Portuguese Rule

These were the first group of Europeans to come and settle at the East African coast.

They started arriving at the coast in 1498 A.D.

They displaced the Arabs who had stayed at the coast for over 500 years.       

Why the Portuguese came to E.Africa

The Portuguese being Christians wanted to spread Christianity along the East African coast especially after ending the spread of Islam.

The Portuguese were looking for their Christian king called John Prester who had disappeared and was believed to be in the interior of North. East Africa.

The Portuguese wanted to establish a large commercial empire along the coast so as to monopolize the Indian Ocean trade

The Portuguese were looking for a direct sea route to India and they wanted to use the E.African coast as a base for resting and repairing of ships.

The Portuguese also wanted to revenge on the Moslems who had converted them to Islam in Turkey (Iberian Peninsular) as early as 1700A.D.

 The Portuguese came to the E.African coast as a result of adventure and exploration i.e. they wanted to explore unknown lands.

The Portuguese were also attracted by the coastal wealth i.e. the E.African coast had a lot of mineral and precious stones.

The Portuguese were attracted by the fertile coastal soils which they wanted to use for growing crops to provide food to the Portuguese sailors.

The East African coast also had good natural harbours which would act as bases for resting, repairing of ships and getting  food and water.

The Portuguese were also attracted by the coastal climate i.e. favorable rainfall and temperature to support Agriculture.

 The Portuguese wanted to prevent other European powers from gaining access to the coast (Indian Ocean Trade) i.e. they were unwilling to share the coastal wealth.

The hospitality of the coastal people also led to the coming of the Portuguese i.e. Malindi made friendly relations with the Portuguese.

The Portuguese also wanted to be prestigious as a great colonial power with wealthy colonies.

The Portuguese wanted to deprive the Egyptian and Turkish forces of any help that they would get from fellow Moslems at the coast and that’s why Fort Jesus was built.

Stages During The Portuguese Conquest At The Coast (1498 – 1510 A.D)

  • The Portuguese conquest of the East African was not a single event i.e. it took over 10 years and it was by force.
  • In 1498, Vasco da Gama carried out a thorough survey of the coast and he returned to Portugal and made a report to King Emmanuel.
  • He reported about the booming coastal trade, the presence of the Arabs and the need to use force to conquer the coast.
  • In 1500, Pedro Alvares Cabral made an unsuccessful attack to capture Sofala hoping to control her gold trade.
  • In 1502, Vasco Da Gama returned on his second journey with a fleet of 19 ships.
  • He captured Kilwa where Sultan Ibrahim was forced to pay tribute to Portugal.
  • However when Vasco Da Gama’s fleet left for GAO (India), the sultan of Kilwa stopped paying tribute to Portugal.
  • In 1503, Ruy Ravasco Lamenco came with reinforcements and was able to capture Islands of Mafia, Zanzibar and Pemba forcing them to pay tribute to Portugal.
  • In 1504, Lopez Suarez unsuccessfully attacked Kilwa and its harbours.
  • The gold trade was disrupted but Sultan Ibrahim still refused to pay the tribute.
  • In 1505, Francisco D’Almeida on his way to GAO (India) attacked three towns i.e. Sofala, Kilwa and Mombasa.
  • In all these towns, the Portuguese well trained soldiers over powered the coastal Sultans.
  • In 1506, Captain Tristan De Cunha captured the Islands of Lamu, Kismayo, Pate, Brava and Oja and Scotra.
  • In 1509, Alfonso D’Alberqueque captured the Islands of Mafia, Pemba, and Zanzibar.
  • Other towns like Malindi simply welcomed and co-operated with the Portuguese.
  • By 1510, all the coastal towns were under the Portuguese and they were divided into the northern and southern states.