Abu Amirah’s Swahilification of Mutembei branches from the common structure I have come to expect in the shortlisted Writivism 2016 short stories I have read and reviewed so far. The Swahilification of Mutembei is a leisurely descriptive read, unrushed in its plot progression and pacing in a classic example of form follows function. It took me a while to piece this together as I peeled away the layers beneath this unassuming read.
Choosing to take the scenic route, Abu Amirah paints an idyllic setting; a discourse between two men over a game of draft. From the friendly dialogue between Mutembei and Nasoro, Abu lazily manages to craft a story stretching from the past, the present and the future. Only later do we understand the plot, hinted at in the title.
Abu’s writing style reminds me of Arab cultural etiquette from which Swahili people heavily borrow. Reading requires patience as the story unfolds from a myriad of tangential arcs until finally arriving at the heart of the story. I found this to be an interesting take to story telling. The style is cultural, personal and laidback much as the theme carries a serious undertone – unfulfilled expectations.
Abu Amirah is spot-on in capturing the East African coastal setting of his story. The delivery requires some getting used to, and on a second and a third reading, one begins to appreciate his style. That said, I felt a couple of words and phrases sprinkled here and there weakened the general flow of the story, jarring me back to reality. But overall, I believe Abu achieved what he set out to do. But don’t take my word for it. Make your own judgment. Read his short story here >>>http://munyori.org/fiction/the-swahilification-of-mutembei-by-abu-amirah-kenya/<<<