Swahili people from Stanleyville (now Kisangani in D.R. Congo): These Waswahili are originally from Zanzibar. Most people made no distinction between the Omani Swahili speaking Arabs from Zanzibar and the Waswahili from Zanzibar that was living in Congo at the time. So they were all called Arabs. Waswahili were referred to as Arabs mainly by Europeans and sometimes both Omanis and Zanzibari were referred to as “Ngwana” by the local population. The “Baswahili/Muswahili” identity was introduced later on in Congo’s history

theloveofyou  asked:

Is this not all the same if a black african girl were to be dating someone from the Middle East? It's all the same stuff, isn't it?

I think this is a really interesting question actually, because it implicitly tries to compare and contrast the effects of the Arab slave trade with the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Are the power dynamics of a black African woman dating an Arab guy in the Middle East similar to that of a white guy in the US or Europe dating a black woman from their country?

(Image description: Egyptian slavemaster and Waswahili slave)

What we do know is that the Arab slave trade predated the European trans-Atlantic slave trade by several hundred years. We also know that there is a very long history of a complete denigration and dehumanization of black people in Arab countries. In Islam, it was illegal to enslave a member of faith. But black skin was so associated with slavery in the Arab world that these rules were regularly bypassed to enslave Muslim Africans anyway. Also, most of those enslaved were African women who were sold into sex slavery for Arab men.

The poetry and writings of Antarah ibn Shaddah, a black pre-Islamic folk hero confirm that antiblackness in some form or other in the Arab world is entrenched and goes back far more than a millenium. Born in 525 AD to a noble Arab tribesman and an Ethiopian slave woman, Antarah was subjected to regular humiliation, including the betrayal of his father who denied his paternity and considered him to be another slave living in his household. It was only much later in his adult life that his father acknowledged his paternity and liberated him from slavery. And the legacy of this dehumanizing antiblackness continues to this day in the Arab world. More than 200,000 South Sudanese were enslaved during the Second Sudanese war alone. 150,000 Ethiopians were just deported on a whim by the Saudi Arabian government. And black Africans are regularly subjected to dehumanizing treatment and brutality across the Arab world

(Image description: Arab captors with black Zanzibar workers)

In all it is estimated that at least 8 million Africans were subjected to the Arab slave trade. Other estimates range north of 20 million. These numbers are comparable to those of the trans-Atlantic slave trade depending on the scholars you read. There are large black communities in the Arab world today as a legacy of this slave trade and recent migration. Numbers of descendants from original slaves were limited by an incredibly high death rate and the fact that black African male slaves were regularly castrated and made into eunuchs for their Arab masters. Black people in the Arab world include former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, who was of Egyptian and Sudanese Nubian ancestry

(Image description: Portrait of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat)

Sadat was regularly ridiculed as being “Nasser’s black poodle” and people insisted that he “did not look Egyptian enough.” All despite the fact that Arabs didn’t colonize Egypt until the 600s AD and so could be identity checked themselves by black Egyptians. 

If you would like to see more examples of the rampant antiblackness in the Arab world, see these tweets.

Within the Arab world today Arab supremacy is a basic fact of life with incredibly dehumanizing effects on black Africans and indigenous Amazigh peoples in particular. And especially when we consider the fact that the Arab slave trade targeted black African women especially for sex slavery, the parallels in the power dynamics between a black woman and white man in the West and a black African woman and an Arab man within the Arab world today are likely a lot more similar than one might realize at first glance.


Why do Swahili people like to call themselves Arab?
Y'all need to stop with this self hatin bullshit, it’s not cute.

Yes, we may all have Arab ancestry but don’t deny that you have African blood in you and you know damn well that if you go to an Arab country you’ll be known as nothing but another ‘Abid’ to them so chill out with this 'mi ni mwarabu’ upuzi and learn the truth about your culture and heritage that the Swahili culture was started by Africans and NOT Arabs or Portuguese or Persians.

Arab and Swahili traders from the eastern African coast, along with porters and allies recruited in the course of journey across Tanzania, began to penetrate west of Lake Tanganyika in search of ivory and slaves in the 1840s and 1850s. These traders were responding to the rising international demand for ivory, as well as to the increasing need for slaves to populate the new clove plantations encouraged by Sayyid Said bin Said and financed by Indian capital on the islands of Zanzibar ( Unguja) and Pemba, just off the east coast…By 1858 traders were crossing Lake Tanganyika at the Luba (Baluba) client state of Kyombo Mkubwa, where they exchanged a variety of beads for ivory, slaves and copper. Arab and Swahili traders and their auxiliaries were also establishing a base in Manyema, along the northeastern frontier of the Luba empire, by the ed of the reign of Ilunga Kabale…Tippu Tip, who was born in Zanzibar about 1840, became one of the most famous Arab-Swahili traders operating west of Lake Tanganyika…Tippu Tip’s next voyage from Zanzibar, lasting from 1870(?) to November 1882, was particularly important for Luba (Baluba) history. He and half a dozen Arab and Swahili companions left the Tabwa area in 1871 in a caravan of some 800 Nyamwezi auxiliaries, armed with 150 guns. For the next year or more this caravan roamed the shores of Lake Mweru, attacked the kingdom of Kazembe (a Baluba and Balunda state). Eventually they arrived at Pweto at the northern end of Lake Mweru, where some of Tippu Tip’s companions departed for their base among the Tabwa. the caravan then struck directly for Luba (Baluba) territory, crossing through Hemba villages (Hemba people are known as Baluba people of the east) and Lomotwa villages of the Kundelungu Mountains. Before the middle of 1872 they had stopped to trade for ivory at the Luba client state of Kayumba…Tippu Tip’s adventures at Kayumba showed what could happened to a Luba chief who attempted to monitor too closely the Arab and Swahili presence in his domain. Ivory was too difficult to obtain at Kayumba because Shakomo, the ruler controlled commercial transactions by forbidding caravan members from travelling around the area. Traders had to wait while small amounts of ivory were brought to them, and about twenty-five percent of all ivory changed had to be remitted to the chief as tribute. Tippu Tip was not happy with these restrictions, and when the ruler of Kayumba and his people attempted to stop the caravan from leaving, they fought their way out, taking many prisoners. It was common practice for Arab-Swahili traders to hold prisoners of war and women and children captured in raids for ransom in the form of ivory, and in this way Tippu Tip was able to obtain additional ivory from Kayumba.
—  The Rainbow and the Kings: A History of the Luba Empire to 1891 By Thomas Q. Reefe
Arab slave trade (Zanzibar slave trade) and Congo-Arab war

[This post will be brief and written in a way that is accessible to all. Also, non-Congolese people keep your opinions to yourself, don’t make blank statements and dont no share your thoughts on this post, I don’t care for them. If you comment you will be blocked] This post will not go into too much detail, I won’t talk about specific ethnic groups or places in Eastern Congo (that will be done on separate posts)

The Arabs and Waswahili (Swahili people; who are also referred to as Baswahili in D.R. Congo today) of Zanzibar and other Swahili City States had been trading with states/kingdoms like the Luba kingdom of the Congo region  before the arrival of the Belgians. During the time of the Congo Free State, whilst the Belgians controlled most of the Congo the Arabs and Waswahili of Zanzibar had Eastern Congo. Tippu Tip whose real name was Hamed ben Mohammed al-Murjebi, was one of the most notorious, famous and powerful slavers in Eastern Congo. Reybrouck writes “At first he had acquired his luxury good, slaves and ivory in a friendly fashion. Yet, from 1870 on, all that changed. As more and more tons of ivory began flowing eastward, traders like Tippu Tip grew in power and wealth. In the final account, the sacking and pillaging of entire villages proved more cost effective than battering for a few tusks and adolescents. Why spend days chattering with local village chieftain, refusing lukewarm palm wine when your religion forbade you drinking anyway, when you could just as easily torch his village. The name Tippu Tip sent shivers down the spines of those inhabiting an area half the size of Europe.” And Zanzibari control of Eastern Congo continued until their relationship with the Belgians turned sour which then turned into a war (proxy war). 

[An account of the slave trade:

We pass a woman tied by the neck to a tree and dead, the people of the country explained that she has been unable to keep up with the other slaves in the gang, and her master had determined that she should not become the property of anyone else if she recovered after resting for a time. I may mention here that we saw others tied up in a similar manner, and one lying in the path shot or stabbed, she was in a pool of blood. The explanation we got invariably was that the Arab who owned these victims was enraged at losing his money by the slaves becoming unable to walk, and vented his anger by murdering them]

The outbreak of the war was blamed on the Arabs and Waswahili. The Zanzibaris had signed a treaty on February 1887 promising to end the slave trade in Eastern Congo but failed to do so, then the Belgians implemented plans to stop them. This was not done because they cared about the Congolese people, it was done because the slave trade and Zanzibar undermined the Belgians authority. It was the fight for economic and political power in the Congo which the Belgians presented as a Christian anti-slavery crusade. The war broke out it 1892 and ended in 1894 and tens of thousands people died. It was a proxy war because most of the fighting was  done by Congolese people, who aligned themselves with either side.

Baswahili/Swahili identity in D.R. Congo 

After the war had ended, the majority of the Arabs and Waswahili returned back to Zanzibar a lot of them remained and lived in in Eastern Congo. Swahili-Arab culture has had major cultural influences on Eastern Congo, along with the Waswahili descendants of the Free State living in Congo, mainly Congolese people in Eastern/Central Congo identify as Swahili/Baswahili and they are different from ethnic Swahili people living in the country. Ethnic groups such as Lega, Lokele, Baluba (mostly of Katanga but also some from Kasai), Bembe, Kusu etc etc have all been influenced by Arab-Swahili culture. Especially ethnic groups from the Maniema province and other Arabised areas. 

It should also be noted that the majority of the enslaved Eastern Congolese who were sold at the Zanzibar slave markets were taken to Egypt, Persia, India, Pakistan and Arab nations

  • D.R. Congo: The Darkness of the Heart: How the Congolese Have Survived 500 of history  by Loso Kiteti Boya
  • Congo: The Epic History of a People by David Van Reybrouck

Illustration of women from different ethnic groups of the Belgian Congo with their traditional hairstyles and adornments

[There are over 250 different ethnic groups in DR Congo but these illustrations only include (in order from left to right) Bambuti, Wasongola, Bangala, Bayaka, Bangelima, Babali, Basengele, Baluba, Bambala, Batetela, Mangbetu, Azande, Wagenia, Sango, Bushongo (Bakuba/Kuba), Arabisée (/Swahili Waswahili/Baswahili), Ngombe and Banyamulenge (Tutsi Congolese)]

From the collection titled “Peuplades du Congo Belge” (People the Belgian Congo”)  part 1 , part 2

Picture take in Congo Free State: I have seen this picture being reblogged by so many people on the site without people knowing his name or what happened to him and his family. His name was Nsala from Wala in the Nsongo District. Congo Free State, what we now cal Democratic Republic of Congo was owned by King Leopold of Belgium, it was given to him at the Berlin Conference. The whole country was essentially turned into a slave plantation and one of the things people had to do was mine for rubber. If a person didn’t meet the rubber quota, them and their family would be severely punished and one of the punishments was mutilation… A Catholic priest quote a man called Tswambe, speaking of the hated state official Léon Fiévez “Rubber causes these torments; that’s why we no longer want to hear its name spoken. Soldiers made young men kill or rape their own mothers and sisters…The European officer in command ‘ordered us to cut off the heads of the men and hang them on the village palisades … and to hang the women and the children on the palisade in the form of a cross.” Nsala didn’t meet the rubber quota so as, punishment his wife, daughter and son were killed, cut up into pieces and boiled and only the remaining foot and hand of his five year old daughter was returned to him (according to accounts)

From 1885 to 1908 Belgians estimated that half of Congo’s population had halved and over 10 million people died (statistics vary from 12-22 million) the Belgians were not the only ones who contributed to this death toll and torture. Omani Arab and Swahili people (Waswahili) from Zanzibar were also responsible for the Congolese genocide. 

Ethnic Groups and Tribes in D.R.Congo

The majority of the links will have no content because I haven’t made any posts on those ethnic groups or tribe. Be patient, if you want send me an ask requesting a post. Ask only no imessage

(If there are any mistakes send me an asking and I’ll correct it)

The majority of Congo’s ethnic population is made up of Bantu ethnic groups. There are also Nilotic and Sudanic ethnic groups as well as the indigenous people who only make up roughly 1% of the population

- A

Alur/BaAlur ethnic group (Nilotic)

Amba/BaAmba ethnic group (Bantu)

Asua ethnic group (indigenous people) [part of the Mbuti/BaMbuti]

Aushis/BaAushis ethnic group (Bantu)

Avukaya/BaAvukaya ethnic group (Sudanic/Ubangian)


Babenzi/Benzi ethnic group (Indigenous people)

Babindji Tribe [part of the BaLuba ethnic group] (Bantu)

Baka ethnic group (indigenous people)

Bena Mulenge Tribe [part of the BaLuba ethnic group] (Bantu)

Bakwa Tshibasu ethnic group (Bantu)

Bakwa Dishi Tribe/Disho [part of the BaLuba ethnic group] (Bantu)

Bali ethnic group (Bantu)

Banda ethnic group (Sudanic/Ubangian)

Banyamulenge aka Tutsi Congolese [migrated to Congo before independence]

  • And you have the Tutsi and Hutu from Rwanda and Burundi who migrated to Congo after 1960, majority of them fleeing the war/genocide in their countries

Barambo ethnic group (Sudanic/Ubangian)

Bari ethnic group (Nilotic)

Bemba ethnic group (Bantu)

Bembe ethnic group (Bantu)

Biombo ethnic group (Bantu)

Bira ethnic group (Bantu)

Boa ethnic group (Bantu)

Bobangis ethnic group (Bantu) [Tha Bobangis have assimilated to the BaNgala]

Boma ethnic group (Bantu)

Bomitaba ethnic group (Bantu)

Budu ethnic group (Bantu)

Budzas/Budjas  ethnic group (Bantu)

Bushong ethnic people (Bantu) [part of the Kuba people (Bakuba]

Buyu ethnic group (Bantu)

 Bwende ethnic group(Bantu)


Ding/Dinga ethnic group (Bantu)

Dondo/BaDondo Tribe [part of the BaKongo ethnic group] (Bantu)


Efé/BaEfe ethnic group(indigenous people) [part of the Mbuti/BaMbuti]

Ekonda/BaEkonda Tribe[part of the Mongo ethnic group] (Bantu)

Enya/Wagenia ethnic group (Bantu)


Furiiru/BaFuliiru ethnic group (Bantu)


Havu/BaHavu ethnic group (Bantu)

Hemba/BaHemba ethnic group (Bantu)

Hima/BaHima ethnic group (Bantu)

Holo/BaHolo ethnic group (Bantu)

Holoholo/BaHoloholo ethnic group (Bantu)

Humbu/BaHumbu ethnic group (Bantu)

Hunde/BaHunde ethnic group (Bantu)

Hungana/BaHungana ethnic group (Bantu)


Kakongo/BaKakongo ethnic group (Bantu)

Kakwa/BaKakwa ethnic group (Nilotic)

Kanyok/BaKanyok ethnic group (Bantu)

Kaonde/BaKaonde ethnic group (Bantu)

Kete/BaKete ethnic group (Bantu)[part of the Kuba people (Bakuba]

Komo/BaKomo ethnic group (Bantu)

Kongo/Bakongo ethnic group (Bantu)

Konjo/BaKonjo ethnic group (Bantu)

Kouyous/BaKouyous ethnic group (Bantu)

Kuku/BaKuku ethnic group (Bantu)

Kusu/BaKusu ethnic group (Bantu)

Kwese/BaKwese ethnic group (Bantu)


Lamba/BaLamba ethnic group (Bantu)

Lega/BaLega ethnic group (Bantu)

Lele/BaLele ethnic group (Bantu) [part of the Kuba people (Bakuba]

Lendu/BaLendu ethnic group (Sudanic/Ubangian)

Lendu-Bindi Tribe (Sudanic/Ubangian) [part of the Lendu ethnic group]

Lengola Tribe/BaLengola (Bantu) [part of the Mongo ethnic group]

Lese/BaLese ethnic group (Sudanic/Ubangian)

Loi/BaLoi ethnic group (Bantu)

Lokele/BaLokele ethnic group (Bantu)

Luba/BaLuba ethnic group (Bantu)

Lugbara (Sudanic/Ubangian)

Luluwa/BaLuluwa Tribe (Bantu) [part of the BaLuba ethnic group]

Lunda/BaLunda ethnic group (Bantu)

Lwalwa ethnic group (Bantu)


Mamvu/BaMamvu ethnic group (Sudanic/Ubangian)

Mangbetu ethnic group (Sudanic/Ubangian)

Mbala/BaMbala ethnic group (Bantu)

Mbochi/BaMbochi ethnic group (Bantu)

Mbole/BaMbole ethnic group (Bantu)

Mbuti/BaMbuti ethnic group (indigenous people) [also refers to the Sua (AKA Kango, Mbuti), Efe and Asua as a collective]

Mbuun/Bunda/BaBunda ethnic group (Bantu)

Metoko/BaMetoko ethnic group (Bantu)

Mondunga ethnic group (Sudanic/Ubangian)

Mongo/BaMongo ethnic group (Bantu)

Monjombo ethnic group (Sudanic/Ubangian)


Nande/BaNande ethnic group (Bantu)

Ndembu ethnic group (Bantu)

Ndengese ethnic group (Bantu) [part of the Kuba people (Bakuba]

Ngala/BaNgala ethnic group (Bantu)

Ngata ethnic group (Bantu)

Ngbaka/BaNgbaka ethnic group (Bantu)

Ngbandi/Sango ethnic group (Sudanic/Ubangian)

Ngeende ethnic group (Bantu) [part of the Kuba people (Bakuba]

Ngoli/Ngwi/BaNgoli ethnic group (Bantu)

Ngombe/BaNgombe ethnic group (Bantu)

Ngongo/BaNgongo ethnic group (Bantu)

Nkanu/BaNkanu ethnic group (Bantu)

Nkundu/BaNkundu ethnic group (Bantu)

Nkutshu/BaNkutshu ethnic group (Bantu)

Ntomba/BaNtomba ethnic group (Bantu)

Nunu/Bobangi-Nunu ethnic group (Bantu)

Nyanga/BaNyanga ethnic group (Bantu)

Nzakara ethnic group (Sudanic/Ubangian)

- P

Pende/BaPende ethnic group (Bantu)

Pere/BaPere ethnic group (Bantu)

Pindi/BaPindi ethnic group (Bantu)

Pyaang/BaPyaanga ethnic group
(Bantu)[part of the Kuba people (Bakuba]


Saka/BaSaka ethnic group (Bantu)

Sakata/BaSakata ethnic group (Bantu)

Salampasu/BaSalampasu (Bantu)

Shi/BaShi ethnic group (Bantu)

Solongo Tribe (Bantu) [part of the BaKongo ethnic group]

Songola ethnic group (Bantu)

Songye ethnic group (Bantu)

Suku ethnic group (Bantu)

Sundi Tribe (Bantu) [part of the Bakongo ethnic group]

Swahili/Baswahili/Waswahili (Bantu) [there’s a difference between culturally Swahili ethnic groups and ethically Swahili groups)


Tabwa/BaTabwa ethnic group (Bantu)

Tchokwes/Chokwe ethnic group (Bantu)

Teke/BaTeke ethnic group (Bantu)

Tende/BaTende ethnic group (Bantu)

Tetela/BaTetela ethnic group (Bantu)

Togbo/BaTogbo Tribe (Sudanic/Ubangian) [part of the Banda ethnic group]

Topoke/BaTopoke Tribe (Bantu) [part of the Mongo ethnic group]

Turumbu/BaTurumbu ethnic group (Bantu)

Twa/BaTwa ethnic group (indigenous people) 


Vira/BaVira ethnic group (Bantu)


Wongo/BaWongo ethnic group (Bantu) [part of the Kuba people (Bakuba]

Woyo/BaWoyo Tribe (Bantu) [part of the BaKongo ethnic group]


Yaka/BaYaka ethnic group (Bantu)

Yakoma/BaYakoma ethnic group (Sudanic/Ubangian)

Yanzi/BaYanzi ethnic group (Bantu)

Yeke/BaYeke ethnic group (Bantu)

Yela/BaYela ethnic group (Bantu)

Yombe/BaYombe tribe (Bantu)  [part of the BaKongo ethnic group]


Zande/Azande ethnic group (Sudanic/Ubangian)

Zappo Zap (Bantu) [part of the Songye ethnic group]

Zela/BaZela ethnic group (Bantu)

anonymous asked:

Growing up, I was told Swahili people are only from the coast of Kenya and Tanzania. Sorry if this has been asked before, but how comes there are Swahili people in Congo?

Because Swahili people from Zanzibar came to Congo to trade, rape, pillage, conquer and enslave people with the help of their Omani brothers. After all that  some of them remained in Congo.  I’ve already written about it look through the history, swahili and waswahili tag and I answered a similar question before (here

Most Wikipedia entries are okay but I wouldn’t trust the numbers and I dunno why they left out Comoros and Oman


Bukavu, South Kivu, (East) Democratic Republic of Congo

It was originally named “Costermansville” (in French) or “Costermansstad” (in Dutch) under Belgian rule. The most spoken languages in Bukavu are French and Swahili (and multiple dialects of Swahili is spoken by the people) but people also speak their native tongue. Swahili was spread by the Arabs and Waswahili from Zanzibar even before the arrival of French.  

Stanleyville fut la dernière étape du voyage royal. Au bord du fleuve Congo, dont on aperçoçit dans le fond les Stanleyfalls“ rapides célébres les Arabisés et Waswahili (peuple Swahili) [de Zanzibar] avaient organisé des danes I’honneur du Roi

Something I love about coming from the coast of Kenya is that depending on how a particular person is mixed, we can pass as all kinds of things but we can recognize another Swahili person if we were to see them walking around. I’ve been asked if I’m mixed in America. I look like an (black)Arab when in Dubai or Qatar, and I’m always being mistaken for Eritrean or Ethiopian -Somali too but I will never get that-It’s cool but sometimes I get that stupid ‘You don’t look African’ shit then that’s when I get frustrated and I’m like bye
But overall it’s cool that we have such a blend of looks