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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.

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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.

Les mémoires de Maalaŋ Galisa sur le royaume confédéré du Kaabu

Un récit en langue mandinka de la Guinée-Bissau

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Cornelia Giesing and Denis Creissels

Edition d'un récit en mandinka par Maalaŋ Galisa (octobre 1988) sur la constitution et les conditions de vie au Kaabu, territoire situé entre la Gambie, le Sénégal et la Guinée-Bissau, connu depuis le 16e siècle et détruit vers 1867. La gamme des sujets couvre: le peuplement, le gouvernement, les codes de conduite des guerriers, religieux, esclaves et 'hôtes étrangers', les règles de l'esclavage, du mariage et de la succession, la coexistence des religions, les relations entre groupes d'âge et de genre.
Le texte diffère d'autres qui se focalisent sur un unique fondateur-patriarche, Tiramakan de l'épopée de Sunjata. Galisa parle du sud-est du Kaabu, à la frontière avec la Guinée. Il ajoute des couleurs locales au modèle mandinka, évoquant la puissance féminine et certains conflits violents.

Edition of a recital in Mandinka by Maalaŋ Galisa (October 1988) on the political constitution and living conditions in Kaabu, a territory situated between present Gambia, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, known since the 16th century, definitely destroyed in 1867. The narrative presents a range of topics covering governance, codes of conduct of warriors, clerics, slaves and 'strangers', rules of slavery, marriage and succession, the cohabitation of different religions, relations of age and gender.
This text is distinctive from others focussing on a single founder-patriarch, Tiramakan of the Epic of Sunjata. Galisa focuses on South-eastern Kaabu, bordering on the region of Labé (Guinea). He adds local colours to the Mandinka model, depicting powerful women and violent conflicts resulting from injustice.

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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.