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Alpers, Edward Alter (1966) The Role of the Yao in the Development of Trade in East-Central Africa, 1698-c.1850. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Long distance routes, based on ivory, from the interior of East-Central Africa to Mozambique and Kilwa were forged by the Maravi and the Yao, respectively, during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, and by about 1698 the Yao apparently dominated both these routes. After 1698, factors influencing the ivory trade at the coast caused the Yao to shift most of their trade from Kilwa to Mozambique, where Yao ivory soon constituted the basis of the island's trade. In the interior, the Yao traded with the Maravi and, through the Bisa, with the recently established Eastern Lunda state of the Mwata Kazembe. After 1750, Kilwa slowly began to revive as Zanzibar, under Omani hegemony, became an increasingly important coastal entrepot, while the trade of Mozambique was plagued by Makua belligerence and by Portuguese harassment of the Indian trading community there. By 1785, influenced in particular by the better price paid for ivory at Kilwa, most Yao had rechannelled their trade back to Kilwa. Concurrently, the substance of trade in East-Central Africa was being altered, as slaves became an increasingly important commodity due to the rising demands of both the Arabs and French traders from the Mascarene Islands. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, although ivory still dominated the Yao trade to Kilwa, those Yao who continued to trade to Mozambique were already basing their trade on slaves. By the late 1830s slaves had also become dominant along the Kilwa route, which continued to command the bulk of Yao trade. The Ngoni invasions and mid-century dispersal of the Yao, caused by Makua and Lomwe attacks from the east, transformed the Yao from traders into invaders, as they spilled into Malawi and Tanzania, and marked the beginning of Yao political hegemony over a wider area of East-Central Africa, while destroying the earlier pattern of trade.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:11

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