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Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

Ms Aïsha Schmitt

MA (London)


Aisha Schmitt
Ms Aïsha Schmitt
Email address:
Thesis title:
Beyond Praising the Prophet: Making New Meanings in Zanzibari Qasida
Internal Supervisors


I am a PhD Candidate in the Department of Languages and Cultures of Africa, sponsored by the AHRC.

PhD Research

My thesis explores contemporary qasidas, Islamic hymns, from Zanzibar that are performed during two types of maulidi ceremonies, Maulidi ya Barzanji and Maulidi ya Homu. The core issues are the textual and performative features of the genre. It also looks into the socio-historic backgrounds of the groups and audiences and the aesthetics of qasida arising from them. Intertextualities within the genre, with other local and translocal musical and literary genres, situate qasida within Swahili literature as well as tracing the construction of textual spaces and meanings. Lastly, the thesis examines qasida in the urban landscape, looking at media investigating the market for commercial recordings and qasida on mobile phones (mobiles as music players, religious poetry in text messages); and considering qasida both as an alternative to and as existing alongside other youth cultures focusing on Bongo/Zenji-Flava (Tanzanian Hip-hop).

PhD Publications


09/2010 ‘Jalla Jalaluh Mola Wahidu – “The Majestic, God is One”: A Sufi Performance in Zanzibar, Tanzania.’ CHOTRO III Local Knowledge - Global Translations The Imagination & the Images of Indigenous Communities in the twenty-first Century. Delhi and Chail, India.
05/2009 ‘Kusoma Qasida: An Oral or a Written Genre?’ 22. Swahili Kolloquium. Bayreuth, Germany.
08/2008 ‘Comorian Twarab Poetry: The Making of a Tradition.’ Dialogue between Civilizations, Zanzibar Indian Ocean Research Institute Conference. Zanzibar, Tanzania
05/2008 ‘Duniya – Mohamed Hassan’s Twarab Songs.’ 21. Swahili Kolloquium. Bayreuth, Germany.
01/2008 ‘“Nothing will remain of this world” : continuity and creativity in Mohamed Hassan’s Poetry.’ CHOTRO Janajatis: Language, Literature, History, Culture. Delhi, India.


2009 ‘“Nothing will remain of this world” : Continuity and Creativity in Mohamed Hassan’s Twarab Poetry.’ Indigeneity: Culture and Representation. Proceedings of the 2008 Chotro Conference on Indigenous Languages, Culture and Society. Hrsg. Von GN Devy, Geoffrey Davis & KK Chakravarty. Delhi: Orient Black Swan.