is, generally speaking, literature
written in the Swahili language
particularly by Swahili people
of the East African
coast and the neighboring islands. It may also refer to literature written by people who write in Swahili language. It is an offshoot of the Bantu
The first literary works date back to the beginning of the 18th century, when all Swahili literature was written in the Arabic script
. Jan Knappert
considered the translation of Arabic
poem Hamziya from the year 1652 to be the earliest Swahili written text. Starting in the 19th century, missionaries
introduced the Roman alphabet
for recording Swahili language.
Swahili literature has been an object of research by many western scholars
since the 19th century. There is a debate whether there was objectivity on those researches as a few scholars tried to establish a canon of Swahili writing Knappert, Jan (1980) - The canon of Swahili literature
(B.C. Bloomfield (ed.), Middle East Studies and Libraries. London, 1980, 85-102.).
One of the main characteristics of the Swahili literature is the relative heterogeneity of the Swahili language
. One can find works written in Kiamu, Kimvita, Kipemba, Kiunguja, Kimrima, Kimtang'ata, Ki-Dar-es-salaam and Ki-Nairobi which are considered varieties of Swahili.
Swahili literature has been sometimes characterized as Islamic by some western scholars such as Jan Knappert. This... Read More