The New York Times, December 23, 1854, p.2:|
FROM MOZAMBIQUE.How it was Discovered--
Interesting Account of its Inhabitants, Laws and Products.
Correspondence of the New-York Daily Times.
MOZAMBIQUE, EAST COAST OF AFRICA,
Saturday, June 24, 1854.
In my wanderings through the world, I at last find myself in this most interesting country, of which so little is known at the present day. The great probability of its being the ancient Ophir of King Solomon is confirmed by many interesting facts.
The small island of Mozambique, lying in the beautiful harbor of the same name, was discovered by the celebrated Portuguese navigator, VASCO DE GAMA, in 1497. He found it, as well as the entire coast as far south as Delagon Bay, in possession of the Arabs, whose vessels from time immemorial, according to their traditions, had made voyages here from Arabia for ivory, gold, precious stones, ostrich feathers, &c.
At first DE GAMA was welcomed by music and demonstrations of joy, but when he displayed on his banner the Infidel Cross instead of the Crescent, that emblem of a true believer, open hostilities commenced, which, however, were soon silenced by DE GAMA'S arguments spoken through the mouths of his cannon.
Not long after this event the Portuguese took formal possession of the Island, and in 1508 commenced the great fort of St. Sebastian, which will long remain a lasting monument of the enterprise and energy of those early navigators. It is a work of immense magnitude, and was completed in three years. At present it has mounted a large number of guns, of all calibre, mostly bronze, some bearing the ancient date of 1440. The stone balls originally used may still be seen lying about the ramparts.
It has a garrison of about two hundred and fifty negro slaves, commanded by Portuguese officers. The other forts of Lorenzo and St. Antonio are unoccupied. From its discovery until the present time it has continued in the hands of the Portuguese, although several revolutionary attempts have been made, always ending in talk and smoke, characteristic of the present degenerate race.
The harbor is one of the finest on the coast, being well protected by a coral reef, having two channels by which the largest ships can enter with perfect safety. The city contains about 6,000 inhabitants, of which nearly 5,500 are slaves and free negroes; the remainder are mostly Arabs, Bannians, bastard Portuguese, with a few of European birth.
The island is about five miles south of the main land, and is one and a half miles long, by half a mile in width. The buildings present a sad contrast with its former almost "viceregal wealth and splendor." They are large, with lofty apartments, and built entirely, floors, roofs, stairs and walls, of coral rock, cemented by excellent lime burnt from the same material; many are in complete ruins, and all more or less dilapidated, but enough remains to satisfy the traveler of the princely wealth, taste, and luxury of its former inhabitants.
The Governor General's Palace, originally built by the Jesuits as a convent, is an immense irregular pile of buildings, havings attached a Chapel and a formerly a Charity Hospital. The building at present used for a Hospital is situated at the southwest end of the island, and is most admirably adapted for this purpose; having large, well ventilated apartments, halls, &c., and is under the excellent management of a very intelligent mulatto surgeon and physician, Dr. FONSACA.
The cathedral in the days of its prosperity had a numerous array of priests at its altars, which were richly decorated with gold and silver ornaments; and in its tower a fine chime of bells. But its glory has departed, and all that remains is one forlorn looking mulatto priest, naked walls and desecrated altars; a ruined tower, occupied by broken bells and owls, which, as they discordantly ring out the hour of Ave Maria, respond in screeching tones, seemingly an infernal requiem over the death of all that is good in this apparently God-forsaken people.
On the opposite coast are the ruins of many fine fortified private residences and plantations. The Arabs living at Cabecor, however, seem to be in as flourishing a condition as ever, and doubtless are being built up by the downfall of the Portuguese, against whom they have a most deadly hatred.
The number of pure Portuguese at present living on the island and main land opposite does not exceed forty or fifty--the balance calling themselves such, numbering, perhaps, two hundred, are mostly illegitimate children, mixed with all proportions of negro blood.
By law no white can hold real estate in the province unless a resident citizen, and should he marry, he is ever after forbidden to leave the country. The result of this law, originally intended to increase the white population, has been to produce a state of morals truly deplorable. But two or three are actually married; the practice of living without is universal, and each person keeping his mistress as secluded from the public as the most fastidious Mussulman could desire. This, with the debasing influence of Slavery, a corrupt religion, a rich and productive soil, are quite sufficient to account for most of the evils we find hanging like the curse of God upon the people.
The negroes living on the coast are Makooas, and are reckoned the lowest on the east coast; but their long subjection to the yoke of Slavery leaves little of their original character by which we may with fairness judge them. The Invarazas are a powerful tribe said to be cannibals, living in the beautiful mountainous country lying parallel with, and about thirty miles distant from, the coast. We only know them by the few who are held as slaves here, from which I learn that they probably number upwards of 40,000 men. They have the practice of tattooing the entire body of both sexes, and the men cut their teeth sharp like those of a dog. This is done with a knife instead of a file as some have supposed. They are exceedingly well formed, and have often fine regular features, indicating an unusual amount of intellect. Some specimens by their grace and ease would be an ornament to any society.
They are well acquainted with the art of working iron from the ore, and manufacturing spears, arrows, and other implements, with much ingenuity. The iron is of superior quality, and has the remarkable property of withstanding the oxidizing influence of most atmospheres for a very long time. Whether this singular fact is owing to some property peculiar to the ore, or in their method of extracting it, must be left for future investigation. Mr. THOMPSON, the memorable traveler in South Africa, informed me that he had been among some tribes who wrought iron, and that it was considered a sacred calling, none but the initiated ever entering the enclosure where the operations were conducted. He often saw the furnaces, and described them as small and without anything like a "stack" or tall chimney. But I fear I am entering too much into details for the patience of your readers.
It has long been remarked that the slaves brought from the coast are a much more intelligent race of men than those from the Gulf of Guinea. This is, without doubt, owing to the influence of the Arabs, who have so long held the coast, and it is still claimed by the Sultan of Muscat, SAID BEN SULTAN...
The productions of the coast are almost wholly undeveloped, all the energies of the native and resident population having been principally concentrated in the Slave-trade. Ivory and Copal are known to exist in large quantities, also Coffee of a quality surpassed by none in the world; yet, although growing most abundantly not ten miles from the coast, it has never been exported. Gum Arabic, Myrrh, Manna, Aloes, Tapioca, India Rubber, and a great variety of fruits and grain grow spontaneously along the whole extent of the coast, which appears to increase in fertility as we penetrate into the interior. There is abundance of rain during the rainy season, which usually commences about November or December, and continues until April or May.
The climate of Mozambique, judging by my own experience, is quite healthy, although the average range of the temperature during the last rainy season has been 88° F.; the highest 93° F., the lowest 84½° F.
The principal cause of sickness among foreigners, I think, may be attributed to the unlimited indulgence of the passions for women, wine, &c. The principal sickness is a peculiar form of fever, called Mozambique fever, but by prompt treatment it generally yields to proper remedies, unless the patient has a constitution broken by previous dissipation.
During the months of January and February hurricanes, attended by slight shocks of earthquakes, are often experienced, but seldom doing any damage.
In conclusion, it is a coast which under a wise and judicious government might become one of the richest regions in the world; but the long years of misrule under the Portuguese, and its present prospects as long as this Government continues, makes it anything but an inviting country.
The New York Times, December 30, 1854:|
FROM MOZAMBIQUE.The African Slave Trade on the Coast of Mozambique.
MOZAMBIQUE, EAST COAST OF AFRICA,
Monday, July 10, 1854.
Having in the dark corner of the world recently received news from the American States that the unfortunate Slave question was again agitated, I have thought the following observations on the Mozambique Slave-Trade might not be altogether acceptable.
From the time of its discovery by De Gama until within a few years, as you well know, it has been openly prosecuted under the protection of national laws. But these days are past, and the Government of Portugal is pledged to do all in her power for its supression; but of her good faith I think some facts give us reason to doubt...
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All of Mozambique is
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Mozambique News (Moçambique News)
Mozambique: Almost five centuries as a Portuguese colony came to a close with independence in 1975. Large-scale emigration by whites, economic dependence on South Africa, a severe drought, and a prolonged civil war hindered the country's development until the mid 1990's.
The ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) party formally abandoned Marxism in 1989, and a new constitution the following year provided for multiparty elections and a free market economy. A UN-negotiated peace agreement between FRELIMO and rebel Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO) forces ended the fighting in 1992.
In December 2004, Mozambique underwent a delicate transition as Joaquim CHISSANO stepped down after 18 years in office. His elected successor, Armando Emilio GUEBUZA, promised to continue the sound economic policies that have encouraged foreign investment. Mozambique has seen very strong economic growth since the end of the civil war largely due to post-conflict reconstruction.
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