him at club Fly So Fly where I had ceased being a butterfly having suffered a broken neck after falling head first from a stripper pole, an incidence I had seen coming- I have terrible eye-hand coordination by the way- and just like that I fell from a remunerative stripper to a mere call girl.

He sat there, hunched over his drink, studying it like it held within its sparkle the solution to a profound mystery, twiddling the glass before taking a quick draw, withdrawing his lips slowly from the glass. Savoring his drink, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a phone, its brightness illuminating his face. He looked sad, aloof, like he had been forced to sit there by a power he couldn’t resist, unlike everyone else who seemed to have merged into the atmosphere of the club.

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