Austria:- There is another country that became involved before the Portuguese finally claimed Delagoa Bay back for themselves.
With the withdrawal of the Dutch the British who were ever present caused, in a round about way, another country Austria, to become involved in Delagoa Bay
The Portuguese, who were unable to physically occupy the Bay, attempted to try and combat British competition, by
declaring the Bay closed to any nation other than Portugal. They had no chance to succeed in this because the Ronga declared the bay open to any trading nation and refused to abide by what the Portuguese tried to force them to do.
In this they were fully supported by the British, who were more efficient traders and who paid better prices.
The British had no desire to occupy Delagoa Bay, nor get involved with the local politics. All that they were interested in, was the huge profits in ivory trade with Europe and to promote this they also traded firearms to the Ronga to assist them in obtaining ivory.
A British trader with a rather un savoury reputation, named William Bolts, had been fired by the British East India Company for shady and unscrupulous trading deals.This resulted in so many complaints, that the Company had no option but to get rid of him.
He was arrested and deported back to England, where he set about to establish a trading company, that would be in competition with the British East India Company.
He needed financial backing for this and found that he was rejected by most financial entities in Europe, who knew of his reputation. He finally managed to ingratiate himself with the Emperor of Austria's wife, Maria Theresia. He obtained funding from Austria and started the Ostend East India Company. In 1773 William Bolts took the first group of people to Delagoa Bay and followed it up in 1777 with 150 people to settle in Mozambique and declared the Bay Austrian territory.
The Ronga still remained in control despite Bolts' efforts.
Chief Nwangobe had defeated his rivals in the area (Madommadom, Machavane and Nyaka).
One of chief Nwangobe's sons, was Maputo after whom Lourenco Marques was named at independence. Maputo controlled the area to the south of the Bay during the 1770's.
One of the biggest problems to Bolts at this time, was the inability to understand that the Ronga were not, nor ever had, considered, giving up control and ownership of their land. The Ronga believed that they had only granted Bolts the right to use the land, according to their discretion. They considered the Austrians to be under their laws and subject to their chiefs.
Bolts on the other hand, believed that the treaties with the Ronga allowed him passage along the rivers and control and title to the land specified in the treaties.
This led to future problems. The Austrian commander, Andre Pollet had been given instructions to ensure the safety of lives,maintain cordial relations with the Ronga, even if meant having to endure provocation and insults.
This misunderstanding led to confrontations and in 1778, some of the Austrians were forced to seek refuge on one of their ships because of hostilities. Some of the soldiers returned to the fort for supplies and were seized by the locals and put to death.
The British ignored all Austrian attempts to enforce authority and carried on trading and paying higher prices to the locals for ivory.
Bearing in mind that the garrison were emaciated because of poor food and weakened by disease, thus they were seen as no obstacle, to any sort of force that was prepared to attack them. This was a bonus for the Portuguese.
The Portuguese were reticent in confronting a major power such as Britain, but a private and weakly garrisoned trading company, was an entirely different matter.
The Portuguese had always been determined to occupy Delagoa Bay and to control the trade and exploit the local people including the Ronga. Therefore on the 30 March 1781 a Portuguese force from Goa under the command of Viciente Godhino de Mira, landed at Delagoa Bay, attacked the Austrians. He razed their buildings and raised the Portuguese flag over the Bay. This was to be a brief 14 year period.
The Ronga repeatedly told the Portuguese, as well as other foreigners, that they the Ronga were the custodians of the land and that they allowed foreigners to stay there as their guests and if this didn't meet with their approval,then they could leave.
No foreign country or company had the right to interfere with their sovereignty and attempt to prevent free trade at the Bay.
The Ronga people suffered serious results from the Portuguese efforts to keep Delagoa Bay under their sole control. They were in a large measure prevented from trading their goods to the best of their advantage. Their trade relations with the interior people, with whom they traded, suffered and they did not have answers to combat this negative effect on their trading ventures.
Relations between Ronga and Portuguese were further strained by the attitudes of successive Portuguese governors.
Delagoa Bay governors:-.
The first governor was Joao Henriques de Almeida. He fled the scene in fear for his life after supplying watered down rum to a certain chief.
In 1784 Pedro Testevin the new governor and the force under his command occupied the Bay. The Locals complained about his cruelty and his authority was flouted and defied.
Portuguese authority had become non existent and by 1790 various trading nations were trading freely, especially in ivory.
There were French whalers who were buying their supplies direct from the Ronga, despite Portuguese laws forbidding this.
During this year the Portuguese at the Bay under the command of Silva Pacheco mutinied, because they maintained that the governor was stealing government money and buying ivory for his own account.
In 1796 during the month of October a small fleet of French ships arrived and demanded the surrender of the Portuguese garrison. After the surrender the fort was looted and set alight. For the next three years Delagoa Bay was unoccupied by any foreign force.
The Portuguese returned to Delagoa Bay in 1799, but again it was a very weak ineffectual presence, ignored by all sea powers and their ships.
In particular a new group had appeared and this was the whaling contingent. American and British whalers were making frequent use of the Bay and fishing and mooring there. Portugal therefore decided to establish a whaling factory in Delagoa Bay, under the management of a Portuguese by the name of Caldas.
He fell out with a Ronga chief and was captured and killed. Portugal did nothing to punish this act and so lost the respect of the locals, appearing to the Ronga to be too weak to enforce any law and order.
Delagoa Bay had, up to now, always been a minor settlement of Portugal's colonial empire, with far more importance being given to the northern Mozambique settlements like Sena, Tete, Inhambane, Sofala, Quelimane and of course Mozambique Island.
The unsuccessful trading at the Bay resulted in all the frustrations of the previous attempts and finally in the end the last remaining Portuguese trader at the Bay, Miguel Lupe de Cardinhas, became governor.
He mistreated the Ronga people and whilst returning from a flag raising ceremony, the locals attacked and killed him.
The next governor Teixeira, suffered the same fate and was attacked and killed.
At the lowest point of Portuguese authority, Xavier Schmidt von Belliken arrived in the Bay to take up the governor's post.
He tried very hard to restore Portuguese authority. His means of doing so, (especially with the Ronga chiefs, who consistently refused to enter into treaties or respect Portuguese rule and help with building of forts), was rebelled against.
He was duly replaced by Dionisio Antonio Ribeiro.
Up until now the various Portuguese governors were used to exploiting their positions for their own profit and they were able to do this, because they could virtually act as they liked.
When the Companhia do Comerciao de Lourenco Marques e Inhambane was granted the monopoly of trade in Inhambane and Delagoa Bay, relations between the Company and the governors worsened.
Complaints against Ribeiro by the soldiers under him, reached the Company.
They reported that Ribeiro was sending them on slave hunting expeditions at Portugal's expense.