"African Arabs" redirects here. For Arabs living in Africa, see North African Arabs.
عرب آفارقه
Regions with significant populations
Swahili Coast, parts of Arab world
Related ethnic groups
Afro-Iranian, Al-Akhdam

Afro-Arabs are individuals and groups from Africa who are of partial Arab descent. Most Afro-Arabs inhabit the Swahili Coast in the African Great Lakes region, although some can also be found in parts of the Arab world.[1][2]

In a political context, "Afro-Arab" may also refer to the African Union's efforts to improve cooperation between nations inside of non-Arab Africa and the Arab World countries of West Asia (Arab Middle East) and Arab Africa.[3]


Afro-Arab man in 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.[4] In the mid-to-late 1800s, Arab traders began to move into the interior, in pursuance of the ivory trade in central 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.[6] The mizmar is also performed by Afro-Arabs in the Tihamah and Hejaz regions of Saudi Arabia.

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 also


  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. Sarah Grainger, Uganda celebrates Afro-Arab unity, BBC News, March 13, 2008
  4. Hinde 1897, p. 2
  5. Hinde 1897, p. 3
  6. Poul Rovsing Olsen, "La Musique Africaine dans le Golfe Persique", Journal of the International Folk Music Council, Vol. 19, (1967), pp. 28-36


External links

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