(1960), marked the beginning of a transition toward a Swahili fiction that reflected the East African experience of industrialization, Westernization, and the struggle for self-government and development of the post-independence society. The success of 7 Rough translation: The Rules of Composing Poems, and an Essay by Amri 8 There are a number of ancient texts in UK archives, museums etc
Tanzanian Faraji Katalambulla’s crime thriller Simu ya Kifo (1965) set the pace for future Swahili novels. After the mid-1960s, Swahili publishing grew by leaps and bounds. Looking for Ludwig Krapf Dr. Ludwig Krapf, a German cleric attached to the church society of England, is believed to be the first Christian missionary on Kenyan soil. He arrived at the Coast in 1844, along with a colleague named Johann Rebmann. Before coming to Kenya, he had initially travelled south from Europe and spent time in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) where other missionaries were establishing Orthodox Christianity. He noticed that Arabic was the de facto lingua franca of Northern Africa. He travelled back northwards into Egypt where he set about learning Arabic so that he would be able to fit in with the Arabs at the Arab-ruled East African coastal strip (then controlled by Omani Arabs as part of the Sultanate of Zanzibar’s Seyyid Said). It is important – or at least interesting – to note that the Arabs had been visiting the Eastern Africa coastline for centuries before ‘the White Man’ arrived ( Portuguese traders first came to the East African coast in 1498). Arabian sea-goers navigated the seas using small boats called dhows which had large triangular sails. Since they were small and made of light materials, the dhows could actually move quite fast (when the winds were true) and the sailors voyaged back and forth, trading in everything from spices to gold to human slaves. Given the smallness of the dhows, we believe that the sailors travelled from the Middle East to East African coasts by hugging the shoreline, either in the Red Sea (coasts of Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti) or the Indian Ocean (coasts of Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania etc). A Franciscan monk described the Mombasa Arabs 9 as ‘Moors’ 10 – a term that generally refers to Northern African Arabs. This lends credence to the belief that the dhow-travellers covered great distances by staying relatively close to terra firma (so that they could occasionally stop to rest, replenish food/water supplies, repair boat damage etc). The Arabs expertly utilised monsoon winds - which change direction twice a year - in order to be wind- powered southwards and then northwards. The Europeans, on the other hand, were more sophisticated sea-goers and had large ships that could voyage for months on end. The Europeans also utilized compasses, telescopes, maps and other navigational aids. You can imagine how different the European vessels looked when they were juxtaposed with their equivalents from other parts of the world. In The Lunatic Express , Charles Miller paints a picture: ‘Shielding his face from th
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