Very detailed video on the Swahili Coast

Aug 2018
21
United States
#1
Does anyone know where I can find more information about the creators of this video? They spammed my comment section one day on like 10 of my videos advertising their website. Normally this would bother me but they had some good stuff on their YouTube channel, however, all of their comments are disabled so I tried their website and they only really offer small ad videos on their site. I tried emailing them and they do not respond to emails either. I'm not sure what their goal or purpose is if they are just going to disable comments, ignore emails, and spam my videos.
 
Sep 2015
1,412
England
#2
Still amazing to encounter such total, utter & absolute nonsense and lunacy.

In reality the eastern African coast and areas of the interior suffered an Arab islamic imperialist invasion, and tyranny, for a thousand years and more, until the 1870s. It became a slave based Islamic (dominant) colonialist region, from Mogadishi to Comoro, which, in addition to slave raiding (as far as the Congo) also exported slaves into the entire Islamic middle-east and beyond, including Hindustan (and for domestic use as it would seem to be the case in today's Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon etc via maids/servants). They were expert sailors, and traded all sorts of stuff, including plenty of ivory, but slaves were the main items on the Zanzibar customs tax list - as per the Barbary kingdoms, and interior chieftainships: there were thousands sometimes tens of thousands exported every year, while a percentage were retained for the coastal plantations and cities etc. And of course many died on the way to the coast or thereafter etc etc. A catastrophically dark era as far as I can work out so far.
 
Likes: Ario

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
14,475
Wessex
#3
The coast had an interesting history, I think, prior to the arrival of Portuguese, with local sultanates along the coast, but that video is plainly worthless, recounted like a mother telling a pretty fairy-story to her child!
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,358
Benin City, Nigeria
#4
Still amazing to encounter such total, utter & absolute nonsense and lunacy.

In reality the eastern African coast and areas of the interior suffered an Arab islamic imperialist invasion, and tyranny, for a thousand years and more, until the 1870s. It became a slave based Islamic (dominant) colonialist region, from Mogadishi to Comoro, which, in addition to slave raiding (as far as the Congo) also exported slaves into the entire Islamic middle-east and beyond, including Hindustan (and for domestic use as it would seem to be the case in today's Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon etc via maids/servants). They were expert sailors, and traded all sorts of stuff, including plenty of ivory, but slaves were the main items on the Zanzibar customs tax list - as per the Barbary kingdoms, and interior chieftainships: there were thousands sometimes tens of thousands exported every year, while a percentage were retained for the coastal plantations and cities etc. And of course many died on the way to the coast or thereafter etc etc. A catastrophically dark era as far as I can work out so far.
This pretty misleading with respect to the era that the thread starter is probably trying to bring attention to though.

There had always been Arab influence through trade and intermarriage, but much of the area didn't really become Arab dominated politically until after the Portuguese invasion and subjugation of parts of the coast, and it was also after that period that the slave trade (which had always existed) reached much greater heights. Also, early Portuguese sources mention "black Moors" that spoke the language of the interior (i.e. Bantu languages) in leading positions in those cities while some earlier (pre-Portuguese) sources refer to the inhabitants and/or rulers of major cities as black (I provided one source about that here, but there are a few others.)

If, however you are simply emphasizing the Islamic vs non-Islamic conflict and slave raiding on the part of Muslims, I would agree that that occurred. However Arab political domination (specifically Omani domination) really came later on, and it was not until the second half of the eighteenth century that the slave trade really expanded significantly until it reached the much greater volume seen in the 19th century.

There is a lot of information about the Swahili slave trade in the article "Slave trade and slavery on the Swahili coast (1500-1750)" by Thomas Vernet, which is currently accessible online.
 
Sep 2015
1,412
England
#5
This pretty misleading with respect to the era that the thread starter is probably trying to bring attention to though.

There is a lot of information about the Swahili slave trade in the article "Slave trade and slavery on the Swahili coast (1500-1750)" by Thomas Vernet, which is currently accessible online.
No mister, it is not misleading, especially since you do not seem to have an idea what era the OPer was thinking of. Not unless you are an oracle?!

Vernet reckons Coupland says something like this '...the East African slave trade had been continuous and massive since antiquity, led by the “Arabs” who according to him settled on the coast and began trading in the interior. A “prodigious” number of slaves had been exported, contributing to the depopulation of East Africa, and exceeding the transatlantic slave trade.'

That last is certainly the case with respect to both west and east Africa, since about 3mn people were (or had been) probably emancipated around 1900 by both the French and the British in West Africa, the Sudan and East Africa. But the Islamic slave trade and universal slave culture, had been in existence for well over 1000 years before then.

I had it that the Arab/Islamic slave trade had been estimated at between 11mn and 14mn people in total. More recent estimates appear to extend to beyond 20mn between 1500 and 1900 alone! It seems likely the Islamic world was a slave culture from at least the c.7th. 'A 7th-century Chinese text mentions ambassadors from Java presenting the Chinese emperor with two Seng Chi (Zanj) slaves as gifts in 614'. Braudel describes the later Ottoman Empire as a slave culture "par excellence". Hypothetically, without any documentary evidence whatsoever, we may make a not unreasonably educated guess, of the possibility of a significant slave trade by the Islamic peoples in East Africa before 1700. Vernet seems to think otherwise! The invaders were indeed established on the eastern African coast by 1000AD. We know this through the existence and survival of coinage, minted and used throughout the region. The Islamics were able to maintain their currency in gold coin mainly via west Africa also. The fact that the term Zanj appears to describe generic African peoples (with blackish coloured skin), must point things towards eastern Africa on grounds of plain geographical proximity. Plus the problem of traversing the Sahara? Ghada Talhami and other so called scholars, may not be very convincing to many people in short? They differ wildly in their respective claims of historical veracity just for starters.

Moreover Campbell (2003): 'The Arab slave trade was the intersection of slavery and trade in the Arab world, mainly in Western Asia, North Africa, East Africa and Europe.' He apparently states that slavery and the slave trade existed from the medieval era (500AD onwards?), and that most captives were seized from the interior of Africa and southern Europe. I suspect eastern Europe/Russia also? It may be that Arab merchants and traders were not known or described as slavers or slave traders. Just traders whose cargo included cloth, palm oil, ivory etc and captive people.

Ibn Battuta apparently '...visited the ancient African kingdom of Mali in the mid-14th century [and] recounts that the local inhabitants vie with each other in the number of slaves and servants they have.' Also Shoureshi has the following: 'the Tigris-Euphrates delta, which had become abandoned marshland as a result of peasant migration and repeated flooding, could be reclaimed through intensive labour. Wealthy proprietors "had received extensive grants of tidal land on the condition that they would make it arable." Sugar cane was prominent among the products of their plantations, particularly in Khuzestan Province. Zanj also worked the salt mines of Mesopotamia, especially around Basra.'
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,358
Benin City, Nigeria
#6
No mister, it is not misleading, especially since you do not seem to have an idea what era the OPer was thinking of. Not unless you are an oracle?!
I actually watched the video. Did you? It is clearly not focused on the 19th century, which is what your comments seemed to be about.

It seems you really did try to portray the state of things as they existed in the 19th century as applying to much earlier periods, and you were apparently unaware of the role of the Portuguese invasion in subjugating the native powers there - which is what actually paved the way for actual Arab political domination later on. And you now seem to be grasping at other more tangential points to try to make your initial characterization seem accurate.

1) The French actually let slavery persist for a while after in some of their colonies (even though officially banning it), then not long afterward started imposing forced labor, almost completely defeating the point. The British too imposed forced labor on some of their colonies as I mentioned already in another thread. Just because they were no longer subjugated by one person that does not mean that the notion that such people were suddenly "free" is not questionable, when they were now subjugated to an entire foreign country's government.

2). Vernet's analysis doesn't really agree with Coupland's claim, his own conclusions are clearly somewhat different. He just mentions Coupland's claim to note the interpretation that was used to justify certain actions of that time, but as he notes, the claim is severely lacking in evidence.

3) Yes, the Muslim world was very much involved in slavery. I think we both agree on that actually. The only issue is the claims you were making about the Swahili area. Even your portrayal of trade was off the mark, since the early Portuguese sources actually primarily emphasize gold and ivory, with slaves only being emphasized to a comparable or greater degree much later on, and of course when the slave trade reached much greater heights there in the late 18th and the 19th centuries slaves were the biggest focus of trade as you stated, but not earlier.

But anyway, the point is, the situation was far more complicated than what you were portraying. A king of Sofala whose title as ruler is given as "Mfalme" (a clearly Bantu word) in a 10th century Arabic source, is obviously not an "Arab invader" for example. And when Duarte Barbosa (a Portuguese explorer) gives the following description of Angoy (Angoche, in present day Mozambique) he is not describing some "Arab Islamic imperialist invaded" society under Arab "tyranny":

". . .there is a town of the Moors on the sea coast, which is called Angoy, and has a king, and the Moors who live there are all merchants, and deal in gold, ivory, silk and cotton stuffs, and beads of Cambay, the same as do those of Sofala. And the Moors bring these goods from Quiloa [Kilwa], and Monbaza [Mombasa], and Melynde [Malindi], in small vessels hidden from the Portuguese ships; and they carry from there a great quantity of ivory, and much gold. And in this town of Angoy there are plenty of provisions of millet, rice, and some kinds of meat. These men are very brown and copper coloured; they go naked from the waist upwards, and from thence downwards, they wrap themselves with cloths of cotton and silk, and wear other cloths folded after the fashion of cloaks, and some wear caps and other hoods, worked with stuffs and silks; and they speak the language belonging to the country, which is that of the Pagans, and some of them speak Arabic. These people are sometimes in obedience to the king of Portugal, and at times they throw it off, for they are a long way off from the Portuguese forts." - Duarte Barbosa

Obviously none of the characteristics described in bold really match those of real Arabs; there are other descriptions that are like this which indicate that the cities were mainly native east African city-states with an Islamic overlay and often an immigrant or immigrant descended population. And of course the fact of literature (poetry, letters, etc.) written in the Swahili language makes it even clearer how far off the mark the idea is that the Swahili region was simply an "Arab Islamic imperialist invader" dominated society. Even the reference to Mogadishu as being under "Arab Islamic imperialist invader" rule or "colonialist" rule and "tyranny" by Arabs for "a thousand years and more" is strange since we have an explicit statement from Ibn Battuta that the city-state was ruled by Somalis (as I explained in the thread I linked to in my previous post). Yes after the Portuguese invasion there was Omani Arab domination of much of the Swahili coast after the Portuguese were pushed out of the region by Muslim forces, but prior to that, the region was not really like what you were trying to portray in your previous post.

I"ll quote for you an academic view which gives a more accurate idea of what the situation was like as far as the foreign presence, prior to the Omani dominance of the area. When describing the situation on the Tanzanian coast, Neville Chittick, who was one of the foremost researchers on the Swahili area, wrote:

"Their society was primarily Islamic, and their way of life mercantile. This does not mean to say it was Arab; the immigrants were few in number, and intermarrying with African women and those already of mixed blood, their stock was rapidly integrated with the local people. Probably by the second or third generation they would have abandoned their spoken language for Swahili or the local language, though retaining Arabic for writing." - Neville Chittick, "The Coast before the Arrival of the Portuguese" (1968), in Zamani: A Survey of East African History

4) The "Seng Chi" slaves were probably "Negritos", not "Negro" slaves, despite the name corresponding fairly well with "Zanji". Probably they were called that by some traders because of their dark skin and appearance (which has similarities to that of actual black African people). Of course some earlier studies in the 20th century erroneously assumed that the slaves referred to in those references were actually "Negro" (black), but more up to date studies usually indicate that they were "Negrito", not African. You can read about the "Negrito" connection here:

Archäologie und Frühe Texte

"The Kunlun slaves were imported into early Guangdong through two channels. The first was tribute trade. From 670 to 818, for example, Sri Vijaya and Java ("Zabedj" in contemporary Arab and Persian records) dispatched at least five such missions which presented indigenous Malay negritos, both female and male, to the Tang court. Occasionally these dark-coloured slaves were also called Sengzhi (Zangi?). The second channel was maritime trade outside the tribute system."

One can also find a few older sources mentioning that they were really Negritos as well though. For example:

The China Review, Or, Notes and Queries on the Far East

And anyway, the numbers involved in those particular tribute missions are not so substantial. The particular mission in 614 that you mentioned only included two slaves for example.

5) I think you're off the mark about the coinage issue. Originally foreign immigrants to the area probably did introduce the practice of using such coinage, but this hardly proves the sort of angle that you were portraying to be correct.
 
Last edited:
Sep 2015
1,412
England
#7
I actually watched the video. Did you? It is clearly not focused on the 19th century, which is what your comments seemed to be about.
.
If you don't like peoples reaction to your comments, don't make them. Just don't bother. Life's too short. Anyone who watches the short vid will encounter the time span: 1000 years+-... No big deal then. Except what you have made of it so far. Is this a friendly history club thing or what?
 
Sep 2015
1,412
England
#8
I actually watched the video. Did you? It is clearly not focused on the 19th century, which is what your comments seemed to be about.
Ighayere: It seems you really did try to portray the state of things as they existed in the 19th century as applying to much earlier periods, and you were apparently unaware of the role of the Portuguese invasion in subjugating the native powers there - which is what actually paved the way for actual Arab political domination later on. And you now seem to be grasping at other more tangential points to try to make your initial characterization seem accurate.

Dreuxeng: NOPE. I DID NOT. PATENTLY. Portuguese involvement is not very relevant, and certainly did not in any way effect the Islamic slave culture that was extant in at least the c.7th. Plain intelligible points beginning to end. Anyone who can read, will read as much. Yes?

1) The French actually let slavery persist for a while after in some of their colonies (even though officially banning it), then not long afterward started imposing forced labor, almost completely defeating the point. The British too imposed forced labor on some of their colonies as I mentioned already in another thread. Just because they were no longer subjugated by one person that does not mean that the notion that such people were suddenly "free" is not questionable, when they were now subjugated to an entire foreign country's government.

No they didn't. And the British ABSOLUTELY NEVER had anything to do with forced labour. If they did, i would be more than interested to know what evidence there is of the same.

2). Vernet's analysis doesn't really agree with Coupland's claim, his own conclusions are clearly somewhat different. He just mentions Coupland's claim to note the interpretation that was used to justify certain actions of that time, but as he notes, the claim is severely lacking in evidence.

Vernet's claim is no more or no less than anyone else's. Let's hear Coupland's critique of Vernet's short arguments, and evaluate properly thereafter.

3) Yes, the Muslim world was very much involved in slavery. I think we both agree on that actually. The only issue is the claims you were making about the Swahili area. Even your portrayal of trade was off the mark, since the early Portuguese sources actually primarily emphasize gold and ivory, with slaves only being emphasized to a comparable or greater degree much later on, and of course when the slave trade reached much greater heights there in the late 18th and the 19th centuries slaves were the biggest focus of trade as you stated, but not earlier.

Actually? And the Portuguese sources are no more truthful of reality than any other source or text, and with whatsoever motive! And of course i mentioned this point anyway...

And what evidence is there for his entirely unsubstantiated and patently circumstantial statement? Not a lot i proffer, not a lot. The Portuguese may have traded for gold and ivory...
_____
 
Sep 2015
1,412
England
#9
Ighayere: But anyway, the point is, the situation was far more complicated than what you were portraying. A king of Sofala whose title as ruler is given as "Mfalme" (a clearly Bantu word) in a 10th century Arabic source, is obviously not an "Arab invader" for example. And when Duarte Barbosa (a Portuguese explorer) gives the following description of Angoy (Angoche, in present day Mozambique) he is not describing some "Arab Islamic imperialist invaded" society under Arab "tyranny":

Dreuxeng: How so? My points add up like circumstantial evidence to likelihood, and possibility. And therein lies a potrait of some complexity!
_____

". . .there is a town of the Moors on the sea coast, which is called Angoy, and has a king, and the Moors who live there are all merchants, and deal in gold, ivory, silk and cotton stuffs, and beads of Cambay, the same as do those of Sofala. And the Moors bring these goods from Quiloa [Kilwa], and Monbaza [Mombasa], and Melynde [Malindi], in small vessels hidden from the Portuguese ships; and they carry from there a great quantity of ivory, and much gold. And in this town of Angoy there are plenty of provisions of millet, rice, and some kinds of meat. These men are very brown and copper coloured; they go naked from the waist upwards, and from thence downwards, they wrap themselves with cloths of cotton and silk, and wear other cloths folded after the fashion of cloaks, and some wear caps and other hoods, worked with stuffs and silks; and they speak the language belonging to the country, which is that of the Pagans, and some of them speak Arabic. These people are sometimes in obedience to the king of Portugal, and at times they throw it off, for they are a long way off from the Portuguese forts." - Duarte Barbosa

Obviously none of the characteristics described in bold really match those of real Arabs; there are other descriptions that are like this which indicate that the cities were mainly native east African city-states with an Islamic overlay and often an immigrant or immigrant descended population. And of course the fact of literature (poetry, letters, etc.) written in the Swahili language makes it even clearer how far off the mark the idea is that the Swahili region was simply an "Arab Islamic imperialist invader" dominated society. Even the reference to Mogadishu as being under "Arab Islamic imperialist invader" rule or "colonialist" rule and "tyranny" by Arabs for "a thousand years and more" is strange since we have an explicit statement from Ibn Battuta that the city-state was ruled by Somalis (as I explained in the thread I linked to in my previous post). Yes after the Portuguese invasion there was Omani Arab domination of much of the Swahili coast after the Portuguese were pushed out of the region by Muslim forces, but prior to that, the region was not really like what you were trying to portray in your previous post.

The Swahili language emerged and was adopted by peoples. Were these people Islamic Somalis?The abstract does not provide any religious identity and culture. An Islamic "overlay" as you say implies exactly that however: of foreign peoples entirely socially exclusive, within and from Islamic boundaries - and as stated chieftains could also be collaborators in a system of slavery and trade:

'On the coastal section of the African Great Lakes region, another mixed Bantu community developed through contact with Muslim Arab and Persian traders, leading to the development of the mixed Arab, Persian and African Swahili City States. The Swahili culture that emerged from these exchanges evinces many Arab and Islamic influences not seen in traditional Bantu culture, as do the many Afro-Arab members of the Bantu Swahili people. With its original speech community centered on the coastal parts of Tanzania (particularly Zanzibar) and Kenya - a seaboard referred to as the Swahili coast - the Bantu Swahili Language contains many Arabic loan-words as a consequence of these interactions.'

And i was not trying to portray anything, shirley? I simply portrayed what i portrayed. And it is for people to decide for themselves, the value therein. I am pretty confident they will tend to agree with that.'
_____

I"ll quote for you an academic view which gives a more accurate idea of what the situation was like as far as the foreign presence, prior to the Omani dominance of the area. When describing the situation on the Tanzanian coast, Neville Chittick, who was one of the foremost researchers on the Swahili area, wrote:

"Their society was primarily Islamic, and their way of life mercantile. This does not mean to say it was Arab; the immigrants were few in number, and intermarrying with African women and those already of mixed blood, their stock was rapidly integrated with the local people. Probably by the second or third generation they would have abandoned their spoken language for Swahili or the local language, though retaining Arabic for writing." - Neville Chittick, "The Coast before the Arrival of the Portuguese" (1968), in Zamani: A Survey of East African History

How does he know there were only "few in number" ?? The sources are so...
And then "probably"... All not really very academically convincing surely?


4) The "Seng Chi" slaves were probably "Negritos", not "Negro" slaves, despite the name corresponding fairly well with "Zanji". Probably they were called that by some traders because of their dark skin and appearance (which has similarities to that of actual black African people). Of course some earlier studies in the 20th century erroneously assumed that the slaves referred to in those references were actually "Negro" (black), but more up to date studies usually indicate that they were "Negrito", not African. You can read about the "Negrito" connection here:

Archäologie und Frühe Texte

"The Kunlun slaves were imported into early Guangdong through two channels. The first was tribute trade. From 670 to 818, for example, Sri Vijaya and Java ("Zabedj" in contemporary Arab and Persian records) dispatched at least five such missions which presented indigenous Malay negritos, both female and male, to the Tang court. Occasionally these dark-coloured slaves were also called Sengzhi (Zangi?). The second channel was maritime trade outside the tribute system."

One can also find a few older sources mentioning that they were really Negritos as well though. For example:

The China Review, Or, Notes and Queries on the Far East

And anyway, the numbers involved in those particular tribute missions are not so substantial. The particular mission in 614 that you mentioned only included two slaves for example.

Zanj is an Arabic term...but may be referencing these kinds of other peoples. But maybe not.

5) I think you're off the mark about the coinage issue. Originally foreign immigrants to the area probably did introduce the practice of using such coinage, but this hardly proves the sort of angle that you were portraying to be correct.

How so?
 
Sep 2015
1,412
England
#10
'Portugal's main goal on the Swahili coast was to take control of the spice trade from the Arabs.'

The Portuguese were interested in the rich commerce of the Indian Ocean, dominated at that time by the dhow and Islamic Arabic or Indian merchants and traders. After a brief period of dominance during the 1500s the Portuguese soon fell into conflict with the Dutch and the Omani Arabs, and it was the latter that succeeded, by about 1730, in expelling the Portuguese from the Kenyan and Tanzanian coasts.
 

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