Mozambique Happenings for accommodation, things to do and places to see in Mozambique

THE HISTORY OF MOZAMBIQUE

including the History of Delagoa Bay, History of Lourenco Marques, Portuguese Colony history, Maputo history, Ronga history and Mozambique trade

 

Compiled by Louis-John Havemann

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HISTORY;
The first inhabitants of Mozambique were of the Khoisani people, viz. San hunter gatherers.
The Nguni (Bantu) people migrated southwards, starting perhaps as early as the 3rd century AD, from the north and west of Africa, crossing the Zambezi River valley basin, which was a major barrier, and down the coastal plain.

For an interesting article on further research about IRON AGE INHABITANTS IN THE ZAMBESI RIVER BASIN see this presentation by
Hilario Madiquida , Professor, Archaeology and Anthropology Mozambique.

 

They then gradually spread into the plateau and coastal areas of South Eastern Africa.
They introduced the cultivation of some grain crops, along with the knowledge of root and tree crops into the region.


Iron Age rock art site Kundabwika Zambia

 

This migration was mainly confined to the east of the 600mm rainfall line and they were farmers and herders as well being of the iron age, using metal tools and implements.

Today most of Mozambique's indigenous peoples are of this Nguni origin, and the tribal character of the people that developed in this region was largely influenced and governed by geography.
The Chopi, Tonga, and Tsonga were grouped in to chiefdoms in the southern regions.
Around the Zambezi River, in the central region, lived, the Barue, Maravi, Macua-Lomue, Shona, as well as some Tonga .
These Nguni groups were not homogenous, as one would be led to believe.
The Maravi, comprised of a number of small scattered kingdoms.
The Macua-Lomue were gathered into clans ruled by chiefs.

 

Mozambique had an established Arab presence by the 10th century (923 AD) evidenced by the first written record of Mozambique by an Arab writer, Al-Mas'udi, when he mentioned the town of Sofala, - 45 km south of Beira. His report mentions the Wak Wak people who used iron.

 

An Arab Boat that is similar to those used in the voyage that brought Arab merchants to Sufalah, modern Mozambique, in 923.

 

Mozambique was in fact named after the Arab sheik on Mozambique Island called "Musa Bin Biki" when Vasco de Gama first landed there in 1498.



Coastal trade was at first dominated by Arabs and Persians, who had established settlements as far south as MOZAMBIQUE ISLAND.
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Trading between the Native and the Arabs:

The Indian Ocean has a great advantage benefiting trade routes, in the form of the Monsoon Winds. During the summer months the Monsoon winds blow north and during the the winter months they blow south.
This meant that the trading Arabs sailors could either go to Africa or Indonesia in the winter, and return in the summer. These Monsoon winds were essential for sailing with the ships of that time and governed sea faring all over the Indian Ocean and the East China Sea. These winds were a system of alternating winds and currents only found in the above seas.

 

For several centuries, Arab commercial and slave trading (Black Gold) had existed along the coast and outlying islands. The Arabs traded mainly, ceramic pottery, cloth, glass, beads, salt and metal goods with these Bantu-speaking people, in exchange for gold, palm oil, rhino horn, amber, hides & skins and ivory. With the cooperation of the African chiefs, this trade expanded. supplied by goods from the kingdoms in the interior hinterland. In time intermarriage between these two groups gave rise to the Swahili culture which is still dominant in the Eastern African coastal areas down to northern Mozambique.

 

The Arab trade in Africa extended as far south as Mozambique, probably Sofala, which was at the southern limit of the winter Monsoon winds.

For several centuries, Arab commercial and slave trading had existed along the coast and outlying islands. The Arabs traded mainly, ceramic pottery, cloth, glass, beads, salt and metal goods with these Bantu-speaking people, in exchange for gold, palm oil, rhino horn, amber, hides & skins and ivory.

With the cooperation of the African chiefs, this trade expanded. supplied by goods from the kingdoms in the interior hinterland. In time intermarriage between these two groups gave rise to the Swahili culture which is still dominant in the Eastern African coastal areas down to northern Mozambique.

One of the oldest and most southerly of these trading groups, was a settlement called Mapungubwe. It is thought to have started during the 10th century in the upper reaches of the Limpopo River, based on groups of villages under a chief, known as the "Nyika system". It is the earliest known settlement featuring stone enclosures, or "Zimbabwes".

 

 

Chinese presence on the East African Coast including Mozambique;

There is said to be a Chinese map of the thirteenth century showing Africa in roughly its true shape and there is a Venetian report from the mid-fifteenth century of a Chinese or Javanese junk seen off the south west African coast.

 

Jia Dan born in 730 AD,rose to importance as a political figure in China and he wrote "Route between Guangzhou and the Barbarian Sea" during the late 8th century that documented foreign communications, the book was lost, but the" Xin Tangshu" retained some of his passages about the three sea-routes linking China to East Africa.

 

Admiral Zheng-He, commanded large fleets under the the Yongle Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, which sailed to the Indian Ocean and presumably Africa including Mozambique, seven times from 1405 to 1433 AD.


This did not lead to Chinese expansion into Africa because the next emperor reversed the policy of Chinese global expansion and by 1500 AD made it a capital offence to build a sea going junk with more than two masts.

 

Under these circumstances Chinese merchants contented themselves by trading with nearby countries. They considered the Indian and Pacific Oceans as vast wastelands of water with questionable trading benefits and further African trade with China trickled to a stop.

 

This Chinese painting done by She Du in 1414 AD,during the reign of the Yongle Emperor, was painted to depict a "Tribute Giraffe" brought from Bengala now Somalia, being led into a Ming Dynasty zoo.

It was described by J.J.L. Duyvendak, "The True Dates of the Chinese Maritime Expeditions in the Early Fifteenth Century"

Chinese picture of a giraffe from Somalia

 

Kingdom of Mwene Mutapo (Monomatapo)

During the 13th -15th century (1200 - 1400 AD) the Kingdom of Mwene Mutapa (Monomatapo) with it's capital at Great Zimbabwe, was established.

This was one of the oldest and most southerly of the trading groups at that time, and the people of this group are the ancestors of the Shona people.

Mozambique existed as numerous small black kingdoms . The name Mutapa means "the conquered lands". The mwene (bantu term for "lord", particularly a conquering king) was the title giving rise to the state being referred to as Mwene Mutapa. This phrase has been preserved in documents as Munhu mu tapa, Manhumutapa and the Portuguese Monomotapa. It has also been translated to mean "master pillager" or "lord of the conquered mines".

 

The Zambezi and Limpopo rivers were two big natural boundaries, with the area north of Zambezi river dominated by the kingdoms of Makua, Yao, Maravi and other less integrated sub-groups.

The Shona Empire ruled between the above two rivers. The great stone structures of Great Zimbabwe, are testimony to the political and economic might, of the Great Zimbabwe civilization's control over the region. This empire extended south from the Zambezi River incorporating the Save River down to the Limpopo River, and then eastwards to the coast.

The economy was based on cattle, with the grazing grounds extending from the Zimbabwe plateau down to the Mozambican lowlands, as well as agriculture.

Local industries started developing incorporating the mining of gold, copper and iron, as well as the development of saltpans and pottery industries.

This Monomatapo influence in southern Mozambique was evidenced by the settlement at Manekweni, about 50 kilometers from the Indian Ocean. Manekweni was a settlement based on the eastern range of grazing for cattle, and gold trade during the 12th - 18th centuries. The main outlets to the sea were at Sofala south of Beira, - developed as a trade center for gold from the interior - and at Mozambique Island further north.

Great Zimbabwe Ruins

PORTUGUESE PRESENCE IN MOZAMBIQUE

 

The first European to reach Mozambique was Vasco da Gama after he had rounded the Southern tip of Africa in 1498. He had thus opened up the trade route from Europe to India.

This is historically recorded as being the first successful voyage after Bartolomeu, Diaz, who when after rounding the southern tip of Africa, was forced to turn back because of a threatened mutiny by his crew.

 

There is much more to this than a person at first realises, let me give some ideas for consideration.
When Vasco da Gama reached the Indian port of Calicut, It was only a few weeks before Christopher Columbus,made his first landing on the American mainland after his 3rd voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, .

Nearly eleven months after de Gama had left Lisbon, he landed at Calicut. This voyage of de Gama, when taken into comparison, was much more difficult and much longer than Columbus' voyage.

 

There was a history of exploration of the route down the west coast of Africa to the successfull rounding of the Cape of Good Hope.
Vasco de Gama had after his trip proved that there was a practical and profitable route to Asia and the East, for trade with spices and this route was around the southern tip of Africa. In 1505 the Portuguese occupied Sofala, establishing a fort and installing a friendly Arab ruler there.
Columbus's failed to find a direct route across the Atlantic to the riches of the East and the spice trade of the Indian Ocean.

 

Vasco de Gama

In 1505 the Portuguese occupied Sofala, establishing a fort and installing a friendly Arab ruler there. Portugal became the dominant trading power of the East Coast of Africa, by conquering the Arab trading settlements and it monopolised the Indian Ocean trading routes for two centuries until they were defeated by the Omani Arabs at the end of the 17th century.

 

The first Portuguese fort built in Mozambique was at Sofala to protect their gold trade route. A settlement was also built at Quelimane north of the Zambesi River. The Zambesi River became the main trade route with forts and trading posts at Tete and Sena on the banks of the river, trading for gold ivory and slaves (Black Gold) in exchange for European trade goods, like beads and tools and cloths. In the 1600s Portuguese traders and retired soldiers seized large areas of land in the Zambesi Valley and established what was known as Prazos or agricultural estates, using slave labour or forced local communities to supply workers. These "Prazeros" as they were known became very wealthy and dominated the area as independent powers for 300 years. The Prazos were stopped in the early 1900s. Mozambique, formally known as Portuguese East Africa, became a Portuguese colony in 1505, later to become an overseas province of Portugal in 1951.

 

Mozambique Island

The Portuguese made Mozambique Island their headquarters until they changed it in 1897 to Delagoa Bay, which became Lourenco Marques and now Maputo.

The beautiful Portuguese colonial architecture is a legacy of the Portuguese who colonised the country for nearly 500 years. Mozambique Island was the main starting point for trade with the Mozambican hinterland and was the capital until this was moved to Lourenco Marques, now Maputo in 1897.

Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte; located on the most eastern tip of the Island of Mozambique which sits off the coast of Mozambique in Africa.

The Chapel is situated outside the Fort São Sebastião from which it can be reached through a gate. Built by the Portuguese in 1522, the chapel is considered to be the oldest European building in the southern hemisphere.

It is also considered to be one of the finest examples of Manueline vaulted architecture in Mozambique and being completely cut off from the mainland, during the 20 year civil war, resulted in it's historic sites and architecture being preserved.

Capela de Nossa Senhora do Baluarte Chapel of Our Lady do Baluarte

Mozambique under Portuguese rule

At the beginning of the 16th century the Portuguese tried to advance into the interior of Mozambique, but were not numerically nor militarily strong enough to be successful in their endeavors. The occupation of the lower Zambezi and the two garrisons and trading posts of Sena and Tete contributed little towards control of the country. In spite of the Portuguese presence along the Zambezi, there were powerful chiefs, such as the, Karonga, Undi, Chipeta, Maravin and Nyassa who had established a strong and powerful prescence in the region north of the Zambezi River. South of the Zambezi River, trade, was under the control of the Shona people. Portuguese power declined during the period when the crown of Portugal was combined with the crown of Spain (1580-1640). The Portuguese African coastal settlements were ignored and fell into poorly maintained condition. This resulted in investment lagging while Lisbon devoted itself to the more lucrative trade with India and the Far East as well as the colonisation of Brazil.

At the Berlin Conference in 1884, Mozambique became a Portuguese colony,this resulted in a system of dividing the land into prazos (large agricultural estates)was established. This system resulted in land being rented to British and French companies, which set up plantations growing cash crops such as cotton, and tea.

The result was that the natives cultivatied the land for the benefit of the European leaseholders, (Prazeros) who were also tax-collectors for each district and claimed the tax either in labour or produce. This system kept the sharecropping farmers in a state of serfdom.
Direct Portuguese influence was limited. mainly to the coast between several sea ports and Madagascar, where a large trade in slaves was carried on until 1877, supplying slaves for Arabia and the Ottomans.
European traders and prospectors barely penetrated the interior regions, until the Transvaal gold rush.

 

Conflicts for independence from the Portuguese:

In 1917 there was a Shona rebellion and this became Mozambique's first major anti-colonial uprising.Many of the Portuguese
military bases were overrun and it took 3 years for the authorities to restore order in Mozambique. Reforms which were long
overdue were implemented in 1926 under a new dispensation in Portugal known as "Estado Novo".

 

After World War II, many European nations were granting independence to their colonies. Portugal however established Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau and Angola as Portuguese overseas provinces of the mother country, and emigration to the colonies soared. Mozambique's Portuguese population at the time of independence was about 250,000.

"Indigenas", who were indigenous Mozambique citizens, could by certain provisions being fulfilled, become an "Assimilado". This meant that they could become a Colonial African Portuguese citizen. One of the main conditions to be met was proper education. Educational opportunities in Mozambique were limited and few and far between so there were not many "Indigenas" who became "Assimilados".

Neither Colonial African Portuguese citizens "Assimilados"nor Indigenous Mozambicans "Indigenas" had political rights, although Colonial African Portuguese citizens were in a privileged class of their own.

The aspirations of the Black Mozambicans to rule themselves without having to become "Black Europeans" was not met, causing increasing dissatisfaction amongst them.

Eduardo Chivambo Mondlane (1920-1969).

 

After graduating from Oberlin College in 1953 with a B.A. in Sociology, he went on to work for the United Nations. He eventually left the United Nations to organize support for the Mozambican liberation struggle. He helped shape the policies and actions of the independence fighters until he was assassinated on February 3, 1969.

 

The desire for Mozambican independence gained pace, and in 1962 an assortment of anti-colonial political groups, under the leadership of Dr Eduardo Mondlane (educated in America) formed the "Frente de Libertacao de Mozambique" (FRELIMO) on 25 June 1962.

Frelimo, based in Tanzania, began an armed campaign against Portuguese colonial rule in September 1964,and was soon in control of large parts of Northern Mozambique.

 

Dissension within Frelimo led to breakaway groups forming "Comite Revolucionario de Mozambique" (Coremo). In 1964. Mondlane was killed by a letter bomb in his offices in Dar es Salaam and in February 1969 Samora Machel took over as leader of Frelimo.

 

Mueda Massacre 16th June 1960;

At the inland town of Mueda, which is the administrative capital of the Makonde people, there is a memorial to the Mueda Massacre. In 1964 the Makonde people rebelled against the confiscation of their land by the Portuguese. The Makonde elders and members of the tribe attended a meeting with the Portuguese Governor. There are conflicting reports, but discussions became heated and a riot ensued. The Portuguese soldiers opened fire with machine guns and hundreds of people were killed. The outrage over this incident was the start of major internal resistance to Portuguese rule and led to the begining of Russian involvment in Mozambique.

 

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Mueda Town Square, scene of the mueda massacre 16th June 1960

Ongoing guerilla wars began sapping Portugal's ability to maintain these costly wars. Following the 25 April 1974 coup in Lisbon, President Caetano fled to Brazil and a military junta under Gen. Antonio de Spinola became the government and Portuguese colonialism collapsed. This resulted in a peace agreement in Mozambique on 7 September 1974 and the installation of a provisional government. Frelimo's Joaquim Chissano, was installed as prime minister of Mozambique. Racial clashes occurred and resulted in a mass exodus of White Portuguese citizens contributing to a major collapse of the economic infrastructure of Mozambique.

 

These following photos below illustrate how badly the infrustructure of Mozambique collapsed under the Communist regime of Samora Machel.
These are photos of Beira's Grande Hotel and Beira Municipal swimming pool.
The ones on the left were taken in 1975 under Portuguese colonial rule and those on the right were taken in 2007 under Frelimo rule

 

Ongoing guerilla wars began sapping Portugal's ability to maintain these costly wars. Following the 25 April 1974 coup in Lisbon, President Caetano fled to Brazil and a military junta under Gen. Antonio de Spinola became the government and Portuguese colonialism collapsed. This resulted in a peace agreement in Mozambique on 7 September 1974 and the installation of a provisional government. Frelimo's Joaquim Chissano, was installed as prime minister of Mozambique. Racial clashes occurred and resulted in a mass exodus of White Portuguese citizens contributing to a major collapse of the economic infrastructure of Mozambique.

 

These following photos below illustrate how badly the infrustructure of Mozambique collapsed under the Communist regime of Samora Machel.
These are photos of Beira's Grande Hotel and Beira Municipal swimming pool.
The ones on the left were taken in 1975 under Portuguese colonial rule and those on the right were taken in 2007 under Frelimo rule

 

Beira Municipal pool 1975 Beira Municipal pool 2007
 
Grande Hotel Beira 1975 Grande Hotel Beira 2007
 

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