East Africa. Coast - History of the East

15.4. East Africa. Coast

Although geographically this region of Africa, adjacent to the Sudanese belt, does not belong to the territory of the Sudan, politically and religiously and culturally it forms a single whole with the Sudan. The appearance of statehood is also closely connected with Islamization. This is a fairly extensive continental zone, from the Horn of Africa, to the southeast of Ethiopia, to Mozambique, including the surrounding islands, including the largest of them, Madagascar.

The first Arab trading colonies on the east coast of Africa appeared, apparently, back in the 8th-9th centuries, perhaps even earlier. Muslim Arabs actively invaded the areas inhabited by the Bantu-speaking peoples, which was accompanied, on the one hand, by the misexation of new settlers who took on the wives of local women, and on the other, mass enslavement of a significant part of the Negroid population, the very Aboriginal coasts, who, under the name Zinj Arabs, various countries, especially the territory of the caliphate. The heyday of the Arab-Muslim trade and the settling of the East African coast by Arabs falls on the period of the 12th-14th centuries. Here there was a linguistic Arab-African community Swahili, in the racial plan it is much more Negro than the Arab one. Islam became the leading religion. Many coastal trading cities with palaces, fortresses and mosques were built. Numerous state entities emerged, mostly of the type of city-states headed by sheikhs - Mogadishu, Malindi, Mombasa, Kilva, etc. The sultanate on the island of Zanzibar became an important center of the Arab-African trade, especially the slave trade.

The invasion of Africa by the Portuguese, who aspired to India and therefore tried first of all to gain a foothold on the East African coast, led to the turn of the XV-XVI centuries. to the destruction of many prosperous Swahili cities and the decline of Arab-African trade. But the rule of the Portuguese on the coast continued relatively short. Already in the middle of the XVII century. They retreated south to Mozambique, clearing most of the East African coast. However, these territories were immediately occupied by the Muscat Arabs from Oman, to whom the Sahillians appealed for help against the Portuguese.

Muscat-Oman sultans from the 18th century. were the actual masters of the East African coast, and the trade political center of their domination was Zanzibar, at one time even politically united with Muscat Oman into a single sultanate. Since the beginning of the XIX century. Zanzibar was the center of cultivation of the carnation delivered there, on 200 plantations which worked hundreds of thousands of African slaves. Up to the prohibition of the slave trade in 1873, Zanzibar remained its center in East Africa, especially with the Oman-Zanzibar Sultan Seid Said (1804-1856), who did much to strengthen the Omano-Muscatian influence on the East African coast.

As for the northern part of the coast, Islam penetrated into the territory of Somalia sometime between the 9th and 13th centuries. These desolate areas (perhaps it was here that the mysterious country of Punt, where the ancient Egyptians made expeditions for incense, because it is on the Somali coast it grows) for a long time were little populated. The displacement of tribes in Somalia was common, so the consolidation of the Somali population there began relatively late, in the 16th-18th centuries. In the XIX century. here lived a mixed bantu and kushite-speaking population, in the north - nomadic, in the south - agricultural.

Between the XII and XVI centuries. in this region there were various Muslim sultanates, the centers of which were sometimes outside Somalia, west of the Horn of Africa. Commercial cities such as Mogadishu in those days, and later, had virtually no political relationship to the main part of the territory of Somalia. Mogadishu, like other cities of the Somali coast, politically from the XVIII century. depended on Oman, later on - from Zanzibar. Only in the XIX century. Two Sultanates, Obbiya and Mijourtini appeared in the Sultan of Somalia.

A few words about Madagascar. He early became the object of the Arab-Sahilian Muslim expansion (XI-XIII centuries.), although the older population here was also from Indonesia (Malgash). Arab factories were destroyed in the XVI century. appeared on the island of the Portuguese, and from the XVII century. Madagascar was often visited by the Dutch, the British, the French. The first state formations on the island arose on a local ethnic basis (it was mostly of a mestizo origin), probably not earlier than the XIV-XVI centuries. It's hard to say what role Islam played in this, but we should not forget that the influence of the Muslim civilization and the state institutions closely connected with it, as well as the entire political culture, the Madagascarans experienced since the beginning of the second millennium. The development of the island under strong external influence ultimately led to the creation at the turn of the XVIII-XIX centuries. in the center of Madagascar, a large state formation of Imerina, in relation to which the other principalities partially recognized vassalage. The ruler of the state was the deified supreme owner of the land, which on his behalf received farmers who paid taxes and carried duties. There were a considerable number of dependent and slaves, partially representing closed communities of the caste type. This was particularly true of the Negroes brought to the island. The governors of the regions were subordinate to the central government, noble aristocrats had hereditary possessions.

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