Library Weekly

The ASCL's Library Weekly is our library’s weekly spotlight on African people and events. Inspired by the SciHiBlog, this service is based on information retrieved from Wikipedia and Wikidata and is completed with selected titles from the ASCL Library Catalogue. 

N.B. The weeklies are not updated and reflect the state of information at a given point in time.

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Euphrase Kezilahabi

book cover: Rosa Mistika by Euphrase KezilahabiOn 9 January 2020, Tanzanian novelist, poet, and scholar Euphrase Kezilahabi died at the age of 75 in Dar es Salaam. He was one of the first African writers to publish a collection of free verse poetry in Swahili. 

Kezilahabi was born on 13 April 1944 in Namagondo, a village on Ukerewe Island in Lake Victoria. He got his primary and secondary education in Ukerewe, and his BA and MA degrees at the University of Dar es Salaam. After having completed his studies in 1976, he taught in various schools throughout Tanzania. Later Kezilahabi continued his studies at the University of Wisconsin, obtaining his PhD in 1985. Kezilahabi worked as a lecturer, first at the University of Dar es Salaam, and later at the University of Botswana.

Kezilahabi’s first novel, 'Rosa Mistika' (1971), which dealt with the abuse of schoolgirls by their teachers, was a popular success. Though at first banned for classroom use, it was later added to the school curriculum in Tanzania and Kenya. His later novels include 'Kichwamaji' (1974), 'Dunia uwanja wa fujo' (1975), and 'Gamba la nyoka' (1979). 

The publication of his first poetry collection ‘Kichomi’ (1974) broke with the formal traditions of Swahili poetry. It created a fiery debate on poetry as conservationists and modernists argued over whether free verse poetry can be called Swahili poetry.

(Source: Britannica & Poetry Translation Centre, both accessed on 2 January 2024)

Selected publications

No edges : Swahili stories / Euphrase Kezilahabi and others. - San Francisco : Two Lines Press, 2023

The voice of the text and its body : the continuous reform of Euphrase Kezilahabi's poetics / Roberto Gaudioso. - Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, 2019

Dialogic Swahili Literature - Key to Harmonization in Diversity / Euphrase Kezilahabi.
In: Matatu, 2015 (46), p.33-269

Stray Truths: Selected Poems of Euphrase Kezilahabi / Annmarie Drury. - East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2015

Euphrase Kezilahabi : the renewal of Kiswahili poetry / Natalia Frolova.
In: Kiswahili : jarida la chuo cha uchunguzi wa lugha ya kiswahili, vol. 66, p. 59-65, 2003

Le romancier tanzanien Euphrase Kezilahabi / E. Feyte; M. Salum; G. Barot.
In: Politique africaine, no. 66, p. 126-133, 1997

African philosophy and the problem of literary interpretation / Euphrase Kezilahabi. - University of Wisconsin, 1985

Rosa Mistika / Euphrase Kezilahabi. - Dar es Salam : Dar es Saalam University Press, [1988]

Kichomi / Euphrase Kezilahabi. - Nairobi : Heinemann, 1974

The development of Swahili poetry : 18th - 20th century / Euphrase Kezilahabi.
In: Kiswahili : jarida la chuo cha uchunguzi wa lugha ya kiswahili. vol. 42/43, no. 2/1, p. 62-67, 1972/73

Dunia uwanja wa fujo / Euphrase Kezilahabi. - Kampala [etc.] : East African Literature Bureau, 1965

Kumbukumbu Ya Kumwenzi Marehemu Euphrase Kezilahabi, Baraza la Kiswahili la Berlin on 11 January 2021

Timeline of Swahili-language writers via DBpedia and Wikidata