The relative exclusion of popular song vis-à-vis other forms of expression in scholarship on African literature and oral verbal art is a serious oversight that needs to be reconsidered and rectified. This article constitutes a comparative analysis of two wordsmiths from East Africa whose works embody the salient relationships and overlapping tendencies of works considered "high" literary art and popular songs, which are thought to constitute a different type of artistic productivity. A consideration of the poetry and prose of Shaaban Robert, one of the giants of Swahili literature, in conjunction with the songs of Samba Mapangala, a popular singer who has become a household name in East Africa, reveals that there are significant points of contact between both popular songs and other forms of verbal art in the region.


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pp. 99-120
Launched on MUSE
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