Ustadh Mau Swahili Muslim Library

The Ustadh Mau collection in Lamu, Kenya holds treasured Swahili ajami knowledge and historical memories that have documented coastal identity and values. This project works to preserve materials that have recorded the island's literary history and education.

Mahmoud Ahmed Abdulkadir, locally known as Ustadh Mau, is an eminent poet and imam from Lamu island, Kenya. His private library houses Swahili Muslim manuscript poetry in ajami, and booklets and memoirs from the Middle East and India. Besides manuscript and print material, his library treasures include audio cassettes of his Friday sermons, delivered since 1986 from the oldest surviving mosque on Lamu. Mau’s Swahili poetry and sermons reflect on education, social justice, morality and piety; his memoirs narrate his thirst for knowledge and his social commitment. The project will enhance accessibility to an important Islamic heritage hub of Swahili intellectual history and poetic production.

Project Details


Location: Kenya, Eastern Africa, Africa Organiser(s): Modern Endangered Archives Programme (MEAP) Project partner(s): Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS) Funder(s): Arcadia Funding received: $35,866.00 Commencement Date: 07/2022 Project Status: Active
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