The Swahili and English title pages of the booklet emphasised that William Frank was himself a Ribe (the autonym is arihe, singular murihe). A couple of months later I came across a quite different book by him, a collection of Swahili poems entitled Diwani Yangu (“My Anthology”). Frank’s preface was dated July 1975, but he died the following year and the collection wasn’t published until 1979. The back cover summarises his life and work:
The late William Frank was born in 1922 in Kilifi District on the Kenya coast. In 1949 he joined the publishing department of the East African High Commission and worked there until his death in 1976. When he was there he composed many poems which were published in [the newspapers] ‘Taifa Leo’ and ‘Baraza’ and he won a number of prizes for his poetry. In addition he translated ‘Emil na Wapelelezi’ [Erich Kästner’s 1929 novel, originally published as Emil und die Detektive] and parts of ‘Kenya Farmer’ [Journal of the Agricultural Society of Kenya]. He also wrote ‘Juma Mtoto Yatima’ [“Juma the Orphan-child”, a fiction published in 1974 under the pseudonym Tonge Nyama]. (my translation of the Swahili blurb)
Ronald Ngala’s Nchi na Desturi za Wagiriama (“The Country and Customs of the Giriama”) published earlier in the same series? What were his own political views?
Frank, William 1979. Diwani Yangu (Johari za Kiswahili 19). Nairobi: Kenya Literature Bureau.
Geider, Thomas 2002. The Paper Memory of East Africa: Ethnohistories and Biographies Written in Swahili. In Axel Harneit-Sievers (ed.) A Place in the World: New Local Historiographies from Africa and South Asia. Leiden: Brill. 255-288.
Kästner, Erich 1973. Emil na Wapelelezi (translated by William Frank). Kampala: East African Literature Bureau.
Maddox, Gregory H. 1995. Introduction: The Ironies of Historia, Mila na Desturi za Wagogo. In Mathias E. Mnyampala, The Gogo: History, Customs, and Traditions (translated, introduced and edited by Gregory H. Maddox). Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe. 1-34.
Ngala, Ronald G. 1949. Nchi na Desturi za Wagiriama. Nairobi: The Eagle Press.
Nyama, Tonge [William Frank] 1974. Juma Mtoto Yatima. Nairobi: Kenya Literature Bureau.
Topan, Farouk 1997. Biography Writing in Swahili. History in Africa 24: 299-307.