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Many of them such as Sofala and Kilwa became outposts of European colonial authority.The lack of an integrated political system ultimately rendered the city-states unprepared for the militarily well-equipped Portuguese and Dutch.This shift also changed the structure of the society of these villages as more wealth created an elite merchant class.The new prosperity elevated some agricultural villages into towns and cities, while others were founded to capitalize on the opportunities sparked by the growing Indian Ocean trade. Local merchants gathered ivory from the south, gold from the western interior and frankincense and myrrh from northern Africa.Each of these cities evolved from agricultural villages that produced goods on a small scale.Over time, these villages intensified their small-scale agricultural economies to create surpluses for trading.By the end of the 14th century, architecture of the city-states followed similar styles and construction techniques, especially in the domestic structures and tombs.
The new ruling elite gradually homogenized the immigrant and indigenous African communities and in the process created the distinctive Swahili culture and language that extended from Mogadishu to Sofala.Also the growth of powerful interior states such as Buganda reduced the trading influence of these city-states in the interior.Sources: Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch, The history of African Cities South of the Sahara: from the Origins to Colonization (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005); Philip D.Also found were examples of pottery from Persia and Arabia, Chinese qing bai, and Cizhou wares as well as kohl sticks, glass beads, bronze mirrors, and objects of rock crystal reflect the China trade.Other wares from Indonesia, dating back to the 13th century, indicate that Southeast Asia was also part of the East African city state commercial world.
Curtin, African History: from Earliest Times to Independence (London: Longman, 1995); Chapurukha M.