The Portuguese appear to have been the first European visitors to encounter East Africa, with the arrival of a lone traveller, Pero da Covilham, in c.1491. Covilham left no account of his experiences, so Vasco da Gama had little idea of what to expect when he led his first voyage to the region in 1497. The account of this expedition paints a vivid portrait of the first contacts between Portugal and the coastal peoples of East Africa. This account, together with a wealth of carefully selected documents comprise this volume of writings which detail Portugal’s relationship with East Africa from the late fifteenth century through to the seventeenth century. As these documents demonstrate, the best Portuguese writers had a deep interest in the African peoples and carefully observed the way their societies worked. The Portuguese in East Africa lived alongside their African subjects and the independent chiefs and to a large extent adopted their life style, technology, business practices, and even their beliefs and customs. This collection of contemporary writings from the period brings to life this extraordinary relationship.
'Malyn Newitt here presents a valuable selection of original documents in translation… a valuable resource for those who do not read Portuguese.' African History '… a good introduction to the primary material on East Africa in the period of Portuguese domination…' International Journal of African Historical Studies '… East Africa can be enjoyed by many, especially world and sixteenth-century historians, anthropologists, those in religious studies, and African environmental historians. For those attempting to ferret out original sources, this book offers a treasure trove!' Sixteenth Century Journal
Contents: Introduction; Contacts of the early Portuguese navigators with the peoples of the East African coast; Early descriptions of East Africa and its peoples; The Portuguese factory; The Silveira mission; The Barreto-Homem expedition; The Zimba; Portuguese descriptions of the peoples of East Africa; Shipwrecks and the South; Portuguese wars in the interior in the 17th century; Descriptions of Portuguese towns and settlements; Journeys of exploration; Decline and fall of the Portuguese on the Zimbabwe plateau; Glossary; Bibliography; Index.