The Swahili Literary Festival, an annual event entering its second year, is a celebration of the rich intellectual, cultural and literary history on the Swahili coast. The festival is largely driven by the need to bring the Swahili community together in acknowledging and celebrating its heroes and intellectual history.
The 2020 edition of the festival which will be hosted at SwahiliPot Hub, Mombasa County, is heavily informed by the 2019 edition whose theme was “Celebrating Achievement”. The post-festival conversations we had with different scholars on the issue of “Swahiliness” indicated the need to talk about identity politics on the Swahili coast.
This lecture, “THE LATE PROF. ALI A. MAZRUI’S IMPACT ON OUR GENERATION OF SCHOLARS”, was delivered by Professor Mohamed Bakari, Vice-Chancellor RAF International University, in Mombasa, 7th November 2019 at the launch of “Sauti Ya Haki: Maisha Na Mawazo Ya Sheikh Muhammad Kasim Mazrui”.
On the eve of Kenya’s Independence in 1963, the country was blessed with a crop of very talented and relatively educated leadership, in politics, public administration and to a certain extent in academia. Just before independence, there had been a rush to educate young Kenyans to assume positions of leadership in key areas of national life.
To read Latifa Chiragdhin’s ‘Shihabuddin Chiraghdin: Life Journey of a Swahili Scholar’, (available on Amazon) a biography of her father, is to be intrigued, entertained and educated on matters history and culture, all at the same time. Latifa employs the use of simple, yet captivating language to take us through Maalim Shihab’s short but fulfilling life, right from childhood to adulthood in around two hundred pages.
The thought of speaking before an audience numbering a thousand or more filled me with an equal amount of excitement and queasiness, so much so that I almost bailed out. It was Gloria, my friend and editor who egged me on, reminding me importance of building networks and of Hekaya’s commitment as an emerging publisher in the culturally dynamic East African littoral creative space. It was an absolute joy when International Publishers Association Vice-President Bodour Al-Qasimi reached out and asked if I could speak at the seminar. The opportunity to talk about the little steps we are making in telling the coastal story and to hear what other established and emerging publishers are doing was always a welcome delight.
“…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.