The paper surveys issues explored in some Swahili works written mainly in the colonial, independence, and postindependence periods. Central to the issues is the writers' perception of their position as citizens, and their relationship to those who govern them. The "nationalist" agenda, commencing in the nineteenth century, manifests itself in different ways in the three periods. Authors express opposite attitudes during the colonial period: of gratitude for being freed (as slaves), and yet of wanting greater freedom through the practice of law. Independence brings euphoria, and with it, a "looking back" in history, which sees unity transcending ethnic differences. Finally, the paper assesses the response given by authors to problems that arise in the postindependence period; in particular, it surveys Nyerere's vision of ujamaa as a policy for the betterment of Tanzania. The paper also mentions the effects of globalization, with a clique within the multinationals virtually dominating the economy of developing countries.