The year 2009 will remain special in my life as a writer. I published my first book in Swahili, a collection of articles I wrote for a Tanzanian weekly newspaper.
I accepted the invitation to write these articles with some trepidation, even though I found the challenge alluring. I did not have the experience of sustained writing in Swahili. I knew that I had to discipline myself and write in formal Swahili, devoid of code switching.
To sharpen my Swahili and build my confidence, I read the writings of Shaaban Robert, the doyen of Swahili writing in our era. I read his Maisha Yangu na Baada ya Miaka Hamsini, Adili na Nduguze, and Kusadikika, all available from Mkuki na Nyota Publishers.
The choice of topics was entirely mine. I wrote about political, economic, educational and cultural issues pertaining to Tanzania, with constant references to the differences between Tanzanian and American realities.
Now Changamoto is out, in both printed and e-book formats. To call it a labour of love would be somewhat disingenuous and an understatement. Semantics aside, the experience of writing has been both purgatorial and humbling.
I rarely read my own publications. I prefer to be writing something else. However, even though this little book is far more modest than my other writings, I return to it again and again, reading parts of it, hearing my own voice, still wondering how I managed to write a book in Swahili.