The relatively large and coherent minority of Baluchis with Iranian origins, which now includes a population of about 30,000 people in East Africa, were initially soldiers and warriors serving the Omani rulers of Zanzibar, but later became entrepreneurs. The Baluchis now enjoy a relatively high-income level compared to the indigenous communities, and despite their long residence in the area, they have retained their ethnic and tribal characteristics. Historically, the Baluch peoples have been famous for their hardworking spirit, and resistance to natural disasters. Their constitution and fortitude have been part of the secret of their survival. 

One reason that the Baluchi people had to migrate to other countries, including East African countries, was that the Iranian Province of Sistan and Baluchistan has always been dry and barren. Apart from famine and drought, other reasons were: scarce water resources, strong winds, conflicts with the central governments of Iran as well as the cruel behaviour of the Iranian kings. All these factors accelerated the process of Baluchis migration to other countries, including East Africa during different periods. 

The story of the Baluchis migration to East Africa dates back to the era of Oman's expansionist tendencies in Africa that started from the 17th century and culminated in the 19th century. Due to their ability to withstand difficult conditions as well as their expertise in using weapons and adaptability to nature and rugged environments, the Baluchis were hired as soldiers and guardians by Omanis. They set off to Zanzibar and gradually expanded to other parts of East African countries, which led to their sustainable settlement there. 

The project seeks to identify the reasons for the Baluchis migration to East Africa and also describes the political and cultural outcomes of their settlement in the present-day countries of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.


Prof. Amirbahram Arabahmadi (PhD) is a Historian and Head of the Central and Southern African Studies Department at University of Tehran. He has served as cultural attaché of Iran in Tanzania and Zimbabwe for more than six years and has written some books and scholarly papers.

Arabahmadi is the author of a number of books and papers.

Some of his books are:

Zimbabwe the land of eternal mysteries (2003) Tanzania an evergreen land (2005), Islam in East Africa (2007), Khoja Shia Ithon Asheri All Over The World (2010), The Modern History of the Islamic World 1900-2000 (Translation, 2010), Culture & society of Niger (2010), Culture & society of Mali (2011), Culture & society of Guinea Conakry (2012), Culture & society of Sierra Leone (2013), Culture & society of Eritrea (2014), Culture & society of Zanzibar (2014), The Role of Shirazi-Based Iranians in Cultural Development of East African Coast (2016), Cinema and Filmmaking industry in Africa sub-Sahara (2019).

Some of his papers are:

History of Muslims in Zimbabwe (2007), The presence of Iranians in East Africa (2008), Migration of Shirazids to East Africa (2008), A Treasury of Persian coins in East Africa(2009), The Components of Iranian civilization & cultural world in East Africa (2009), A Review on evolution of Shia Dawoodi Bohra Community (2009), Timbuktu a Shining Jewellery in the heart of the Sahara (2010), Symbols of national identity and the Mongol rule in Iran (2010), The Analysis of Persian Language influences on Swahili Literature & Language (2012), Female Genital Mutilation in West Africa (2014), An Analytical Approach to the main Reasons of National Great Uprisings in Northern Africa-Egypt, Tunisia and Libya (2014), The Indian Khoja Ithna Asheri: a Successful Model of Dynamic and Cohesive Religious Minority (2015), Tracing Baluchi Identity in Zanzibar in; Africa and Its Diasporas: Rethinking Struggles for Recognition and Empowerment (2018), A Comparative Study of Historical-Cultural Exchange between Iran and Ethiopia (2018).