Meg Arenberg speaks with Swahili poet and journalist Mohammed Ghassani about how fellow Zanzibaris have received the news of Abdulrazak Gurnah's Nobel prize, Ghassani's experience living abroad, and how the themes of alienation and longing in Gurnah's novels overlap with Ghassani's poetry, in particular his collection N'na Kwetu (I Have a Home, There is a We), which won him the first Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature in 2015.
At the close of the interview, Ghassani and Meg read together from the collection, a poem titled "Kama Wewe," interspersing the Swahili original with Meg's English translation titled, "Your Equal."
Mohammed Khelef Ghassani was born in 1977 in Zanzibar and is author of several collections of poetry, including Andamo: Msafiri Safirini, Siwachi Kusema: Uhuru U Kifungoni, Kalamu ya Mapinduzi: Mapambano Yanaendelea, and N'na Kwetu: Sauti ya Mgeni Ugenini. In addition to his poetry, Mohammed Ghassani is a journalist living and working in Bonn, Germany.
Meg Arenberg is a writer, translator and scholar. She is a postdoctoral fellow in AMESALL at Rutgers University and Managing Director of the Radical Books Collective.