west africa and_the_portuguese_up_to_____

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CXC CAPE HISTORYLECTURE 4THE PORTUGUESE IN WEST AFRICAGENERAL OBJECTIVEBy the end of the topic students will be able to: Analyse the nature of West African contact with Europe up to 1493SPECIFIC OBJECTIVEBy the end of the lesson students will be able to:Discuss the factors that led to contact between West Africa and Europe up to 1492PORTUGUESE IN WEST AFRICAPortugal was the first Europeans to visit the coast of Africa.The first and definite sustained commercial connections between Europe and West Africa were established by Portugal. FACTORSSeveral factors led to Portuguese contact with West Africa. These include:Political factorsGeographyEconomicTechnologicalPrivate fundingReligion

FACTORS CONTPrince HenryBasesWind systemsPOLITICAL FACTORSPortugal was well placed to lead the voyages of discovery because it was not confronted with any internal difficulties or external threat by the beginning of the 15th century.Other maritime European countries were faced with a number of political distractions (e.g Castile was waging a number of against the Muslims which ended 1n 1492. The Dutch were involved in their wars of independence with SpainGEOGRAPHYPortugals location and early participation in Atlantic fisheries positioned it to be the pioneer in this venture.ECONOMIC The economic factors include:Alternative sea routeCommercial viability of Atlantic islandsDesire for African and Asian GoldALTERNATIVE SEA ROUTEPortugal wanted to the trade items from the east without any intervention. They wanted to cut out the number of middle-men who distributed goods from China to IndiaThis provided the motive for the search for a sea route to the East which would not be under the control of Muslim powers.ALTERNATIVE SEA ROUTE CONTDThe Portuguese decided that the contact with the Far East trade had to the way lay in a circum-navigation of Africa.COMMERCIAL VIABILITY The Atlantic islands proved to be commercially viable e.g. sugar was cultivated in the Azores, Canary Islands and Madeira.

DESIRE FOR GOLDThere was a strong desire for commercial gain from the trade of West African gold, spice, ivory. These were attractive and commercially important itemsThere was a search for gold and spices which were known to be in abundance in West Africa.Since Mansa Musa, King of Mali, dazzled the world with West African gold in the 1300s, gold from Africa had become a fascination.

TECHNOLOGYThere was development in the building of ships capable of undertaking long voyages. The caravel for example was invented .There was also the development of navigational aids e.g. astrolabe and cartography(map making)The improvement in technology made possible the expansion of Portugal down the West African coastNB. Much of the technology embraced by the Portuguese came from their interaction with the Moors who invaded Europe.RELIGIONThe Portuguese wanted to convert Africans to Christianity and they had a crusading tradition against the Muslims.There was an anti-Muslim spirit.Europeans wanted to move into Muslim dominated North and Northwest Africa.PRINCE HENRYPrince Henrys moral and financial commitment to exploration provided much of the infrastructural foundation for contact e.g. school of navigation at Sagres.At Sagres Henry studied and sent forth men on missions of exploration.BASESThe Atlantic islands served as vital bases from which to launch expeditions down the coast of West AfricaWIND SYSTEMSComprehension of the wind systems and ocean currents, which affected the outward and return voyages and the development of strategies to cope with these.PORTUGUESE ASSUMPTIONSWhen Portuguese went to Africa the made certain assumptions about AfricansAfricans had no knowledge so they went nakedHad no understanding of certain types of food

PORTUGUESE ASSUMPTIONSHad no dwelling/housesLived like animals and were lazy (bestial sloth)Had little morality (no understanding of what was good)REASON FORE THESE ASSUMPTIONSThe Portuguese :Were ignorant of the way of life of the Africans as they had not gone beyond the coastal areas of the continentAs with other Europeans, had the preconception that non-Europeans were uncivilisedREASON FORE THESE ASSUMPTIONSAs with other Europeans, were culturally prejudices against others who were obviously different, especially pagans and non-ChristiansBread and wine were basic to the food culture of Southern Europeans and therefore and index of civilisationNATURE OF PORTUGUESE/EUROPEAN CONTACT EITH WEST AFRICA UP TO 1600INTRODUCTORY POINTWhile European contact with West Africa was a by-product of the search for a sea route to the east, Europeans, since the early decades of the 15th century, were interested in mineral wealth and other products that Africa had to offer. In general, European interest in penetrating Africa was limited up to 1600.


The Portuguese, the pioneer explorers of Western Africa, were primarily interested in finding a route to the EastThere were only a few scattered settlements along the coast and offshore islands, for example, Atlantic islands, Algoa Bay and DelgoaAfrica was used largely as provision bases for ships charting a course to the Indies.PORTUGUESEThe African coastline was important in charting and navigating the route to the EastSettlements may have incidental to the main objective but important trading bases were established, for example, Elmina.

PORTUGUESEThe traffic increased to the East, and as the route extended South and East they needed larger provision bases so Luanda in Angola was established by 1530

TRADEEarly contact with West Africa was also important for trade but trade with Africa did not necessitate access by Europeans to the interior lands.Europeans who arrived off the coast of West Africa established coastal trade with states such as Benin and GhanaThey traded for Gold and slaves

TRADETheir presence led to the increase in the volume of slaves traded as they opened the new markets across the AtlanticThe presence of Europeans on the West African coast caused the shift of trade routes towards the Atlantic from the route across the SaharaThe trading activities gave them access to the interior resources.

TRADEAlong the West African coasts, mixed settlements of Africans, Portuguese, mulattoes of mixed origin developed. Here mercantile families carried out trade with the interior of Africa.

PENETRATIONWhile direct access to the interior was not a necessity, the Europeans/Portuguese did attempt to penetrate AfricaThey found it difficult to go beyond the coastal areas because of the terrain; there were mangrove swamps, rain forests, steep cliffs and even access by waterways was hindered by the currents

PENETRATIONEuropeans in Africa found diseases to which they had no immunity. This helped to impede settlement in the interior by Europeans well into the 19th century.Some states were accommodating; there were sometimes hostileChristians, i.e Roman Catholic missionaries were active in Angola and the Kongo

USE OF FORCEThe use of force against the Africans suggests that the Europeans were interested in gaining a foothold.They sacked towns and citiesThey carried out raids and pillaged overland trade routesThey sometimes were able invade the interior but they could not establish control


RELIGIOUSAfricans were converted to Christianity and in some cases became officers in the Church, in kingdoms such as the Kongo.Some abandoned their religious practices in favour of those of the Europeans. Syncretism (amalgamation of various religious beliefs)


There was a brain drain from Africa. There was a trade in Africans to Iberia in the second half of the fifteenth century.New family patterns emerged in the coastal areas: Europeans had children with Africans. The mulattoes became agents of the Europeans.


There was cultural penetration/erosion: the removal obstructed the passing on of cultural traditions


There was a shift in in the direction of the trade to West Africa from the traditional route across the Sahara to North AfricaA direct trade developed with the Europeans in gold, ivory and enslaved Africans.