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Book chapter Book chapter
Title:The Peoples
Author:Middleton, J.
Book title:Kenya Coast Handbook: Culture, resources and development in the East African littoral
Editors:Hoorweg, J.
Foeken, D.
Obudho, R.A.
City of publisher:Hamburg
Publisher:Lit Verlag
Geographic term:Kenya
Discipline:Anthropology & Ethnology
Subjects:Mijikenda - ethnic group
Pokomo - ethnic group
Taita - ethnic group
Taveta - ethnic group
Boni - ethnic group
Sanye - ethnic group
Abstract:The peoples of the Coast form a very mixed population. The oldest inhabitants are the Cushitic speakers in the North: Orma, Boni, Sanye and Somali. They were displaced by Bantu speaking peoples who now form four clusters: Mijikenda, Pokomo, Taita and Swahili, who all claim origins from Shungwaya, the mythical heartland in the Tana-Juba region. The Swahili stand apart in important respects. They are not a clearly defined society but rather a group of merchants who have played the role of commercial leaders and organisers of other peoples in the region. Non-Swahili have generally accepted this hegemony and, in that sense, the Swahili encompass and define a larger coastal identity. The economic and social organisation of the Swahili, as an urban and Muslim community are discussed. Since the decline of the international commerce the importance of the Swahili has diminished and their former role taken over by the central government which regards the coastal peoples as marginal to modern Kenya. (Source: Author Abstract)