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Interdisciplinary roundtable: Commitment, Islam and Social Justices in Mahmoud Ahmed Abdulkadir’s Swahili Poetry

Tuesday 23 May 2023
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
147 and online via Zoom, see information below

On May 23 an interdisciplinary roundtable around the topic of “Commitment, Islam and social justices in Mahmoud Ahmed Abdulkadir’s Swahili poetry” will be held at Leiden University.

The event is part of Mahmoud Ahmed Abdulkadir’s visit at African Studies Centre Leiden and Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society. Mahmoud Ahmed Abdulkadir is a poet, imam and intellectual born in 1952 on Lamu island (Kenya). By means of poetry in Arabic script, Friday sermons, simple daily advice and books, the poet guides his people and raises his voice against social ills and injustices troubling his community.  

For this occasion poems clustered around societal and universal topics have been selected such as: Mama Musimlaumu (“Don’t blame the mother”), Haki za Watoto (“Children’s rights”),  Wasiya wa Mabanati (“Advice to the young girls”) or UKIMWI (“HIV”). Invited scholars in the field of Islam, Literature and Anthropology, will be asked to ‘reply’ to one of these works by shedding light relevant aspects and/or bringing examples from their fields and areas. 10 min. will be dedicated to every speaker and then 15-20 mins for general questions.



Walking in and word of welcome by Mahmoud Ahmed Abdulkadir, Clarissa Vierke and Annachiara Raia


Roundtable with invited speakers


Farouk Topan (Aga Khan University)


Mayke Kaag (ASCL Leiden, UvA)


Aldin Mtembei (Dar es Salam University, Tanzania)


Kai Kresse (FU Berlin)


Frans Willem Korsten (LUCAS)


Q&A , general discussion


Books presentations


In This Fragile World (Raia, A., Vierke, C. (Eds.))
In This Fragile World – Swahili Poetry of Commitment by Ustadh Mahmoud Mau | Brill, 2023


Muslim cultures of the Indian Ocean Muslim cultures of the Indian Ocean: diversity and pluralism, past and present (Pradines, S. Topan, F. (Eds.)). Aga Khan University-ISMC; Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2023


Final remarks and conclusion by Tom Hoogervorst

The event is planned to be hybrid and sees the cooperation of Leiden Centre for Indian Ocean Studies (Tom Hoogervorst , Mahmoud Kooria) and Leiden University Centre for Islam in Society (Nathal Dessing).  

A poetry evening will follow afterwards at 8pm, Index Poetry Bookshop (Herenstraat 85 Leiden) and on May 24 at 19:30 at La Stanza Bookshop (Noordeinde 98, Den Haag). At these events, Mahmoud Ahmed Abdulkadir will read from his own poetry in the local language.

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