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Afro-Arabs are people of mixed Arab and African descent as well as groups from Sub-Saharan Africa who have adopted Arab culture. Most Afro-Arabs inhabit North Africa and the Swahili Coast in the African Great Lakes region.[1][2]

عرب أفارقة
Regions with significant populations
North African parts of the Arab world, Swahili Coast
Arabic, Berber languages, Teda, Comorian, Swahili
Related ethnic groups
Afro-Iraqis, Al-Akhdam



Afro-Arab communities were founded in the Nile Valley, as Arabs conquered these lands and arabised the local Nilotic people.[3] Most Afro-Arabs in the Sudans were mainly of Nilotic and Bantu origins, influenced by the old Arabian civilization in language and culture only.[4]

In the Maghreb region of North Africa, the black Tuareg can be found, they are Arabised to a great extent and they are another group of Afro-Arabs who are of black Berber origin. Moreover, the Toubou people are a further group of Africans who have adopted Islam and who have adopted Arab culture in the Arab countries that they live in, like Libya and Sudan.

Afro-Arab man of the Congo (ca. 1942).

By around the 10th century CE, Arabs had established commercial settlements on the Swahili Coast. The Portuguese conquered these trading centers after the discovery of the Cape Road. From the 1700s to the early 1800s, Muslim forces of the Sultanate of Muscat reseized these market towns, especially on the islands of Pemba and Zanzibar. In these territories, the Oman Arabs helped convert the local "African" populations to Islam. The African populations thereby established Afro-Arab communities by adopting Arab culture, despite the fact they have no Arab ancestry. It's worth noting that almost all of them also converted to Islam[5]

In the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, descendants of people from the Swahili Coast perform traditional Liwa and Fann At-Tanbura music and dance.[6] The mizmar is also performed by Afro-Arabs in the Tihamah and Hejaz regions of Saudi Arabia.[citation needed] The ancestors of these Africans were originally brought to the Arabian Gulf as slaves. But today they are fully recognised citizens of the Persian Gulf States, despite the fact that they do not have any Arab ancestry.

In addition, Stambali of Tunisia and Gnawa music of Morocco are both ritual music and dances, which in part trace their origins to West African musical styles.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Romero, Patricia W. (1997). Lamu. Markus Wiener. p. 7. ISBN 1558761063. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  2. ^ Gunnar M Ahmad Abdel Ghaffar Muhammad Chr Michelsens Institutt (2013). Sudan Divided: Continuing Conflict in a Contested State. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 90. ISBN 1137338245. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  3. ^ Mazrui 2014, p. 77
  4. ^ Guarak 2011, pp. 7, 401.
  5. ^ Hinde 1897, p. 2.
  6. ^ Poul Rovsing Olsen, "La Musique Africaine dans le Golfe Persique", Journal of the International Folk Music Council, Vol. 19, (1967), pp. 28-36


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