The Swahili Coast is among Africa's most distinct regions. People go to the shores to look for slaves,ivory,spices,gold,and many more.The Swahili Coast is rich from trade with countries as far China.The Indian Ocean's monsoon winds lay the foundation for what would be one of Africa's oldest and richest trading histories. Today, large commercial fishing ships outnumber the Swahili Coast's traditional dhow sailboats and the sultanate of Mombasa has become a grimy industrial port.
The Swahili People
The Swahili Coast has combined the traditions of Africa, Arabia and India.Swahili design styles, with their curling arabesques and geometric shapes, reflect Arab tastes, but the uses to which these designs are put have also been shaped by purely African customs and spiritual beliefs . Swahili music is a mix of Arabic, Indian and African influences. Known as tarabu, this music has its base on the island of Zanzibar. It uses Middle Eastern, Indian and African drums plus a wide range of stringed instruments to produce a rhythm. Mostly played at weddings or community entertainments.
Animals/Climate in The Swahili Coast
In this region there are many animals in the ocean and on the land. Some of the more common ones are the Golden-Rumped Elephant Shrew, Ader's duiker, Bush-baby/Greater Galago, and the Common Octopus. The Swahili Coast does not produce enough plant life to sustain many different animals. In the region's forested areas, however, there are as many as 50 species of mammal and 200 species of bird. Indigenous species are limited. Bushpig, small antelope, bush-babies, monkeys and the occasional elephant make up most of the coastal mammals.The sandy soil erodes easily and many of the beach areas are eroding, while the ocean is being over-fished and many species are dying out. The Swahili Coast gets over forty five inches of rainfall annually, and the temperature is usually in the mid-seventies to upper eighties. The one thousand mile coastal line is mainly flat, but there are a few cliffs formed by soil erosion.
Swahili art forms are limited to architecture, furniture, and personal adornment. The great carved wooden doors of the coast are displayed as a sign of wealth.The Islam practiced by Swahili peoples is often very strict. Most of the requirements of the religion are practiced by most of the people. The economic success of the Swahili throughout the coastal region has encouraged many of their inland neighbors to adopt Islam as well. Most of these people, however, are somewhat less orthodox. Swahili believe in spirits (djinns). Most men wear protective amulets around their necks, which contain verses from the Koran.
This folktale from the Swahili Coast was very enjoyable and was easy to understand. It took place by the Indian Ocean, involving a shark and a monkey who had befriended each other even though they were opposite ends of the food chain. The shark one day asks the monkey to come to his habitat and says "The Sultan (of the Sharks) had fallen ill, and the healer had prescribed a monkey heart as the only way to save his life." The monkey agrees the come but then tells the Shark that he had left his heart back up in the tree. So, he goes back up to his treetop perch and when the Shark calls for him to come back so they could go to the Sultan the monkey replies "My heart is where it always has been . . . In my CHEST!” “Go away, go find some other foolish monkey!" The point of this story is the reason why monkeys always stray from the water's edge and reside safely in the treetops above.