East Africa as a Literary and Linguistic Contact Zone—Some First Reflections on it as from the Southern Pacific

Robert James Smith, J. S. Ryan


The overall East African literary landscape is dominated by oral literature, and the two cited languages, English and Swahili, must stand out. Today their most dynamic contact zones are located in Kenya and Tanzania. Swahili studies and Anglophone African literary studies have long dominated the formal study of literature in East Africa, and are now extending into two new contact languages, Sheng and Engsh, and the literature emerging from these language masses. Prominent features are code-switching, issues of translation, and the mix of narrative and public health knowledge on the topic of HIV/AIDS. This article surveys these issues, with one eye to the South Pacific parallel, and amongst the cultural lament finds much wry humour expressed.

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