AFRASO Lecture-Series: The Return of the Admiral: Re-fashioning Swahili Waters in the ‘Dragonfly Sea’

November 15th 2018


6.15 pm, room IG 411, ground floor of the Main Building at Campus Westend of the Goethe University, Norbert-Wollheim-Platz 1, 60323 Frankfurt



What does China’s creeping

return to Eastern Africa, by way of the

seas, portend for intimate and personal histories of a people

whose far and deep life stories are embedded in these

waters? What future might the ‘Swahili Seas’ imagine for

themselves in an ongoing (yet subtle) confrontation with

the tremendous weight of China’s ambitions that encompasses

a mutually remembered past? Yvonne Owuor’s

forthcoming novel, The Dragonfly Sea (to be published in

early 2019), is a micro-story of the vast Western Indian

Ocean (Swahili Seas) narratives and focuses on a young

woman’s coming-of-age on Pate Island, Lamu Archipelago,

Kenya, a mostly ‘unnoticed’ space, yet one of tremendous

import to significant ‘Indian’ Ocean happenings, including

and in particular, China’s East African return. The lecture is

a creative exploration of the themes in The Dragonfly Sea

which also highlights aspects of the intimacies that bind a

small, time-warped Kenyan Island with a giant China that

has stepped out with quiet but potent force into the world.



Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor is a writer from Nairobi,

Kenya. She studied English and History at Kenyatta University,

earned a Master of Arts degree at the University of

Reading, UK and later received an MPhil (Creative Writing)

from the University of Queensland, Brisbane. Her story

“The Weight of Whispers” won her the Caine Prize for African

Writing in 2003. Her debut novel, Dust, published in

2014 was the winner of the 2015 Jomo Kenyatta Literature

prize. Her second book, The Dragonfly Sea (Knopf) will be

available from March 2019. She is at present at the Wissenschaftskolleg

zu Berlin, working on her third novel with the

working title The Long Decay.

30. Oktober 2018