The Swahili Coast

The Swahili Coast - th century. The lowest status is of the...

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The Swahili Coast The Swahili Coast is the shoreline of East Africa from Somalia to Mozambique. You might be wondering who these Swahilis are. Well, let’s begin from the very start. With the population of about a half million, Swahili is influenced by Arab, Persian and Indian cultures. Swahili people claim that they have a particular, specific identity in cultural terms. In fact, there identity is quite unique but yet not identical. Under the umbrella term of Swahili, people have formed groups and each group is distinct from the rest in terms of profession, social life and social standards. There are three basic levels of the Swahili society. The highest level is of the Arab rulers who descended from the Sultanate of Zanzibar. These are the people who migrated from Oman in the 18 th century with the objective of forming a colonial state. The second rank is of the Arab colonists who inhabited this coastal area in the late 19 th century and the 20
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Unformatted text preview: th century. The lowest status is of the slaves. Surprisingly yet not surprisingly they form nearly half of the population of Swahili! As time passed, the Arabs and the slaves collaborated, adopted the native Swahili language and named themselves ‘Swahilis’. However, the collaboration and cooperation did not make much difference to the class level. In contemporary times, many people from the labor class tried fitting in the Swahili society and emigrated from other African areas. But they are not considered Swahilis and would not be in the foreseeable future either. The records and evidences that history provides point towards the fact that Swahilis originate from Africa. However, it is not denied that many characteristics of their social order are influenced by Arabia and India. But the Swahilis themselves do not relate themselves to African or Asian origin. So hats off to the ‘unique’ civilization of Swahili coast!...
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This document was uploaded on 10/27/2011 for the course BBA MG221 at NUCES - Lahore.

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