| tThe Portugeuse explored
and claimed more of the West African coast and islands, with trade
being established with Ghana, Benin, Gabon, and Mali in quick succession
in the 1470s. The Portuguese establish treaties with some nations,
often trading weapons for slaves. This had repurcussions, leading
to warfare, starvation and ultimately depopulation in some regions.
In 1443 they were able to trade one horse for 25-30 slaves, by
1500 price of slaves rose to match the increased demand, one horse
traded for 6 to 8 slaves.
Bases were established on small islands off the West Coast of Africa,
the most important being Cape Verde and Sao Thome. These were used
for collecting slaves traded from the mainland, who were then sent
to Lisbon. The development of sugar cultivation on Sao Thome provided
the blueprint for the larger plantation economy of the Americas.
The free black and white populations mixed and rapidly and became
creolised, which was common to Portuguese colonies.
The Kongo was devastated by its relationship with Portugal. First
contact was in 1482 and initially the Kongolese were hopeful that
it might be a beneficial relationship based on equality, and there
was even an exchange of Ambassadors and the Royal family were baptised
into the Catholic Church.
How the Portuguese appear before the
King of Kongo Depiction of the meeting between the Portuguese
expedition and the Kongolese Royal Family © National Maritime
However over the next few decades the interest shifted towards
the slave trade. The King at this time, Alfonso I, despite his efforts
to ban the trade, lost half of his kingdom to slavery. In 1611 even
the Portuguese King was so concerned at the impact slavery was having
he tried to ban whites from the interior, but this was later rescinded.
By the late 15th century Portugal had extended its reach along the
East coast of Africa trying to establish a dominance in trade. Their
presence was strengthened when during the 1540s some East African
Kingdoms ask for help from Portugal in fighting off Ottoman Turkish
efforts to expand their empire. Portugal began slave trading in
Ethiopia, Mozambique, Magagascar.
However during the 1570s African forces attacked Portuguese colonies
in Mozambique and Ghana, a war errupted in Angola, and in 1585 there
was a Swahili revolt on E African coast. By the 17th century African
revolt and competition from other European powers reduced Portugal's
trading to a few coastal outposts.