Oral Histories

Because Swahili did not develop as a written language until the late nineteenth century the history of the Swahili Coast found expression in a rich oral tradition which continues to this day.

In 1995 Christine Walley, an American anthropologist now teaching at MIT, and the English naturalist Dudley Iles recorded oral histories, folk tales and traditions, together with details of the natural environment. Shortly afterwards Lowell Brower, now at Harvard, also visited Chole and recorded many more folk tales, morality tales, tales of cunning and tales of the natural world.  Four of those oral histories are available below.

Many hours of video and audio were recorded, which form an archive for the Chole community.

On Slavery

The Oral History of Abdallah Mohammed Kimbau October 1995


The Fisherman and the Jinni

A folktale as told by
Issa Ally


Kibaraka's Story

The Story of Kibaraka the Waterseller
by Bi Hamisa Farahani June 1995


Do you know the World, my Son?

told by
Mohammedi Ahmadi Aadam aged 48, farmer, father of six
A story inherited from his grandmother