Dunia Yao – Utopia/Dystopia in Swahili Fiction

ISBN 978-3-89645-736-3
Festschrift for Said A.M. Khamis

Dunia Yao – Utopia/Dystopia in Swahili Fiction

In Honour of Said A.M. Khamis

Edited by: Clarissa Vierke, Katharina Greven. With an introduction by: Clarissa Vierke, Katharina Greven. With contributions by: Abdilatif Abdalla, Elena Bertoncini-Zúbková †, Lutz Diegner, Mikhail D. Gromov, Geoffrey Kitula King’ei, Alena Rettová, Peter Simatei, Magdaline Nakhumicha Wafula, Ken Walibora Waliaula. Series edited by: Wilhelm J.G. Möhlig †.

Series: WK Verbal Art and Documentary Literature in African Languages Volume 36

232 pp.
2 col. photos, 1 colour chart
Text language(s): English, Swahili
Format: 160 x 240 mm
520 g
€ 49.80

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While Afrofuturism has been an important point of discussion in African arts and literatures more generally speaking, literatures in African languages have hardly been systematically considered for their imaginaries of the future. Focussing on Swahili literature, this publication brings together contributions which analyse a literary trend in East Africa that has been prominent since the 1990s.

A number of so-called experimental novels have painted dark pictures of societies’ future by also breaking with a number of previously established conventions of the novel. Often taking a comparative perspective, the contributions present facets of a fascinating literary history, which hinges on the following questions: How do/did Swahili authors construct their means of literary writing? How do the innovative style and the estranged fictional world of the writings relate to the recurrently underlined social commitment of the novel?


Clarissa Vierke / Katharina Greven: Dunia Yao – Critical Visions of the Future in Swahili Fiction

A ‘New’ Trend – Perspectives of Literary History

Lutz Diegner: Dunia Yake – An Appraisal of Said Ahmed Mohamed’s Novels

Mikhail D. Gromov: ‘Local Achievement’ or ‘External Influence’? Intertextuality and Political Satire in the ‘New’ Swahili Novel in Kenya

Clarissa Vierke: The ‘Unhomely City’ – A Literary Figuration in Swahili Dystopian Literature

Readings of the Novel Beyond Realism

Elena Bertoncini: Postmodernism in Swahili Fiction and Drama

Alena Rettová: From Mimesis to Mize – Philosophical Implications of Departure from Literary Realism

Peter Simatei: Magical Realism and Utopian/Dystopian Impulses in Said Ahmed Mohamed’s Babu Alipofufuka

Utopia as Socially Committed Narrative

Abdilatif Abdalla: Fasihi ya Kiswahili na Mabadiliko ya Jamii za Afrika ya Mashariki – Nukta Chache

Geoffrey Kitula King’ei: Taswira za Ukosoaji na ‘Utopia’ katika Ushairi wa Said Ahmed Mohamed

Magdaline N. Wafula: Generational Conflicts in Dunia Yao – Utopia versus Dystopia

Ken Walibora Waliaula: Unravelling the Riddle of ‘Their World’ and ‘Our World’ in Said A. Mohamed’s Dunia Yao

Notes on Contributors

Under this link you will find further festschrifts and memorial volumes for renowned scholars published in our programme.

Under these links you will find further (Swahili) text editions and analyses of oral and written literature:

Accompanying material:



Recent years have seen a renewed scholarly interest in utopian and/or dystopian literary writing more generally. [...] The volume co-edited by Clarissa Vierke and Katharina Greven addresses a trend in Swahili literature and, most specifically, Swahili novels since the 1990s, which are often referred to as “new” or “experimental novels” and many of which resonate with aspects of utopian and/or dystopian writing. Dunia Yao, the 2006 novel by Said Ahmed Mohamed evoked in the volume’s title, represents, as the editors say, an “important example of the trend”, being set in a constructed, distant future world and offering “views on nightmarsh sceneries of devastation and chaos”. [...]

All in all, the volume represents an important and valuable contribution to a growing body of book-length critical studies of topics in Swahili literary discourse. By focusing on more recent developments in Swahili literary history, it provides a fascinating perspective on aspects of, as well as critical discourse on, the aesthetics and sociocritical concerns of contemporary Swahili literature. This makes it relevant not only to scholars of Swahili literature but of African literatures more generally.

[...] the volume fills a major gap, drawing attention to the perhaps obvious, but sometimes underestimated fact that African-language literatures partake of and creatively interact with global discourses  and paradigms in multiple ways. In this respect, it enhances future comparative research.

Anja Oed in Africa Book Link, Winter 2016/2017, 1-3

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