Asyah Al Bualy Articles

الأيام الثقافية العُمانية بزنجبار – Zanzibar in Omani Literary Genres

أضف تعليقاً

Zanzibar in Omani Literary Genres
A paper presented for the Omani Cultural Days in Zanzibar (13- 17th July 2011)
Dr. Asyah Al Bualy – Adviser for Culture and Humanities
The Research Council
Sultanate of Oman

Introduction

Prior to broaching the subject of Zanzibar in Omani Literary Genres, namely: criticism, poetry, the art of the Maqama, autobiography, biography, travel literature and novels; it is important to note the significance of the Sultanate of Oman’s geographical location. Its position in the Arabian Gulf, as one of the countries belonging to an ancient region with a great seafaring and maritime history, has made Oman a crucial meeting point, linking East and West.

This region has moreover witnessed various ancient civilisations, such as, Indian, Persian and Greek. Evidence of this presence has been verified by archaeological findings, epitomised by ancient, engravings, stones, statues and artifacts that been found resembling Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Beauty, the Scarab Beetle of the Pharonic civilization and Gilgamesh, hero of the Babylonian civilisation.

Furthermore, the Sultanate’s history, in terms of time and location, is clearly reflected in Omani literature; however, it is important to underline that in comparison to works actually produced – relatively few were published over the course of time, although a large number of manuscripts have been preserved. At present, Oman’s Ministry of Heritage and Culture has embarked on a programme of publishing this literature.
The following factors highlight the reasons that have limited the publication of Omani literature:

1. Documentation of Arabic literature mainly took place during the golden age of Arabic literature – The Abbasid Period (750 to 1258 AD). Under the ruling of the Abbasid caliphates in cities, such as Baghdad, Mecca, Al Medina, Damascus, Cairo, Cordoba and Khorassan; Islamic literature flourished during the era’s great renaissance. However, due to Oman not being under the rule of the Abbasid Caliphates and its distance from these cities, there is a considerable lack of research and books that specialise in Omani Literature.

2. Oman’s geographical distance from the capitals of the Abbasid rule, which witnessed great developments in the field of literature, meant that Omani literature remained uncultivated. Furthermore, not being a part of the cultural exchanges that were prevalent during the great renaissance, between Arabs and others, like the Persian, Greek and Alexandrian cultures – Omani literature was unexposed to: translation, publication and education.

3. The geographical distance was in addition greatly exacerbated due to Oman’s location, in the Southern part of the Empty Quarter. The harsh conditions of this vast expanse made travel between Oman and the above cultural centres extremely arduous. Moreover, the political disagreement between Omani rulers and the Amawi and Abbasid Caliphates, halted any reference of Omani literature in the old Arabic literary references, with exception of a few Omani poets mentioned in Al Bayan wa Al Tabyn written by Al Jahidth (781 – 869 A.D) and in Al Kamil written by Al Mubarad.

Zanzibar in Omani Literary Genres

Addressing the topic of Zanzibar in Omani literary genres requires approaching this subject on two perspectives. At one level, Omani literature produced in East Africa and elsewhere, and literature produced within the Sultanate.
Discussing Omani literature from the perspective of East Africa requires reference to the historical background, with regards to the emigration of Omanis to Zanzibar, Pemba, Kenya, Congo Mozambique and Madagascar. This emigration also expanded to various places along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.

Omani emigration dates back earlier than the 16th century during a period in which the Portuguese sought to occupy East Africa following the discovery of the continent by Vasco de Gama (1469-1524 A.D).The ensuing Portuguese conquest of parts of the east coast of Africa lasted up to the 17th century, in which there was simultaneous weakening of the Arab position in the region, due to Portuguese occupation of Arab governed territory.

This was ended by the Omani Yarouby rulers, considered one of the earliest Omani tribes to emigrate to East Africa, banishing the Portuguese. The emigration of Omani tribes to the region subsequently took place, among them were the Mazrouis and Busaidis, who ruled parts of the East African coast and Zanzibar in particular until the 1964 revolution.

The presence of Omanis in East Africa spanning three centuries had its own literary production; considered to be an important historical resource for the documentation of Omani literature. The majority of this literary production was consequently lost following the 1964 revolution. However, few literary works were preserved and eventually reached Oman in 1970, along with return of Omanis from Zanzibar during the Omani Renaissance (a period marked by the beginning of Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said’s rule). The latter works are significantly few in comparison to both the actual quantity produced and to the lengthy duration of the Omani presence in East Africa. Literary works that have survived – according to research carried out for this paper – are comprised of the following genres: poetry, autobiography, biography, the art of Maqamaat, travel literature, and literary criticism combined with history.

Literature and History

The Zanzibar Story – A Pure Historical Account (Juhainat Al Akhbar Fi Tareekh Zinjibar), was written in the 14th century hijri (19th AD) by Sheikh Said bin Ali Al Mugheiry. This book was reprinted by Oman’s Ministry of Heritage and Culture in two issues; the first one in 1979 and the second in 1986.

The importance of the book is not merely that is a detailed historical account of the origins of the Omani people in East Africa, but its significant value is that it illustrates Omani poetry resources in the region. Moreover, it portrays the social environment of the Omani community, with a particular focus on Zanzibar. The book is considered a valuable historical reference for Omani poems. Furthermore, it shows the importance of poetry in Zanzibari society by recounting key historical events which highlight the role of poetry as a cultural symbol. This was manifested through the use of poetry being used as a deep form of personal expression; both depicting significant historical moments and at a personal level in the society at large. The book’s author, Al Mugheiry, documents an instance in which Sheikh Suleiman bin Nasser Al Lamki gifted the ruler of Berlin in 1890, a golden engraved ( with lines of poetry) sword which was personally presented in one of the East African German governed colonies.

It is worth mentioning that in this book, Al Mugheiry focused on poetry which portrayed general social events in East Africa, particularly in Zanzibar. However, he overlooked prominent poets in the region.

Despite the author inferring that poetry was mostly used as a form of gifting for state occasions – poetry was not only a means of documenting important historical events, but was furthermore, the language engraved on some historical monuments such as Fort Jesus in Mombasa.

Celebrating social events through poetry was a common phenomenon among Omanis throughout their presence in Zanzibar. For example, Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Ghaithy composed a poem in 1941 marking the opening of a mosque, as well as Sayyid Al Hadi bin Ahmed bin Hadar who composed a poem in 1954 for the inauguration of a school .

Poetry

The divan (collection of poetry) Abi Muslem Al Bahlani was written by Nasser bin Salem bin Aadeem Al Rawahi (commonly known as Al Bahlani because he comes from an interior region of Oman named Bahla). Al Bahlani was a poet, scholar and a judge and was born in Oman, although the year of his birth is not certain, it is presumed to be either 1273 hijri (1857 AD) or 1276 hijri (1860 AD). It is known that he emigrated to Zanzibar during his twenties or thirties where he remained until his death in 1917.

Al Bahlani is considered to be a progressive personality. His divan, published in 1928 (after his death) was admired by many Omani readers towards the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. His poems were deemed to underline the importance of national unity, especially significant at the end of nineteenth century, reflecting Omani aspirations of independence from Western colonisation.

Maqama

The word Maqama in the Arabic language has numerous definitions. Some of the meanings are as follows: settling or residing in a place, a particular location in paradise cited in the Holy Quran, a communal area (Barza), a group of people, a favourable rank and finally a minbar (pulpit in a mosque), amongst other definitions.
Maqama, as a literary genre, is an art form that dates back to the 4th century hijri (10 AD) when Ibin Duraid, who died in 321 hijri (994 AD), wrote his first Maqamat in both forms, episodes and tales. The Maqamat genre was further developed by other authors like: Badiya Al Zamaan Al Hamadthani died in 398 hijri ( 1007 AD), Ibin Sharaff Al Qairawani died in 460 hijri (1068 AD), Al Hariri died in 1516 hijri ( 2076 AD).

The Maqama, as a didactic work of literature (created in, 10 AD), aimed to criticise general aspects of life in an ironic or sarcasm style. This form of literature was the cause of considerable debate concerning the period in which the art of the story became an acknowledged genre in Arabic literature (it is generally accepted that at the end of the nineteenth century, Arabic literature contained modern genres such as, articles, drama, novels and short stories). Therefore, based on the fact that Maqama existed in 4th century hijri, and was considered to be the origin of the short story genre from certain perspectives, proves on one hand, the existence of the latter in Arabic literature in the 10th century AD. However, on the other hand, some reject this perspective, based on the artistic elements of the short story (characters, location, time, plot, narration and language) which are not artistically developed in the texts of the Maqama. This is based on the fact that the text of the Maqama mainly depends on the ornamentation of vocabulary and variety and applies different types of rhetorical styles (colours).

The book Maqamat Abi Al Hareth, written by Khamis bin Ali Al Barwani (1878-1953), born in Zanzibar, was first published in Cairo at the author’s expense in 1950. The second issue was published in 1980 by the Omani ministry of Heritage and Culture.
The author did not receive a formal education, however, his parents took a keen interest in education and culture and fostered in the young Barwani an appreciation of reading and learning. This was facilitated by his family having the means to expose him to a wide variety of subjects, from their substantial library, such as literature, history and jurisprudence (religion). He was also fluent in both English and Arabic languages.

Al Barwani applied the formal structure of the Maqamat adopted by his predecessors, in Maqamat Abi Al Hareth. This structure consists of an inception; a form of introduction which includes an ascription (inspired by the Ascription of a Tradition in Prophet Mohammed’s PBUH Hadith). The role of the ascription in the Hadith is to render its authenticity, whereas in the case of the Maqamat, it is to provide its artistic authenticity (which endeavours to convert fiction into a form of realism).

The ascription of the Maqama contains a narration of its events through a narrator recounting the adventures of the Maqama’s hero. The latter character is usually an old man (sheikh), with knowledge of life’s hardships, exemplifying the challenges that human beings experience. Therefore, for the reader, he plays the role of a valuable teacher.

Other artistic elements of the Maqama: events, plot, time and location, do not have a significant role due to greater emphasis being placed on vocabulary and rhetoric styles. The purpose of Al Barwani’s Maqamat is to portray an ideal image of the human being from a complete perspective (heart and soul), through encouraging the reader to adhere to Islamic teaching, principles and values.

Autobiography

Sayida Salma bint Said bin Sultan’s (1844 – 1924) autobiography originally written in manuscript form in German, Memoirs of an Arabian princess, was later rewritten by her grandson in the 1960s. The autobiography was well received and translated into English twice, the first issue in 1888 and the second in 1905. In addition, it was also translated into French in 1889.

The first Arabic translation of this autobiography was undertaken by Oman’s Ministry of Heritage and Culture in the early 1980’s and this dispels the general perception held at the time, that the Sultanate of Oman did not support its translation. This was of significant importance because it offered the Arabic reader the opportunity to acknowledge the book. This translation was based on one of the English texts, which was unfortunately not an accurate translation of the original book. Amendments made include chapters being combined and passages being moved from their original location. Therefore, the authenticity of the English and subsequent Arabic translated versions of the book are open to question. Moreover, the latter is further compounded due to the Arabic translator, Mr. Abdul Majid Hassib Al Quasi, distorting the text through omitting some parts altogether and adding his own personal embellished depictions. Consequently , the only authentic Arabic translation of the book is that of the Iraqi translator Dr. Salma Saleh, whose translation was based on original German text. This Arabic version of the autobiography was published twice in Germany by Dar Al Jammal in 2002 and later 2006.

I believe that the value of this autobiography is not merely from a historical perspective; which lies in the princess’ (daughter of a 19th century Imam of Muscat and Sultan of Zanzibar) narration of aspects of her life in Zanzibar, notably family life, the royal court, conflicts between her brothers over the throne following the Sultan’s death and the role of the British in the country’s affairs.

The book’s historical value is undoubtedly significant, however, its greater value lies in the fact that it is one of the first autobiographical accounts documented by an Arabic woman. The subject of the autobiography is principally an encounter between East and West and furthermore, documents the radical transformation of an Arabic muslim woman who changed her name and religion in order to marry a European. This in turn led to Princess Salma leading a totally new way of life and encountering numerous experiences and challenges in which she suffered the feelings of alienation and identity crisis over a period of eighty years in Europe.

An Omani Adventure in the African woods : The life Story of Hamed bin Mohammed Al Margibi ( 1840- 1905) otherwise known as Tipo Tipo is another autobiography in the collection of recovered Omani literature . The book was translated from Swahili to Arabic by Dr. Mohammed Al Mahroki and published twice, the first issue in February 2005 by the Oman Establishment for Press and Publishing, Nizwa Book, Muscat. The second issue was published in 2006 by Dar Al Jammal in Germany.

According to the translator the importance of this book is the portrayal of a self – made ambitious man who” lived a life full of events, adventures and unknown challenges. It is a myth of an ordinary man from a simple family left to encounter the difficulties of life following the death of its provider. However, Tipo Tipo overcame the challenges and succeeded to a degree which enabled him to deal and often to negotiate with Arabic and Western governments, who both valued the extent of his authority in East Africa”

Travel Literature

From mankind’s early existence, travel has played an integral role. Hunting was the first motivator for travel and subsequently became the topic of tales. Men depicted their journeys and voyages with pride to their families and communities upon each return; and as the process of narration evolved, these tales were eventually documented for a variety of reasons. Documentation of travel began with ancient civilisations irrespective of the reasons. In the Pharaonic civilisation there is the journey of Queen Hatshepsut (1479 – 1457 BC) to Somalia and, in Greek civilisation there are the various journeys of the ancient Greek historian Herodotus who lived in the 5th century BC (c. 484 – 425). In addition, the sea voyage of Prophet Noah to escape the great flood mentioned in the Abrahamic faith scriptures and the two journeys of the Arabs in Winter and Summertime to Palestine and Yemen for commercial purposes in the pre- Islamic era.

Arabic literature has long acknowledged travel literature. Numerous books have been written in this genre, such as the prominent titles , The Journey of Ibin Joubeer by Abo Al Hoseen Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Kinani ( 1145- 1217A.D) and Ibin Batuta’s Journey written by Sharaf Al Deen Mohammed bin Abdulla Al lwati Al Tanjy ( 1354- 1377 A.D).

Since the list of Arabic travel literature is extensive, dating back from the pre- Islamic era to the contemporary period, scholars have devoted various studies on this particular genre. Their research has focused on defining and revealing its drivers and objectives. Furthermore, scholars have divided travel literature into fifteen categories, according to the purpose of the travel, which may be pilgrimage, tourism, official affairs, education, politics, guidance and fiction. Moreover, they codify travel literature dependent upon the style of documentation, in terms of prose and poetry.

The book Journey of Abe Al Hareth by Khamis bin Al Barwani mentioned above, exemplifies this genre in Omani literature. This book was first published in Zanzibar in 1333 hijiri (1915 A.D) by the Al Najah publishing house and its second issue in Muscat by the Omani Ministry of Heritage and Culture in 2010.

Al Barwani documents the start of his journey on the morning of Friday 17th April 1914, and opens his book with verse 82 of Surat Ghafir quoted from the holy Quran,
” Have they not travelled in the land to see the nature of the consequence for those before them? They were more numerous than these, and mightier in power and (in the) traces (which they left behind them) in the earth. But all that they used to earn availed them not.” (82) This was followed by a prayer for the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

The author proceeds to describe his departure ” as the steamer sailed in the sea , Zanzibar loomed by the shore .I glimpsed the familiar houses of my loved ones and friends , those who I am leaving , it was at that moment I felt the grief of farewell” . Al Barwani then reveals the purpose of his voyage by stating “ It was only the passion of discovering the countries which I have chosen to visit, that mitigated my feelings of departure.”

The first issue of the book consists of sixty four pages in which Al Barwani depicts every port , country, and city that he visited, among them: Aden, the centre and suburbs of Cairo and other cities like Damascus and Yafa. In his descriptions, he does not merely focus on geographical and historical aspects of the locations, but furthermore, depicts minute details of the people, traditions and customs of each country. He further adds his feelings and personal experiences of meeting friends whom he had not seen for a long time, vividly depicting their personalities and characteristics. Moreover, Al Barwani includes both styles of writing: prose and poetry in his book.

The former genres discussed have highlighted Zanzibar in Omani literature produced in both Zanzibar and elsewhere. Some of these genres, amongst others, were also produced in Oman. From the latter, is a book entitled Voyages in the Virgin Islands; Zanzibar, Thailand, Vietnam, Andalusia, and the Empty Quarter, written by Mohamed Al Harthy. The first issue was published in Beirut and Abu Dhabi in 2004, and its second in 2008 by Dar Al Jammal in Germany.
In his book, Al Harthy reveals the reason for his trip to Zanzibar, alluding to his father’s previous visit to the island during the 1950s and 1960s and later emigration ” Just like his ancestors, who made Zanzibar their private Andalusia because of the rigid circumstances of life in Oman at that time. In contrast to the rest of the members of my family, my father opted to remain in Zanzibar, depriving me of a childhood of ripe fruit and the Swahili language.” The author then goes on to clarify that his trip to Zanzibar was the result of a moment of awakening in which ” he discovers in a gloomy moment that he had not yet visited Zanzibar, although it was the land of his ancestors, where they settled, inherited its traditions and spoke its language. I made this discovery far too late and therefore on a morning in the summer of 1996, I took the decision to go to Zanzibar as a tourist without any preconceptions.”

Thereafter, Al Harthy embarks on a historical description of Zanzibar, paying particular attention to Stone Town with its alleys, old houses, The House of Wonders, the Forodhani promenade and its people and in addition, Zanzibari food, fruits, cloves and coconuts.

Al Harthy fuses the historical aspects of the location with his personal feelings which undoubtedly enhance the reader’s entertainment throughout the journey, due to the combination of paradox and irony in its narration. For instance, the arduous battle that took place between the author and a mosquito (the size of a helicopter) underneath the mosquito net, in which he suffered considerable defeat at the hands of the enemy and was left a defenseless victim.

Biography

A book titled The Pioneer. Professor Fatma bint Salem Al Mammary ( 1911-2002) , A Historical, Documentary and Academic Study published by the Omani Ministry of Heritage and Culture in Muscat in February 2008. Written by Dr. Asyah Al Bualy, this biography presents the life story of an Omani woman who was born in Zanzibar and obtained her P.H.D. in Latin language and literature in 1955 from University College London (U.C.L.). Professor Fatma Salem is considered to be the second woman in the Middle East, and the first person in the Gulf region to attain such a degree.
Fatma Salem’s professorship was considered to be an unprecedented achievement, as one of the first of a handful of females at both the Universities of Cairo and Alexandria. She was furthermore a pioneer, being the first Arabic oriental woman to teach Latin language and literature.

The biography which is authenticated by various documents, papers and photographs verifies Fatma Salem’s academic achievements and literary status. Above all, it documents her receipt of various awards and letters of appreciation from countries such as Egypt, Syria and Oman. The book is divided into three chapters: the first chapter presents Fatma Salem’s life, from birth until death (1911-2002). The second chapter contains testimonies from people who knew her well: members of the Omani royal family, her relatives, colleagues and neighbours. Finally, the last chapter reviews her academic research.

The reader can sense Zanzibar throughout the course of the biography. Principally due to Fatma Salem being born in Zanzibar; her family was financially comfortable and valued both culture and education, and furthermore the education of women in particular. This subsequently facilitated Fatma Salem reaching the exceptional status that she achieved in her lifetime, especially considering that her childhood and youth were in stark contrast to the general traditions of her era (which did not support female education, let alone educating a woman to P.H.D level).

Fatma Salem’s younger sister ( Etidal) describes the family’s comfortable lifestyle in Zanzibar which was apparent; their grandfather owned a black Rolls Royce (most probably one of its kind in Zanzibar at the time) and in addition, vast assets consisting of farm land and property in Zanzibar, Pemba and Kenya. When one scrutinises Etidal’s depiction, it is noticeable that the significance of the family does not merely lie in their financial status since there were other families in Zanzibar who were more affluent. Their importance can be attributed to their mindset and the way they approached investing family wealth. This was manifested by the family utilising its assets to fund the education of both male and female children equally. Children of the family were all educated in Egypt up to university level, including Fatma Salem herself.

This poses the following question – Did the Arabic Omani community (irrespective of financial status) in Zanzibar at the beginning of the 20th century pay equal attention to educating their children? And to be more specific, was this apparent at the time of Fatma Salem’s birth in 1911?

I would agree to a certain extent that Omani families in Zanzibar considered the role of education to be important, however, this was confined to the male gender, a custom that was followed in Oman during this period. Despite the non- existence of a system of formal education, boys received an education in the form of specialised classes in Arabic language, grammar, rhetorics, Sharia (Islamic law) and Quran.

Therefore, I would assume that the exposure of Fatma Salem’s family to other communities in Zanzibar such as the English, Yemeni, Indian, and Persian, attributed to expanding their horizons on the issue of education which exceeded the traditional Arabic perspective, restricting education to the male gender.

Consequently, Fatma Salem’s family made the long journey to Egypt from as early as 1913 and remained in Cairo for many decades; paving the way for many Omani families and women in particular, in the field of education and towards an alternative way of life. This led to the achievements of such women exceeding beyond their time and location.

Novels

The novel as an art genre is regarded as an embodiment of the dreams of mankind. Its substance relates to human beings with all their issues, worries and engagements. In order for the novel to be valued as a genuine piece of art, it needs to be based on a particular social state comprising its internal contradictions which result from conflict between fiction (imagination) and reality. Therefore, the novel is not merely a portrayal of reality but an interpretation of its facts through a formula which gives meaning to a particular historical moment.

The novel “Perambulation Around the Embers” written by Dr. Badriya Al Shahee and published in Beirut in 1999 by the Arabic Establishment for Research and Publication, is considered the first Omani female narration of novels. The events of this novel take place in the past and illustrate the historical relationship between Oman and East Africa, in particular Zanzibar.

The reader’s first impression of the novel is that it is a romance based on Zahra (the heroine), in love with her cousin Salem who left her and emigrated to Zanzibar, making his voyage by sea.

He subsequently settles in Zanzibar and marries a local woman who bears his child. The author’s description of the local woman with her unattractive features of a pug nose, coarse hair and dark complexion is set in contrast to Zahra described as having proportional Arabic pretty features with fair complexion, green eyes and silky hair. The central plot of the novel is Salem’s decision to remain in Zanzibar with his local wife. Zahra rejects being defeated and motivated by jealousy, the desire to prove herself by challenging her love rival and anxious to regain her lost love, she breaks taboos of her traditional conservative Arabic society by running away from her family, and travels to Zanzibar by sea alone and along with men. However, following her arduous journey, Zahra discovers that her efforts were in vain since she was unable to find either, her cousin or his family. Consequently, Zahra cannot return to Oman and settles in Zanzibar becoming a farm owner, managing her farm and its farm hands, where she explores the strengths in her character of which she was previously unaware. Therefore, she finds something far more significant, herself.

The hidden theme of the novel is revealed by the fact that Zahra’s long journey to Zanzibar in search of her lost love was merely an illusion, since oriental Arabic women are raised with the belief that their existence can only be actualised by men and through them. However, this is opposite from the truth since women’s strength is inherent within themselves. Ultimately, Zahra’s exit is a search for identity (self) and its realisation.

Conclusion
Factors presented in the paper ” Zanzibar in Omani Literary Genres” include the importance of the Sultanate of Oman’s geographical location which has contributed to its great seafaring and maritime history – making it a crucial meeting point linking East and West. The author finds that the historical impact of Oman can be observed through the dichotomy of its literature: locative and temporal. In addition, the paper finds that the lack of research and books specialising in Omani Literature can be attributed to Oman not having come under the influence of the Abbasid period; the golden age of Arabic literature. Furthermore, the majority of Omani literature produced in East Africa and Zanzibar in particular was consequently lost following the 1964 revolution.

This paper has presented various significant issues relating to the role of Zanzibar in Omani literature produced in East Africa, Oman and elsewhere. This has been highlighted through reviewing literary genres from the past to the contemporary period, namely: criticism, poetry, the art of the Maqama, autobiography, biography, travel literature and novels.

A number of the important outcomes of the paper are outlined as follows.

* The significant role of poetry as a cultural symbol within Zanzibari society is highlighted in the book, Zanzibar Story – A Pure Historical Account (Juhainat Al Akhbar Fi Tareekh Zinjibar)(19th A.D)

* The role of poetry in underlining the importance of national unity and reflect Omani aspirations of independence from Western colonization reflected in, the divan Al Bahlani (1928)

* Proof of the existence of the old art form of the Maqamat (in terms of form and content) in modern Omani Literature through the book Maqamaat Abi Al Hareth written in 1950.

* In the autobiography Memoirs of an Arabian Princess, rewritten in 1960s, Zanzibar was not merely a background of events but an exploration of the author’s feelings of alienation and identity crisis through the flashback technique of narration.

* The autobiography An Omani Adventure in the African woods: A life story of Hamed bin Mohammed Al Margibi (Al Margibi n.d.) largely shows the impact of East Africa and Zanzibar, as a space, with all the region’s events and powerful relationships, in turning a man’s life from a simple person to a mythical character.

* The book Journey of Abe Al Hareth (1915) combines the author’s geographical and historical depiction of locations, along with his personal feelings in a literary style gathered poetry and prose.

* The book journey Voyages in the Virgin Islands; Zanzibar, Thailand, Vietnam, Andalusia, and the Empty Quarter. (2004) clarifies the author’s trip to Zanzibar as a result of a moment of awakening that motivates him to visit Zanzibar. In his narration, the author enhances the reader’s entertainment by a style of writing combining paradox and irony.

* The biography the Pioneer, Professor Fatma bint Salem Al Mammary (1911-2002), A Historical, Documentary and Academic Study written 2008, asserts that exposure to various cultures expands conceptual horizons. Thus the outcome was the pioneer Fatma Salem exceeding her time and location.

* Zanzibar in the novel “Perambulation Around the Embers” (1999) was applied as a space of self discovery and its actualisation.

الكاتب: Asyah Al Bualy

Born in Zanzibar on 1962, An Omani citizen. PhD. in criticism with Honours from Cairo University in May 2000. The posts that she has held have been Assistant Professor at Sultan Qaboos University, from August 2000 until June 2006. Since June 2006, she has been working at the Research Council, as Adviser for culture and humanities upon a Royal Order by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. The content on this space is written by Dr. Asyah, it is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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