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'Stringing Coral Beads': The Religious Poetry of Brava (c. 1890-1975)

A Source Publication of Chimiini Texts and English Translations

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Edited by Alessandra Vianello, Lidwien Kapteijns and Mohamed Kassim

This book presents fifty-one didactic and devotional Sufi poems (with English translations) composed by the ulama of Brava, on Somalia’s Benadir coast, in Chimiini, a Bantu language related to Swahili and unique to the town. Because the six ulama-poets, among whom two women, guided local believers towards correct beliefs and behaviours in reference to specific authoritative religious texts, the poems allow insight into their authors’ religious education, affiliations, in which the Qādiriyyah and Aḥmadiyyah took pride of place, and regional connections. Because the poems refer to local people, places, events, and livelihoods, they also bring into view the uniquely local dimension of Islam in this small East African port city in this time-period.

Johann Michael Wansleben's Travels in the Levant, 1671-1674

An Annotated Edition of His Italian Report

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Edited by Alastair Hamilton

Johann Michael Wansleben’s Travels in the Levant, 1671–1674 is a hitherto unpublished version of a remarkable description of Egypt and the Levant by the German scholar traveller Wansleben, or Vansleb (as he was known in France). He set out for the East in 1671 to collect
manuscripts and antiquities for the French king and also produced the best study of the Copts to have appeared to date. This book recounts his travels in Syria, Turkey and Egypt, his everyday life in Cairo, and his anthropological and archeological discoveries which include the Graeco-Roman Ǧabbārī cemetery in Alexandria, the Roman city of Antinopolis on the Nile, the Coptic monastery of St Anthony on the Red Sea and the Red and White monasteries in Upper Egypt.

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Edited by Stephen Bulman and Valentin Vydrine

The Epic of Sumanguru Kante contains the Bamana text and English translation of griot Abdoulaye Sako’s oral narrative of the life of Sumanguru, recorded in 1997 in Koulikoro (Mali), together with explanatory notes, a scholarly introduction, and sections on the Bamana language and musical accompaniment. Sumanguru is a familiar figure within Manding epic oral traditions about ancient Mali. But while these narratives generally focus on Sunjata Keita, Sako’s oral poem is rare in according Sumanguru the central role. In so doing he includes hitherto undocumented episodes relating to Sumanguru’s life and role as the ruler of Soso, the little known state said to have flourished in the western Sudan between the fall of ancient Ghana and rise of ancient Mali.

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Edited by Kai Kresse

Sheikh al-Amin Mazrui wrote his essays of this Guidance ( Uwongozi) collection in Mombasa between 1930 and 1932, providing social critique and moral guidance to Kenya’s coastal Muslims during a period of their decline during British colonial rule. The essays were initially published as a series of double-sided pamphlets called Sahifa (The Page), the first Swahili Islamic newspaper. Inspired by contemporary debates of Pan-Islam and Islamic modernism, and with a critical eye on British colonialism, this leading East African modernist takes issue with his peers, in a sharply critical and yet often humorous tone. Al-Amin Mazrui was the first to publish Islamic educational prose and social commentary in Swahili. This bi-lingual edition makes fascinating reading for specialists and general readers.

Print Culture and the First Yoruba Novel

I.B. Thomas's 'Life Story of Me, Segilola' and other texts

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Karin Barber

First appearing as a series of letters to a local newspaper, “The Life Story of Me, Segilola” caused a sensation in Lagos in the late 1920s. The lifelike autobiography of a repentant courtesan, it regaled the reader with risqué escapades, pious moralising and vivid evocations of urban popular culture. The narrative and the commentary that sprang up around it in the Yoruba press offer a unique view of life in colonial Lagos. Today it is recognised as I.B.Thomas's work and hailed as the first Yoruba novel in a major African literary tradition. This volume presents the edited Yoruba text with translation, selected newspaper correspondence, and an introductory essay showing how the text emerged from the Yoruba print culture of the time.


Print Culture and the First Yoruba Novel has won the Paul Hair Prize 2013!

Writing for Kenya

The Life and Works of Henry Muoria

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Wangari Muoria-Sal, John Lonsdale and Derek Peterson

Edited by Bodil Folke Frederiksen

Henry Muoria (1914-97), self-taught journalist and pamphleteer, helped to inspire Kenya's nationalisms before Mau Mau. The pamphlets reproduced here, in Gikuyu and English, contrast his own originality with the conservatism of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's first President. The contributing editors introduce Muoria's political context, tell how three remarkable women sustained his families' life; and remember him as father. Courageous intellectual, political, and domestic life here intertwine.