Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: January 26, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412964623 | Print ISBN: 9781412936361 | Online ISBN: 9781412964623| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Bayyinab S. Jeffries
The Swahili or Waswahili are a community of people who were originally merchants and traders along the coastal regions of East Africa in countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Somalia. These historically African people subscribed to a variety of traditional African religions, values, customs, and beliefs. Scholars suggest that, as the Swahili community evolved, they intermarried and developed close relationships with a variety of other ethnic groups, also traders and merchants, who were mainly Persians and Arabs as well as members of other African communities. Because this indigenous African community exchanged goods with Persians, Arabs, and members of other ethnic groups, there was a reciprocal sharing of culture. As in many ethnically diverse communities, this cultural sharing produced distinct artifacts, foods, and music particular to the East African indigenous communities along the coast, later called Swahili. Moreover, scholars argue that the Swahili are one of the oldest African civilizations. ...