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Adam Shafi's memoir blows fresh breath to Swahili literature

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Ab-Titchaz, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. Ab-Titchaz

    Ab-Titchaz Content Manager Staff Member

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    Adam Shafi's memoir blows fresh breath to Swahili literature

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    Adam Shafi. His dexterity and mastery of Swahili language make him a wordsmith, imbuing his life story with unforgettable vivaciousness.

    By KEN WALIBORA
    Posted Sunday, January 27 2013 at 02:00

    Title: Mbali na Nyumbani

    Author: Adam Shafi

    Publisher: Longhorn (K) Ltd (2012)

    Reviewer: KEN WALIBORA

    The past decade has witnessed an upsurge in the publication of Swahili fictional works, particularly in Kenya. Both seasoned and upcoming authors have had their works published on a scale unprecedented in the Swahili literary history.

    This increase in Swahili titles is presumably attributable to publishers' rather belated discovery of the lucrative Swahili market as the language continues to gain popularity globally and in the East and Central Africa region in particular.

    This is not to suggest that Swahili is now at par with English in terms of the quantity and quality of literary publications. If Swahili has had the audacity to compete reasonably well with English in fictional works published in Eastern Africa, it hasn't fared very well in nonfiction.

    Since the doyen of Swahili letters Shaaban bin Robert penned
    Wasifu wa Siti Binti Saad, the biography of a famous taarab female songbird, as well as his own memoir, Maisha Yangu na Baada ya Miaka Hamsini, there has been little in the way of Swahili life writing.

    It is therefore enthralling to witness the recent publication of Adam Shafi's memoir,
    Mbali na Nyumbani. Shafi's memoir is probably the most artfully crafted and candid piece of life writing in the Swahili literary corpus. Anchored on the themes of exile, youthful adventure, the quest for education and the journey motif, Shafi's Mbali na Nyumbani is a page-turner that is bound to revolutionise life writing in Swahili.

    For once, a reader would encounter a highly intricate and humorous life narrative that is not interested in vain self-glorification or deliberate glossing over one's weaknesses.

    Neither is the memoir a dry presentation of dates, facts and figures within a trite self-congratulatory frame, as is so often the case with inept autobiographical works that grace the bookshelves the world over. Mbali na Nyumbani exhibits great aesthetic beauty.

    But perhaps the greatest virtue of this exilic life narrative lies in its ability to shed light on the human condition and to edify without pontificating.

    Shafi needs no introduction. He has authored four powerful novels, namely;
    Kuli, Kasri ya Mwinyi Fuad, Haini, and Vuta N'kuvute. The semi-autobiographical Haini and the revolutionary Vute N'kuvute are the probably most acclaimed literary pieces of his literary oeuvre.

    But in Mbali na Nyumbani it is his ability to put to use his astute literary skills to carve out a public image of himself from his private life that makes his memoir an abounding work of life writing. His dexterity and mastery of Swahili language make him a wordsmith, imbuing his life story with unforgettable vivaciousness and novelty.

    But even more enthusing is the way the memoirist plays with the thin line between fiction and fact.

    His account is full of dramatic events and near-death situations, including reminiscence of his life as bus conductor for Mawingo Bus that operated between Bungoma and Kisumu and his dalliance with at least two women in Bungoma and Khartoum, his detention in northern Uganda, etc.

    It is interesting how the journey gravitates towards an anticlimax as Shafi ends up being recruited into a secret military training camp in Egypt aimed at unseating the colonialists in Zanzibar, instead of pursuing university education as he had anticipated. But Zanzibar attains its independence before he puts his new skills to use.

    Overall, the author writes about his misdeeds and missteps with astonishing candour. His account of having casual sexual encounters with women while being hosted at the mosque is a case in point.

    Writer's life

    But the life story is not just about dalliance with women in foreign lands; it encapsulates the breadth and width of a risk-ridden and intriguing youthful phase of the writer's life. It teems with the articulation and narration of his aspirations, his hopes, his doubts and his despair, as he seeks the elusive goal of a university education in colonial Africa, an education with which to save both himself and others.

    If 2010 saw the publication of arguably Ngugi wa Thiong'o's best literary work in his memoir Dreams in a Time of War, then 2012 witnessed a great boost in Swahili life writing with the publication of Mbali na Nyumbani. This memoir has also thrown down the gauntlet to other Swahili fiction writers to turn to their own lives as subjects of their literary and imaginative productions.

    But it seems to me life writing is the challenge Mbali na Nyumbani throws Swahili writers and scholars. The need for more Swahili life narratives has never been greater than now. With Mbali na Nyumbani, Shafi has set the pattern for us to follow.

    kwalibora@yahoo.com

    Shafi
     
  2. E

    Elizabeth Dominic Platinum Member

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    Mphamvu when will you learn to control your emotions?
     
  3. The Boss

    The Boss JF-Expert Member

    #22
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    Labda ana info ambayo hatuna
     
  4. Mphamvu

    Mphamvu JF-Expert Member

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    You got me this time, me is still on therapy, remember?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2016
  5. Mphamvu

    Mphamvu JF-Expert Member

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    Kwanini umekimbilia kwa huyo jamaa, inawezekana hata hajawahi kumuona uso kwa macho. Unafeli blaza, kuwapa watu kick kwa sababu ndogo, unajidhalilisha pia.
     
  6. E

    Elizabeth Dominic Platinum Member

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    Hahahaaa sawa bana
     
  7. The Boss

    The Boss JF-Expert Member

    #26
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    Simpi kick
    nimemuita sababu na yeye sio fan wa Obama
    so kama na yeye kasikia kitu substantial nimemuita aweze ku share...
    sijasema anamjua wala kamuona...yeye ni Republican supporter...
    hujajibu swala la evidence still
     
  8. Mphamvu

    Mphamvu JF-Expert Member

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    Tabibu gani unakuwa sio mvumilivu, wenzio wanaotibu vichaa huwa inawalazimu kuwa kama wagonjwa wao wakati mwingine, permanently... And that is an ultimate sacrifice!

    Nilikuwa sijafikiria kama huyu ndio wewe wa humu!
     
  9. Mphamvu

    Mphamvu JF-Expert Member

    #28
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    Teh teh, sipendi kumjadili kwa kuwa nia aina ya watu ambao wamejikabidhisha kwa mfumo, wamekuwa mavuvuzela na wateja wa kila kitu kinachotoka huko. Sisi wengine tunaamini mapambano bado yanaendelea, na ipo siku tutashinda.

    Kuhusu ushahidi, kabla sijadondoka nondo zangu hapa... Wewe huna wasiwasi na yule mja?
     
  10. E

    Elizabeth Dominic Platinum Member

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    Too bad you can't see that i'm starting to show symptoms za Mphamvu syndrome.....I kid

    Ndiye, nimekuwa nakucheki tu humu for a while......lol
     
  11. Mphamvu

    Mphamvu JF-Expert Member

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    A while! Okay, stalker...

    Tuzungumzie mada sasa, wamuonaje Adam Shaffi?
     
  12. The Boss

    The Boss JF-Expert Member

    #31
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    Rumors zipo lakini rumors sio fact
     
  13. Mphamvu

    Mphamvu JF-Expert Member

    #32
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    Sasa kwanini romours zisiwe kwa Fidel, au Putin, au hata rais wetu handsome... Kwanini yeye? Na yeye amekuwa Rais wa pekee kukomalia sana haki za mashoga na wasagaji kwenye mataifa masikini.

    Na bado kuna hadithi za behind the scene za waliosoma nae chuo kitambo...
     
  14. The Boss

    The Boss JF-Expert Member

    #33
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    Waliosoma nae chuo kipi? una link nitazame?
    rumors zipo za kila aina
    Kwa Wamarekani watu waliotajwa rumors za kuwa gay ni wngi sana
    Will Smith,Jay Z na wengi tu wengineo
    kuhusu yeye kukomalia
    unapaswa kujifunza kuhusu politics za Marekani
    chama cha Obama traditionally ndio chama chenye gay supporters ambao ni karibu au zaidi
    ya 10 percent ya wamarekani
    hiyo idadi ni kubwa kwa anaeomba kura kama Obama....vitu vingine ni politics tu...
    ndo maana nilimtag Nyani Ngabu sababu anajua American politics ilivyo hata kama ham support Obama
     
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  15. Mphamvu

    Mphamvu JF-Expert Member

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    Anajua????

    Chama chenye supporter mashoga kiko likely kutoa candidate shoga vile vile... Ukitaka link zipo nyingi tu mkuu, kuamini hizo stori inabidi kuanze na wewe kwanza, au vipi bwana?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2016
  16. Nyani Ngabu

    Nyani Ngabu Platinum Member

    #35
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    Marekani celebrities wengi wakipata mafanikio lazima wazushiwe hizo tuhuma.

    Na kuhusu Obama, come on....hizo ni siasa tu.

    I don't think he's gay.

    Hata Hillary Clinton keshazushiwa kwamba eti naye ni lesbian.

    Hillary Clinton Lesbian


     
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