East Africa: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

East Africa

1st Edition

Edited by Malyn Newitt


224 pages

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Hardback: 9780754601814
pub: 2002-09-18
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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

Table of Contents

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.

About the Series

Portuguese Encounters with the World in the Age of the Discoveries

Portuguese Encounters with the World in the Age of the Discoveries
Each of the seven volumes and two double volumes in this series consists of an anthology of annotated extracts translated into English, many of them for the first time, from accounts by contemporary travellers, merchants, missionaries, soldiers and government officials of the lands of Africa, Brazil and Asia and their inhabitants encountered by the Portuguese during the age of the discoveries. The extracts have not been selected in order to retell the story of those discoveries and of the ensuing foundation of the Portuguese empire, but rather because of what they reveal about the initial reactions of the Portuguese to the places and peoples they encountered and about their subsequent relations with them, as well as making it possible, wherever the scanty evidence allows, to assess how those peoples reacted to the Portuguese. Each volume will cover an area of the world where there was a significant Portuguese presence over a substantial period, from the first voyages of exploration down the west coast of Africa during the fifteenth century that led to Vasco da Gama's discovery of the sea route to India in 1498 and Pedro Alvares Cabral's discovery of Brazil in 1500 and thence to the establishment of Portuguese fortresses and trading posts in the Indian Ocean, the Indonesian archipelago, the South China Sea and finally Japan. Each one is edited with an introduction by a specialist in the history of the Portuguese empire in the area that it covers.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General