Who were the arabs

Who were the arabs

The Arabs were originally the people of the Arabian desert. Converted to Islam in the 7th century A.D., they conquered the Middle East from the Sassanian and Byzantine empires and established a succession of Arab-Islamic Middle Eastern empires from Spain to Central Asia and from the Caucasus to India.

By 1000A.D, the Arabs had started crossing the Indian Ocean to come to East African coas,.t. Their flow into East Africa continued up to – 1500A.D.

Why the Arabs came to the East African coast

  • The Arabs were attracted by the booming Indian Ocean trade which would generate profits.
  • They were interested in commodities like Ivory, Slaves, animal skins, gold, and bee wax e.t.c.
  • The Arabs were driven by the desire to spread Islam on the coast i.e. the strong Muslims wanted to Islamize the whole coast and set up a Moslem Empire.
  • The East African coast was blessed with good natural habours which could allow even big ships to anchor.
  • The moon soon winds also encouraged the Arabs to come to the coast because they blew the dhows towards the East African coast.
  • Political persecutions and power struggles in Arabia forced many to seek refuge at the East African coast for example the Yorubi and Busaidi Family struggles in Oman.
  • The Arabs especially thbbe young men were motivated by the spirit of adventure i.e. they had the desire to explore unknown lands /areas.
  • The hospitality of the coastal people also encouraged many Arabs to come to the East African coast.
  • The Arabs were also attracted by the fertile soils at the coast i.e. there was a lot of free land at the coast which the Arabs wanted to use for agriculture.For more notes read more notes about commerce, entrepreneur Notes, biology
  • The presence of fresh drinking water at the coast also attracted many Arabs to settle at the East African coast.
  • Religious persecution also forced many Arabs to come and settle at the East African coast.
  • The presence of highly demanded goods e.g. Gold, Slaves, Ivory and Skins forced many Arabs to come and settle at the coast and obtain these commodities cheaply.
  • Some Arabs landed at the E.African coast because they were driven by the monsoon winds.
  • Some Arabs were driven by bound wagon influence i.e. they migrated to the coast because they saw others and their relatives migrating.

Effects of the Arabs at the coast

  • The Arabs imposed themselves as rulers over the local people making them loose their independence hence the coastal people tasted foreign rule for the first time. 
  • Inter – marriages between the local people and the Arabs gave birth to a new group of people called the Swahili people. 
  • With the birth of the Swahili people a new culture called the Swahili culture (Afro Arab culture) developed at the coast.
  • The new culture came with a new language called Kiswahili which became the medium of communication along the coast.
  • There was spread of Islam i.e. many people at along the coast became Moslems.
  • The Arabs introduced new styles of building at the coast e.g. they started building flat topped houses and some with dome shapes made out of stones and bricks.
  • The Local people adopted Arabic ways of dressing e.g. Men started putting on Kanzus, Turbans and Caps while the Women started putting on long dresses and veils.
  • The Sharia law of administration was introduced at the East African coast and Islamic tittles like Sheikh and Sultan were used by the local rulers.
  • The coming of Arabs led to the growth of coastal towns e.g. Kilwa, Malindi, Mombasa and Zanzibar because of the trade contacts with Arabs e.g. magnificent buildings were put up.
  • The Arabs introduced new crops at the E.African coast e.g. Rice, Wheat, Sugarcane, Bananas cloves and the coastal people started growing these crops.
  • Mosques and Quaranic Schools were built to help in the spread of Islam. People along the coast were trained to read the Quran and Arabic language.
  • The Arabs introduced the minting and use of coins in trade. This replaced the old system of barter trade.
  • The coming of Arabs led to the development of slave trade along the coast. Slaves were highly demanded in Arab countries and this greatly depopulated East Africa.
  • The Arabs introduced guns along the coast and this increased warfare and insecurity at the coast.
  • Many people shifted from fishing, farming and herding and then took on trade which was booming at the coast.
  • A powerful and rich class of people emerged along the coast as a result of their participation in trade through which they got a lot of wealth.
  • The Arabs introduced new techniques of boat building along the coast due to the need to ease transport along the Indian Ocean.
  • African resources were exploited to the maximum e.g. Slaves, Ivory were exchanged 4 simple Items like mirrors.
  • East Africa was linked to the outside world because the trade along the coast attracted people from Asia and Europe.
  • Economic Rivalry developed among the coastal town e.g. between Mombasa and Malindi, Kilwa and Sofala. Each town wanted to control and monopolize the trade.
  • Arabic language was introduced along the coast as official language used for administration while Kiswahili was for business.
  • Economic prosperity along the coast attracted the Portuguese towards the end of the 15th century and these looted and plundered the coastal wealth.