Synopses & Reviews
This book focuses on the rendition of a classical Swahili poem otherwise known as Kasida called the Hamziyyah. Hamziyyah whose title in Arabic is Kasidatul-Hamziya fil-madaihi n-Nabawiya, 'Hamzated Eulogy in praise of the Prophet' is arguably the most difficult poem in Swahili to decipher. During the maulidi festival (the anniversary of the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad), expert poets recite it verbatim to an audience. The Hamziyyah is a Swahili version of the Arabic poem Umm-al-Qura, in long measure verse form, and actually presented as Swahili interlinear translation of the Arabic version. The Lamu archipelago plays a significant role as the custodian of the Hamziyyah in East Africa. The book gives particular attention to the role it plays during the festival and as a medium which is employed to reinforce values of the Swahili people of the Lamu archipelago, Kenya. In addition to the rendition, the book gives a brief historical background to this Pre-20th Century Swahili classical text. Among the religious themes that increasingly became prominent in Arabic poetry from the twelfth to the thirteenth century onwards, there stood out in particular the eulogy of the Prophet, Sufism and pious admonition. The Swahili people in the Lamu archipelago derive personal and communal satisfaction from the performance of the Hamziyyah and they express the desire to venerate the Prophet by eulogizing him through the recitation of the Hamziyyah.