By Rose Marie Beck, Kai Kresse
Abdilatif Abdalla: Poet in Politics celebrates the paintings of Abdilatif Abdalla, one in every of Kenya's such a lot recognized poets and a dedicated political activist. It contains remark essays on points of Abdilatif Abdalla's paintings and existence, via inter-weaving views on poetry and politics, language and historical past; with contributions by way of East African writers and students of Swahili literature, together with Ngugi wa Thiong'o, acknowledged Khamis, Ken Walibora, Ahmed Rajab, Mohamed Bakari, and Sheikh Abdilahi Nassir, between others. Abdalla turned well-known in 1973, with the book of Sauti ya Dhiki (Voice of Agony), a suite of poems written secretly in felony in the course of 3 years of solitary confinement (1969-72). He was once convicted of circulating pamphlets opposed to Jomo Kenyatta's KANU govt, criticizing it as 'dictatorial' and calling for political resistance within the pamphlet, 'Kenya: Twendapi?' (Kenya: the place are we heading?). His poetry epitomizes the continuing foreign money of vintage Swahili shape and language, whereas his paintings total, together with translations and editorships, exemplifies a two-way mediation among 'traditional' and 'modern' views. It makes outdated and new voices of Swahili poetry and African literature available to a much wider readership in East Africa, and past. Abdalla has lived in exile because 1973, in Tanzania, London, and as a consequence, earlier, in Germany. however, Swahili literature and Kenyan politics have remained important to his lifestyles.
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Additional info for Abdilatif Abdalla. Poet in politics
Cheerleading was the order of the day for those with political ambitions. The most apt description of the man that Kenyatta became was given by the most famous critic of the regime, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (1981), in his prison diary, Detained, when he described him as a ‘failed Moses’. Kenyans, intoxicated by the euphoria of independence, were oblivious of the kind of regime Kenyatta’s government was willing itself into: dictatorial, tribal and above all, kleptocratic. A clear disconnect was emerging between the Kenyan impoverished masses and the government on one hand and the intellectual elite and the government on the other.
His elder brother was already a controversial politician who was advocating secessionism for the Coast because of the fear of political dominance by the two largest tribes of the country, the Gikuyu and the Luo. This elder brother, Sheikh Abdilahi Nassir, was to become one of the most important of coastal politicians. He was charismatic, uncommonly articulate, and a largely self-educated public intellectual in the way of Swahili Muslim sages. A protégé of Maalim Ghazali, who was himself a student of Sheikh Al-Amin Mazrui, Sheikh Abdilahi, as he is affectionaly referred to by his admirers, was a man steeped in the Islamic intellectual tradition and aware of what was happening around him.
What comes across also and especially, is 28 Abdilatif Abdalla: Poet in Politics a calm sense of moral conviction about having done the right thing, to have stood up conscientiously for truth and justice when it mattered. What we see, looking at these few exemplary days of Abdalla’s prison experience, is how faith in, and resilience about, doing the right thing, by speaking out for the discontented and raising his voice in their name, provides orientation, inner strength and self-support during the difficult experience of undergoing prison and solitary confinement.