Swahili literature (Fasihi ya Kiswahili)

Evan Maina Mwangi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Fasihi ya Kiswahili (Swahili literature) comprises a large and heterogeneous body of oral and written works from various ethnic, regional, and socio-economic backgrounds that use Swahili language as their vehicle of composition. This chapter outlines the developments in Swahili literature from the seventeenth-century religious texts to the experimental twenty-first-century works covering a rich variety of secular themes in different styles and dialects. Appreciating the diversity of Swahili literature and the malleability of the language itself, it begins with an outline of early texts, written before the nineteenth century. The chapter examines secular texts written after the nineteenth century before outlining experimental works that go against European and Arab generic traditions. Cognizant of the intercultural heritage and heterogeneity of the Swahili literature, it covers Swahili's rich poetic traditions as well as the relatively new prose writing and dramas in this language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Companion to African Literatures
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781119058199
ISBN (Print)9781119058175
StatePublished - Jan 9 2021


  • Dramatized poetic forms
  • Intercultural heritage
  • Oral literature
  • Prose writing
  • Religious texts
  • Secular themes
  • Swahili literature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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