History Compass, 20, 7, Special Issue: Languages of the Indian Ocean
In this contribution, our common point of convergence as an anthropologist and a literary scholar is to see Swahili language, literature and other texts as interwoven with the depth, scope, and complex dynamics of human experience and social life on the East Africa coast, with its long history of Islam. This includes prominently a view as to how this relates or is integral to the larger Indian Ocean world. Swahili language and its genres have been shaped in relation to, and in context of, transregional interaction with other languages and traditions that carry influence, and significance for the coastal residents. Ideas, thoughts, arguments and verse are taken on, adapted, mediated and disseminated flexibly by Swahili speakers through language repertoires and (mostly poetic) genres in changing media. These range from oral performances and handwritten manuscripts to booklets, CD recordings, radio programs and social media platforms.