Problems faced by the Portuguese at the coast 

Problems faced by the Portuguese at the coast includes the following, The E.African coast was very big and too wide covering over 400km and therefore the Portuguese could not effectively control the wide area.

  • Portugal lacked enough skilled man power to effectively administer the coast.
  • The few Portuguese officials at the coast were very arrogant and inefficient, harsh / Ruthless, greedy and corrupt hence the coastal people hated them.
  • The coastal climate was very hostile and unhealthy for the Portuguese who were whites i.e. it was either too hot or too wet.
  • The Portuguese also faced a problem of language barrier i.e. they could not easily communicate with the coastal people.
  • The Portuguese lacked money (funds) to effectively administer the coast due to the decline of the Indian Ocean trade.
  • The Portuguese also faced a problem of Turkish sea pirates e.g. Ali Bey who attacked their     ships and coastal settlements.
  • Diseases also claimed many lives of the Portuguese who had come to the coast e.g. Malaria, sleeping sickness e.t.c
  • The distance from Portugal to the coast was too long and therefore the Portuguese could not easily get supplies like medicine and guns.
  • The Portuguese were constantly attacked by the Segeju and Zimba man eaters which also led to a reduction in their numbers.
  • The Portuguese faced constant rebellions from the people at the coast which consumed a lot of Portuguese resources and energy.
  • The Portuguese were Christians yet most of the coastal people were Moslems and this led to cultural and religious differences.
  • The Portuguese were so unfriendly to the coastal people e.g. they built their own Churches and Schools which affected their rule at the coast.

Effects of Portuguese rule at the coast

  • Portuguese built Fort Jesus in Mombasa in 1593 as a military base but today it serves as tourist attraction for Kenya.
  • The Portuguese introduced new crops at the coast e.g. Maize, Cassava, Pineapples, Paw paws, groundnuts, Guavas e.t.c which have provided food to E.African communities.
  • The Portuguese improved on farming by encouraging the use of cow dung as manure.
  • The Portuguese introduced new items at the coast e.g. Karata (playing cards), headscarves and table clothes.
  • The Portuguese improved on the Swahili language by adding some `words e.g. Pesa meaning money, Meza meaning table and Motoka meaning car.
  • The Portuguese also provided strong links between E.Africa and India because their main head quarters were in India (GAO)
  • The Portuguese presence at the coast also opened up E.Africa to other European countries e.g. Britain, France, and Holland.
  • The Portuguese introduced Christianity although it failed to take root at the coast because most people hated the Portuguese.
  • The Portuguese led to the decline of the Indian Ocean trade because they chased away the Arabs from the coast.
  • The Portuguese made no attempts to uplift the living standards of the coastal people but were just interested in gold trade than developing the coast.
  • The Portuguese were always at war with coastal towns e.g. Mombasa which led to massive destruction of property and decline of towns.
  • The Portuguese rule resulted into widespread poverty at the coast because they introduced heavy taxes which made the coasted people poor.
  • Their raids, unsettled life and killing of the most productive people resulted in destruction of crops that further led to famine.
  • The Portuguese looted and squandered the coastal wealth which led to the decline of the coastal towns.
  • The Portuguese made unfriendly relations with the coastal people which led to cultural and religious differences.

Portuguese administration at the coast

By 1510, the coast was effectively under Portuguese rule.

The Portuguese used the divide and rule policy to administer the coast.

The coast was divided into two i.e. Northern states and Southern states each under a captain.

The Northern states were ruled by the captain stationed at Malindi.

The Southern states were ruled by the captain stationed at Mozambique.

 Before 1507, Mozambique was the over-all headquarter of the Portuguese authority at the coast.

All captains had to report to the Portuguese Viceroy at Gao in India.

Captains were supposed to collect taxes and tribute, enforce payment of customs duty on imports and exports, keep law and order and suppress rebellions.

They were harsh and always burnt and destroyed settlements to control rebellions.

Portuguese rule was full of corruption because they employed ruthless and corrupt army commanders.

They lived isolated lives and never attempted to create good relations with the Africans.

Fortified garrisons were built in Mozambique and Sofala to suppress / defeat all rebellions.

 In 1593, Fort Jesus was built at Mombasa because of her rebellious nature and also to strengthen Portuguese administration.

A captain was appointed to settle permanently in Mombasa because of her rebellious nature.

They looted coastal towns and denied Africans a chance to participate in trading activities.

Later on, the Southern states were reunited which the Northern states to form one big Portuguese Empire.

Socially, they tried to spread Christianity but with little success.

Economically, they over taxed their subjects and collected tributes from to raise revenue.

The 200 years of their rule witnessed decay of coastal towns and slow movement of goods.