Metatextualities in the Kenyan Swahili novel: A case study reading of Kyallo Wamitila’s Dharau ya Ini
Contemporary Swahili novels transgress the boundaries of the novel text itself. They employ metatextualities of different categories in order to fulfil a variety of functions. In this article, I explore metatextualities in the Kenyan Swahili novel, and provide a case study reading of one of the novels by the prolific and award-winning writer Kyallo Wadi Wamitila. My reading of Wamitila’s novel Dharau ya Ini (2007) concentrates on metanarration and metareference. I analyse how narration, especially point of view, is used and how it is discussed and reflected upon by the text and in the text itself (metanarration). I also focus on instances of metareference, especially on references to oral literature and to the literary genres of drama and poetry, as part of a work of prose. These analyses are done through a close reading informed by current research on metatextualities, and, in one of the examples, by phonostylistics. This study is led by the following overall objectives: first, it aims to show how Swahili novel writing as an instance of literature in African languages participates in global discourses on, and practices in, literature and the arts. Secondly, in a perspective of East(ern) African literature, it argues that Swahili literature and literary studies provide stimuli to literary theory and practice otherwise still dominated by its Anglophone counterpart in the region (and, of course, beyond). Thirdly, as regards the domain of Swahili literature, it reflects the crucial impact of Kenyan writing since about the turn of the millennium, in a sphere hitherto dominated by writers from Tanzania.
Keywords: metatextuality, metanarration, metareference, Kenyan literature, Swahili novel, Kyallo Wadi Wamitila.