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Abou Egl, Mohammad Ibrahim Mohammad (1983) The life and works of Muhamadi Kijuma. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the life and works of Muhamadi Kijuma of Lamu. Lamu is one of the districts of Kenya's Coast Province. Kijuma's life (1855-1945) spans almost the entire colonial period.;Little was known about his life and works before this research worker started collecting Kijuma's own manuscripts found in Europe and East Africa, documents of the period, and facts from the memories of the old people at Lamu who were still alive when this worker arrived there in 1980.;Kijuma was a scribe, calligrapher, composer of songs and dances, musician and maker of musical instruments. In the first chapter, Kijuma's genealogy and his life is dealt with in detail. The remaining chapters investigate more closely the various activities in which he engaged, particularly after his return from Zanzibar in 1908.;The first of these was the singing competitions in which Kijuma took an active part, and by which the Colonial Office in Lamu managed to change the political, economic and social structure of Lamu to replace it with its own. The cultural and the religious aspects of these singing competitions are discussed. The origin of what is called in Swahili tarabu has been discovered, as well as the fact that it was Kijuma who imported it into Lamu, that Kijuma was a moving force amongst those who made tarabu known all over East Africa, and that he was the first to make a kinanda in Lamu, and to compose the dances called Mwasha and Kinanda.;The main tool of the singing competitions was the Swahili song, and the following subject discusses Kijuma's songs, and deals especially with Kijuma's mafumbo "Riddles and metaphors", and to show that these mafumbo were used by Kijuma in his songs only, not in his poems. The bulk of these songs were collected from Kijuma's compatriots in Lamu, Matondoni and Mombasa in Kenya, and are edited here for the first time. Kijuma's composing of songs inspired him to compose also long poems and to copy them out artistically. Therefore, the third subject comprises all the literary works which Kijuma either composed and scribed, or only scribed. Some of these have been identified for the first time as being Kijuma's compositions, or as simply scribed by him. Other manuscripts have been identified as being the works of other poets, although it has been alleged by other Swahili scholars that they were Kijuma's compositions. Kijuma's sources for composing these poems have also been identified. This third subject shows that Kijuma indirectly participated in preserving Northern Swahili literature, and producing valuable data upon which the scholars of Swahili are still depending. The main sources for this subject were Kijuma's manuscripts found at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, in the University College of Dar-es-Salaam, and in Hamburg, and Kijuma's correspondence with his European clients. Kijuma's talents enabled him to produce many works of visual art, including title-pieces for his manuscripts. So, the fourth subject is: Kijuma as a craftsman (Fundi). Under this heading, all Kijuma's available works of visual art are discussed, showing that he was skilled in sculpture, wood-carving, drawing, calligraphy, tailoring, and decorative knitting. It is important to note that Kijuma introduced many symbols in these artistic works. These symbols are discussed and displayed for the first time. The fifth subject deals with Kijuma's religion.;This research worker came, later, to realise that the title of this thesis might have been; Kijuma's religion, because it was found out, by reading all about this subject, that all the preceding subjects are relevant to the questions which arise in the consideration of this subject. In addition to this, it is the only aspect of Kijuma's life which Swahili scholars and missionaries have written about in some detail. They have considered Kijuma as a Christian, but judging by the available data, Kijuma must have been a Muslim. The sixth and final subject, discusses Kijuma's personality, extrapolating from his own poem Siraji which is transliterated, translated, and given in the appendix.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:25

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