Early contact was a period when East Africa began to interact with people from Middle East and Far East as early as 200 BC. These contacts were mostly developed through commercial activities, The early visitors were Persians, Syrians, Indians, Chinese, Lebanese, Burma and Arabians. The visitors managed to travel to the coast of East Africa through the use of Sea Vessels with the help of South- Eastern monsoon winds. Trade contacts between East African coast and the Far and Middle East intensified between 8th and 10th Century when many traders from China, Indonesia, India, and Arab came to trade to African countries. Such commercial contacts are evident from Archaeological findings such as China porcelains, coins, and foreigners tombs in areas like Kilwa Kisiwani and Old Bagamoyo.
The Early contacts were facilitated through legitimate trade, the second phase of Contacts (from 10th century onwards) included slaves among the commodities taken from East African coast. Motives influenced visitors from Middle East and Far East
Spreading of Islamic religion, Islam religion began in the Middle East in 7th AD from there it spread to many parts of Asia. And Arabs wanted to spread their religion to new parts of the world including Africa.
Seeking refuge, some visitors who came to Africa experienced religion and political persecution in their countries so they came in search of peacefully place to settle.
Establishment of settlement, some visitors decided to live permanently in Africa especially along the coast and they built permanent stone houses in the Arabic style.
Commercial exploration, some of the early visitors came to explore Africa and assess its resources. They wanted to know the climatic conditions, mineral resources, wildlife and economic activities found on the African continent. They plan to exploit resources available.
Trade, Many of the early visitors were interested in products from Africa to take back to their home countries
GOODS EXCHANGED BETWEEN AFRICA, EAST AND MIDDLE EAST
EFFECTS OF THE EARLY CONTACTS BETWEEN AFRICA AND MIDDLE AND FAR EAST Positive Social Effects
The rise coastal city States, These states included Mogadishu, Zanzibar, Mombasa, Kilwa and Sofala, they were once small unimportant coastal villages but they grew into cities due to settlement by foreigners.
Development of Swahili language, Swahili language and culture developed as a result of intermarriage between the people of East Africa Coast towns. Swahili language consist of roughly 65% of Bantu words, 30% of Arabic words and other few Indian words. It provided a common language for the African and Arabs on East Africa coast to use in trade
Spread of Islam, Arabs and Persians who settled along the Coast of East Africa spread Islam along the coastal state of East Africa. It also extended into the interior. Arabs built Mosque wherever they settled. This was alongside with the introduction of Islamic laws in order to maintain justice and order and these laws were taken from the Muslim Holy book (Quran) and they were administered by the Kadhi (Judge).
New Architectures designs, The Coastal city states adopted new style of building. For example the Persian traders who settled along the coast introduced building using stone style similar to that found in Persia. Evidence of buildings seen in Historical sites such as ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Zanzibar.
Introduction of new style of dressing. The people of Africa adopted new style of dressing from the foreigners. Examples those who converted the adopted the Islamic mode of dressing. This included the buibui (a long black rib for women), kanzu (a long while ribe for men), vails for women and barghashia(a small cap) for men.
Intermarriage, the foreigner intermarried with African, creating a new race of half castes.
NEGATIVE SOCIAL EFFECTS
Cultural interference, this was experienced though interacting with foreigners and adopted their customs. Some Africa forget their traditional religion, language, mode of dressing and food. This interfered African way of life.
Warfare and depopulation, Contacts brought slave trade between African and Arabs. The demand of slaves caused warfare between African communities. The wars caused insecurity, loss of life, depopulation and underemployment in many parts in Africa.
Social stratification, through trading with foreigners, some Africans acquired greatly wealth. This led to the emergence of super rids class of people among the Africans. These people exercised a lot of power and influence in the community. As result there was greatly stratification, with a big difference between the have and have not.
POSITIVE ECONOMIC EFFECTS
Introduction of new crops, new crops such as rice, wheat, cloves, sugarcane and orange were introduced to the African continent from the Middle East and Far East. There crops improved the diet of African. In fact, some grew so well the many people adopted them as their stable foods. For example, rice is a staple food among many people along the Coast of East Africa.
Exposing Africa to the world, African contacts with the Middle and Far East exposed this continent to the rest of the World. Visitors who came to Africa also travelled to other parts of the world. Africa became involved in the world economy, African products such as Ivory, Gold, Leopard skin and copper became popular and were sold all over the World and in turn African got access to products from outside the world.
Introduction of money economy, Foreigners introduced the use of currency in trade. This was more convenient and replaced barter trade as the method of exchange. Coins begun to be minted and used in the East African city states.
Introduction of new technology, People from the Far East and Middle East brought new technology to Africa. For example they introduced advanced navigation techniques and the art of keeping records by writing. These things helped African along the Indian Ocean shoreline to travel further. Fishermen could also sail into deeper and get larger catches and dhows and still used in some fishing communities.
NEGATIVE ECONOMIC EFFECTS
Unequal Exchange, Traders from the Far and Middle East traded with African using goods with unequal values. They took goods of high value such as slaves, gold, ivory and animal skin in exchange of low value items such as beads, cowrie shells and colored clothes. These commodities from Africa were then sold at great profits in foreign markets, this means that the foreigners gained a lot of expenses of the African.
Slave Trade, Oman Arabs introduced slave trade to East Africa. Sultan Seyyid Said introduced clove plantations in Zanzibar and then got slaves to work in them. In additional they sold slaves to Europeans who began sugar plantations in America.
Exploitation of African resources, Due to high demand of African commodities in outside world African resources were greatly exploited. For example large number of elephants and rhinoceros were killed for their horns and many strong young people were captured and sold as slaves. So this contributed to reduction of African resources.
Decline of Local industries, the introduction of foreign goods led to the decline of African local industries. Due to the availability of many varieties of clothes, utensils and other tools from abroad few people bought local products so as a results local production also declined.