HOME
The Info List - Sofala


--- Advertisement ---



Sofala, at present known as Nova Sofala, used to be the chief seaport of the Mwenemutapa
Mwenemutapa
Kingdom, whose capital was at Mount Fura. It is located on the Sofala Bank in Sofala Province
Sofala Province
of Mozambique. It was founded by Somali merchants and seafarers. Sofala
Sofala
in Somali literally means “Go dig”. This name was given because the area is rich with resources.[1]

Contents

1 History

1.1 Portuguese arrival 1.2 Aftermath

2 Citations 3 References

History[edit] One of the oldest harbours documented in Southern Africa, medieval Sofala
Sofala
was erected on the edge of a wide estuary formed by the Buzi River (called Rio de Sofala
Sofala
in older maps). The Somali merchants from Mogadishu, the capital of the Ajuran Empire, established a colony in Mozambique
Mozambique
to extract gold from the mines in Sofala.[2] The Buzi River connected Sofala
Sofala
to the internal market town of Manica, and from there to the gold fields of Great Zimbabwe. Sometime in the 10th century, Sofala
Sofala
emerged as a small trading post and was incorporated into the greater global monsoon complex. In the 1180s, Sultan Suleiman Hassan of Kilwa (in present-day Tanzania) seized control of Sofala, and brought Sofala
Sofala
into the Kilwa Sultanate
Kilwa Sultanate
and the Swahili cultural sphere.[3] The Swahili strengthened its trading capacity by having, among other things, rivergoing dhows ply the Buzi and Save rivers to ferry the gold extracted in the hinterlands to the coast.[4] Sofala's subsequent position as the principal entrepot of the Mwenemutapa
Mwenemutapa
gold trade prompted Portuguese chronicler Thomé Lopes to identify Sofala
Sofala
with the biblical Ophir and its ancient rulers with the dynasty of the Queen of Sheba.[5][6] Alternately, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Augustus Henry Keane
Augustus Henry Keane
argued that Sofala
Sofala
was the Biblical Tarshish.[7] Since the early 1900s, both notions have been discarded. The name Sofala
Sofala
is most probably derived from the Arabic for 'lowlands', a reference to the flat coastlands and low-lying islands and sandbanks that characterize the region. Although the revenues from Sofala's gold trade proved a windfall for the Sultans of Kilwa, and allowed them to finance the expansion of the Swahili commercial empire all along the East African coast, Sofala
Sofala
was not a mere subsidiary or outpost of Kilwa, but a leading town in its own right, with its own internal elite, merchant communities, trade connections and settlements as far south as Cape Correntes
Cape Correntes
(and some across the channel in Madagascar). Formally, Sofala
Sofala
continued to belong to the Kingdom of Mwenemutapa, the Swahili community paying tribute for permission to reside and trade there. The Sultan of Kilwa had jurisdiction only over the Swahili residents, and his governor was more akin to a consul than a ruler. The city retained a great degree of autonomy, and could be quite prickly should the Sultan of Kilwa try to interfere in its affairs. Sofala
Sofala
was easily the most dominant coastal city south of Kilwa itself. Portuguese arrival[edit] Main article: Portuguese expedition to Sofala
Sofala
(Anaia, 1505) Portuguese explorer and spy Pêro da Covilhã, travelling overland disguised as an Arab merchant, was the first European known to have visited Sofala
Sofala
in 1489. His secret report to Lisbon
Lisbon
identified Sofala's role as a gold emporium (although by this time, the gold trade was quite diminished from its heyday). In 1501 Sofala
Sofala
was scouted from the sea and its location determined by captain Sancho de Tovar. In 1502, Pedro Afonso de Aguiar (others say Vasco da Gama himself) led the first Portuguese ships into Sofala
Sofala
harbor.[8] Aguiar (or Gama) sought out an audience with the ruling sheikh Isuf of Sofala
Sofala
(Yçuf in Barros Çufe in Goes). At the time, Isuf was engaged in a quarrel with Kilwa. The minister Emir Ibrahim had deposed and murdered the legitimate Sultan al-Fudail of Kilwa, and seized power for himself. Isuf of Sofala
Sofala
refused to recognize the usurper and was looking for a way to shake off Kilwa's lordship and chart an independent course for Sofala. The Portuguese, with their powerful ships, seemed to provide the key. At any rate, the elderly sheikh Isuf realized it would be better to make allies rather than enemies out of them, and agreed to a commercial and alliance treaty with the Kingdom of Portugal.

Sofala, from Manuel Faria e Sousa, Asia Portuguesa, vol. 1, 1666

This was followed upon in 1505 when Pêro de Anaia
Pêro de Anaia
(part of the 7th Armada) was granted permission by sheikh Isuf to erect a factory and fortress near the city. Fort São Caetano of Sofala
Sofala
was the second Portuguese fort in East Africa (the first, at Kilwa, was built only a few months earlier). Anaia used stone imported for the purpose from Europe. (It was subsequently reused for construction of Beira's cathedral.) The Portuguese fort did not last very long. Much of the garrison was quickly decimated by fevers (probably malaria). In late 1507, the new Portuguese captain of Sofala, Vasco Gomes de Abreu, captured the nearby island of Mozambique. Gradually, much of the Sofala
Sofala
garrison, officers and operations were transferred to the island, reducing Fort Sofala
Sofala
to a mere outpost. Nonetheless, colonial governors of Portuguese Mozambique
Mozambique
would continue to bear 'Captain of Sofala' as their primary official title. Aftermath[edit] If not for its gold trade, Sofala
Sofala
would likely have been avoided by both the Swahili and the Portuguese. The entrance to Sofala
Sofala
estuary was blocked by a long moving sand bank, which was followed by hazardous shoals, allowing boats to approach safely only at high tide. The shores of Sofala
Sofala
were a mangrove swamp, replete with stagnant waters and malarial mosquitos. As a harbor, it was less than suitable for Portuguese ships, which is why the Portuguese were quick to seize Mozambique
Mozambique
Island in 1507, and make that their preferred harbor. The gold trade also proved to be a disappointment. The old gold fields were largely exhausted by the time the Portuguese arrived, and gold production had moved further north. Market towns were erected on the Zambezi
Zambezi
escarpment, to which Sofala
Sofala
was less convenient as an outlet than the rising new towns of Quelimane
Quelimane
and Angoche.[9] The shifting sands and boundaries of the Buzi estuary have since allowed the sea to reclaim much of old Sofala. There are very few ruins in modern New Sofala
Sofala
to suggest the town's former grandeur and wealth. In its heyday, the town of Sofala
Sofala
itself was formed by two towns, one close to the water on a sand flat, the other on higher and healthier ground. The Sofalese also had a satellite settlement to the north at the mouth of the Pungwe River
Pungwe River
called Rio de São Vicente in old maps. As grand old Sofala
Sofala
sank into the ocean, modern Beira was erected on the site of that outpost. Sofala
Sofala
lost its remaining commercial preeminence once Beira was established 20 mi (32 km) to the north in 1890.[5] The harbour was once reputed to be capable of holding a hundred vessels, but has since silted up due to deforestation of the banks of the river and deposition of topsoil in the harbour.[5] Citations[edit]

^ The Horizon History of Africa, vol. 1, p. 143. ^ pg 4 - The quest for an African Eldorado: Sofala, By Terry H. Elkiss ^ Portuguese chronicler João de Barros
João de Barros
(Dec. I, Lib. 10, Cap. 2 (p. 388 ff.) relates the fable behind the conquest: Mogadishu merchants had long kept Sofala
Sofala
a secret from their Kilwan rivals, who up until then rarely sailed beyond Cape Delgado. One day, a fisherman caught a large bite off Kilwa and was dragged by the fish around Cape Delgado, through the Mozambique
Mozambique
Channel, all the way down to the Sofala
Sofala
banks. The fisherman made his way back up to Kilwa to report to the Sultan Suleiman Hassan what he had seen. Hearing of the gold trade, the sultan loaded up a ship with cloth and immediately raced down there, guided by the fisherman. The Kilwan sultan offered a better deal to the Mwenemutapa, and was allowed to erect a Kilwan factory and colony on the island and nudge the Mogadishans permanently out. ^ dos Santos, Fr. João (1609). Ethiopia Oriental. reprinted in Theal, vol. 7, p. 3 ff.  ^ a b c  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Sofala". Encyclopædia Britannica. 25 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 344.  ^ Lopes, Thomé (1504) Collecção de noticias para a historia e geografia das nações ultramarinas, que vivem nos dominios portuguezes, ou lhes são visinhas, Academia das Ciências de Lisboa. p. 163 at Google Books ^ The Gold of Ophir - Whence Brought and by Whom? (1901) ^ 16th century chronicler Gaspar Correia
Gaspar Correia
insists it was Aguiar; Osório, only mildly corroborated by Barros, suggests Gama. ^ Newitt, 1995: p.10.

References[edit]

João de Barros
João de Barros
(1552–59) Décadas da Ásia: Dos feitos, que os Portuguezes fizeram no descubrimento, e conquista, dos mares, e terras do Oriente., esp. Dec. I, Lib. 10, Cap. 2 (p. 388ff.) Thomé Lopes (c.1504) "Navegação as Indias Orientaes, escrita em Portuguez por Thomé Lopes, traduzida da lingua Portugueza para a Italiana, e novamente do Italiano para o Portuguez", trans. 1812 into Portuguese, by Academia Real das Sciencias in Collecção de noticias para a historia e geografia das nações ultramarinas: que vivem nos dominios portuguezes, ou lhes são visinhas, Vol. 2, Pt. 5 Newitt, M.D. (1995) A History of Mozambique. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Theal, G.M. (1898–1903) Records of South-eastern Africa collected in various libraries & archive departments in Europe, 9 vols., London: Clowes for Gov of Cape Colony. Theal, G.M. (1902) The Beginning of South African History. London: Unwin. The 2006 Britannica

Coordinates: 20°09′S 34°43′E / 20.150°S 34.717°E

.