Maritime History of Africa

Jun 2014
somalis were very good sailors in ancient times,and they were able to reach india and trade with china during the Ajuuraan sultanate
The somali nave was also able to defeat the portogues who tried to conquer somali coastal cities like Mogadishu,Merka and Barawe during the Ajuuraan-Portoguese wars

so trade and naval warfare was very developed in eastern africa at that time

In ancient times, the [ame=""]Kingdom of Punt[/ame], which is believed by several Egyptologists to have been situated in the area of modern-day Somalia, had a steady trade link with the Ancient Egyptians and exported precious natural resources such as [ame=""]myrrh[/ame], [ame=""]frankincense[/ame] and [ame=""]gum[/ame]. This trade network continued all the way into the [ame=""]classical era[/ame]. The city states of [ame=""]Mossylon[/ame], [ame=""]Malao[/ame], [ame=""]Mundus[/ame] and [ame=""]Tabae[/ame] in Somalia engaged in a lucrative trade network connecting Somali merchants with [ame=""]Phoenicia[/ame], [ame=""]Ptolemic Egypt[/ame], [ame=""]Greece[/ame], [ame=""]Parthian Persia[/ame], [ame=""]Saba[/ame], [ame=""]Nabataea[/ame] and the [ame=""]Roman Empire[/ame].
Somali sailors used the ancient Somali maritime vessel known as the [ame=""]beden[/ame] to transport their cargo.

After the Roman conquest of the Nabataean Empire and the Roman naval presence at [ame=""]Aden[/ame] to curb [ame=""]piracy[/ame], [ame=""]Arab[/ame] and [ame=""]Somali[/ame] merchants barred [ame=""]Indian[/ame] merchants from trading in the free port cities of the [ame=""]Arabian peninsula[/ame][6] because of the nearby Roman presence. However, they continued to trade in the port cities of the [ame=""]Somali peninsula[/ame], which was free from any Roman threat or spies. The reason for barring Indian ships from entering the wealthy Arabian port cities was to protect and hide the exploitative trade practices of the Somali and Arab merchants in the extremely lucrative ancient [ame=""]Red Sea[/ame]-[ame=""]Mediterranean Sea[/ame] [ame=""]commerce[/ame].[7] The Indian merchants for centuries brought large quantities of [ame=""]cinnamon[/ame] from [ame=""]Ceylon[/ame] and the [ame=""]Far East[/ame] to Somalia and Arabia. This is said to have been the best kept secret of the Arab and Somali merchants in their trade with the [ame=""]Roman[/ame] and [ame=""]Greek[/ame] world. The Romans and Greeks believed the source of cinnamon to have been the Somali peninsula but in reality, the highly valued product was brought to Somalia by way of Indian ships.[8] Through Somali and Arab traders, Indian/Chinese cinnamon was also exported for far higher prices to North Africa, the [ame=""]Near East[/ame] and [ame=""]Europe[/ame], which made the cinnamon trade a very profitable revenue generator, especially for the Somali merchants through whose hands large quantities were shipped across ancient sea and land routes.
Somali sailors were aware of the region's [ame=""]monsoons[/ame], and used them to link themselves with the port cities of the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. Another navigational technique was denning the islands of the Indian Ocean to navigate through the ancient trade routes.

During the [ame=""]Age of the Ajurans[/ame], the [ame=""]sultanates[/ame] and [ame=""]republics[/ame] of [ame=""]Merca[/ame], [ame=""]Mogadishu[/ame], [ame=""]Barawa[/ame], [ame=""]Hobyo[/ame] and their respective ports flourished and had a lucrative foreign commerce with ships sailing to [ame=""]Arabia[/ame], [ame=""]India[/ame], [ame=""]Venetia[/ame],[5] [ame=""]Persia[/ame], [ame=""]Egypt[/ame], [ame=""]Portugal[/ame] and as far away as [ame=""]China[/ame].
In the 16th century, [ame=""]Duarte Barbosa[/ame] noted that many ships from the [ame=""]Kingdom of Cambaya[/ame] in India sailed to Mogadishu with [ame=""]fabric[/ame] and [ame=""]spices[/ame], for which they in return received [ame=""]gold[/ame], [ame=""]wax[/ame] and [ame=""]ivory[/ame]. Mogadishu, the center of a thriving weaving industry known as toob benadir (specialized for the markets in Egypt and [ame=""]Syria[/ame][11]), together with Merca and Barawa also served as transit stops for [ame=""]Swahili[/ame] merchants from [ame=""]Mombasa[/ame] and [ame=""]Malindi[/ame] and for the gold trade from [ame=""]Kilwa[/ame].[12] Trade with the [ame=""]Hormuz[/ame] went both ways, and [ame=""]Jewish[/ame] [ame=""]merchants[/ame] brought their Indian textile and fruit to the Somali coast in exchange for [ame=""]grain[/ame] and wood.[13] Trading relations were established with [ame=""]Malacca[/ame] in the 15th century,[14] with cloth, [ame=""]ambergris[/ame] and [ame=""]porcelain[/ame] being the main commodities exchanged.[15] Giraffes, zebras and incense were exported to the [ame=""]Ming Empire[/ame] of China, which established Somali merchants as leaders in the commerce between the Asia and Africa,[16] and in the process influenced the Chinese language with the Somali language and vice versa. [ame=""]Hindu[/ame] merchants from [ame=""]Surat[/ame] and Southeast African merchants from [ame=""]Pate[/ame], seeking to bypass both the [ame=""]Portuguese[/ame] blockade and [ame=""]Omani[/ame] meddling, used the Somali ports of Merca and Barawa (which were out of the two powers' jurisdiction) to conduct their trade in safety and without interference.[17]
During the same period, Somali merchants sailed to [ame=""]Cairo[/ame], [ame=""]Damascus[/ame], Mocha, [ame=""]Mombasa[/ame], [ame=""]Aden[/ame], [ame=""]Madagascar[/ame], Hyderabad and the [ame=""]islands of the Indian Ocean[/ame] and the [ame=""]Red Sea[/ame], establishing Somali communities along the way. These travels produced several important individuals such as the Muslim scholars Uthman bin Ali Zayla'i in [ame=""]Egypt[/ame], Abd al-Aziz of Mogadishu in the [ame=""]Maldives[/ame], as well as the explorer Sa'id of Mogadishu, the latter of whom traveled across the Muslim world and visited China and India in the 14th century.

In the [ame=""]early modern period[/ame], successor states of the [ame=""]Adal[/ame] and [ame=""]Ajuran[/ame] empires began to flourish in Somalia, continuing the tradition of seaborne trade established by previous Somali empires. The rise of the 19th century [ame=""]Gobroon Dynasty[/ame] in particular saw a rebirth in Somali maritime enterprise. During this period, the Somali agricultural output to [ame=""]Arabian[/ame] markets was so great that the coast of Somalia came to be known as the Grain Coast of [ame=""]Yemen[/ame] and [ame=""]Oman[/ame].[19] Somali merchants also operated trade [ame=""]factories[/ame] on the [ame=""]Eritrean[/ame] coast.[20]
During the brief period of [ame=""]imperial hegemony[/ame] over Somalia, Somali sailors and traders frequently joined British and other European ships to the [ame=""]Far East[/ame], [ame=""]Europe[/ame] and the [ame=""]Americas[/ame].
Somalia in the pre-civil war period possessed the largest merchant fleet in the [ame=""]Muslim world[/ame]. It consisted of 12 [ame=""]oil tankers[/ame] (average size 1300 tons), 15 [ame=""]bulk ore carriers[/ame] (average size 15000 tons), and 207 other crafts with average tonnage of 5000 to 10000

Somalis even founded a colony in Mozambique....the town is called Sofala and it was founded by somali traders in the 10th century

Merka coastal city Lower Shabelle Region Somalia
Jun 2014
old mogadishu port

ruins of Gondershe coastal city

Arba Rukun Mosque in Mogadishu built in 1268

Hamarweyne Mosque in Mogadishu ancient neighbourhood



Ad Honorem
Mar 2010
Darn it I misread that as Marmite History of Africa.

And was all "I didn't know Marmite came from Africa."

OH well,
Jun 2014
Well today Somalia has a lot of problems but we are more stable than Iraq or libya
Our governement controlcontrol 90% of the country
Just 5 years ago the gov controlled only the capital but now the situation has improved
I think Somalia Is not a failed state anymore cause we are Improving a lot

Before the civil war Somalia was one of the most organized state on Africa. ..
Apr 2014
I have visited Somalia, my ancestor homeland. So much history so much tradition. But tribalism runs deep so deep.