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HIST 3410 Pre Colonial Africa October 28 2013.docx

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University of Guelph
HIST 3410
Femi Kolapo

October 28 2013 HIST 3410 HIST 3410 Pre- Colonial Africa October 28 2013 EAST AFRICA The Swahili Coast Swahili has the largest amount of speakers in southeastern Africa Mostly eastern Africa but once you hit Mozambique it is southern Africa - Locations: all the way from the coast of Somalia to Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, and Madagascar. Mostly a coastal language= Swahili culture Swahili derives from Arabic and derived from the word Sahel and Sahel means the coast. Origins of culture: trading Pay attention to the historiography (for next class, what evidence there is etc.) Antiquity of International Interaction - Pepi II Neferkere (2560 2476 BCE) sent 11 expeditions to Punt (Swahili coast) o Egypt was interested in the region ^ and sent expeditions to get gold, slaves, elephants, etc. o Pepi II Neferkere - There were resources that Egypt could use and acquire - Military level/ political level: military possession by Egypt Punt land: starts from Mogadishu to Mozambique Records indicate expeditions sent in 2450 BCE by Pharaoh Sahure and by Queen Hatshepsut (1503- 1483 BCE). - Brought back spices, perfumes, ivory etc. - Egypt at that time was the most powerful empire around o Swahili coast was a apart of it - Commercially speaking that region of Africa had a strong relationship with surroundings: Egypt, Indian ocean, Arabian peninsula o Some written records that show that Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, (or Voyages to the Red Sea) was written between 45 and 50 CE showing great familiarity with the Swahili states and their conditions - So relevant and rich that much scholarship about Swahili culture refers to it - Was from Egypt but had a lot of knowledge about the Swahili coast: navigating the seas to trade with the people, earliest mentions of the names of the ports Important tradable commodity: cloth, since Egypt was known for its textiles Swahili Culture: - Islam o Became a significant mark in Swahili culture o Islam gave them a united/ common identity  Facilitating commerce, and trade  Same ideology, same measurements, same stipulations regarding trade - Their language, Kiswahili: 1 October 28 2013 HIST 3410 o All of them from Mogadishu to Mozambique speak it  Ability to speak the same language, a commercial language, and because it emerged in the context of commerce among those ports and between the Indian ocean walls, helped facilitate international commerce  Were able to relate to other cultures who came to them o Need to note that Kiswahili is classified as an African language  In reality originally a Benue Congo (Bantu) language (branch of the larger Niger Congo family of African language) with very significant barrowing from Arabic (most amount of words), followed Persian  With borrowing from the Asian languages of the Indian Ocean. - Providing cultural and commercial facilities for international interaction - New interpretation of history that argue that when you focus on commerce or trade you are only focusing on a particular group of people so when you focus on trade, (that the Swahili culture is associated with Islam and commerce) that implies that you are focusing on the trading class o Therefore as a result you tend to ignore the common folk who produce, and may find something else that may define Swahili culture - Big coral stone houses, mosques, and baths o Overlaying indigenous mud and wattle circular huts  Decorated with imported china o All of this supposedly representing the upper class not the lower ones  You can’t talk about Swahili culture without dis
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