Influences and parallels between Persian and Kiswahili literature: some examples from alfu-lela-ulela and selected texts by Shaaban Robert
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Persian literature has influenced the development of Kiswahili literature thematically and stylistically. This is demonstrated in the works of Shaaban Robert, one of the most famous and celebrated Kiswahili writers. This paper seeks to identify, describe and analyze some of these influences with a view to showing parallels that exist between Persian and Kiswahili literature. The paper briefly discusses the early contacts between the Middle East and the East African Coast through trade in ivory and slaves. This interaction brought about cultural influences including the inculcation of the Islamic religion as well as language and literature. This pre-twentieth century Islamic cultural influence is evident in Shaaban Robert's works. The paper discusses how the historical aspects influenced the literatures from these two parts of the world. This it does by bringing out the interconnectedness between literature and history and also showing that literature and social learning reinforce each other. The relationship between Kiswahili literature and Persian literature in areas such as style, plot, characterization and symbolism brought about by historical realities have been delineated.