Swahili Literary Festival 2019 group photo

The Swahili Literary Festival rallies Coastal cultural practitioners.

After a successful run of the Swahili Literary Festival, its organisers have urged cultural practitioners at the Kenyan coast to aim higher.

The Swahili Literary Festival was a series of events that happened in Mombasa, Kenya from March 1-3, 2019. For a debut festival in a part of the country not famous for having these kinds of events, it was a huge success with people coming in from far and wide to attend. You can read some of our reportage from the festival here.

Following on the festival, the event’s organisers led by Abdulrahman ‘Abu Amirah’ Ndegwa led Hekaya Arts Initiative have made a rallying cry for cultural practitioners of all stripes to come and work together. Here is the full statement from the team running the festival.


The SLF 2019 gave us a chance to meet a whole lot of scholars from and in the Swahili coast, and through this network we are getting to meet so many others as well. We had a meeting with Prof Abdulatif Abdalla and Prof Ahmed Mohidden to analyse the Festival a few days before the former left for Hamburg, and we collectively agree that there is a lot that needs to be done as regards production and consumption of art and literature in the coast.

Abdulrahman Abu Amirah Ndegwa, Prof Abdulatif Abdalla, and Prof Ahmed Mohidden
Abdulrahman Abu Amirah Ndegwa, Prof Abdulatif Abdalla, and Prof Ahmed Mohidden

Contemporary practitioners are doing a great job rereading, redefining, reasserting the old through the new in a way that both complement each other seamlessly.

Our wazee are happy with the path we have taken. They are impressed with the level of energy at the festival especially with the conversations about building a sustainable Creative Economy.

These amazing gentlemen have passed the baton over to us in a gesture of confidence that is both scary and inspiring, mainly because we cannot fit into their shoes. How can we, when we have the likes of Muyaka Bin Haji, Mwanakupona, Ali Mazrui, Ahmed Nassir, people who were extremely good at what they did? Perhaps the best we can do is emulate them and ensure that their works are preserved for future generations.

We can change the literary and art scene in the coast, collectively!

Hopefully, those on the coast of Kenya will heed the call and give us some literary awesomeness.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.