The coming of the Portuguese
- Since the 10th century Arabian influence along the coast had been strong. Most of the port towns along the East African coast had been built by Arab Sultans, who brought the Muslim religion to the coastal people.
- The Portuguese explorer and soldier, Vasco da Gama, was the first European to make contact with the people of the East African Coast. He had been paid by the King of Portugal to find a sea route to India.
- The Portuguese at the East African coast 1500 – 1700 A.D
- The Portuguese were the first Europeans to have contacts with the people of the East African Coast.
- They invaded the east African coast in 1498 at a time when the Ottoman Empire occupied most of the Middle East thus blocking the overland route to India from Europe.
- They were adventurous and in search for the sea route to India. This led them to the East African Coast where they stayed for 200 years.
Reasons for the coming of the Portuguese at the East African coast
- a) The need to establish a commercial empire in order to get the products of East Africa e.g. ivory, gold, silks and spices that were mainly controlled by the Arabs merchants.
- b) They wanted to obtain control of the main trading towns, e.g. Kilwa, Mombasa etc.
- c) They wanted to defeat the Muslim traders and rulers who had monopolized the Indian Ocean trade.
- d) They wanted to prevent other European rivals from gaining access to the Indian Ocean Trade e.g. the French, Dutch, British
- e)Desire to get revenue for the development of their country.
- f) The Portuguese wished to share in the profits of the Indian Ocean Trade by imposing taxes and forcing wealthy coastal towns to pay tribute to the king of Portugal.
- g) The coast had natural harbors where ships could anchor on their way to and from the East for fresh food and water. The Portuguese therefore wanted to establish a calling station for resting, refresh, treating the sick, repairing wrecked ships e.t.c
- h) The coast was strategically located and this made it easy to control sea pirates and other rival powers.
- i) They wanted to revenge on the Muslim Arabs who had conquered Portugal in 711 AD by converting them to Christianity and stop the spread of Islam i.e. the Arabs had ever run the Iberian Peninsula and forced the Christians to accept Islam.
- j) They hoped to get assistance of King Prester John thought to be in the interior of north – east Africa. They hoped the king would help them in their crusade against the Muslims.
- k) They had hope of stopping Egyptians and Turks from sending military aid to their fellow Moslems on the coast.
- l) They were interested in exploration and adventure; this was a period of Renaissance (means to be born again/change) in Europe. Hence hoped to search for the unknown, new knowledge and sailing across un mapped seas.
- m) Desire to acquire revenue for the development of their country.
Portuguese conquest of the coast 1500-1510 (Stages of conquest) Steps taken by the Portuguese to occupy the East African coast
- In 1497 King John 11 sent Padro da Covillha on a land journey to India to gather information about the Eastern trades and the sea routes.
- In 1498 Bathromew Diaz sailed around the Cape of Good Hope, thus proving that there was a way round South Africa to the Indian Ocean.
- Between 1497- 1499 Vasco da Gama at the command of King Emmanuel the fortunate of Portugal visited Mozambique, Mombasa and Malindi on his way to India. He arrived in Malindi in March 1498 to a warm welcome by the locals.
- He returned to Portugal in 1499 and gave a report of the flourishing Sofala trade, the Deep Harbour in Mombasa and the existing disunity of coastal people.
- In response to Vasco da Gama’s expeditions, the king of Portugal sent fleets of ships to conquer the important trading towns of the East African coast.
- In 1500 Pedro Alvares Cabral attempted to capture Sofala with its Gold trade but he failed.
- In 1502 Vasco da Gama came back with 19 ships aiming at capturing Kilwa because it was the most important and prosperous. He captured the palace, imprisoned the Sultan and only released him when he accepted to pay tribute to Portugal.
- From Kilwa he invaded Mombasa, which tried to get assistance from Malindi but since they were great rivals Malindi refused to give assistance, this disunity made the work of conquest easy.
- In 1503 Ruy Laurence Ravasco was sent with a number of ships and forced the islands of Mafia and Zanzibar and other towns to pay tribute to Portugal.
- In 1504, Lopez destroyed gold trade at Kilwa. Attacks were too much on the harbour that trade came to a standstill. But again the Arabs failed to unite to fight the Portuguese.
- In 1505 Francisco D’Almeida arrived at the coast on his way to Gao where he had been appointed the first Portuguese viceroy (governor) of the Eastern Empire. With 1500 men and 20 ships, he attacked Sofala which surrendered without struggle because she was tired of Kilwa’s rule and therefore preferred the Portuguese to fellow Arabs. His forces continued northwards and attacked Kilwa. The Sultan and his followers took off to the bush while the Portuguese looted and burnt down the town before he departed to India. He also conquered Mombasa.
- In 1506 – 1507 Tristao Da Cunha took on the Northern towns of Socotra, Oja, Brava and Lamu. Towns that submitted without struggles were only asked to pay tribute to Portugal. Malindi was even excused from paying tribute due to her friendship with the Portuguese.
- In 1509 Alba quiqui captured the remaining towns i.e. the work of conquest was completed with taking the islands of Pemba, Mafia, and Zanzibar. Mombasa was burnt down.
- By 1515 the Portuguese had succeeded in conquering most of the coastal towns, bring them under Portuguese rule. However towns like Gedi, Kilifi, Pate, Manda, Mombasa and Lamu continued with resistance. Mombasa was heavily attacked in 1528.
- In 1585, a Turkish captain, Amir Ali Bey, arrived at the coast as an envoy of the sultan of turkey to free the coastal towns from the Portuguese. Rebellion then broke out between 1585 and 1588 between Ali Bey, the Portuguese, and the people of Mombasa and Zimba warriors. The towns of pate, Siyu and Pemba were attacked and forced to pay heavy fines while manda was completely destroyed.
- Portugal finally brought all the coastal towns under her control establishing her headquarters in Mombasa that had been subdued in 1589. in 1593, the Portuguese built fort Jesus
- Why the Portuguese build Fort Jesus.
- a) They used it as a watch tower
- b) To hide against attacks by the enemies
- c) As military base
- d) To offer food security and protection.
- e) To act as an armament.
- f) To act as a prison for the captives.
- Portuguese control of the east African coast as greatly supported by the conquest of Hormuz, which made it easier for them to control sea traffic in the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Eden and Arabian Sea.
Why the Portuguese defeated the East African Coastal towns/Why the Portuguese were successful
- a) They had superior weapons e.g. cannon guns which made terrible noise and threw people in panic as compared to the poor musket guns of the coastal Arabs.
- b) They had well trained soldiers with superior skills of fighting compared to the coastal people who had no permanent organized army e.g. Vasco da Gama, Francisco D’Almeida were ruthless army commanders which helped them to defeat the coastal dwellers.
- c) They had better and faster ships (carracks) well equipped for naval warfare. The Portuguese soldiers wore Armour on their bodies and helmets on their heads, which protected them from the weapons of the coastal people.
- d) The coastal towns were disunited which gave chance to the Portuguese to fight isolated enemies e.g. Malindi refused to unite with Mombasa due to local conflicts. Some cooperated with the invaders giving them food and bases e.g. Malindi and Sofala.
- e) Some coastal towns like Kilwa were caught unaware. The Portuguese employed cruel methods of fighting like burning down towns and surprise attacks.
- f) The ships acted as stages against the hostile weapons of the coastal people.
- g) The coast had natural harbours and was not open to attacks.
- h) The constant attacks on the coastal towns by the Galla, Zimba and Turkish e.t.c had weakened their defence.
- i) The Portuguese were financially equipped and therefore supported their soldiers because they wanted to control the East African trade.
- j) The coastal states had very weak economies that could not sustain prolonged fights especially against the economically strong Portuguese.
Portuguese Administration at the coast
- By 1510, the conquest of the East African coast was over and administration fell into the hands of the Portuguese. For easy administration, the coast was divided into two zones;
- a. The area North of Cape Delgado was ruled by the Captain at Malindi
- b. The area South of Cape Delgado was ruled by Captain at Mozambique
- Both captains were answerable to the Portuguese viceroy at Goa on Indian coast at the General headquarters. Cape Delgado was made the midpoint of the East Africa possession. Sofala was made the regional headquarters but still under the charge of the captain who took his orders from the viceroy at Goa. Later, the Captain in the North was stationed at Mombasa after the construction of Fort Jesus in 1593 because they were rebellious. Other forts and garrisons were established at Sofala and Kilwa.
- The Portuguese captains were responsible for the collections of tributes from coastal rulers. They imposed the customs dues on all imports and exports. They were also responsible for the suppression of rebellions on the coast. The Portuguese had problems with administration because they could not provide enough troops to all garrisons their strongholds.
- The Portuguese were more interested in gold trade in Sofala. Unfortunately, they failed to develop this trade because of the following;
- There were wars in the mining areas between the Portuguese and Coastal people.
- As a result the Portuguese were so cruel that any sign of disobedience was punished with maximum brutality to serve as a warning to others who might choose to rebel. This partly explains the unpopularity of the Portuguese on the coast.
- The Portuguese also applied the policy of divide and rule by setting one town against the other. For example Malindi against Mombasa.
- The relationship with the subjects was not good. They lived in isolation of each other by race and religion. The Portuguese established their own settlements, built their own churches and had their own priest. This could be the reason why their religion was rejected and hatred increased.
- In addition, the few Portuguese officials were corrupt, plundered and ordered destruction on the coastal town. All this earned them hatred and opposition from the people and it was not a surprise that they were nicknamed "AFRITI" meaning Devil.
- The Portuguese did not mix freely with Africans because they considered themselves to be a special race.
- During the Portuguese reign, the glory of the coastal states was no more. The high standards of living the coastal people had enjoyed were no more. The trade that had made them rich was declining. Many buildings were in ruins and there was widespread poverty and misery
Reasons that led to the decline of the Portuguese at the East African Coast (Problems/challenges they faced)
- a) Portugal was a small country that could not provide enough administrators and officials for such a large coastline that extended from Sofala in the south to mogadishu in the north. The territory was too big and long for effective control and administration.
- b) It had few soldiers and could not keep fortified garrison along the coast.
- c) Authority was left in hands of incompetent and corrupt officials who were after enriching themselves.
- d) The Africans hated the Portuguese due to differences in religion, that is to say, Muslims against Christians (Portuguese).
- e) The Portuguese were cruel, harsh and brutal, they always punished the coastal people whenever they attempted to rebel and made them to be hated.
- f) The Portuguese also used divide and rule policy for example, they allied with Malindi against Mombasa.
- g) There was decline of trade due high taxes on imports and other restrictions hence smuggling of goods, which affected the Portuguese economy. Due to decline in trade, the people became poor and dissatisfied and they continuously rebelled.
- h) The Portuguese failed to support their own allies at the coast, some even betrayed them.
- i) Portugal had been forced into a union with Spain between1580–1640 which weakened her control of the trading colonies as she was no longer interested in the overseas empire.
- j) Portugal was challenged by other European powers, which began competing with the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean Trade e.g. Dutch, English, French, Turks and others.
- k) The coastal people found useful allies against the Portuguese due to their bad rule e.g. Turks, Oman, and Arabs
- l) They were faced with constant rebellions along the coast. This greatly disrupted life at the coast e.g. Pate, Mombasa
- m) Tropical diseases which claimed their life like smallpox, malaria making it difficult for them to administer the coast effectively.
- n) The Portuguese were greatly weakened by a group of cannibals the Zimba, who attacked the East African coast.
- o) The unhealthy climate made the area unattractive for them to work for instance, some places where too humid and hot while others were too cold.
- p) The distance between Portugal and the East African coast was too far hence reinforcement delayed.
- q) There was a problem of communication barrier, the Portuguese refused to learn the African languages and these made their administration difficult.
- r) The income obtained from the gold trade was not enough to pay for administration i.e. soldiers and officials.
- s) The Capture of Fort Jesus their stronghold in 1698 by the Omani greatly contributed to their decline.
The collapse of Portuguese rule
- In 1585, a Turkish captain, Amir Ali Bey, arrived at the coast as an envoy of the sultan of turkey to free the coastal towns from the Portuguese. Rebellion then broke out between 1585 and 1588 between Ali Bey, the Portuguese, and the people of Mombasa and Zimba warriors. The towns of pate, Siyu and Pemba were attacked and forced to pay heavy fines while manda was completely destroyed
- As a result of their ruthlessness, the coastal people became hostile to the Portuguese.
- Mombasa for example resisted the humiliation they got from the Portuguese appointed sultan
- The sultan’s heir Yusuf was treated as a servant who resented the people of Mombasa
- On 15th august 1631, during the Christian feast of Assumption in Mombasa, Sultan Yusuf stabbed the captain with a knife, killing him instantly. This sparked off a rebellion where many Portuguese were killed.
- Yusuf posed a threat to the Portuguese rule until his death in 1637.
- The people of pate also revolted in 1666. However, their ruler was arrested and exiled to Goa where he was executed
- In 1622, the Persians drove the Portuguese from Hormuz. In 1650, the Portuguese were expelled from their bases in Muscat by the Omani Arabs under sultan Saif
- Britain, France and Holland also began to compete the Portuguese in trade.
- The final blow to Portuguese rule was attack by the Omani Arabs and the seizure of fort Jesus. The coastal Arab towns had appealed to their brothers in Oman for assistance against the Portuguese brutality.
- In 1652, an Oman fleet sailed to pate and Zanzibar, overpowered and killed the Portuguese.
- In 1696, Imam Saif Ibn Sultan of Oman sailed to Mombasa with a large fleet and army. The Portuguese took refuge in Fort Jesus as battle raged on (about 2500 Portuguese men, women and children) the Portuguese were unfortunate as they could not get supplies to sustain the war with 3000 plus Arab soldiers with full packing of the coastal people.
- In 1697, the Omani forces got access to the Fort and found most Portuguese afflicted with disease. By December 1698, the Omanis penetrated the Fort only to find all except twelve Portuguese dead. This marked the end of Portuguese rule though they made a temporary seizure of the fort in 1728 but were overpowered.
- For the coastal people, it was however a mere change of guard from the Portuguese to the Arabs
Results of Portuguese stay at the coast of East Africa
- a) The Portuguese built Fort Jesus at the coast in Mombasa in1592/3 which became a fortress and later a tourist attraction for centuries.
- b) They enriched the Swahili language with an addition of 60 words e.g. emeza meaning table and pesa meaning money.
- c) They introduced new crops from South Africa of which many have become staple diet for many East Africans e.g. cassava, pawpaws, maize, oranges, sweet potatoes, guavas, pineapples and mangoes
- d) They made an improvement in ship building. During their stay on the coast, many architects came in from India and Europe.
- e) There was establishment of closer trading links between the coast and India.
- f) They introduced new farming methods for example they encouraged the use of cow dung as manure.
- g) They led to the coming of more European and Asian traders and craftsmen especially those who helped in the building of Fort Jesus.
- h) They broke the Muslim- Arab monopoly of the Indian Ocean Trade.
- a) Trade declined due to the constant wars and rebellions and heavy taxes imposed.
- b) There was decline of the coastal towns because many were burnt down and left in ruins for example Kilwa and Mombasa.
- c) There was widespread poverty and misery among the coastal people due to decline in trade.
- d) There was heavy loss of lives during the attacks. There was depopulation due to the many wars in the areas
- e) There was destruction of property like buildings and crops, which led to famine and starvation.
- f) The coastal people suffered oppression and brutality under harsh rule of the Portuguese.
- g) Their religion, Christianity, made no impact at the coast because they lived far from their subjects and stagnation of the Islamic faith because discouraged preaching.
- h) Smuggling developed because the Portuguese had failed to establish proper trading links with the Interior.
- i) Some towns were prevented from trading with their initial partners which led to their decay e.g. Gedi
- j) They led to the European interest at the coast hence leading to the colonization in the 19th Century