Open main menu

Afro-Arabs are Arabs of African descent and vice-versa. These include the black populations within Berbers, North Sudanese, Mauritanians, and Egyptians.[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 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 mingled with the local "negro" populations, thereby establishing Afro-Arab communities.[3] The Niger-Congo Swahili language and culture largely evolved through these intermarriages between Arab men and native Bantu women.[4]

Afro-Arab communities were similarly founded in the Nile Valley, as Arabs intermarried with indigenous Nilotic women.[5] Other Afro-Arabs in the Sudans had little biological connection to Arab peoples, but were instead essentially of Nilotic and Bantu origins, albeit influenced by the old Arabian civilization in language and culture.[6] In the mid-to-late 1800s, Arab traders began to move into the central African interior, in pursuance of the ivory trade.[7] Unlike other cases of racial mixing, Arabs generally did not view Afro-Arabs as half-caste; Afro-Arabs instead enjoyed similar statuses in their societies as long as the father was Arab.[5] Thus, after the Zanzibar Revolution of 1964, many of the Afro-Arabs that left Zanzibar and settled in Oman were able to attain high political and diplomatic positions and be accepted as Arabs.[8] Racial assimilation of Afro-Arabs with non-Arab Africans also aided Muslim missionaries in the spread of Islam throughout Africa.[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.[9] 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. ^ Hinde 1897, p. 2.
  4. ^ Tarikh, Volumes 1-2. Longman. 1966. p. 68. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  5. ^ a b c Mazrui 2014, p. 77
  6. ^ Guarak 2011, pp. 7, 401.
  7. ^ Hinde 1897, p. 3.
  8. ^ Mazrui & Mutunga 2004, p. 324
  9. ^ Poul Rovsing Olsen, "La Musique Africaine dans le Golfe Persique", Journal of the International Folk Music Council, Vol. 19, (1967), pp. 28-36


External linksEdit