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Periodical article Periodical article
Title:The Social Context of Utendi wa Mwanakupona
Author:Njozi, H.M.
Periodical:Frankfurter Afrikanistische Blätter
Geographic term:Kenya
Discipline:Anthropology & Ethnology
Subjects:Swahili - society
Abstract:The Kiswahili poem Utendi wa Mwanakupona was composed around 1850 by Mwanakupona, a woman from Pate island who lived in Shela, on the island of Lamu. Mwanakupona, it is said, was on her deathbed when she composed this poem to instruct her daughter, who was about to get married, on how to promote peace and harmony in her marital life. The article tries to explain the continuing popularity of the poem among Swahili women on the East African coast. Two possible explanations have been offered in the literature: servile fatalism on the part of Swahili women, and interpretational ambiguity arising from the poem's complexity. These explanations are inadequate and the poem should be seen in its social and historical context. Another factor accounting for the lasting appeal of the poem could be its effectiveness in promoting peace and harmony in marital life. (Source: ASC Documentation).