Tropical Africa: south of the continent - History of the East

Chapter 16. Tropical Africa: The South of the Continent

Africans of the zone of tropical forests, southern savannah and southern tip of the continent were almost not affected by the influence of Islam. Their development was influenced by other important factors, both internal and external. Internal migration should include migration from the north of the Bantu-speaking tribes, which brought with them many of the Neolithic achievements, including agriculture, as well as acquaintance with the production of metal. Sporadic migratory flows and movements of pastoralists also played an important role. Only here they occurred mainly in the east, where the zone of tropical forests was already. Livestock tribes, migrating to the south, often brought with them some elements of a higher culture, well known in the north, which contributed to the addition of state formations. External factors include the invasion of Africa not by Arabs, but by Europeans, especially the Portuguese.

As you know, in the XIII-XIV centuries. There have been decisive changes in navigation and shipbuilding. There was a steering wheel, a seaworthy advanced compass, a number of other navigation instruments and instruments. Much progress has been made in cartography. All this was the material basis, although not the main reason for the Great geographical discoveries of the 14th-15th centuries. The pioneers of the discoveries were the Portuguese, for whom XIV-XVI centuries. became a stellar hour of their history. It should not be assumed that the Portuguese moved the rigid laws of nascent capitalism. In Catholic Portugal XTV-XV centuries. capitalism was not even in its infancy. But the Portuguese were Europeans, and in Europe as a whole, in any case in Western Europe, the late feudal Renaissance period was a time when the laws of private property that had gone up to the times of antiquity became mostly leading, in some places even absolutely predominant. Private entrepreneurial activity and associated individual energy, enterprise and the pursuit of profit were the norm for the Portuguese, including the royal house, and feudal nobles, and merchant merchants, and ordinary peasants or urban folk, from whom the future seamen and Portuguese colonists recruited Africa, Asia or America (Brazil).

The Portuguese began to search for a way to India with attempts to find a sea road around Africa, from which the colonization started. The relief of the shore did not allow them to gain a foothold on the west coast. Only moving along the rivers of Gambia and Senegal, they managed in the XVI century. reach Mali and visit Timbuktu, but this was only a minor episode in the course of their stay and consolidation in Tropical Africa. In addition, West Sudan at that time was already well mastered in the trade plan and without the Portuguese. But they established themselves on the islands of Fernando Poe, Sao Tome and some others, as well as on the Guinea coast, which was conditionally divided into four zones according to the goods that they mainly acquired here: Perechaya Bereg, Ivory Coast, Golden shore and the slave bank. The bays of the latter and especially the delta of the Volta River proved to be the most suitable for the establishment of trading outlets and forts here, the most significant being Elmina. It was back in the 15th century.

After that, the Portuguese mastered the mouth of the Congo and the East African coast. However, soon from the area of ​​the Gulf of Guinea and the East African coast, the Portuguese were forced out, in the west by the Dutch, the British and French, in the east by the Arabs. The zone of prolonged colonial predominance of Portugal remained the areas of the Congo, Angola and Mozambique (later, in the XIX century, the Congo lands became a French and Belgian colony), as well as islands where plantation was established and grown for the sale of spicery. But the great success of Portugal was that it was she who began the colonial development of Africa. With her light hand, the colonialists began to import cloth, mirrors, glass beads, metal products, as well as alcohol and, most importantly, firearms, in an effort to master which local leaders did not stop at anything. Along with the food, golden sand, the amount of which quickly dried up, and the ivory Europeans acquired millions of black slaves.

At first, the slaves were not taken too much, because there were not large sales markets yet. But with the discovery of America, the situation has changed dramatically. Brazil became an inexhaustible source of income for the Portuguese associated with the slave trade, while other colonizers carried slaves to other parts of the vast America. And it must be said that the colonial trade of black slaves became not just the center and the meaning of all African trade, but also transformed the internal structure of the continent , provoking very specific proto-state entities, whose heads in the literal sense of the word specialized in hunting for people. The fact is that the Portuguese themselves, like other Europeans, did not go far into the interior of the continent, the same applies to the Arabs who developed the East African coast. There were no roads, conditions and climate were heavy, and there was no special need. Of course, from time to time in certain parts of the depths of Africa expeditions were made. But mostly all the affairs were accomplished through native intermediaries-those that were procured by slaves, gold, and other goods necessary for the colonialists, and brought them to the trading stations, where the direct exchange-traded market was traditional for all Africa.

Thus, with the exception of the coast and some islands where the Portuguese established a plantation farming, colonization did not directly affect the continent, but its indirect impact was enormous. And it's not just about slaves, the export of which was painful for Africa, but in the end it became a matter of the ordinary. More importantly, colonization has greatly contributed to the transformation of traditional African society, and this has also affected the history of political formations in Africa south of the Sudanese belt.

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