Friday, 3 July 2009


I started this occasional blog by posting short articles that I'd already written and (in all but one case) published. 'Occasional' became an understatement when I started scanning and posting papers and other miscellaneous writings to the document-sharing website Scribd. I've now uploaded more than 170 files to Scribd, including my doctoral dissertation (1984) about Usangu and a collection of research assistants' notebooks from western and central Kenya. I've still got a way to go, and haven't begun to scan notebooks written in Swahili by assistants in Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania.

One of the advantages of doing this is that I can now link directly to files on Scribd and/or embed them in the text of this blog. Here's an example, a poster shown at a conference in Oxford in 2007:

And here's a paper about the Zanzibar leopard:

To view and/or download these (and other documents) use the Scribd toolbar at the top of the windows.


  1. Hello Martin Walsh

    Thank you for this really beautiful website, a labour of love. I stumbled into it during my research for a rejoinder in Young Professionals Google group (Kenya) which I wrote just now. I was looking up migration of the Digos in the 17th century and found some interesting info here.

    Idle question:
    Were the Digos not forced to migrate by other tribes from the north east before they landed in the coast? Who was there at that time and could it be said that people generally settled here after being pushed out from somewhere else? If you have time....

    Otherwise power to you with your website.

    Mohamed Jiwa

  2. Hi Mohamed, many thanks for your comment and support. In answer to your question: there are conflicting views about the legendary migration of the Digo and other Mijikenda from Singwaya (Shungwaya) in the north - and a lot of ink has been spilled over this. I put forward my own arguments for the longer presence of the Digo in their current location in an article published in 1992 ('Mijikenda Origins: A Review of the Evidence', available on Scribd) and this view is supported by the work of Richard Helm and other archaeologists. At the same time I think it likely that some ancestors of the Digo and other Mijikenda did come from the north, and were pushed south by the Galla (Oromo) as the traditions suggest. But by no means all of them. Other local histories (plus linguistic evidence) suggest a much longer history of interaction between Digo/Mijikenda-speakers and the Swahili-speaking Vumba and Chifundi of the southern Kenya coast, implying that the former were already in situ.

    Martin Walsh