Home HISTORY FORM 2 The reasons for the fall of the Portuguese rule in East Africa

The reasons for the fall of the Portuguese rule in East Africa


Resistances: The mounting resistance from the coast by feudal lords and traders who
wanted to protect their political and economic interests.

  • Attacks from the interior tribes such as the Zimba and the Segeju from the Zambezi
  • The rivalries from the Dutch and the English merchants who had interests in Eastern
    trade.This brought about competition.These rivalries reduced Portugal’s power in the East
    African Coast.
  • Portuguese weakness: Portugal was a small country without enough qualified and
    competent personnel to administer overseas business.
  • Tropical disease: The Portuguese suffered from tropical diseases and harsh climatic
    conditions.This made the area become unfavorable for the Portuguese settlements.
  • The Portuguese rule over East Africa ended in 1698 when Portuguese witnessed the fall
    of Fort Jesus in Mombasa which was their headquarters and one of the strongest Portuguese

Impact of the Portuguese in Africa.

Social Impact
  • The introduction of new crops in Africa such as maize and cassava which became staple
    food for many people in Africa.
  • Introduction of Portuguese words in Kiswahili language, such as meza, leso, gereza,
    mvinyo etc.

    Decline of Coastal City states example Mombasa, Kilwa, Gedi which were once very rich
    and prominent.

  • Insecurity and loss of properties, due to the frequent conquest resistances and wars.
  • Spread of Christianity into parts of Africa.
Economic Impact.
  • The decline of Indian Ocean trade because of diversion of major trade routes through the
    Atlantic Ocean.
  • The exposure of Africa to international trade. Africa became known to Europe and
    America due to explorations made by the Portuguese.
  • The decline of gold production in Mwenemutapa (Zimbabwe) after development of the
    conflict between Africa miners and the Portuguese.
  • Building of forts such as Fort Jesus in Mombasa attracts tourists in Kenya and generates
    income for the country.

The Motives of the Dutch Settlement at the Cape.

Southern Africa became the site of the earliest European settlement in the modern African
history in 1652, when employees of the Dutch East Indian Company established a supply base on
the shore of Table Bay, the site of the modern city of Cape Town.
Over the next 150 years, Dutch settlers on the land surrounding Table Bay and to the east along
the coast, creating Cape colony.
As the Dutch settlements expanded, they encountered both indigenous Stone Age Khoisan and
Iron Age Bantu African peoples. The earliest encounters were with Khoisan who were
decimated, enslaved or forced to flee.

As subsequent generations of Europeans expanded further to the east, they encountered Bantu
(mostly Xhosa) to became trading partners as well as armed opponents.
The Dutch settlers, called Boers (from the Dutch word for farmer)created very large farms and
found it necessary to import labour, so Cape colony imported slaves while much of the rest of
Africa exported them.
In their determination to reach the center of trade in India and the Far East, European merchants
succeeded to around the southern tip of Africa in the 5th century.
A Portuguese merchant explorer known as Vasco Da Gama was the first to around the southern
Africa cape in 1498. The southern cape was called the Cape of Good Hope because it was
important in European trade with Asia. Sailors from Europe to the Far East and from the Far East
to Europe used the following as a convenient stopping place for:

  • Refueling their ships
  • Getting fresh water

The climate at the cape was good and conducive for European settlement so the Whites started to
establish their settlement there, the first White to make permanent settlement in the cape came
from Holland in 1652.
The coming of Whites in South Africa is related to the economic development in Europe in the
16th and 17th century. This was a period of merchant capital i.e. mercantilism in Europe, trading
transaction within and outside Europe were important in the development of European
By 1652 the Dutch East Indian Company established the fort at Table Bay with the aim of
supplying fresh produce to ship sailing to and from the East Indies. Gradually the settlers in the
Cape Province started to spread further into the interior as they increased production of fresh
fruits and other food stuff.
Having settled in the Cape land the White settlers became involved in barter trade with the
indigenous inhabitants who by then were Khoi and San. Settlers used metal, beads, tobacco spirit
to obtain cattle from the Khoi.

Besides the barter trade the White settlers also raided the Khoi herds, robbing bands of white
stock farmer entered Khoi and Xhosa areas and shot people and returned to their settlements.
They grabbed Khoi and Xhosaby force foragricultural land becausethey needed land to feed their
animals after raiding them from Africans.


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