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Who are the Waswahili?

  • Carol M. Eastman


The question as to who are the Swahili has long been controversial. Captain C. H. Stigand is responsible for the most widely accepted definition,

A Swahili … in the more confined sense of the word, is a descendant of one of the original Arab or Persian-Arab settlers on the East African Coast. In the broader sense of the word it includes all who speak a common language, Swahili.



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Eastman, Carol M., and Farouk, M. T. Topan. 1966. ‘ The Siu: Notes on the People and Their Language ’, Swahili, vol. 36/2, pp. 2248.
Harries, Lyndon. 1962. Swahili Poetry. Oxford: Clarendon press.
Polomé, Edgar C. 1967. Swahili Language Handbook, Center for Applied Linguistics.
Prins, A. H. J. 1961. The Swahili-Speaking Peoples of Zanzibar and The East African Coast. Forde, Daryll ed. London: International African Institute (Ethnographic Survey of Africa Part XII).
Stigand, C. H. 1913. The hand of Zinj. London.
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  • ISSN: 0001-9720
  • EISSN: 1750-0184
  • URL: /core/journals/africa
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