You are here

Bead Bai - A story of the Indian-African Bead Artisans

Talk & Book Signing with SULTAN SOMJEE
Thursday, March 15, 2018
6:30pm to 8:00pm

Banyen Books & Sound
3608 West 4th Ave.

Join the author Sultan Somjee at Banyen Books for an engaging introduction to his book Bead Bai.

The historical novel explores the tradition of exchange and trade of beads between the Khoja (East African/Indian) women and local Kenyan tribes in the early 1900’s. Bead Bais were the Indian women of this era who worked as bead vendors and embroiderers known by the Gujarati name bā’ī.

Based on true events, this book traces the life of Sakina, a second-generation Indian woman of a merchant family in early 1900's British East Africa. Sakina is an embroidery artist growing up in the shanty town of Indian Nairobi, at that time a railroad settlement in Kenya Colony. At home there are many storytellers including her stepmother, grandfather and uncle whose stories blend like a tapestry of India and Africa and flare her child’s imagination. These stories illuminate & weave cultures of food, language and traditional textile art such as bandhari shawls. In her tormented married life, while becoming a woman, Sakina finds comfort in the art of the beadwork of the Maasai.

Sultan Somjee was born In Kenya into an extended bead merchant family. He believes writing has offered him a means to continue the lineage of orally relayed stories, through delving into the art of adornment and a history that shapes his own identity. Sultan has been recognized by the United Nations for his efforts in utilizing cultural exhibitions to further peace seeking initiatives in volatile regions. He now lives in Burnaby, BC.