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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Muslims and the Pre-Colonial History of Zimbabwe
Author:Mandivenga, Ephraim
Periodical:Journal of the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs
Geographic term:Zimbabwe
mercantile history
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
History and Exploration
Abstract:When the first European fort and trading station was established at Sofala (Mozambique) by the Portuguese in 1505, the Asians who were discovered trading and occupying stations along the east coast of Africa were Arabs and Persians. Written information on both their condition in the early years of the 16th century and their previous history is derived from the Kilwa Chronicle, which has survived in an Arabic and a Portuguese version, both from the 16th century. By AD 1300 there were broadly three identifiable communities of Asian origin on the east coast of Africa. There were the Shia Zaydites, the orthodox Arabs, who belonged to one Sunni school or the other, and the Persians, who were also Sunni. The Asian communities on the east coast lived almost completely by trade. However, the Muslim trade monopoly along the East African coast was seriously endangered in 1505 when the Portuguese built a fort at Sofala. Their motive was not colonization but to gain as much as possible commercially from the region. Sofala was to be not only a refreshment post, but also a point of departure to the Mutapa and his Karanga subjects in the interior of what is now Zimbabwe. In this way the Portuguese would take over the gold trade from the Muslims who had hitherto enjoyed economic and political privilege in the Mutapa empire. The end of the 16th century saw the beginning of the period of Portuguese ascendancy in Central Africa. Consequent upon the Portuguese disruption of trade patterns, the coastal city-States declined rapidly. Notes, ref.