East Afrika has a long history of trade, influence and conquest by outsiders. Mozambique, on the southeastern coast of the continent and listed no.14 in the top 20 poorest nations on Earth, has over the centuries experienced encroachment by nations from all corners of the world. These interactions would often begin with trade and end with occupation. Notable players have included Hindus, Swahilis, Arabs and the Portuguese.
“Swahili traders moving south from the port city of Kilwa [Kisiwani-Tanzania] had, by the middle of the fifteenth century, established a string of permanent commercial and religious sultanates along the [northern] Mozambican coast… The establishment of Swahili [trade] enclaves marked the beginning of the centuries-long process of incorporating Mozambique into a wider world economy. It also permitted the exploitation of Mozambique by foreign merchant capitalists whose profit margin from successful ventures was often several hundred percent… Swahili commercial hegemony was almost immediately challenged by the Portuguese, who moved into the Indian ocean around 1500.” Isaacman, 1983 (p13-14)
In the 20th Century, the nation experienced over 25 years of cold war and apartheid-sponsored violence. The majority of scholars accrue Mozambique’s current poverty to this long history of unbalanced interactions.