Swahili History

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Between 1000-1800 A.D., many different people migrated to Africa and the eastern part of this country. The Bantu from the Congo or the Niger Delta Basin were the first to arrive, followed by the Luo from Bahr el Ghazel in Southern Sudan and then the Ngoni from Southern Africa.

The Bantu-speaking groups include the Baganda, Banyoro, Batoro in Uganda, Kikuyu, Akamba, Meru, Embu, Taita, Giryama, Digo in Kenya and Pokomo, Chagga, Yao,  Segeju, Zaramo in Tanzania, as well as many other smaller groups.

The migrations of these different people of East Africa help to explain their culture and customs. The Bantu are believed to have moved in four groups.  These groups were the Interlacustrine Bantu, Central Bantu, Highland Bantu and Southern Tanzania Bantu. The groups moved to the Eastern parts of Africa for many reasons.  Some moved as the tribes moved.  Some moved because of the weather conditions or to find food.  Some moved for protection from the wild animals.  The different groups of people moved toward the eastern part of Africa and their populations have grown to spread the Swahili language and culture.  That is one reason why it is hard to know the exact numbers of people who speak the Swahili language or the number of people who observe the Swahili culture.

Parts of Africa are spread out or separated by large areas of desert, mountain or waterways.  Many people in Africa do not live in a large city so their populations can’t be counted so easily.  What historians do know is that the culture of the Swahili people is rich in history and value of family, religion, arts and crafts, architecture, music and dance and language and poetry.

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