I agree with Goodenough (1965:2) and Keesing (1970:424) that the understandings that define status category membership may be different from those concerning the behavior and responses expected from category members. This can be seen, for example, with respect to the question of who is properly categorized as a Swahili. The differences between a "Swahili" and an "Arab" living in the Swahili neighborhood have long concerned the members of this community.
Controversy and shifting social alignments focused around this status assignment have been going on since the turn of the century and before. In fact, the question of who is and who is not a Swahili is, as shown in chapter 3, a major source of the change in social life that has taken place in Old Town in the second half of the twentieth century. Despite its importance, within the group itself, the status "Swahili" or "community member" is an unmarked category without a generally used name. One never hears the words Mswahili or Waswahili , the singular and plural of the noun that would be used to refer to group members if such a term were used.
There are, as we will see in the historical and ethnographic sketch given in chapter 2, specific traits, more or less directly observable, that members of the Mombasa Swahili group all share including, notably, being Sunni
Muslims of the Shafi canon. But the fact that this and other traits are widely or, even, universally shared by community members does not necessarily make them either sufficient or necessary as the basis for the understandings that lead someone to be categorized as a Swahili. Thus, religious affiliation and belief is not enough to serve as the basis for classification by itself, since there are followers of the Shafi canon (including many whose forebears fairly recently migrated to the city from the Indian subcontinent) who are universally understood by community members as belonging to other groups.
Further, in addition to being not sufficient for membership in the unmarked "Swahili" category, there is a case that suggests that religious affiliation by itself may also not be a necessary characteristic. A Swahili poet from Lamu, Mohamed Kijumwa, went so far as to convert to Christianity—among many other behaviors viewed as bizarre and outrageous—but even this did not affect the fact that he is unquestionably viewed and evaluated as a Swahili.
In the case of Sh. Mohamed, the absence of an identifier, being a Muslim as all other Swahili are, did not block him from being categorized as a Swahili and being subject to the expectations associated with that status, so that the two types of understandings are seen to be partly separate. Sometimes, however, the understandings that provide identification are the same ones as those that serve as expectations. Thus, all those who give the prayer call (adhan ) from mosques are muadhini , and no one is who does not. Nevertheless, even in these cases, more is gained in analytic ability by saying that the identifiers and the expectations are part of the same construct than by keeping them entirely separate, as Goodenough's "rights and duties" and "social identities" approach does (1965:3–18).
There are immigrants, and the children and grandchildren of immigrants, from Oman or elsewhere in the Persian Gulf who live in Old Town. Most of those who are the children of immigrants and all of the grandchildren speak Swahili, and, of those, some have converted to Shafi from the Ibathi canon followed in parts of the Gulf region. If these men (I have no data on women immigrants of this sort, if, as is doubtful, there are any) associate with undoubted members of the Swahili category most of the time and smoke and shave their beards (Ibathi do neither), they are mainly evaluated and treated according to expectations that are part of the Swahili status.
But there is a difference in how they are treated and expected to act even if it is a subtle one. Now and again, one hears one of these immigrants referred to as Muarabu (Arab, Warabu pl.), and it seems likely that they are assigned to the Arab status category as well as the Swahili category and that the expectations focused on them include those associated with both. When they behave in ways that are in accord with understandings concerning proper behavior by Swahilis, they are mainly evaluated and reacted to as Swahili by many community members despite a personal history that is not entirely Swahili (because it involves fairly recent immigration). When they do not be-
have in accord with understandings that apply to Swahili, many community members treat them according to Arab status expectations.