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Swahili Culture

Swahili Culture


Swahili culture is inextricable from East African society. Its influence stretches from art and customs to food and language, and its history goes back thousands of years.

For centuries, the coast of East Africa was an epicenter of trade-in products, raw materials, spices, fabrics and ideas. The many different peoples (primarily Muslim and Bantu-speaking) who descended on this region soon began to intermarry and nurtured a vibrant new culture: an amalgam of some of the best of African, Indian and Muslim traditions. Trade among this burgeoning culture flourished, spreading throughout the areas now known as Kenya and Tanzania, and all the way to Zanzibar.

Though Swahili city-states have long since waned, their traditions remain woven in the fabric of African society. Swahili cuisine contains traces of Arabic and Indian spices, and you will rarely find pork dishes because of Muslim diet restictions. In addition, the culture's architecture, furniture, and jewellry are recognized as distinguished art forms. Many of the intricately carved wooden doors so admired along the East African coast are undeniably Swahili.

Perhaps the clearest representation of the culture's permanence is in the language - Kiswahili is a national language of both Kenya & Tanzania, and is generally spoken by people living in the region. An evolved fusion of Arabic and Bantu languages, the word Kiswahili is actually derived from the Arabic word for "coast."

Your Micato safari will introduce you to these and the many other enriching and fascinating aspects of Swahili culture.