Portuguese Influence on West Africaby Rit Nosotro
Change Over Time essay
Describe the Portuguese Influence on West Africa
Who would have thought that Portugal, a small coastal country with fewer than a million people would one day rule the seas? Certainly not the Portuguese themselves. Yet just a few short centuries after the country’s birth, Portugal became the world’s foremost naval power. The Portuguese ships sailed all across the world, discovered new routes and started colonies. They influenced many countries worldwide during the height of their empire, but none like their colonies in West Africa. They brought both good and bad to West Africa, including their culture, Christianity, agriculture, and slavery.
The Portuguese had a great cultural impact on their colonies in Africa. Many
African nations still speak Portuguese as their official language including
Angola, Mozambique, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome, Cape Verde Islands and
a few more. Hundreds of other African languages have adopted certain Portuguese
words. The Africans adopted many of the Portuguese instruments as well, such
as the flute, clarinet, guitar, violin, cello, accordion, tambourine, and piano.
The Portuguese also brought with them familiar rhythms, including the polka,
the waltz, and the march, creating an entirely new kind of music in West Africa.
Perhaps the most long-lasting contribution to West Africa was Christianity. Before the Portuguese arrival, most African tribes were destroying themselves through inter-tribal warfare, cannibalism, murder of twins, human sacrifice, and witchcraft. Although many tribes further inland were still doing these atrocities centuries later, the Portuguese converted the tribes near the coast to Christianity. Portuguese priests went to the chiefs of villages and tried to convert them, so that the rest of the tribe would follow. Millions of Africans natives became Christians in this way and although many inhumane deeds were done in the name of God, Christianity benefited the African tribes over-all. Even today, roughly 60% of all West Africans claim to be Christians. Although this is also due to the influence of other European nations that followed, Portugal paved the way, having a huge impact on the religion of West Africa.
Although Portugal brought many benefits to West Africa, some practices greatly hindered the African nations, especially slavery. The slave trade had been going on for centuries in Africa with the Muslims. Then, in 1441, a Portuguese sailor named Antam Concalvez sailed south to what is now Morocco, carrying a cargo of sea lion skins and oil. He captured twelve Africans while there and showed them to King Henry. The capture of these twelve African prisoners marked the beginning of the European slave trade with sub-Saharan Africa. Over then next four hundred years, European ships carted ten million African slaves across the world. An estimated two to five million others died on the way. The consequences of this horrible trade are immeasurable. Throughout West Africa, the slave trade fostered warfare, skewed local economies, expanded servitude within the region, and distorted class and political structures as well as curtailing population growth. While the slave trade allowed certain people to grow rich and powerful, it contributed to economic decline and long-term political instability. Portugal certainly had a negative impact that still lasts today because of the terrible enslavement of human beings.
Another way the Portuguese affected West Africa was through agriculture. Traditionally,
West Africans had been hunters or gatherers, while some grew a few crops for
themselves. When the Portuguese arrived, they introduced cotton, tobacco, cocoa,
rubber, palm oil, coffee, and other cash crops. They forced the natives to grow
these crops to sell. Although this benefited West Africa in some ways, it also
caused problems for them. Malnutrition became a bad problem because people only
grew cash crops; there was not such a wide variety of things to eat any more.
Many West Africans were overworked and underfed because of the labor-intensive
crops such as cotton. Even to this day, the consequences of Portugal’s
desire to make money through cash crops have been devastating.
There is no doubt that Portuguese have dramatically affected life in West Africa in both good and bad ways. West Africa advanced from primitive subsistence farming culture to a major worldwide exporter of goods. The Portuguese Christian influence can be seen in many places where sadistic spiritual worship changed dramatically to Christianity. However, the Portuguese also affected West Africa in bad ways. Malnutrition, poverty and slavery came about because of the Portuguese’ presence and dominance. Whether good or bad, the lasting influence of the Portuguese in West Africa can be seen today.
Additional information about <http://hyperhistory.net/apwh/essays/cot/t1w19portugalafrica.htm>
Focus on Facts
The above essay was donated to hyperhistory.net.
of inaccuracies or plagiarism.
Post a link to this essay,
a great essay
on your blog or website :
|Comparative Essays||Biographies||Doc. Based Questions||Change Over Time|