Biggest cities in Sub Saharan Africa (500-1500)

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,576
Benin City, Nigeria
#51
Sorry, probably a bit out of topic, but here it goes a question:

I never had the opportunity to read Malyn Newitt and although I know that he has an extensive work about the Portuguese empire and the post colonial period, I rarely saw him quoted. I don’t even know if he was translated to Portuguese, which is curious since so many of his works could be sold in Portugal.

Anyway at Amazon it is stated “The Portuguese appear to have been the first European visitors to encounter East Africa, with the arrival of a lone traveller, Pero da Covilham, in c.1491. Covilham left no account of his experiences, so Vasco da Gama had little idea of what to expect when he led his first voyage to the region in 1497.”

Does Newitt really states in the book that “Vasco da Gama had little idea of what to expect when he led his first voyage to the region in 1497”, or is just one of those sentences written by the publisher? I am saying this because Pêro da Covilhã sent at least a report to D. João II by the Jew José from Lamego. We don’t know if the report really reached D. João II, even if we have tips that can lead to that hypothesis. But if it did, that report or any other from agents sent to the East by land, we can assume that Vasco da Gama had some information about the trade in the Indian Ocean. After all he went directly to Calicut after leaving Africa. This could be to previous information or due the information gathered in Africa, in the voyage. What is Newitt perspective?
That is what Newitt states in the introduction, it's not a publisher's description.

In context, it seems to me that when Newitt stated that Vasco da Gama's crew had little idea of what to expect he is specifically talking about them having little idea of what the coastal east African peoples were like. It is possible that Pêro da Covilhã's reports sent through José from Lamego don't mention anything about the peoples of the east African coast and that this is why Newitt wrote that da Covilhã left no account of his experiences on the coast.

"Although the coasts of eastern Africa and northern Madagascar were well known to the Muslim merchants and sailors and had been visited and described by geographers and writers such as Al Masudi, Ahmed Ibn Majjid and Ibn Battuta, there are no records of any Europeans having visited the region prior to the coming of the Portuguese. Portuguese encounters with the peoples of eastern Africa began with the visit of a lone traveller, Pero da Covilhã, who took a ship from India to Sofala dressed as a Muslim merchant, probably in 1491. Covilhã left no account of his experiences so that the crews of the three ships who accompanied Vasco da Gama to India had little idea what to expect when they reached the coast in December 1497. Da Gama made a leisurely voyage up the eastern coast of Africa stopping near Inhambane, then laying up for a month in the Qua Qua River near the mouth of the Zambesi doing repairs, before sailing on to Mozambique Island, Mombasa and Melinde. Da Gama was gathering intelligence and the account of his voyage, probably written by Alvaro Velho, gives a vivid account of the first contacts between Portugal and the coastal peoples which was to have a great influence on those who came after." - Malyn Newitt
 
Jan 2014
1,704
Portugal
#52
I'll repeat the list posted earlier.
Tichitt
Oulata
Oudande
Chinguetti
Audoghost
Timbuktu
Djenne Djenno
(Dala) Kano
Benin
NGazargamo
Ihebu Ode
Addis Adaba
Barara
Njimi
Kumbi Saleh
Kangaba
Niani

Adding:
Foumban
Agadez
Gao
Kano City-States
Zaria
Zinder

These are Saharan cities; and Africans have historically lived here as well.
When you claim that North Africa is historically Mediterranean, what time in history do you start your analysis? Because we know, linguistically North Africans speak Afro-Asiatic and Nilo-Saharan Languages which are East-African in origin. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afroasiatic_languages]

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8a/Expansion_of_Afroasiatic.svg/793px-Expansion_of_Afroasiatic.svg.png[/IMG

Mauretania, Mali, Chad, Niger, Sudan and to some extent, Southern Algeria, Morocco and Libya have all been historically populated by Africans. The areas most influenced by the Mediterranean would be the coastal cities of Tripoli, Alexandria, Cairo, Tunis, Casablanca and quite possibly Marrakesh

[IMG]http://www.nationsonline.org/maps/north-africa-map.jpg[/IMG

The Sahara isn't this big great barrier that people always claim it to be, there were civilizations living there before its expansion [Garamantes, Kanem-Bornu etc]. And there is still trade that occurred in the region till the middle-ages.[/QUOTE]

*****ng hell.
[B]I will repeat one last time. I'm not saying North and Central Africa, are not part of Africa. I'm just interested in the South.Create in own thread about connections between all parts of Africa and have fun there. [/B]
 
Likes: Askiathegreat

Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
5,027
Canary Islands-Spain
#54
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea seems like a good source, but after a short research it seems more focused on other cities trough the Indian Ocean.

I was looking to find some cities in todays territory of Mozambique, but even pre-colonial historiography gets to focused in trade routes to the north, ignoring urbanization and political organization.

Of course my friend, I'm talking about the very first source talking about sub-Saharan urbanism. But if you read carefully, it is clear urbanism was closely related to Arab trading expansion in the area.

Urbanism grew in uncertain conditions in the Swahili area through the second part of the first millenium. The first city well atested was Zanzíbar, the Stone Town area. In this place, is curious that some sources talk about a Persian settlement, with a fire temple foundation. Of these cities, which were like 30-40 in late Middle Ages, some finally were founded in Mozambique area:



Lets read together this, p.6 https://books.google.es/books?id=iy...onepage&q=ibo mozambique trading post&f=false

Swahili trading post: Ilha de Moçambique, Ibo, Angoche, probably Inhambane.

Most important city: Sofala, founded by Arabs. Sofala is well described by al-Idrisi in 1150, however, he doesn't talk about a city, but about a country. Sections seven, eight and nine: https://sites.google.com/site/historyofeastafrica/al-idrisi

It is very interesting to see that Sofala country, and south of it the country of poor towns probably located in Imhanbane province, had links not only with Yemen, but with India and Sumatra.

The towns described in Sofala country, which seem to be roughly equivalent to Mozambique, are: Tohnet (probably around Cape Delgado), Djantama, Dandama, Sayuna, Zunuj (probably in Zambezi mouth), Bukha, Daghuta

And south, in the country of Quac Quac: Derou, Nebhena, Dargha. The later is populated by people of Wac-Wac island = New Guinea. This is talking about a continental settlement of the Malai colonists that suceed in their population of Madagascar.
 
Jan 2014
1,704
Portugal
#55
Awesome! Now we're talking straight!

Looking at this map, the first thing that comes to my mind is that should be interesting to see is how Sofala and Quelimane, articulate their expansion with Mwene Mutapa and Great Zimbabwe.

And south, in the country of Quac Quac: Derou, Nebhena, Dargha. The later is populated by people of Wac-Wac island = New Guinea. This is talking about a continental settlement of the Malai colonists that suceed in their population of Madagascar.
Not totally related, but, I remember some 4 years ago, I was studying routes of early-Human expansion, and there was this theory of a great route, all the way from the Horn of Africa to Southeast Asia trough shore. I'm sure that contacts between east Africa and the places you make mention, are older that civilization itself.
 

Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
5,027
Canary Islands-Spain
#56
That's the southern Homo sapiens colonization of Asia, which is probably the oldest one in Asia. More northern routes took place later.

In case of history connections, the Malai navigations through the Indian Ocean probably started at 1st century AD https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00706173/document

I'm learning with you on this. The map in p.171 shows some locations I had no idea before https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00706173/document

Gokomere https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gokomere

And more important, Chibuene https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chibuene
 
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Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#57
Of course my friend, I'm talking about the very first source talking about sub-Saharan urbanism. But if you read carefully, it is clear urbanism was closely related to Arab trading expansion in the area.

Urbanism grew in uncertain conditions in the Swahili area through the second part of the first millenium. The first city well atested was Zanzíbar, the Stone Town area. In this place, is curious that some sources talk about a Persian settlement, with a fire temple foundation. Of these cities, which were like 30-40 in late Middle Ages, some finally were founded in Mozambique area:



Lets read together this, p.6 https://books.google.es/books?id=iy...onepage&q=ibo mozambique trading post&f=false

Swahili trading post: Ilha de Moçambique, Ibo, Angoche, probably Inhambane.

Most important city: Sofala, founded by Arabs. Sofala is well described by al-Idrisi in 1150, however, he doesn't talk about a city, but about a country. Sections seven, eight and nine: https://sites.google.com/site/historyofeastafrica/al-idrisi

It is very interesting to see that Sofala country, and south of it the country of poor towns probably located in Imhanbane province, had links not only with Yemen, but with India and Sumatra.

The towns described in Sofala country, which seem to be roughly equivalent to Mozambique, are: Tohnet (probably around Cape Delgado), Djantama, Dandama, Sayuna, Zunuj (probably in Zambezi mouth), Bukha, Daghuta

And south, in the country of Quac Quac: Derou, Nebhena, Dargha. The later is populated by people of Wac-Wac island = New Guinea. This is talking about a continental settlement of the Malai colonists that suceed in their population of Madagascar.
All the cities so far seem along the coast, or near trade routes to the north as part of the trans-saharan trade. Other than the Great Zimbwe, were there any cities in the interior not associated with either than trade on the coast or the trans-saharan trade in the north? Benin seems to be one, possibly, and Mbanza Kongo, but those were still relatively close to the coast. I see there was the kingdom of Luba on your map, did it have a capital city, perhaps?
 
May 2016
974
Nabataea
#58
And south, in the country of Quac Quac: Derou, Nebhena, Dargha. The later is populated by people of Wac-Wac island = New Guinea.
On a random note: Isn't Al-Waq Waq Islands a mythical ones? It's said that one Island tree grow women heads as fruits that when it fell off it makes a hole that the air go through resulting in the sound Waq Waq. some weird creatures and habits in Arabic mythology is attributed to those Islands. no one really sure for certainty about it's location or if it even exist.

Arabic: the saying on the tree of Al-Waq Waq.

 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,468
Portugal
#59
That is what Newitt states in the introduction, it's not a publisher's description.

In context, it seems to me that when Newitt stated that Vasco da Gama's crew had little idea of what to expect he is specifically talking about them having little idea of what the coastal east African peoples were like. It is possible that Pêro da Covilhã's reports sent through José from Lamego don't mention anything about the peoples of the east African coast and that this is why Newitt wrote that da Covilhã left no account of his experiences on the coast.

"Although the coasts of eastern Africa and northern Madagascar were well known to the Muslim merchants and sailors and had been visited and described by geographers and writers such as Al Masudi, Ahmed Ibn Majjid and Ibn Battuta, there are no records of any Europeans having visited the region prior to the coming of the Portuguese. Portuguese encounters with the peoples of eastern Africa began with the visit of a lone traveller, Pero da Covilhã, who took a ship from India to Sofala dressed as a Muslim merchant, probably in 1491. Covilhã left no account of his experiences so that the crews of the three ships who accompanied Vasco da Gama to India had little idea what to expect when they reached the coast in December 1497. Da Gama made a leisurely voyage up the eastern coast of Africa stopping near Inhambane, then laying up for a month in the Qua Qua River near the mouth of the Zambesi doing repairs, before sailing on to Mozambique Island, Mombasa and Melinde. Da Gama was gathering intelligence and the account of his voyage, probably written by Alvaro Velho, gives a vivid account of the first contacts between Portugal and the coastal peoples which was to have a great influence on those who came after." - Malyn Newitt
Thanks, Ighayere. What you say it’s a possibility, but if he visited the East coast of Africa, and we don’t have reasons to doubt it, it would be surprising that he wouldn’t include it in the report. What surely wouldn’t be in the report was the situation in Abyssinia, since it was only after his encounter with José de Lamego that he went there. This is one of those occasions that the sources don’t talk much to us. Anyway I will have to take a look to Newitt’s works.

And

@ Frank,

Great posts!
 
Jul 2013
85
Canada
#60
Of course my friend, I'm talking about the very first source talking about sub-Saharan urbanism. But if you read carefully, it is clear urbanism was closely related to Arab trading expansion in the area.

[...]

Most important city: Sofala, founded by Arabs. Sofala is well described by al-Idrisi in 1150, however, he doesn't talk about a city, but about a country. Sections seven, eight and nine: https://sites.google.com/site/historyofeastafrica/al-idrisi
While reading history of the Swahili of East Africa and other regions of Africa, be careful with statements which attribute the founding of cities to Arabs. In most cases it is not true, the cities were built by the local Africans but legends link them to foreign Arabs; these statements are either a result of Africans claiming Muslim foreign ancestors to link their societies to the wider world, or outsiders not thinking Africans were capable of building cities and thus saying non-Africans did.

In the case of the Swahili, most modern scholars confirm the cities were indigenous creations, often in response to external opportunities to Indian Ocean and Red Sea trade. So yes, in many cases urbanism is linked to trade with outside "Arabs" (though some foreigners could have been actually Persians), but the local people were the originators, incorporating some religious, architectural and cultural elements into what they already had.

For example, see here for more info:
http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199846733/obo-9780199846733-0001.xml
 
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