thither as early as 1553, and they were followed by Spaniards, Dutch,

French, Danish and other adventurers. Much of Senegambia was made known as

a result of quests during the 16th century for the ``hills of gold'' in

Bambuk and the fabled wealth of Timbuktu, but the middle Niger was not

reached. The supremacy along the coast passed in the 17th century from

Portugal to Holland and from Holland in the 18th and 19th centuries to

France and England. The whole coast from Senegal to Lagos was dotted with

forts and ``factories'' of rival powers, and this international patchwork

persists though all the hinterland has become either French or British


Southward from the mouth of the Congo2 to the inhospitable region of

Damaraland, the Portuguese, from 1491 onward, acquired influence over the

Bantu-Negro inhabitants, and in the early part of the 16th century through

their efforts Christianity was largely adopted in the native kingtom of

Congo. An irruption of cannibals from the interior later in the same

century broke the power of this semi-Christian state, and Portuguese

activity was transferred to a great extent farther south, Sao Paulo de

Loanda being founded in 1576. The sovereignty of Portugal over this coast

region, except for the mouth of the Congo, has been once only challenged by

a European power, and that was in 1640-1648, when the Dutch held the


Neglecting the comparatively poor and thinly inhabited regions of South

Africa, the Portuguese no sooner discovered than they coveted the

flourishing cities held by Arabized peoples between Sofala and Cape

Guardafui. By 1520 all these Moslem

The Portuguese in East Africa and Abyssinia.

sultanates had been seized by Portugal, Mozambique being chosen as the

chief city of her East African possessions. Nor was Portuguese activity

confined to the coast-lands. The lower and middle Zambezi valley was

explored (16th and 17th centuries), and here the Portuguese found semi-

civilized Bantu-Negro tribes, who had been for many years in contact with

the coast Arabs. Strenuous efforts were made to obtain possession of the

country (modern Rhodesia) known to them as the kingdom or empire of

Monomotapa, where gold had been worked by the natives from about the 12th

century A.D., and whence the Arabs, whom the Portuguese dispossessed, were

still obtaining supplies in the 16th century. Several expeditions were

despatched inland from 1569 onward and considerable quantities of gold were

obtained. Portugal's hold on the interior, never very effective, weakened

during the 17th century, and in the middle of the 18th century ceased with

the abandonment of the forts in the Manica district.

At the period of her greatest power Portugal exercised a strong influence

in Abyssinia also. In the ruler of Abyssinia (to whose dominions a

Portuguese traveller had penetrated before Vasco da Gama's memorable

voyage) the Portuguese imagined they had found the legendary Christian

king, Prester John, and when the complete overthrow of the native dynasty

and the Christian religion was imminent by the victories of Mahommedan

invaders, the exploits of a band of 400 Portuguese under Christopher da

Gama during 1541-1543 turned the scale in favour of Abyssinia and had thus

an enduring result on the future of North-East Africa. After da Gama's time

Portuguese Jesuits resorted to Abyssinia. While they failed in their

efforts to convert the Abyssinians to Roman Catholicism they acquired an

extensive knowledge of the country. Pedro Paez in 1615, and, ten years

later, Jeronimo Lobo, both visited the sources of the Blue Nile. In 1663

the Portuguese, who had outstayed their welcome, were expelled from the

Abyssinian dominions. At this time Portuguese influence on the Zanzibar

coast was waning before the power of the Arabs of Muscat, and by 1730 no

point on the east coast north of Cape Delgado was held by Portugal.

It has been seen that Portugal took no steps to acquire the southern part

of the continent. To the Portuguese the Cape of

English and Dutch at Table Bay—Cape Colony founded.

Good Hope was simply a landmark on the road to India, and mariners of other

nations who followed in their wake used Table Bay only as a convenient spot

wherein to refit on their voyage to the East. By the beginning of the 17th

century the bay was much resorted to for this purpose, chiefly by English

and Dutch vessels. In 1620, with the object of forestalling the Dutch, two

officers of the East India Company, on their own initiative, took

possession of Table Bay in the name of King James, fearing otherwise that

English ships would be ``frustrated of watering but by license.'' Their

action was not approved in London and the proclamation they issued remained

without effect. The Netherlands profited by the apathy of the English. On

the advice of sailors who had been shipwrecked in Table Bay the Netherlands

East India Company, in 1651, sent out a fleet of three small vessels under

Jan van Riebeek which reached Table Bay on the 6th of April 1652, when,

164 years after its discovery, the first permanent white settlement was

made in South Africa. The Portuguese, whose power in Africa was already

waning, were not in a position to interfere with the Dutch plans, and

England was content to seize the island of St Helena as her half-way house

to the East3. In its inception the settlement at the Cape was not intended

to become an African colony, but was regarded as the most westerly outpost

of the Dutch East Indies. Nevertheless, despite the paucity of ports and

the absence of navigable rivers, the Dutch colonists, freed from any

apprehension of European trouble by the friendship between Great Britain

and Holland, and leavened by Huguenot blood, gradually spread northward,

stamping their language, law and religion indelibly upon South Africa. This

process, however, was exceedingly slow.

During the 18th century there is little to record in the history of

Africa. The nations of Europe, engaged in the later half of the

Waning and revival of interest in Africa.

century in almost constant warfare, and struggling for supremacy in America

and the East, to a large extent lost their interest in the continent. Only

on the west coast was there keen rivalry, and here the motive was securance

of trade rather than territorial acquisitions. In this century the slave

trade reached its highest development, the trade in gold, ivory, gum and

spices being small in comparison. In the interior of the

continent—Portugal's energy being expended—no interest was shown, the

nations with establishments on the coast ``taking no further notice of the

inhabitants or their land than to obtain at the easiest rate what they

procure with as little trouble as possible, or to carry them off for slaves

to their plantations in America'' (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 3rd ed.,

1797). Even the scanty knowledge acquired by the ancients and the Arabs was

in the main forgotten or disbelieved. It was the period when — Geographers,

in Afric maps, With savage pictures filled their gaps, And o'er unhabitable

downs Placed elephants for want of towns.

(Poetry, a Rhapsody. By Jonathan Swift.)

The prevailing ignorance may be gauged by the statement in the third

edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica that ``the Gambia and Senegal

rivers are only branches of the Niger.'' But the closing years of the 18th

century, which witnessed the partial awakening of the public conscience of

Europe to the iniquities of the slave trade, were also notable for the

revival of interest in inner Africa. A society, the African Association,4

was formed in London in 1788 for the exploration of the interior of the

continent. The era of great discoveries had begun a little earlier in the

famous journey (1770-1772) of James Bruce through Abyssinia and Sennar,

during which he determined the course of the Blue Nile. But it was through

the agents of the African Association that knowledge was gained of the

Niger regions. The Niger itself was first reached by Mungo Park, who

travelled by way of the Gambia, in 1795. Park, on a second journey in 1805,

passed Timbuktu and descended the Niger to Bussa, where he lost his life,

having just failed to solve the question as to where the river reached the

ocean. (This problem was ultimately solved by Richard Lander and his

brother in 1830.) The first scientific explorer of South-East Africa, Dr

Francisco de Lacerda, a Portuguese, also lost his life in that country.

Lacerda travelled up the Zambezi to Tete, going thence towards Lake Mweru,

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