Who are swahili?
Swahili refers to both the culture and the language (Kiswahili) of people that inhabit the Indian Coast – from Kenya to northern Mozambique, and inland to Uganda. The culture has emerged through the intertwined history of the Bantu-speaking Africans with Middle Eastern, Indian, Persian and Portuguese influences.
How old swahili culture and tradition?
The culture first took shape in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, with the establishment of trade settlements by Persian and Arab merchants and explorers. In the subsequent centuries, coastal African communities – Zanzibar especially – grew deeply intertwined with the rising Persian Empire, and Islam became the dominant religion. Business and trade flourished during this time, and the region became known for its exports of slaves, ebony, gold, ivory and sandalwood. Class structure dominated societal relations, and those identifying as Arab-African descendants were the elite. In the 16th century, Portuguese explorers began to arrive in the area, and the region saw a marked decline in its commercial success.
Present day scenario of swahili’s people.
Today, Kiswahili linguistically unites much of Africa. While it is mother tongue to only 5 million speakers, total speakers exceeds 140 million throughout all of southeastern Africa. As it is Tanzania’s second official language, roughly 90% of the population speak Kiswahili. The language is an incorporation of the various regional influences, with grammatical and linguistic ties to Arabic, German, Portuguese, English and French to an initial Bantu language.
Major Languages they speak usually.
Though previously written with Arabic script, modern Kiswahili uses the Latin alphabet, with slight regional variations in dialect.
A few helpful Kiswahili words include:
- Hello, how are you? = Hujambo
- Fine, thank you = Nzuri, asante
- Thank you (very much) = Asante (sana)
- You’re welcome = Karibu
- Good bye = Usiku mwema
- What is your name? = Jina lako ni nani?
Swahili culture also continues to thrive throughout Tanzania; architecture lines the cobbled streets of Stone Town in Zanzibar, highlighting this community’s significance in coastal trade. The city itself is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Swahili art, including intricate woodcarvings, silver and finely woven polychrome mats, remain prevalent throughout the region. Local dress also highlights the continued Swahili influence. Women wear the Swahili Kanga, a square fabric used primarily as a skirt – though it has seemingly millions of other purposes. Brightly colored, this rectangular cloth is a staple of daily African life.