Our cultural impact on the world is not new

The Maasai Cricket Warriors team psyche before they leave for one of their training sessions at Ilpolei Field. {Photo/Elvis Ogina}

Our elections caused a lot of noise in the global news media. We are indeed a major player on the African and later world stage.

We have the largest economy in East Africa as well as a major port in East Africa, Mombasa, which is the main trade gateway to the East and Central African region.

Our citizens have made a great contribution to the world not only because of our economic standing, but also because of the uniqueness of our people’s character and talents.

Kenya was home to the first black woman in history to ever receive a Nobel Peace Prize, as Wangari Maathai’s exploits as a social and environmental activist rightfully earned her a place among the world’s most admirable.

Global giants, Kenya’s athletes are known for their fitness, endurance, tenacity and humility. Kenya has the most Olympic medals of any African country with 35 gold medals so far, eight more than our closest competitor South Africa. But this country has also played on the global stage for a long time in the past.

East Africa has long been part of intercontinental trade routes with the outside world. In Roman times, the entire coast from what is now northern Kenya to Mozambique was known to the Romans as Azania.

Cushitic people, the ancestors of modern-day Somalis, Rendiles, Oromos and other Cushitic tribes, once inhabited this land before the Bantu and Nilote migrations, and it was they who interacted with and provided ivory to the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome. In the first millennium B.C. All coastal areas of ancient Azania passed from the Cushitic peoples to the Bantu peoples.

It was these people who, in the first century B.C. began trading with the Arabs and it was these people who founded communities, villages and then the cities that became Gede, Lamu, Mombasa, Malindi and Pate Island.

After centuries of trading and mingling with Arab and Persian sailors and merchants, a new language emerged, Swahili, which would later become the lingua franca throughout East and Central Africa.

The Swahili civilization was a central cog in the Indian Ocean trade between Asia, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East.

People as far away as China sailed to Kenya’s shores before European navigators managed to circumnavigate the African continent.

An archaeological excavation conducted between 2010 and 2013 by Peking University in China and the National Museums of Kenya found 9th-century porcelain fragments as a result of intercontinental trade between the Chinese and Swahili states.

Between 1405 and 1433, the legendary Chinese explorer and navigator Zheng traveled from China to Malindi with a fleet of 300 huge treasure ships and 30,000 Chinese soldiers.

Sarah Zeilinski, editor of the American magazine Science News, writes: “During the fourth expedition, which left China in 1413, part of the fleet led by Commander Zheng He sailed to Bengal in India, where in 1414 they met envoys from the African coastal state of Malindi (now part of Kenya).

“The men from Malindi had brought giraffes as a tribute, and they gave one of these giraffes to the Chinese, who took them home. A year later, Malindi sent another giraffe to China, along with a zebra and an oryx.”

There is an ancient Chinese painting of this giraffe that survives to this day.

But it wasn’t just Swahili who have been known throughout history throughout history. Certain inland Kenyan communities and tribes have shaped cultures far from our shores.

Not only are the Maasai famous today for their living traditions and warrior culture, but in pre-colonial times they were equally notorious and feared by the Arabs who traded with the Swahili.

The Maasai were such a fearsome warrior culture that they discouraged Arab and Swahili slave traders from venturing into mainland Kenya in search of slaves, thus saving many of our ancestors from the cruel fate of slavery in Arab societies.

Arab and Swahili caravans traveling to the Buganda Kingdom were often completely annihilated by Moran regiments, and WR Ole Ntimama writes that the Maasai forced the “slave-catcher” caravans to find an alternative route to Uganda by using them made it dangerous for them to pass through Kenya. .

The Akamba community also has a global presence. In the pre-colonial period they traded directly with the Swahili and Portuguese on the coast, supplying ivory and slaves without Arab or Swahili intermediaries.

Subsequently, 250 Akamba were transported as slaves by Portuguese or Spanish slave traders from the Kenyan coast to Paraguay, where they were promptly freed and made soldiers for their archery skills.

In 1820 they accompanied the Spanish general José Gervasio Artigas into exile in Paraguay after Uruguay’s independence from Spain.

About Sonia Martinez

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