On the quincentennial of Vasco da Gama's successful voyage around Africa to India, this article explores the economic and cultural importance for Africans of new contacts with Europe. The exploration of mutual interests, characteristic of da Gama's voyage, generally continued on the once isolated Atlantic side of the continent, where African elites sought imported goods, even as their exports consisted more and more of slaves; acquired facility in European languages; and experimented with Christianity and Western education. On the Indian Ocean side there were few long-term changes, despite early Portuguese attacks on the already prosperous, Muslim-ruled city-states of the Swahili coast.
Journal of World History – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Feb 24, 1998