What Countries Did They Live In?
Around the first century AD, Arab and Persian traders began visiting the east coast of Africa in modern Somalia and south to Mozambique. This portion of the African coast was valuable land and many Muslim and Bantu speaking people settled there. The Swahili civilization has its roots in ancient Bantu Africans. The Swahili civilization went as far south as Kilwa, Zanzibar. Important Swahili cities include Mogadishu, Barawa, Mombasa (Kenya), Gedi, Pate, Malindi, Zanzibar, Kilwa, and Sofala in the far south.
What did their buildings look like?
They had greatly crafted wooden doors for houses. These doors are displayed on the beach as a sign of wealth.
What did they eat?
What did they wear?
Men wore kiokis (a cloth tied around the waist), and kanzus (white tops reaching below the knee) over their kioki. Women wore buibui (a black garment that covered their whole body except their eyes and hands) when they went out, but at home they dressed lightly.
What did their writing look like?
Their writing was formed from hieroglyphics.
What did they believe?
In the main, the Swahili people are Muslims or followers of Islam. The religion of Islam is based on the surrender to God who is One. Allah is the Arabic name for God. Islam considers itself to be a message of the universal truth for God's unity. The prophets, especially Abraham, taught and shared with others this message of God's Oneness. Islam recognizes other prophets including Moses, Christ, and the last prophet, Muhammad.
Are some of them famous even today?
What is left of them today?
When did their civilization exist?
Around the first century AD Bantu Africans were living on the east coast of Africa. Arab merchants and traders came to the east coast of Africa to trade and settle. These people and the Bantu Africans formed the Swahili civilization. The Swahili civilization expanded on the east coast of Africa through the fifteenth century. The civilization began to decline in the sixteenth century when Portuguese trade led to the Swahili centers of trade falling to ruin.
- "Swahili People". The University of Iowa. http://www.uiowa.edu/~africart/toc/people/Swahili.html.
Beidelman, T.O. “Swahili.” The World Book Encyclopedia.2000 ed. 2000.
Hooker, Richard. Civilization in Africa: The Swahili Kingdoms. 25 March 2008.
Islamic Affairs Department. Islam a Global Civilization. Washington, D.C.: The Embassy of Saudi Arabia.