The ZMO-Baraza – Presentation and discussion sessions in Swahili


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Baraza 2019

Baraza 2011/12

Baraza 2010/11

Baraza 2009/10



The Swahili term baraza describes informal meetings and regular discussion rounds among neighbours and friends that occur in everyday street life on the Swahili coast, usually in front of houses and in a casual atmosphere. The term also signifies the location where these gatherings commonly take place: the stone benches on the outer walls of houses in East African coastal towns. These gatherings give locals the opportunity to communally discuss, interpret and question any topics of interest to the attendees and may include the latest news and gossip as well as cultural topics, and religious and political conversations and discussions. In this spirit, the baraza constitutes a place and time for the exchange of knowledge within a familiar social context.
The ZMO-baraza is a Swahili-speaking meeting point, a kind of jour fixe for Swahilophone researchers, advanced students and interested members of the public. Each meeting is ranked around a talk or presentation that may be more or less academic in character; from research papers to biographical accounts a broad range of topics can be covered in this ongoing series of informal discussions. On the one hand, as a platform for academic exchange on research-related topics, the ZMO-baraza is open to contributions in disciplines ranging from linguistics, literature and history, over to political science, philosophy and social anthropology. It thus acts as a platform for the presentation and discussion of research as well as literary documentation and translation. On the other hand, the ZMO-baraza offers a space for literary and biographical presentations by East African authors, poets and other personalities, and for discussions with them.


The very first ZMO-baraza took place in July 2008 with two prominent guests from Kenya: The Kenyan poet Ustadh Ahmad Nassir who recited a selection of his poems and the former politician and Islamic scholar, Sheikh Abdilahi Nassir who gave a speech on “Kenyan Muslims and the Righting of Historical Injustices: the Case of Mwambao” Link.


Baraza - events 2010/11

Since the winter term 2009/10 the ZMO-baraza has been jointly organized by Kai Kresse (ZMO, Berlin) and Lutz Diegner (Humboldt University, Berlin). Unless otherwise announced, it takes place at the ZMO every first Thursday of the month at 4pm.


Thursday, July 7th, 2011, 4 pm, ZMO

MWAMKO WA WAISLAM DHIDI YA MFUMO KRISTO KATIKA TANZANIA – Islamic Resistance against Christian Hegemony in Tanzania

Baraza with Mohamed Said (Independent Scholar, Tanzania)

Mohamed Said gave a talk on the relationships between Muslims and Christians in Tanzania. He is the author of “The Life and Times of Abdulwahid Sykes (1924-1968). The Untold Story of Muslim Struggle Against British Colonialism in Tanganyika” and was a guest at the ZMO in July 2011. He is currently working in a book project called “Islamic Movements and Christian Hegemony in Tanzania”. The observation of discrimination against Muslims in their own country led him to stress their historic entanglements in the struggle for independence.



Thursday, May 31st, 2011, 4 pm, HU

MATUMIZI YA KISWAHILI AFRIKA YA MASHARIKI– The Use of the Swahili Language in East Africa

Baraza with Shaban Mlacha (Universität of Dodoma, Tanzania)

Shaaban Mlacha, Professor and Vice-Chancellor of University of Dodoma, gave us an insight into the different public spheres in which Swahili is used in East Africa. He presented especially the developments and challenges of the last decade in various fields like radio, newspapers, mobile phones, television, internet and politics. His attention was particularly directed to the influence of these media on the characteristics and qualities of the respective use of Swahili.



Thursday, May 10th, 2011, 4 pm, HU, IAAW - Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften, Raum 410

CHANGAMOTO YA KIKENYA (?) – MAENDELEO YA RIWAYA YA KISWAHILI BAADA YA UHURU WA MIAKA 50- The Kenyan Challenge(?) – (Dis)Continuity of the Swahili Novel after 50 years of Independence

Baraza with Lutz Diegner (HU, Berlin)

In his comprehensive overview Lutz Diegner outlined the diverse developments of the modern Swahili novel of the last five decades in Tanzania and Kenya. The key question was: Is there a national competition between the two East African countries Tanzania and Kenya? Mwalimu Luti explained the differences as well as the similarities of production, distribution and reception of the Swahili novel in both of the countries, to later discuss the topic of national competition.


Audiodocumentation of the baraza Mp3


Thursday, April 14th,  2011, 4 pm, ZMO

KISWAHLI NA "VILUGHA"? TANZANIA NA LUGHA ZAKE ZA KIASILI – MITAZAMO YA KITAALUMA NA YA KIJAMII – Kiswahili and ‚vilugha‘? Tanzania and its indigenous languages – scholarly and social considerations

Baraza with Kristina Riedel (ZAS, Berlin)

Kristina Riedel presented the vast diversity of languages spoken in Tanzania. She illustrated the many challenges for linguistic studies in the light of this wealth of languages. Furthermore she mooted the complex consequences for politics, the education system and the society in Tanzania.


Thursday, February 3rd, 2011, 4 pm, ZMO

Muhamadi Kijuma, mshairi kutoka kisiwa cha Lamu: maisha yake na tungo zake - Muhamadi Kijuma, a author of the isle Lamu: his life and poetry

Baraza with Clarissa Vierke (Bayreuth)

Audiodocumentation of the baraza Mp3


Thursday, January 6th, 2011, 4 pm, ZMO

Harakati za wahubiri wa Kiislamu nchini Tanzania na Kenya

Baraza with Ahmed Chanfi (Berlin)


Thursday, December 2nd, 2010, 4 pm, ZMO


Baraza with Ridder Samsom (Universität Hamburg)

Ridder Samsom provided insights into Swahili Women’s Poetry of the East African Coast using the example of the lullaby Howani mwana howani. He told us about his own research experiences as well as the perspectives on Swahili Women’s Poetry from the different disciplines Literature, History, Anthropology and Linguistics. With the help of Sauda Barwani-Sheikh and Jasmin Mahazi he presented vivid poetry - both chanted and recited.


Audiodocumentation of the baraza Mp3


Thursday, November 4th, 2010, 4pm, ZMO

MAISHA YANGU UJERUMANI ENZI ZA VITA BARIDI – My life in Germany during the cold war

Baraza with Vitale Kazimoto (Berlin)

Mzee Kazimoto who has taught Swahili in Berlin for a long time reported about the varied stages, people and times of his life. We learned about his youth in Tanzania and his college life in Moscow, Uppsala, Berlin and Leipzig. He told us about his journeys through different countries, about his companions and about historic events like the fall of the Berlin wall.