Swahili people - Wikipedia
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The Swahili occupy the coastal strip that goes, roughly, from Mogadishu in Somalia, to Sofala in Mozambique. This land includes also the many islands and archipelagos along the coast, plus the Comoros Archipelago; a land that stretches from the Indian Ocean to the first hills in the interior.
This is a land with reliable rainfall, which however depend on the monsoons and so has an element of unpredictability.
The eastern Africa coastal strip has been inhabited since time immemorial. Swahili culture appeared gradually and it is only by the IX century A.
There are early texts in Swahili, usually written with the Arabic alphabet, disseminated along the Kenyan and Tanzanian coast that date back to the X century. Archaeologists unearthed the ruins of about 40 settlements along this coast. These are the towns with permanent buildings erected with coral rag, stones and mangrove rafters.In Tribe We Trust
Hundreds more villages dotted the area, the huts being of rectangular shape and with thatched roofs. Some of the ruins are spectacular, like Gedi and Jumba la Mtwana in Kenya, where double-story houses are the norm.
Even more spectacular are the historical towns still lived in, like Lamu in Kenya and Stone City in Zanzibar. The Swahili were part of the larger community living on the shores of the Indian Ocean.
From time immemorial, merchants and travellers used the seasonal winds to move along the large arch from Mozambique to India. Trade shaped the Swahili people. They provided termite resistant mangrove poles, used in dockyards and buildings throughout the region. Sea shells found their way to India, where they were used in the ceramic industry.
Slaves, ivory, gold and other minerals were also exported to Asia from the ports along the African coast. The Swahili imported ceramics and textiles. Embroidered silks and blue cotton cloth were hugely prized. Well into the 19th century Egypt remained one of the most developed parts of the world.
Between the 14th and 17th centuries, the Ajuran Sultanate centered in modern-day Somalia practiced hydraulic engineering and developed new systems for agriculture and taxationwhich continued to be used in parts of the Horn of Africa as late as the 19th century. On the east coast of the continent Swahili traders linked the region into an Indian Ocean trading network, bringing imports of Chinese pottery and Indian fabrics in exchange for gold, ivoryand slaves.
Swahili Kingdoms created a prosperous trade empire, where occupied the territory of modern-day KenyaTanzania and Uganda. Swahili cities were important trading ports for trade with the Middle East and Far East. Low population densities made profitable commerce difficult. The massive barrier of the Congo rainforests were more imposing than the Sahara, blocking trade through the center of the continent.
It was the arrival of the Islamic armies that transformed the economies of much of Africa. Though Islam had comparatively little impact on North Africa where large cities, literacy, and centralized states had been the norm, Muslims were far more effective at penetrating the Sahara than Christians had been. This was largely due to the camelwhich had carried the Arab expansion and would soon after carry large amounts of trade across the desert.
A series of states developed in the Sahel on the southern edge of the Sahara which made immense profits from trading across the Sahara. The first of these was the Kingdom of Ghanareaching it peak in the 12th century. Soon, others such as the Mali Empire and Kanem-Bornualso arose in the region.
The main trade of these states was goldwhich was plentiful in Guinea. Also important was the trans-Saharan slave trade that shipped large numbers of slaves to North Africa. Many wealthy empires grew around coastal areas or large rivers that served as part of important trade routes.
Berber traders from the Sahel —a region south of the Sahara Desert —traded dates, copper, horses, weapons and cloth that they brought from north Africa in Camel trains. West Africans created a demand for salt, which was collected at desert oases, and which they used to preserve food as well as for seasoning it. There was an enormous group organized to undertake the Hajj with the king. It included "60, men, including servants" and records show that Mansa Musa gave out so much gold in Egypt, that its economy became depressed.
Yoruba civilization was supported by cities surrounded by farmed land, but extensive trade development made it wealthy. Bythe Bantu language -speaking people of Zimbabwe and Southern Africa developed extensive overseas trade with lands as far away as China and India, from which they received porcelain, beads, and Persian and Arab pots.
They traded domesticated beef rather than meat from game animalsiron, and ivory and gold. In some towns these were held every 3 or 4 days. Cloth, vegetables, meat, and other goods were traded, and paid for using small seashells called cowries which were imported from East Africa.
Other items used in trade as a form of currency included salt, cloth, and bars of gold. They can make decisions for wives and daughters and compel them to behave properly to preserve the family's honor.
But Swahili women also wield considerable power in the daily life of the family. The average number of children in each family has declined from as many as fourteen children early in the twentieth century to three or four children by the late s. Residents of an individual household might include many people beyond the immediate family, such as grandparents, nieces and nephews, and in-laws.
However, apart from linguists interested in Africa, and general linguists interested in the comparative study of languages, not too many people actually know the origin and structure of the language we call Kiswahili or Swahili today, its extensive literature,and its Pan-African identity.
Many people still believe, like the sailors of the 15th to the 19th centuries, that Kiswahili is a kind of mixture of Arabic and African languages. In short, Kiswahili is a kind of pidgin or creole which was born out of trade and intermarriages along the Indian Ocean coast of Africa.
This view is, however, far from the linguistic and historical discoveries of today. In fact, exactly one hundred and fifty years ago today, Dr. Ludwig Krapf completed the writing of the first ever Kiswahili grammar book in Mombasa.
The year was It took another five years before the book was finally published in Europe. In remembering this important event, we need to re-educate ourselves about the language Kiswahili.
In order to do so, we shall concern ourselves with the following themes: The origins of Kiswahili and its speakers; 2. Some salient features of Kiswahili as a Bantu language; 3.
The literature of Kiswahili; 4.
How Kiswahili got its name, and 5. The spread and use of Kiswahili. To the north, we had and still have the caucasoid group who are now called Afroasians.
Next to the Afroasians, we had and still have the Negro group or Black people. In the forest, lived the Pygmies, and in the eastern and southern savannas of East and Southern Africa, the Bushmen roamed freely. The last two, historically, have either a pale or a yellowish skin texture, according to Oliver and Fage But today, both they and the negro qualify as black people.
Comparative linguistic studies have also shown that the languages spoken by all the negro peoples are related and that someyears ago they probably spoke one language.
The common language began to change as the people discovered agriculture and started moving in groups further and further from each other to found new settlements and farms. Kenya,Lamu Island of Swahilis The homeland of the early negro people, it is claimed, was probably located around the bend of the Niger c. But, we think that the homeland was, most likely, spread between the bend of the Niger and the lake Chad basin, where fishing was carried on along the river lines.
If our claim is right, then, in our opinion, there is no doubt that an intrusion of a successive wave of Afroasians through the middle of negro heartland was finally responsible for the definitive division of the negro people into two distinct groups, which then developed apart as two distinct linguistic types, the Nilo-Saharan and the Niger-Congo. The second group, called Niger-Congo, could also only expand westwards and south-eastwards. For this reason the group became split up into two groups, the Western group and the Southern group.
They appear to have maintained contacts with each other, albeit only in times of great necessity, and so the two groups developed virtually independently of each other. The Southern group of Niger-Congo moved into the forest and stayed between Mount Cameroon and the tributaries of the Congo, Logone, Chari, and Sangha rivers from where they moved to the region of Lake Mweru c. Within the comparative safety of the forest, this Southern group developed a different form of the Niger-Congo language, and this is called Bantu today.
The Bantu people of today, therefore, emerged from the very heart of Africa into open savanna country further south. The people then moved to the east, the west, and south of Africa in gradual waves, till they were many enough to displace the Pygmies and Bushmen except in dense forests and in dry savanna and desert areas of Southern Africa. Swahili people gathered in their living room,Lamu,Kenya Later on, they also displaced some Afroasians of Eastern Africa.
The Waswahili are probably one of the better known members of this group. There is no doubt, in our mind, that the name Unguja is the modern derivation of Shungwaya. The Bantu original tribe of the Waswahili must have been simply the Shungwaya ya magunyani or Tikuu Lit. This is the surprise which many a learner does not expect or suspect.
The Waswahili are, therefore, historically, a Bantu people by origin and language. They now live along the coast and on the off-shore islands of Eastern Africa. Swahili women, Zanzibar If you go to the East African coast and meet Waswahilis of varying shades and colour, it is due to centuries of contact and intermarriages with people from all over the globe. But, you will notice that the language they speak is understood by other Africans on the mainland, especially the hinterland, who have very little mixed features and mixed cultures, even if they have just met a Mswahili for the first time; while no person from the Orient or Europe or even other parts of Africa further removed understands, on his first arrival, what both the Waswahili and their mainland hinterland cousins are saying to them without the help of an interpreter.
Africans in the immediate hinterland understand the Waswahili because both groups are using forms of the same language, while the Orientals, Europeans, and others do not understand them because they are using different languages. Linguistic scholars like DelafosseBaumann, Westermann and ThurnwaldGreenbergand Guthrie ; employed a technique called lexicostatistics or glottochronology which was used in Europe to show that most European languages originated from the same parent Indo-European language as the ancient and sacred language called Sanskrit used in India.
The theory says that because language is important to the survival of man, people will always take with them words of their languages which will preserve their identity and culture whenever they are moving from place to place c. This means that words which directly affect a person's very survival such as those which refer to things like numbers, words referring to the body or parts of it, those which refer to trades such as fishing, iron working, architecture, and so on, do not get lost easily.
Swahili man following his donkeys that carry loads Guthriefor example, in his study of Bantu languages found surprisingly that the highest percentage of proto-Bantu word roots old words in core sample Bantu languages could be found in Chi-Bemba spoken in Zambia.
Economic history of Africa
These roots are still present in these languages. These words are still in use in the language. Ancient Swahili structure of Kilwa Kisiwani, Tanzania Other researchers have also been studying these languages from other perspectives, such as their common classificatory systems called classes, identical 'euphonical' concords, common sound laws, similar verbal and nominal derivational processes, and common constituent typology as S VO languages.
Thus, one thing is clear to all the scholars: So, if we take modern Zaire-Zambia as the homeland of the Bantu people, then the Waswahili were one of the earliest people to migrate to the coast before the proto form changed significantly. This would also explain the high percentage of old roots in the language. This would, most likely, not be the case if the language were a mixture of Oriental, European, and unrelated African languages. Oral literature, therefore, predates the written literature.
For a long time, the oral literature was dismissed as not constituting literature in the classical sense of literature in Europe. Apart from a wealth of oral literature, Kiswahili has an impressive four centuries of written literary traditions. However, the evidence of this written literature dates only as far as the 17th century. The oldest surviving manuscript has been dated to and is called the Hamziya, according to Knappert It is a religious work.
Cute Swahili girl The truth is that the original written manuscript of the Epic of Liyongo Utenzi wa Liyongo which is older than the Hamziya cannot be traced. It seems evident that the original source of the written version was the oral literature of the Waswahili of the Tana River basin to the off-shore islands off the present Kenya-Somali coast.
Most of the written versions which have survived are 19th and 20th century manuscripts of the epic. Nearly all the early written literature of the Waswahili was in poetry.
Poetry was written in different verse forms. There are over eleven verse forms in Kiswahili today c. Knappert ; Amidu; Lodhi Until the last years of the 19th century, the Waswahili discouraged prose writings as forms of serious literature. In fact, it is only in the 20th century that prose and drama have become very popular.
Swahili girls, Mozambique Prose and drama were considered by the coastal Waswahili to be uncouth or commonplace 'performance literatures' and as such were not considered as 'true' literature. Today, however, we have all kinds of literature in Kiswahili and on any topic. But poetry is still the yardstick by which people ultimately judge the quality of a writer as a true artist c. It is for this reason that Julius Nyerere wrote his literature in verse and not prose.
Evolution of the Swahili State | Chap Kusimba - irobot-roomba.info
It is also for this reason that letters to Kiswahili newspaper editors, and magazines are written in poetry and not prose to this day c. Kiswahili songs are typically written in the classical or traditional verse forms, but since independence, written free verse songs have become more the norm, especially on the mainland. A tentative chronology of Kiswahili literature is as follows: Oral Literature From about B.
Free Verse Songs used in Dances 3. Aphorisms and Proverbs 4. Chuo cha Tambuka, Al-inkishafi, Mwanakupona, Majimaji, etc. The Kiswahili written literary tradition began on Pate Island in Kenya in the 17th and 18th centuries. Later, the centre moved to Mombasa in the mid to the early parts of the 19th century.