Describe the sources of Historical information about the East African coast before the 7th century AD.

  • The Greco-Roman documentary, which only makes an indirect reference to the east African coast before the establishment of international contact since it is a product of international trade.
  • The Periplus of the Erythrean Sea a book written about 120AD by a Greek commercial agent in Egypt. This document describes the trade between the African and foreign merchants at the coast.
  • The writing by Claudius Ptolemy (a Greek scholar) in the 2nd century AD, which entailed geography and describes commercial activities at the coast. Ptolemy attempted to draw the first map of Africa.
  • Documents by Arab merchants such as Ibn Batuta and Al-Masudi as well as some Swahili histories and chronicles such as the history of Pate, Lamu, Mombasa and Kilwa.
  • The existing archaeological evidence in east Africa, which include the remains of pottery, iron tools, beads, coins and others that prove the presence of international trade between  the coast and the outside world.
  • The Christian Topography by Cosmos Indico-Pletustes, which was written in the first half of the 6th century AD and supports Persian domination of Indian Ocean Trade.
  • Oral traditions, which were used and relied on for a long time, particularly by communities that lacked the skill of writing.

Explain how/why the east African coast has been subjected to a long history of commercial contact, cultural influence and population movements to and from lands across the Indian Ocean.

  • The coast was easily accessible from the sea, which eased contact with the outside world.
  • Development of a suitable marine technology (boat making), which boosted voyages.
  • Harnessing of the winds and currents of the Indian Ocean, by which traders knew when to travel to and from the coast.

Describe the earliest visitors to the east African coast.

  • The Greeks, who were attracted to the trade in ivory.
  • The Romans, who increased demand for oriental (eastern Asian) commodities in the Mediterranean region and were determined to break Arab monopoly over oriental trade. They gave wine, various kinds of glass and wheat to the coastal people in return for ivory, slaves and rhinoceros horns.
  • The Chinese, whose coins and pottery have been found at several places at the coast.
  • They came for gold, ivory, leopard skins, tortoise shells and rhinoceros horns.
  • The Persians, who together with the Arabs, settled down and started towns such as Lamu, Mombasa and Zanzibar.  They were later driven away by the Arabs who occupied all the coastal towns.
  • The Arabs, whose settlement at the coast affected the lives of the inhabitants they found in many ways, which makes them the most important of all visitors at the east African coast.

Explain why the Arabs were the most influential of all early visitors to the east African coast.

  • They were keen and very skillful in trade and sailing.
  • They were more accustomed to the Monsoon winds than any other people.
  • They were good navigators.
  • The ports of southern Arabia were good calling places on the journey between the East and the West.
  • The deep harbours at the east African coast were ideal for their ships to anchor, refuel and get them supplies.

  To the east African coast

Give reasons for the coming of the Arabs to the East African coast.

  • To trade and control commercial activities along the east African coast.
  • Some came as refugees fleeing religious and political persecutions in Arabia.
  • They came to spread their religion Islam.
  • To explore the east African coast.
  • To establish settlements along the east African coast.

Apart from Arabia, identify other places that early visitors to the east African coast came from.

  • Egypt,
  • Syria,
  • India,
  • Srilanka,
  • Maldive islands,
  • Spice Islands,
  • Greece,
  • China,
  • Persia,
  • Italy,
  • Burma,

State the factors that enabled the Arabs to come to the east African coast.

  • The Monsoon winds, which helped them sail.
  • Accessibility to the coast by sea.
  • Availability of Dhows and sailing ships.
  • Funds to finance trade across the sea.
  • Existence of skilled personnel who could sail the ships across the water over long distances.



Explain the factors that led to development of trade between the east African coast and the outside world.

  • Availability of trade items, which were in high demand.
  • Uneven distribution of resources. For instance, some had ivory, others had cotton and some others had none.
  • Enterprising merchants in both the foreign lands and the east African coast. These promoted trade links.
  • Existence of local trade even before the foreign merchants came to the east African coast, which provided a base for the development of Indian Ocean trade.
  • Accessibility of the east African coast by sea.
  • The Monsoon winds, which facilitated vessel movement to and from the coast.
  • Peace and political stability at the east African coast in addition to security given by the Sultans to traders, particularly Arab traders.
  • Natural harbours along the coast, which ensured safe docking of vessels for fuelling and off-loading supplies.
  • Advancement of the ship building industry in Europe.
  • Credit facilities given by Indian Banyans, which made many more people to join the trade.

Describe the organization of trade between the east African coast and the outside world.

  • Indian Ocean trade attracted the Romans, Greeks, Persians, Arabs, etc. Other traders came from Burma, Thailand, Maldive islands and Spice Islands.
  • A variety of imports and exports were exchanged.
  • Foreign traders‟ dhows and ships depended on the Monsoon winds that blew their vessels to and from the east African coast.
  • Barter system was used in initial stages but coins were later used as a medium of exchange.
  • Middlemen in the trade were the Arabs and the Swahili, who organized caravans to the interior, where they acquired and sold goods.
  • Trade was financed by the Arabs. Later, the Indian Banyans (money lenders) provided capital.
  • The traders were given protection by the Sultan of Zanzibar.
  • As trade developed, foreign traders settled along the east African coast, leading to establishment of coastal towns such as Lamu, Malindi and Mombasa among others.

Though exports from the east African coast were many, the major ones were gold, ivory and slaves. Ivory was used in Asia and Europe for making bangles, bracelets, Piano keys and decorations. Slaves were in great demand in Arabia and India, where they served as domestic servants, labourers and soldiers.  Gold from Zimbabwe was used in making ornaments.

Identify the goods that were exchanged in trade between the east African coast and the outside world.


  • Gold,
  • Ivory,
  • Leopard skins,
  • Gum,
  • Copra,
  • Tortoise shells,
  • Mangrove poles,
  • Slaves,
  • Palm oil,
  • Rhinoceros horns,
  • Bees wax,
  • Ostrich feathers,
  • Copal,
  • Copper,


  • Clothes,
  • Beads,
  • Glassware,
  • Bowels,
  • Swords,
  • Stone jars,
  • Spices,
  • Cowrie shells,
  • Beakers,
  • Tin pans,
  • Tools,
  • Pots,
  • Grains,
  • Sugar,
  • Porcelain bowels,
  • Daggers,
  • Silk,

Explain the impact of Indian Ocean trade on the people of east Africa.

  • Emergence and growth of towns like Pemba, Mombasa, Lamu, Zanzibar and Kilwa.
  • Establishment of trade caravan routes, which were later upgraded to roads by the colonialists.
  • Emergence of the Swahili people and culture as Muslim traders and other foreigners intermarried with local Bantu communities.
  • Exposure of the east African coast to foreigners, who later colonized the region.
  • Emergence of Kiswahili as a new language of the coastal people.
  • Establishment of international ties as the east African coast was linked to the outside world.
  • Spread of Islamic culture along the coastal region, leading to new construction, dressing and eating styles.
  • Introduction of currency as a means of exchange in place of the Barter system of trade.


Introduction of Islamic law (Sharia).

  • Underdevelopment of the hinterland due to slave trade, since able bodied people were captured, leaving behind the aged, children and the weak, who could not till the land and were subjected to starvation and death.
  • Decline of the population and industries of the hinterland as more and more people were sold into slavery.
  • Introduction of cloth, cowrie shells, spices and new crops like rice, wheat, millet, cloves, vegetables and fruits such as bananas and oranges along the east African coast.
  • Increased demand for ivory and consequent destruction of wildlife, especially the elephant and the rhinoceros.
  • Rise of a class of rich merchants, who rose to positions of leadership in the interior, exhibiting a high standard of living E.G. Chief Kivoi of the Akamba.
  • Importation of foreign goods like cloth from India and iron tools from Asia and Europe, which became popular with Africans.
  • The east African coast and interior were opened to the outside world, which later led to colonization of the region by the British.



Explain how the Portuguese came to the east African coast. 

(Explain the coming of the Portuguese to the east African coast).

  • The Portuguese invaded the east African coast in 1498, when the Turks, through the then Ottoman empire occupied most of the middle east and blocked overland routes from Europe to India. It was therefore very difficult and expensive for Europeans to acquire gold, silk and spices from Asia.
  • With the invention of new ships by the PORTUGUESE, THE Europeans found and used new sea routes to the far east. For instance, in 1497, Vasco Da Gamma left Portugal with three ships on an exploration expedition to find a sea route to India.
  • The people of east Africa were not aware of the presence of Europeans across the Indian Ocean until the coming of the Portuguese in 1498 when Vasco Da Gamma and his team arrived at the east African coast. The Portuguese were out to control the ports and the sea-way to secure their use of the lucrative coastal trade.

Give reasons for the coming of the Portuguese to the east African coast.

(Explain the factors that facilitated/led to the coming of the Portuguese to the East African Coast).

  • To establish and obtain a trading empire in the East and trade-goods from China, India and east Africa.
  • To carry Christianity to the east African coast to convert Muslim and other nonChristian groups.
  • Their discovery of the sea route to India due to their experience in exploration and voyages.
  • To stop the Turks and Arabs from rivaling them in east African trade.
  • To use the east African coast (which was strategically important) as a base for their trading and navy ships, where they would get fresh supply of food and water.
  • To explore and satisfy their love for adventure, given their advanced ship building technology.
  • To counter the growing Islamic influence and to avenge earlier defeat by the Muslims, who had occupied the Iberian peninsular and Spain, forcing them to convert to Islam.
  • To form an antimuslim alliance with Presta John:  a Christian legendary ruler  in Ethiopia.
  • To colonize the east African coast in order to protect their trading interests.
  • Identify the Portuguese leaders that led expeditions in the conquest of the east African coast. (Describe the steps in which the Portuguese conquered the east African coast.

Describe the steps in which the Portuguese conquered the east African coast. 

(Analyse/explain the process of Portuguese conquest of the east African coast.)

  • In 1498, Vasco Da Gamma sailed to the east African coast and was warmly received in Mozambique and Malindi, though he met a hostile reception in Mombasa. At Malindi, he was given a Gujerati pilot: Ahmed Ibn Majid, who successfully guided  him  and his companions to India.
  • In 1499, Vasco Da Gamma returned to Portugal with news of his successful voyage to India, the lucrative trade between the far east and the east African coast as well as the disunity among coastal towns of east Africa. The King of Portugal decided to conquer the east African coast in order to firmly monopolize and control the trade.
  • In 1500, Pedro Alvares Cabral led an expedition aimed at capturing Sofala, but he failed.
  • In 1502, Vasco Da Gamma led an expedition against Kilwa, which he successfully conquered.
  • In 1503, Ruy Laurenco Ravasco was sent to Zanzibar, which he defeated and forced to send tribute to the king of Portugal.
  • In 1505, King Emanuel the Fortunate sent a fleet of twenty ships with an expedition of 1500 men under Francisco De‟almeida to Sofala, Kilwa and Mombasa, which they successfully conquered.
  • Between 1506-1507, Tristao Da Cunha attacked Oja, Brava, Pate, Sokotra and Lamu.

In 1509, the islands of Mafia, Pemba and Zanzibar were brought under Portuguese rule.

With this, the entire coast was brought under Portuguese control.

  • Between 1585-1588, a rebellion broke out following the arrival of Amir Ali Bey: a Turkish captain, who was sent as an envoy of the Sultan of Turkey to free the coastal towns from the Portuguese. The Portuguese attacked the towns of Pate, Siu and Pemba as well as Manda. They completely destroyed Manda and imposed heavy fines on the other three.
  • In 1589, the Portuguese established their headquarters in Mombasa, where they built fort Jesus in 1593.

Explain why the Portuguese built Fort Jesus.

  • The fort was used as a watchtower for spotting and preparing to face the enemy.
  • It served as a military base, offering  food, security and protection.
  • It was used as an armament deport.
  • It at times served as a prison for war and other captives.
  • Portuguese monopoly was soon challenged by the Dutch, the British and the French, but, using Fort Jesus and their wide naval expertise, the Portuguese managed to keep them off the east African coast.

The building of Fort Jesus facilitated Portuguese conquest of Hormuz, which enabled the Portuguese to control sea traffic in the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian  sea.

Explain why the Portuguese were able to conquer the east African coast by the 18th century. 

(Explain the factors that facilitated/led to Portuguese conquest of the east African coast by the 18th century).

  • Ruthlessness and cruelty with which Portugal attacked her enemies.
  • Superiority of Portuguese arms such as Caravells, Carracks and hand guns.
  • Weakness of Turkish and Persian navies in the Indian ocean, which thwarted the coastal towns‟ hope for assistance against the Portuguese.
  • Good military training and tactics on the Portuguese side unlike the disorganized and disunited coastal communities.
  • Portuguese reinforcement from their headquarters in Goa: India.
  • Rivalry and steef competition among the coastal towns, which enabled the Portuguese to attack and conquer them one by one.
  • The Portuguese organized surprise attacks and fought with determination.
  • Portuguese alliance with some local people E.G. those of Malindi, Pemba and Zanzibar, who assisted them in their conquest activities.
  • Portuguese use of harbours as bases for their ships and troops, which strengthened their campaigns.
  • Failure of some communities to resist the Portuguese.

Analyse Portuguese rule at the east African coast.

(Discuss/describe Portuguese rule at the east African coast.)

  • In 1507, the Portuguese made Mozambique their headquarters and put it under a captain answerable to the Portuguese viceroy stationed at Goa in southern India.
  • Later, the Portuguese divided the east African coast into two and appointed another captain, whom they stationed at Mombasa. He too was answerable to the Portuguese viceroy at Goa in southern India.
  • The Portuguese applied the “Divide and rule” policy by setting one town against another. For instance, they allied with Malindi against Mombasa.
  • By constructing Fort Jesus, they strengthened their military might and effectively established their control over the coastal region.
  • Portuguese rule was harsh and cruel. The Portuguese isolated themselves from people and behaved  as though they were of a superior religion and race. They lived in their own settlements and had their own churches. They were only interested in exploiting the gold trade.
  • Due to poor interaction, the Portuguese failed to foster good relations with the people of the east African coast.  As a result, Portuguese rule at the east African coast was rejected and fiercely resisted.

Explain the role/duties of Portuguese captains stationed in Mozambique and Mombasa.

  • They collected tribute from the local rulers.
  • They imposed customs duties on imports and exports.
  • They were in charge of putting down resistance and rebellions.
  • They supervised and monitored ruling families in the city states.


Explain the impact/consequences of Portuguese rule on the east African coast.

(What were the effects/results of Portuguese rule at the east African coast?)

  • Disruption of trade between the coast and Persia,  Arabia  and  India, for the Portuguese were both greedy and corrupt.
  • Subjection of people to heavy taxation and brutality, causing decline and often disintegration of coastal towns. For instance, Gedi was burnt down, Kilwa was destroyed while Mombasa was looted.
  • Introduction of new crops such as maize, potatoes, pineapples and guavas.
  • Attempts to spread Christianity.
  • Addition of some Portuguese words to Kiswahili. E.G. The Kiswahili word for wine is “Mvinyo”, got from a Portuguese word: “Vinho”.
  • Construction/building of Fort Jesus and the Vasco Da Gamma pillar, which became and still are  tourist attraction sites to this day.
  • Loss of life and destruction of property due to continuous Portuguese raids.
  • Good relations between the east African coast and India.
  • European colonization of the region by mid 19th
  • Hindrance to the development of commerce and agriculture at the coast.
  • African acquisition of the practice of using animal waste as fertilizer.
  • Constant uprisings and revolts by the local people.

State the factors that led to the decline of Portuguese rule at the east African coast. 

(Explain why Portuguese rule at the east African coast collapsed).

  • Portuguese officials were inefficient and corrupt as they amassed personal wealth instead of effectively administering the area.
  • Portugal failed to establish a systematic form of government and did not attempt to administer the interior.
  • Revenue from gold declined since traders shifted away from the Portugueseadministered areas, causing failure of the Portuguese in meeting the expenses of administering their possessions on the east African coast.
  • Constant rebellions by the coastal peoples, particularly  those of Mombasa, which weakened  the Portuguese further.
  • Portugal was a small country with a small population, unable to raise a large army and personnel to administer the area.
  • Portugal could not get reinforcements on good time for protection of her possessions since she was too far from the east African coast.
  • Annexation of Portugal by Spain between 1590-1640,  which led to neglect of Portuguese interests at the east African coast up to when Portugal regained her independence.
  • Invasion of the east African coast by Muslim nations such as Turkey and Oman among others.
  • Attack in 1588 by the Zimba: a man-eater community from Mozambique.
  • Tropical diseases such as Malaria.
  • Appearance of the English, Dutch and French in the Indian Ocean, who brought commercial efficiency and superior skills in naval warfare, by which they out competed and undermined Portuguese power along the east African coast.

The 1696 Omani siege on fort Jesus, which lasted for 33 months and caused suffering and death to most of the Portuguese.  The fall of Fort Jesus marked the end of Portuguese rule over the region north of the river Ruvuma.



Describe the establishment of Oman rule along the east African coast. 

(Explain how Oman rule was established along the east African coast.)

  • From the expulsion of the Portuguese in 1698, the east African coast came under Oman rule.
  • At first, Oman rule over the east African coast was enforced through local families such as the Mazrui in Mombasa and the Nabahan in Lamu. But the Mazrui wanted to be independent.
  • The Mazrui eventually established themselves as independent rulers of Mombasa, extending their rule to Malindi, Pate and Pemba.
  • In the 19th century, their possessions extended from Malindi in the north to Pangani in the south. The Mazrui allied with Mijikenda communities around Mombasa, with whose help they attacked and conquered Lamu among other places.
  • The Mazrui were eventually tricked into submission by Khalid” a son of Seyid Said, the King of Oman, who deported them from Mombasa and brought the East African coast under full Oman

Give reasons why the Oman Arabs were unable to control the east African coast after the defeat of the Portuguese.

  • Civil wars in Oman.
  • Rebellion by coastal towns.
  • Threats of Persian invasion.



Why did Seyid Said transfer his capital (operational base) from Muscat to Zanzibar in 1840?

  • Zanzibar supported his effort to capture Mombasa.
  • Zanzibar was good and pleasant, with a good climate, unlike Muscat, which was hot and dry.
  • Zanzibar had good (deep-water) harbours in which ships could anchor. Her water was also clean.
  • He wanted to control Indian Ocean trade and the towns of the east African coast.
  • Zanzibar‟s position was convenient for trade with the mainland and with Mombasa. Ø Zanzibar‟s good climate and fertile soil favoured cultivation of cloves, which were used as spices.
  • Being an island, Zanzibar assured the Oman Arabs of protection.

Explain Seyid Said’s influence on trade along the east African coast.

Since Seyid Said controlled the whole of the coast, he developed trade links with the Kenyan interior, in which he involved the Akamba and Mijikenda.

  • Slaves, ivory and cloves were the major exports from east Africa. Caravans were sent into the interior to collect slaves and ivory.
  • Under Seyid Said‟s influence, Zanzibar became the commercial centre for the entire east African coast. Imports included beads, guns, ammunition and hardware.

Analyse/explain Plantation agriculture as practiced along the east African coast by 1840.

  • Plantation agriculture was the major cause of increased slave trade in east Africa. By 1840, slaves were heavily used in clove plantations in Zanzibar and Pemba. The slaves had to provide for both themselves and their masters.
  • In early 19th century, the Arabs and the Swahili started growing grains like semeseme and millet. Slaves spent long working hours on such plantations under the supervision of slave overseers.
  • Plantation slavery was intensively practiced around Malindi, where there were large tracts of farmland. In Mombasa, cultivation of coconuts was preferred as farms there were smaller. Coconuts required less rain while their yields were higher.
  • The Mijikenda traded with the Arabs in ivory, cattle and grains. Arabs prevented the Mijikenda from owning the rich coastal farmland.
  • Slaves often tried to escape from plantations due to their bad working conditions. They were grouped into different classes and were not equal.
  • Those slaves that ran away were employed by rich Arabs and the Swahili to fight against the Sultan‟s government. Those that remained behind became more stubborn and did not work as hard as they were required. They disobeyed orders and refused to accept
  • their masters‟ culture.
  • Because of this, there were efforts to improve their conditions.
  • However, the coming of colonialism ended the use of slaves in the plantations.

State the factors that led to development of Plantation agriculture along the east African coast by Seyid Said.

  • Existence of fertile soils, which favoured large scale farming.
  • Adequate rainfall and suitable climate, which promoted farming.
  • Sultan Seyid Said, who encouraged settlers from Oman and Zanzibar  to settle in Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu.
  • Easily available slave labour.
  • The Mijikenda, who gave large tracts of land around Malindi.
  • Availability of market for grains in Zanzibar, Arabia and the arid coast of Somalia.

Explain the results of plantation agriculture on the east African coast.

  • Increased slave trade and slave labour.
  • Emergence of a class of wealthy merchants among the Arabs and Swahili.
  • International trade due to export of crops such as cloves.
  • Introduction of new crops such as cloves, coconuts and maize.
  • Development of towns like Malindi, Pemba and Zanzibar.
  • Poor working conditions and long hours of work among the slaves.
  • Development of Agro based industries.

 Promotion of trade.

Population increase due to increased food production, owing to the agro based economy as well as Seyid Said‟s encouragement of people from Oman to settle at the coast to develop plantation agriculture.



Explain the origin of Long Distance trade.

  • By the 19th century, there already was trade among Kenyan communities and between Kenya and other countries.
  • Long distance trade connected the east African interior to the coast in Kenya. Two major commodities (ivory and slaves) were valued at the coast, where they were exchanged for cloth, utensils, ironware and beads.
  • Until the 1860s, The Akamba served as middlemen between interior and coastal communities. Their trading activities took them from the Mount Kenya region to as far as Baringo and the shores of Lake Victoria. They established good relationship with the local communities through whose territories they passed, though they discouraged other people and communities from participating in the trade. For instance, they spread malicious tales about both the interior and coastal communities.

Explain why the Akamba participated in Long Distance trade.

  • Ukambani region had poor and unreliable rainfall to support farming.
  • The outbreak of famine in 1836 compelled them to trade.
  • Their central position between the coast and the interior facilitated their participation in trade.
  • Experienced leaders such as chief Kivoi spearheaded trade.
  • Demand for goods from the interior at the coast made them get into trade.
  • Goods for trade such as ivory and slaves were available.

In the 1860s, Arab and Swahili traders started penetrating the interior of Kenya.  They eventually took control of Long Distance trade from the Akamba and started organizing caravans to as far as Uganda.

Name the communities in east Africa which participated in the long Distance trade in the 19th century. .

  • The Akamba,
  • Mijikenda,
  • Nyamwezi,
  • Khartoumers,
  • Waswahili,
  • Yao,
  • Arabs

What led to the decline of Akamba dominance in Long Distance trade?

  • Loss of trading partners such as the Aembu and the Agikuyu due to Oromo raids.
  • British colonization, which undermined the trade.
  • Abolition of slave trade, due to which the main item of exchange (slaves) was
  • Attacks by the Maasai and Oromo on the trade routes.

Competition from Arab and Swahili traders, who penetrated the interior to get goods from the sources.

Discuss the organization of Long Distance trade.

  • Trade routes to the interior went up to Kilimanjaro, the mount Kenya region and the shores of Lake Victoria. Maasai regions were avoided due to perceived Maasai hostility to strangers.
  • Long Distance traders moved into the interior in caravans, using porters, who were either slaves or free men, with goods to and from the East African coast.
  • They stopped to rest and replenish food supply at various centers in the interior E.G. Taveta, Mbooni hills, Lake Baringo, Mumias and Buganda.
  • From the coast, the traders brought guns, Cotton cloth, beads, glass, swords, Porcelain vessels, bracelets and bangles. From the interior, they got ivory, rhino horns, slaves, hides and skins.
  • Long distance trade was financed by the Arabs and Swahili, who employed Akamba and Mijikenda traders. The mode of trade was Barter, although Cowrie shells were introduced as currency in late 19th

What were the consequences of Long Distance trade on the people of East Africa?

  • Emergence of a class of wealthy merchants among African, Swahili and Arab traders E.G. Chief Kivoi of Ukambani, Nyungu ya Mawe among the Nyamwezi and Tippu Tip of Zanzibar.
  • Development of towns like Lamu, Zanzibar and Mombasa.
  • New crops such as rice and mangoes among others were introduced in east Africa.
  • Introduction of Islamic religion and culture by Arab traders.
  • European colonization of Africa following reports given by the Long distance traders about the importance of the east African coast.
  • Development of trade routes and market centers.
  • Development of Plantation agriculture in Mombasa and Malindi due to trade in slaves.
  • Introduction of foreign goods like beads, cloth and glassware to the people of east Africa.



When Seyid Said took control of Zanzibar, he encouraged foreign traders to trade with Zanzibar in order to develop new markets for products from the East African mainland. He strived to attract Indian money lenders (Banyans) to come and settle in Zanzibar,  which increased the volume of trade in  east Africa.

State the factors that promoted international trade along the east African coast.

  • The Monsoon winds, which facilitated transport.
  • Trade between the coast and the far east, which existed before the 19th
  • Demand for goods at the coast and the outside world.
  • Availability of trade goods like ivory, gold, slaves, beads and guns.
  • Protection of Arab and Swahili traders by the Sultan.
  • The deep harbours and good beaches as well as accessibility of the region by sea, which attracted traders.
  • Imposition of a unified customs duty of 5% by the Sultan, which encouraged trade.
  • Introduction of a monitory system by Seyid Said, which facilitated trade. Copper coins, Spanish Crown and Maria Theresa dollars were used.
  • Indian Banyans or Baluchis (money lenders), who financed trade by giving credit facilities to the traders.
  • Trade routes and markets like Kilwa and Mombasa, which boosted trade.
  • Signing of treaties between Seyid Said and Western countries. Seyid Said signed treaties with France, Britain,  and the United states of America among other powers, thus opening up east Africa to world trade.

Identify the goods that were exchanged during international trade along the east African coast.


  • Coconuts,
  • Gum copal,
  • Ivory,


  • Guns,
  • American cloth,
  • beads,

Although Seyid Said did not build a political empire in the interior,  he linked and developed the existing trading networks with people like the Akamba, Agikuyu and Mijikenda.

Explain the reasons for increased demand for slaves along the east African coast during the long Distance trade.

  • Plantation agriculture at the coast depended on slave labour.
  • French sugar plantations in Reunion and Mauritius increased demand for slaves.
  • Demand for slaves to work as domestic servants and soldiers in Arabia.
  • Portuguese plantations in Brazil required labour.

Describe how slaves were obtained during the long distance trade along the east African coast.

  • Slave raids.
  • Captives were sold into slavery.
  • Sale of criminals by chiefs to slave dealers.
  • Kidnapping of children and lone travelers.
  • Young children were enticed with sweets and were then captured as slaves.
  • Debtors who could not pay their liabilities were sold as slaves.

State the effects of slave trade on the people of east Africa.

  • Growth of plantation farming as a result of slave labour.
  • Increased suffering, fear and violence.
  • Heavy loss of life (many deaths).
  • Depopulation in the interior.
  • Increased intercommunal warfare to capture slaves.
  • Trade in ivory and copper increased as slaves were used as porters.
  • Freed slave centers of Bagamoyo and Freetown were set up following the abolition of slavery and slave trade.
  • Destruction of property.
  • Displacement of families and communities.
  • Introduction of new goods such as cloth and guns to the region in exchange for slaves.

What were the consequences of international trade in east Africa?

  • It opened up the east African coast to the outside world.
  • It led to introduction and spread of Christianity.
  • New goods such as guns and clothes were introduced.
  • Introduction of new crops such as rice and maize.
  • Traders became wealthy and their living standards improved.
  • East Africa was opened up to European colonization.
  • Suffering, loss of life, destruction of property due to intensified warfare, ETC, all resulting from slave trade.



 The Portuguese were the first Christian missionaries to come  to Kenya. However, longestablished Islamic culture and religion overwhelmed their efforts. The 19th century Revival Movement in Britain and western Europe inspired missionaries to go out to other parts of the world for the end of the world was perceived to be coming soon.

Give reasons for the coming of missionaries to the east African coast in the 19th century.

  • To spread Christianity, western education and civilization.
  • To counter the spread of Islam, which had  taken  root in the region.
  • To abolish slavery and slave trade and replace it with legitimate trade.
  • To explore the region. Missionaries like Ludwig Krapf and Johann Rebmann were the first Europeans to sight and explore mount Kenya and mount Kilimanjaro respectively.
  • Emergence of missionary societies in Western Europe, which competed to send their members out to Africa.
  • Adventure, for some desired to be the first to unravel the much that was unknown to the outside about Africa.

Analyse/discuss Missionary activities in Kenya from the 19th century.

  • Various missionary societies merged to form the alliance of Missionary societies in British east Africa.
  • Missionary work in Kenya started in 1844 with the arrival of Johann Ludwig Krapf from Germany. Krapf was sent by the Church Missionary Society of England. He began his work among the coastal people before advancing into the interior.
  • Together with Johannes Rebmann, Krapf started and established a mission base at Rabai near Mombasa in 1846. In 1849, they were accompanied by Jacob Erhardt. They unsuccessfully tried to preach to the Akamba and Taita. Krapf encouraged other Christian societies to help in spreading Christianity.
  • In 1862, Thomas Wakefield and members of the United Methodist Church from Britain arrived and opened mission stations at Ribe, Jomvu and in Lamu. The CMS opened stations at Sagalla in Taita and at Taveta.
  • Initially, it was dangerous to start mission stations far inland. E.G. Krapf tried but did not manage to start a mission station at Kitui due to Akamba anger when Chief Kivoi was killed while traveling with him. However, in late 19th and early 20th century, the interior became more peaceful and safer for missionaries to move about spreading Christianity.
  • In 1891, the Church of Scotland Mission began work at Kibwezi in what is now Makueni, but they later moved to Kikuyu in Central Province after several missionaries died at Kibwezi. Members of the Africa Inland Mission from the United States of America opened their first station at Nzaui in the then Machakos district. They later extended to Kijabe, Nandi, Kabarnet and Nyakach.
  • In 1899, some French Catholic missionaries opened Saint Austin‟s Mission station near Nairobi.
  • In 1902-1903, the Church Missionary Society from England and the Consolata opened Mission stations in Nyeri. They worked in Meru and Central Kenya.
  • By 1914, the Church Of God mission, The Seventh Day Adventists, the Friends Mission and other Christian societies had reached western Kenya.

List the missionary societies that merged to form the Alliance of Missionary Societies in British East Africa.

  • The Church of Scotland Mission
  • The Church Missionary Society (CMS).
  • The Africa Inland Mission.
  • The United Methodist Church Mission.
  • The British and foreign Bible Society.

Identify the factors that led to the spread of Christianity in east Africa.

  • Seyid Said‟s support. Early missionaries such as Krapf were given introductory letters for assistance from coastal rulers.
  • Some African communities were friendly to the Missionaries.
  • Missionaries valued, studied and were able to use the languages of the people among whom they worked, eventually committing them to writing. For instance, Krapf translated and published the dictionary and parts of the bible into Kiswahili, Kikamba and Kirabai.
  • The Christian teaching on equality and love for one another appealed to many Africans.
  • African converts, especially in the Freed Slave centers such as Freetown helped missionaries to spread the gospel.
  • Mission stations, schools and medical centers influenced the spread of Christianity since those living there had to be converted to Christianity.
  • Explorers encouraged the missionaries‟ work. Henry Morton Stanley‟s report on Buganda encouraged missionaries to go to Uganda.
  • Discovery of Quinine, a cure for Malaria, enabled them to work among African communities.
  • The building of the Kenya-Uganda railway facilitated their traveling into the interior.
  • The colonial government supported missionary work.
  • Relative peace and stability in the region promoted Missionary work.
  • Emergence of Independent churches, an African initiative, promoted the spread of Christianity.

Explain why Christian missionaries established mission stations in east Africa.

  • To teach Africans how to read the Bible.
  • To train African Catechists to assist in missionary work.
  • To convert Africans to Christianity.
  • To spread western culture.
  • To teach Africans farming, masonry and carpentry.
  • To cater for Africans‟ health needs.
  • To have bases of operation for the missionaries.
  • To serve as settlement for freed slaves.
  • To promote European colonization.

Identify the challenges/problems/setbacks encountered by missionaries in east Africa in the 19th century.

(Explain the factors that undermined the work/activities of Missionaries in east Africa in the 19th century.)

  • Tropical diseases like Malaria and sleeping sickness.
  • ii) Poor means of transport and communication due to lack of roads, railways, vehicles and a common or familiar language.
  • Inadequate supply of food, medicine, money and other essentials.
  • Hostility from some communities due to conflict over African traditional practices E.G. Polygamy, offering of sacrifices and female circumcision.
  • Insecurity, caused by wild animals and by communities that did not want foreigners in their territory.
  • Islam, which compelled most missionaries to relocate to other places, like Rabai.
  • Scarcity of personnel as missionaries were few and worked in areas too big for them.
  • Interdenominational differences, which led to hatred, E.G. between Catholics and Protestants due to competition for followers.
  • Hostility from slave traders, whose activities were adversely affected by missionary work.
  • Language barrier, although some tried to learn indigenous African

What were the effects of Missionary activities in east Africa?

  • Spread of Christianity to most parts of the interior.
  • Erosion of African culture as some cultural practices such as female circumcision and burial rites were discarded.
  • Introduction of western (formal) education.
  • Building of rehabilitation centers, where vocational skills, reading and Christianity were taught.
  • Establishment of health centers and medical services for disease-control and cure.
  • Improvement of farming through introduction of new crops and livestock as well as new farming methods.
  • Development of transport systems.
  • Translation of the Bible in and introduction of writing to Kiswahili and other local languages.
  • Emergence of an elite social class, a new creation to the African set-up.
  • Exploration and consequent naming and mapping of mountains, rivers and the interior of Africa.
  • Colonization of Kenya and the rest of Africa.
  • Rise of independent churches and schools, free from Missionary influence.
  • Representation of Africans by Missionaries in the Legislative council.
  • Establishment of independent African schools.
  • Abolition of slavery and slave trade in east Africa.
(Visited 166 times, 1 visits today)
Share this:

Written by