East Africa and Long Distance Trade

Topics: Africa, East Africa, Atlantic slave trade Pages: 5 (1679 words) Published: March 10, 2006
History has always been the key to our existence. We learn from our failures to better our future, just as we learn from our triumphs to excel even further. A very important time in the history of our world was the East Africa long distance trade .In the middle of the seventeenth century, East Africa had a far more important place in the world than other African countries .So wrote Marsh, Z.A & Kingsnorth G.W in their book ‘An introduction to the History of East Africa ', published by Cambridge university press in 1965 .. They added that "The riches of East Africa were incomparably greater than those of the other African states." According to (Walter, 1966) East African countries were first African countries to be involved in long distance trade. Long distance trade resulted in the development of partnerships between the rulers of European countries and those of Africa who saw each other as equals. Some of the earliest European visitors to Africa recognised that many African societies were as advanced or even more advanced than their own. In the early 16th century, the Portuguese trader Duarte Barboosa said of the east African city Kilwa: There were many fair houses of stone and mortar, well arranged in streets. Around it were streams and orchards with many channels of sweet water.' Of the inhabitants of Kilwa he reported, ‘They were finely clad in many rich garments of gold and silk, and cotton, and the women as well; also with much gold and silver in chains and bracelets, which they wore on their legs and arms, and many jeweled earrings in their ears.

This trade relation has been a international debate over 100 years .With most economist and historians believing that long distance trade was destructive to East African ‘s economic , political and cultural systems , while other argue that long distance trade was effectual to East African ‘s economic , political and cultural systems .So the following paper will examine whether long distance trade was destructive to East African countries systems(Economic , political and cultural ) .The first part of this paper will discuss the history of East African long distance trade and the second part will attempt to answer the question of whether long distance trade was destructive or effective to economic , political and cultural systems of East African countries

The Indian Ocean trade network spans from east coast of Africa through Middle East to western and eastern India and then on through Burma to the different islands of Southeast Asian region. It is a vast trade network that has witnessed thriving trade since the ancient times. This trade in the earlier times took place in the form of coastal trade between different centres of trade. For example, the Indus valley people had good trade relations with the Sumerian and Mesopotamian civilisations. This trade network was equally important to Europe even before the Suez Canal came into existence. Usually the goods from the East would be carried via the Arab merchants either through the Red Sea route overland to Nile or through Persian Gulf via Syria and Black Sea. The direct European ships that came to this region came round the Cape of Good Hope in the southern tip of Africa.

East Africa trade relation with other countries led to desperate and brutal competition between major trading power to control the shipping routes that brought spices to their markets .Dutch, Portuguese, English and Spanish government dispatched intrepid merchant companies to Far East in search of the elusive sources of spice for which their citizens were clamoring.

As stated by Bennet (1978) many never return, shipwrecked. Lost or murdered in the unknown. Uncharted waters of the world's oceans .But eventually, the European powers gained control of the production of spices trade from the Arabic merchants who had been supplying to the rest of the world centuries before.

I strongly believe that the east African long distance...
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