In Depth Books (or articles) on Precolonial Somalia?

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,585
Benin City, Nigeria
#11
http://www.classzone.com/books/wh_05_shared/pdf/WHS05_015_424_PS.pdf

"As we have said, the Sultan of Mogadishu is called Shaikh by his subjects. His name is Abu Bakr ibn Shaikh Omar, and by race he is a Berber. He talks in the dialect of Mogadishu, but knows Arabic."

["Berber" = Somali, in that context, as the pdf Tulius posted a link to states, Zaila was a city of the "Berbers", a "people of Soudan" whose country was a desert of two months' extent, the first part of which was called Zaila and the last part of which was called Makdashu.]

There may have been Persian influence on the city at one point in the past because of trade, but there really isn't anything about a Persian descended ruler.
 
May 2009
1,306
#12
Ibn Battuta's account makes it clear that the ruler of Mogadishu was a Somali though. There's no mention of Persian-ness or descent from Persian ancestors.

The Persian influence was only a small part of it. All the coastal trade towns of the east African coast in the middle ages had an upper class that was culturally and racially mixed due to centuries of interacting with Persian and Arab merchants. These people were called Shirazi to differentiate them from full-blooded Bantus and other African people from further inland. They used Arab titles and wore Arab-influenced clothes. I believe the language of the Shirazi is the foundation for Swahili.
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,585
Benin City, Nigeria
#13
The Persian influence was only a small part of it. All the coastal trade towns of the east African coast in the middle ages had an upper class that was culturally and racially mixed due to centuries of interacting with Persian and Arab merchants. These people were called Shirazi to differentiate them from full-blooded Bantus and other African people from further inland. They used Arab titles and wore Arab-influenced clothes. I believe the language of the Shirazi is the foundation for Swahili.
I know all about the Shirazi. I've read about that before. However in the case of the Somalis there is nothing to suggest that that occurred. There isn't anything to suggest either a racially mixed upper class or a Shirazi ruler or anyone claiming Persian origin.

And about "racially mixed", there are definitely some mixed people in the Swahili coast area today, but I don't know of any actual direct observations to the effect of a racially mixed upper class in the past. It just seems to be assumed because some of their rulers made claims of foreign origin. Maybe you can provide some quotes from the past that mention that if you are aware of some.

Kilwa's inhabitants were described as "jet black" by Ibn Battuta, and there was no mention of some racially mixed upper class, though he noted that the Muslim ruler claimed origin from Yemen (a popular thing for some Muslim rulers at that time).

The people in Sofala: "These Moors are black men, and some of them are dark brown; some of them speak Arabic, but most of them use the language of the country, which is that of the heathens." - Duarte Barbosa


That's Malyn's Newitt's translation in his book East Africa. . .maybe other translations would have it different, but in that description a racially mixed upper class isn't apparent to me.
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,585
Benin City, Nigeria
#15
Its not my area of expertise so I'll take your word for it. I'm probably misunderstanding who the Shirazi were. I haven't studied it extensively.
No what you said about the Shirazi is pretty much correct.

My personal view is that while a Persian or Arab origin for some rulers of the non-Somali Swahili cities, and a mixed upper class, may have indeed occurred, there were clearly some cities for which we have written sources/descriptions from centuries ago that suggest something different, so the situation was probably more complex. Basically I suspect it wasn't all one way or another. What you described may have been the case for certain cities, while not being the case for others.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,548
Portugal
#16
Tulius;2820748[url said:
http://englishattheuniversity.weebly.com/uploads/1/0/5/3/10532852/ibn_battutas_travels.pdf[/url], unfortutaly it doesn’t state the edition information in the beginning. And I didn’t took a full view, but I presume that is the full work.
Found that is the 1829 translation from Samuel Lee, also available here:

https://ia601405.us.archive.org/34/items/bub_gb_22IbAQAAMAAJ/bub_gb_22IbAQAAMAAJ.pdf

The part that Ighayere posted is basically in page 56, but the translation is somewhat different. Lee’s translation has almost a century and is probably dated.
 

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