Swahili Language and Culture Acquisitions at Columbia: Home


This bibliography on Swahili language and culture—to be frequently updated—represents the highlights from the last thirty-nine years of library acquisitions at Columbia University. Some titles in Swahili acquired since 1979 have not been included (such as policy documents issued by governments and political parties, children's stories issued as short brochures, or recently-acquired items still "in process"). Titles in Arabic, English, French, & German listed here deal primarily with aspects of Swahili language, literature, history, and culture.

The home page contains a list of dictionaries and other reference works, a brief list of related music and video titles, links to related Internet resource guides, and other library tools for research.

***See also: History of East Africa, c.1000 CE to the present

Part of: African Studies at Columbia

Reference -- Dictionaries and Glossaries

Music and Video

  • At the court of the Mwami, Ruanda : 1952 : Tutsi, Hutu, Twa. Sound recording. Utrecht, the Netherlands : SWP Records ; Grahamstown, South Africa : International Library of African Music, p1998.

  • East Africa : ceremonial & folk music.. New York, NY : Nonesuch, 2002, c1975.

  • Columbia University Libraries: Guide to Videos at Columbia--Central Africa -and- Eastern Africa (New York)

  • Gabbay, Alex, dir. Edge of Islam. Producer; Robin Denselow ; music, Taraab Music, Al Noor Sunny, 8 Party Band ; cinematography and editing, Alex Gabbay .(Oley, PA : distributed by Bullfrog Films; produced by Television Trust for the Environment and the British Broadcasting Company, 2008)
    25 minutes in length ; in English ; about three teenage boys and the tourist trade in Lamu, Kenya.
    -- See: Streaming version, via Docuseek2 (Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press)

  • Golden Sounds Band. Swahili rumba. NAXOS music library ; Streaming audio.
    -- [Hong Kong] : Naxos Music Library, [2004]
    Performers: Twahir Mohamed, saxophone, leader ; Miraji Shakashia, Rashidi Matawa, guitar ; Ramadhani Issa, keyboards ; Mwinjuma Muumini, Rashidi Mwenzingo, Tindika Umba, Farida Mahfudh, vocal ; Juma Iddi Mikulandi, drums ; Msichoke Kombo, bass ; Zena Mahfudh, dancer.
  • Kenyan songs and strings: 1950 & 1952 Kenya : Luo, Luhya, Kipsigis, Kikuyu, Nandi, Swahili, Wanga, Giriama.. Sound recording. Grahamstown, South Africa : SWP Records, p2006.

  • Music from Tanzania and Zanzibar. 3 . Sound recording. Stockholm, Sweden : Caprice Records, 1997. (1 sound disc : digital) [Rashid Abdullah, principal lead singer ; Islim Ali, drum leader ; Kilimani Muslim School students, vocals, drums ; Masud Hussein Mfaome, director.]
  • Music of the Waswahili of Lamu, Kenya. 3 vols.. Collected [and annotated] by Alan W. Boyd. Online audio resource.
    -- [New York] : Folkways Records, 1985.
    One booklet of program notes (15 p.); principally Islamic music and secular traditional dance music; sung in Swahili. Field recordings made 1976-1977 in Lamu, Kenya.
  • Poetry in motion: 100 years of Zanzibar's Nadi Ikhwan Safaa. Directed by Ron Mulvihill ; produced by: Kelly Askew & Werner Graebner in association with Jahazi Media & Gris-Gris Films, [2016].
    -- [Germany]; Gris-Gris Films and Jahazi Media, 2011. About 70 minutes in length ; DVD.
    --See also: Promotional short (via YouTube.com) About 3 minutes in length
    --Plus: Jahazi Media
  • Retracing the Benga rhythm. Videorecording. Ketebul Music presents ; [directed by Dimitri Croella] ; cameras by Patrick Ondick.
    -- Nairobi : Ketebul Music, c2008.
    About 108 minutes in length ; DVD
    Documentary film tracing the history and evolution of "Benga," a Kenyan music style that originated on the shores of Lake Victoria in western Kenya in the early 60's and went on to become the most popular music in Kenya.
  • Retracing Kenya's songs of protest : music as a force for change in Kenya: 1963-2013. Sound recording; title on accompanying booklet: Retracing Kenya's songs of protest : the social and political revolution in Kenya. Nairobi, Kenya : Ketebul Music, [2013].

  • Royal Court music from Uganda : 1950 & 1952, Uganda : Ganda, Nyoro, Ankole. Sound recording. Utrecht : Stichting Sharp Wood Productions, p1998.

  • Songs the Swahili sing: classics from the Kenya coast. Sound recording. Tivoli, N.Y. : Original Music [198-?] (1 sound disc : 33 1/3 rpm ; 12 in.) [Program notes by John Storm Robert in English on container.]
  • The Swahili beat. Videorecording. RafIki Productions ; Pro Video Productions, Inc. ; a film by Kenny Mann ; camera, Kenny Mann ; edited by Perry Finkelstein ; Tarab music, Makame Faki, music, Renee Lamira [et al.].
    -- Watertown, MA : Documentary Educational Resources, [2008]
    About 28 minutes in length ; DVD
    "The Swahili beat is an upbeat look at the remarkable history of the Swahili people of Kenya and Tanzania's East African coast. Packed with the music and dance of its indigenous peoples, the film takes viewers along the coast from the fabled island of Lamu to Zanzibar, Mombasa, Kilwa, Bagamoyo and Dar es Salaam, tracing the development of the Swahili culture through the intermarriage of Arab settlers, arriving from Oman in the 8th century, with local Africans. The resulting Islamic hybrid culture cemented economic and social stability."
    --See also: Streaming version
  • Taarab, an ocean of melodies. Videorecording. Tomas Films in collaboration with Acacia Entertainment ; produced & directed by Abdulkadir Ahmed Said, Bridget Thompson ; edited by Ashley Smith, Rignold Haywood.
    -- South Africa : Tomas Films ; Mauritius : Acacia Entertainment, [2005].
    About 52 minutes in length ; DVD, PAL ; in English and Swahili, with English subtitles.
  • Zanzibar : music of celebration. Contemporary world music. London : Topic Records, 2000, p1989. Streaming version. [Taarab and maulidi music ; recorded at various locations in Zanzibar, June 4, 1989-May 10, 1990.]

  • Zanzibara. 1 : [1905-2005, Cent ans de taarab à Zanzibar = A hundred years of taarab in Zanzibar]
    -- Paris : Buda Musique : Distribution, Socadisc, [2005] . 1 sound disc.
    Notes: Principally based on 1920-1980 archival recordings, to celebrate the centenary of Zanzibar's oldest music club. Program notes in French and English, and lyrics in French and English translations. Recorded 2004-2005, Zanzibar and Dubai.

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  • Miaka hamsini ya kiswahili nchini Kenya Wahariri, Inyani Simala, Leonard Chacha, Miriam Osore. Nairobi, Kenya : Twaweza Communications, 2014. (262 p.)
    [Fifty years of Kiswahili in Kenya.]
    --See also: Preview of e-book
  • Mazrui, Al-Amin Bin Ali. Guidance (Uwongozi) : selections from the first Swahili Islamic newspaper. Translated by Kai Kresse, Hassan Mwakimako ; Introduced and edited by Kai Kresse. A Swahili-English edition. Leiden ; Boston : Brill, [2017] (181 p.)
  • Khatib, Muhammed Seif. Chanjo, matakwa ya mwanamume katika mwili wa mwanamke : ulinganisho wa ushairi wa Muyaka na Shaaban Robert . Dar es Salaam : Taasisi ya Taaluma za Kiswahili, Chuo Kikuu cha Dar es Salaam, [2014] (355 p.)
    [On the portrayal of women in the poetry of Muyaka bin Haji Ghassaniy and Shaaban Robert.]