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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Placing the shameless: approaching poetry and the politics of Pemban-ness in Zanzibar, 1995-2001
Author:Arnold, Nathalie
Periodical:Research in African Literatures
Geographic term:Zanzibar
political conditions
External link:http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/research_in_african_literatures/v033/33.3arnold.pdf
Abstract:Poetry, especially 'taarab' (sung poetry), has had a long history in Zanzibar, and has undergone many changes, intimately related to the struggles of different groups to maintain, change and consolidate their identities and positions. The author traces events in 1995-1996 that made her aware of the signal role played by poetry in Zanzibari politics, and particularly in polarizing regional (especially Pemban and Ungujan) identities. Her account of the events themselves mirrors the logical steps that led her to consider violence and song as an intriguing couple. The focus is on the question of belonging, which is raised in two songs, 'Wasohaya Wana Mji Wao' (The shameless have a town of their own), and 'Wasohaya Unaishi Nao' (The shameless, you live among them), of which the texts are presented in Swahili and English. After placing both songs in their political contexts, the author connects the lyrics to a broadly 'Swahili' cultural context arguing that although fundamentally about belonging and the politics of nationhood, the songs also make allusions to pre-existing Swahili knowledge about the meaning of 'towns' and the type of agency held by their appropriate inhabitants. Bibliogr., notes. [ASC Leiden abstract]