Making my voice heard through writing

Tuesday April 23 2019


By Elizabeth Tungaraza

Ismail Himu is a Swahili book writer. He has more than 8 years of experience in writing novels, plays and poems. With a degree in Geography and Environment from Dodoma University, apart from writing books, Ismail is also engaged in agricultural activities and small-scale entrepreneurship. Success magazine interviewed him about his work in the literary world.

Give us a brief summary about your books.

Up to now I have four books which are ‘Chanzo ni wewe’, ‘Wakilia tutacheka’, ‘Tumaini Afrika’, ‘Usasa usasambu’ and ‘Njia imepatikana’. ‘Chanzo ni wewe’ was published in 2015, this is my first book based on the challenges and problems facing street children in developing countries (Cities) especially Dar es Salaam. This book has explored topics such as HIV and AIDS, drugs abuse, and relationships.

‘Wakilia tutacheka’, is a book I published in 2016. The book tells us about the impacts of corruption. It further shows how African leaders misuse public office for their own benefit. Not only that but also the book highlights how people with albinism struggle because of outdated traditional beliefs and family conflicts.

‘Usasa usasambu,’ sheds light on the negative impact of globalization and how science and technology changes people. The book shows how children use technology in ways that are not productive.

The last one is ‘Njia imepatikana’, this is a new book that came out last year. It is a motivational book. It shows how global the problem of unemployment is. That even developed countries suffer from unemployment. The book motivates young people to work harder.


Which books are used at Universities in Tanzania for reference?

Books which are used in Dar es Salaam of Dar es Salaam, University of Dodoma, SAUT and Mkwawa are Chanzo ni Wewe, Usasa usasambu and Njia Imepatikana.

How do you come up with names for your characters?

Theme of the book makes me choose the name of a character. I choose the character to match societies too. For example in the book ‘Usasa Usasambu’ you will finds names from Coastal areas, names like Mwanawima, Mwanaharusi Mwinyikheri reflect coastal people.

Who is the most supportive person in your life when it comes to your writing?

My family and some of my friends are my biggest supporters. When I experience financial problems sometimes my family and friends support me and this makes me work hard so as to achieve my dreams.

Nowadays things are done online, do you have any writing blogs you recommend for further reading?

I don’t have any blogs but I am in the process to create one.

What is your favorite time to write and why?

My favourite time to write is during the night and early in the morning; these are the best times for me because there is silence during these hours and it is easy for me to focus and concentrate on my writing.

How do you think being a writer has helped you as a person?

Writing has always been something near and dear to my heart. I do enjoy writing, I may not be able to speak loud but through my pen my voice is heard loud and clear. Writing is part of my life. I write when I am angry, sad, happy or bored. All this helps me to communicate with the community.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

After publishing the first book, I became more confident and I told myself now I have to pay more attention and continue with writing books. I got feedback that changed my approach.

How much do you spend in the publication of your books?

I spent about Sh1.5 million to produce Usasa Usasambu – including designing, printing and marketing costs. Such an amount is lot for me but I’m just following my passion.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have in store?

I have two unfinished books, one is a novel and the other is a play.

What kind of research do you do and how long do you spend researching before beginning to write a book?

Before I start writing anything I do research, it is very difficult to write anything without doing deep research of what I am going to write about. For example, I use observational research and interview research. All these help me to get in-depth information. It can take up to three months or more to gather the data and information for a particular book I’m working on.