Swahili Permutations: Ngoma and Identity in the Lamu Archipelago

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This essay highlights the ways in which ngoma (a music and dance event) has been used as a tool of identity formation by the Swahili who live in and around the Lamu Archipelago, off
the northern Kenya coast. Drawing on historical sources and ethnographic research, the ngoma traditions examined here demonstrate how the Swahili in this region have integrated
newcomers, visitors, and slaves, and continuously incorporate new ideas and practices into their culture. Ngoma performed o mark passage through the life cycle, to protect against
the dangers of slash-and-burn farming, to pray for rain, and to celebrate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (maulidi [in Swahili]; maulid [in Arabic])-each within a framework of
competition-offer illustrative examples.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationWorld on the Horizon : Swahili arts across the Indian Ocean
StatePublished - Mar 23 2018


  • Swahili
  • Kenyan Culture
  • Ethnography
  • Ngoma


  • Anthropology
  • Social and Cultural Anthropology

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