Pub. date: 2012 | Online Pub. Date: May 31, 2012 | DOI: 10.4135/9781452218458 | Print ISBN: 9781412981767 | Online ISBN: 9781452218458| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Arabs in Africa: 1400 to 1900: Africa
Karen W. Ngonya
Arabs arrived in Africa around the 7th century C.E., through conquest in north and northeast Africa and trade on the east African coast. Despite their relatively small numbers, Arabs significantly influenced the societies within which they settled, just as they themselves were influenced. These Arab settlers did not isolate themselves from the local people; on the contrary, they participated in cultural exchanges and even intermarried with indigenous people. Indeed, in north Africa it became difficult to isolate Arab elements from indigenous Berber cultural elements. Similarly, Arabs in east Africa participated in cultural exchanges, which resulted in the emergence of a unique cultural blend that came to characterize the Swahili coast. Consequently, by the 15th century, Arab presence was extensive in both north Africa and the east African coast. The Arab presence and its subsequent impact varied from one geographical region to the other, depending on the nature of the first ...