These Swahili of the East coast of Africa supplied most of the troops for the Arabs from Zanzibar and, indeed, those who had settled further into the interior. They also worked for European explorers and this picture of Speke's "faithfulls" gives a good idea of their appearance.
The greatest challenge faced by the Force Publique in its early years came in the 1890s, in the so-called “Arab wars”.
The sharpest struggles were those that had to be undertaken not against the Africans, but against Swahili slave traders (often called “Arabs” but rarely of pure Arab descent) and their followers in the eastern Congo.
The Congo Arab war was one of the bloodiest conflicts of the whole era of imperial conquest.
The fighting [was] massive, because both sides enlisted the aid of thousands of irregulars. An estimate of 70,000 dead on the Swahili–Arab side is probably exaggerated, while ...read more