MUSCAT: Fatma bint Mohammed bin Salem al Barwani, commonly known by the name ‘Fatma Jinja’, passed away in Zanzibar recently at the age of 87. Fatma was a Zanzibari authoress of Omani origin. She was born in Zanzibar on February 13, 1930, where she lived up until her death.
Apart from her autobiography, ‘Gone With the Tide’, Fatma has written four books in English language using the theme of romance as a basis of her novels. These novels are: ‘Children of Their Own God’, ‘The Valley Of Shadows’, ‘The Shirazy Enigma’ and ‘The Amulet of Nairouz’.
A series of Interviews given by Fatma have been documented in ‘Reminiscences from a Golden Past’, a book written by Dr Asyah al Bualy.
Reflected in her interviews is her emphasis on life being a great paradox. Fatma was the lifeblood of her martyred father as she considered his martyrdom the greatest legacy she had inherited.
Fatma found the concept of love as being very complex to define. From her point of view, love without respect is merely a weak form of love. In her opinion, any novel or story that does not include an element of romance is likely to make the reader’s experience rather dry. Her interviews in ‘Reminiscences from a Golden Past’ caught the attention of numerous Omani authors, as evident from articles they penned which were published in various Omani Arabic newspapers.
These articles reflected great admiration towards her character. Awadh al Lowihi’s article titled ‘Fatma Jinja’ asserted that it was not possible for merely any woman to be Fatma Jinja. Mohamed al Rahbi described her unique and outstanding character in an article named ‘Fatma is a Marvelous Omani Name’. Artist and film director Haithum Suliman said that Jinja is a perfect cinematic character, summarising his ideas in his article ‘Al Bualy in Granting Jinja Scenes behind the Dialogues’.
Zahir al Mahroqi’s piece ‘Fatma Jinja and the Sealed Files’ states that she is a significant starting point towards the revelation of the unknown.
Beside her literary works, Fatma was known for her charisma and great sense of humour, her ample generosity, her love of people and her humanness.
Daughter of the martyr Mohamed Salim al Barwani, she grew up spending time at the palace in Zanzibar. She is also a mother of ten children. She is also the mother-in-law of former Zanzibar president Amani Karume.
She was laid to rest at her farm in ‘Kiboje’. May Allah have mercy on her, rest her soul in eternal peace and grant strength to her bereaved family to bear this irreparable loss.