A little piece of history…

Having just finished a holiday in Mozambique, I was interested to read about some of its history. Specifically, in a book I am currently devouring on the history of Africa.

This one little episode pretty much sums up colonialism:

In about 1500 a Portuguese fleet, commanded by one d’Almeida, sighted the shining port city of Kilwa. The sailors on board marveled at the tall, stately houses lining the harbour and admired well-constructed ships docked there. Kilwa, being a trading city linked to an extensive network of Indian ocean trade, was rich in exotic finery: Indian cotton, Chinese porcelain and Persian carpets. Spices, gold and silver filled the city coffers. The rewards, in short, of a hundred years of painstaking growth and sound commercial acumen. And the Portuguese wanted in.

Their solution: Occupy the houses on shore. Then wait for the priests and monks to drag crosses from the boats to put into the palace. Subsequently, after a hurried prayer session over the crosses, begin looting. Finally; set fire to the city two days later and leave with ships full of goods, food and newly-captured slaves. Repeat as new towns are encountered further up the coast.

Worse yet, the Portuguese were one of the nicer colonial powers.


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