Oral Historiography and the Shirazi of the East African Coast

  title={Oral Historiography and the Shirazi of the East African Coast},
  author={Randall Lee Pouwels},
  journal={History in Africa},
  pages={237 - 267}
“Settlements of foreign, predominantly Semitic, peoples” Strandes' gambit concerning ‘Muslim Civilization’ of the east coast of Africa is a familiar one to many Africanists. Persians and Arabs, so the stories go, settled coastal sites as part of the Islamic diaspora; they vanquished less virile African societies; they built cities which were reflections of Middle Eastern prototypes; they imposed their religion; and, they ‘founded’ coastal civilization, a civilization, therefore, which was… 

Reflections on Historiography and Pre-Nineteenth-Century History from the Pate “Chronicles”

The period from 1500 to 1800 was a particularly busy phase in the history of the East African coast. It was a time which witnessed massive demographic shifts in the interior regions, as well as heavy

Islam in Northern Mozambique: A Historical Overview

This article is a historical overview of two issues: first, that of the dynamics of Islamic religious transformations from pre-Portuguese era up until the 2000s among Muslims of the contemporary Cabo

Modelling the Swahili past: the archaeology of Mikindani in southern coastal Tanzania

The Swahili of the East African coast formed one of the most studied and best known societies of Sub-Saharan African antiquity. The most popular model of Swahili society recognises their roots among

The use of autochthony in popular politics: the story of Mwambasho among the Digo of Kenya

Stories that explain the origins of places and political systems of the past have undergone constant change and been created in order to address current sociopolitical concerns. The Digo people who

Female Circles and Male Lines: Gender Dynamics along the Swahili Coast

This article explores transformations in gender relations along the Swahili Coast of East Africa through an historical examination of four domains of social life: politics, kinship, economics, and

Writing in Africa: The Kilwa Chronicle and other Sixteenth-Century Portuguese Testimonies

Based on the study of the encounter between the Portuguese and the Swahili in the sixteenth century, and on the analysis of the Kilwa Chronicle that resulted from it, this chapter questions the

Competition and Ceramics on the East African Coast: Long-Term Perspectives on Nineteenth-Century History at the Swahili Port Town of Mikindani, Tanzania

Abstract The Swahili communities of the East African coast have often been characterized as middlemen, defined by their ability to navigate – often quite literally – the economic networks linking the

L’île de Sanjé ya Kati (Kilwa, Tanzanie): un mythe Shirâzi bien réel

Excavations at Sanjé ya Kati have established that the site's chronology does not exceed three centuries, from AD 950 to 1250, while the town's apogee and most of its buildings date from between 1050

Studies in Manuscript Cultures

: This paper offers a critical review of the orthography of the most ancient original New Persian texts written in the Arabic (11 th century), as well as in other scripts (Hebrew, Syriac and

Of Man and Cattle: A Reconsideration of the Traditions of Origin of Pastoral Fulani of Nigeria

The fair-skinned people who inhabit the Sudan fringes of west Africa stretching from the Senegal valley to the shores of Lake Chad and who speak the language known as Fulfulde, are known by many



The Shirazi in Swahili Traditions, Culture, and History

“Strange foreign jewels on a mournful silent shore” Historians have frequently viewed the Swahili-speaking peoples of the East African coast as members of an Arab diaspora that spread around the

Arab Migrations to East Africa in Medieval Times

In the following paper I attempt to indicate some details of Arab migrations to East Africa (and a few to Indonesia) in medieval times. Most originated in Hadramawt, although some came from Yaman,

Historical Archaeology in Kenya 1948–56

In 1948 the ruined Arab town, sixty-five miles north of Mombasa, known as Gedi was declared a National Park, and an archaeologist was appointed as Warden of the Royal Gedi National Park and the

Oral Traditions: Whose History

Historians rarely pause to reflect on the history and theory of our own discipline, but it is a salutary exercise, particularly when the discipline is as young as African history. Twenty years ago a

Kilwa Dynastic Historiography: A Critical Study

  • E. Saad
  • History
    History in Africa
  • 1979
One of the unresolved problems in African historiography concerns the Arabic and Portuguese versions of the so-called Kilwa Chronicle. Scholars who have used these sixteenth-century sources have

Syncretism and Religious Change

  • J. Peel
  • Political Science
    Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • 1968
A superficial view of what happens when a large number of people forsake their former religion for a new one is that some of the old beliefs become mixed with the new. It is a commonplace to hear

Oman and East Africa: New Light on Early Kilwan History from the Omani Sources

Oman has a very long recorded history which, until recently was known only through a couple of eighteenth and nineteenth century works translated into English.l In reality these two sources are of

Swahili Culture Reconsidered

Summary J. de V. Allen was until recently curator of the Lamu Museum. In this article he presents a new view of Lamu society. There was a major economic and cultural renaissance in the northern

On the Segmentary Lineage

The basis of Winzeler's article is that the time span between the origins of agriculture and metallurgy in Southeast Asia and the formation of states there is much longer than in other regions, and he is deeply convinced that any peculiarity in the development of states inoutheast Asia can only be explained in terms of the sum of many factors.

The Swahili Community of Mombasa, 1500–1900

  • F. Berg
  • History
    The Journal of African History
  • 1968
The Swahili community of modern Mombasa is composed of an amalgam of the descendants of the city's early ‘Shirazi’ settlers and more recent immigrant Swahili groups, most of which migrated south to