Three novels of John Habwe: Social criticism through “new enlightenment”

  • Mikhail D. Gromov United States International University Kenya


 John Habwe is one of the most established and prolific writers in modern Kenyan literature in Swahili language, whose writing career now spans for more than two decades 1. Despite his productivity and fame in the literary and reading circles, Habwe so far seems to have gained a rather timid attention from the critics. His first three novels were reviewed, among others, by Kyallo Wadi Wamitila in his survey of Kenyan novel in the new edition of Outline of Swahili Literature (Bertoncini et al., 2009). In that survey Wamitila noticed, along with other traits, Habwe’s tangible inclination towards “Enlightenment-type” didacticism. Thus, before we start the analysis of the texts chosen for this study, it would be advisable to provide a brief outline of the main traits of Enlightenment and its literature.

Key words: Habwe, enlightenment, Swahili, literature, Kenya

Author Biography

Mikhail D. Gromov, United States International University Kenya

Mikhail D. Gromov is the Assistant Professor of Literature at the United States International University in Nairobi. MA in African literature and Swahili language at Moscow Lomonosov State University (1989); Ph.D. (1993) and Dr. Lett. (2005) at Gorky Institute of World Literature (Moscow). Published a number of works on modern Swahili literature. Areas of interest: literatures of Eastern and Southern Africa in English and indigenous languages, Swahili literature, comparative literature.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1998-1279