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Kenya The History of Mombasa

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The History of Mombasa

The city was founded as Manbasa by Arab traders in the 11th century and it quickly became the most important trading centre of East Africa, mostly exporting ivory and slaves. In 1502, as Mvita (in Kiswahili) or Manbasa (Arabic) the sultanate became independent from Kilwa Kisiwani.

Vasco da Gama was the first known European to visit Mombasa, receiving a chilly reception in 1498. Two years later the town was sacked by the Portuguese who built Fort Jesus. Since the 1593 Portuguese occupation it was governed by a Captain-major. In 1638 it formally became a Portuguese colony (subordinated to Goa, as a stronghold on the route to Portuguese India).

The town came under suzereinty of the Sultanate of Oman which appointed three consecutive Governors (Wali in Arabic, Liwali in Kiswahili]):

  • 12 December 1698 - December 1698 Imam Sa`if ibn Sultan
  • December 1698 - 1728 Nasr ibn Abdallah al-Mazru`i
  • 1728 - 12 March 1728 Shaykh Rumba

Next it returned under Portuguese rule by captains-major Álvaro Caetano de Melo Castro (12 March 1728 - 21 Sep 1729), then four new Omani Liwali till 1746, when the last of them made it independent again (disputed by Oman), as the first of its recorded Sultans:

  • 1746 - 1755 `Ali ibn Uthman al-Mazru`i
  • 1755 - 1773 Masud ibn Naisr al-Mazru`i
  • 1773 - 1782 Abdallah ibn Muhammad al-Mazru`i
  • 1782 - 1811 Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Mazru`i (b. 17.. - d. 1814)
  • 1812 - 1823 `Abd Allah ibn Ahmad al-Mazru`i (d. 1823)
  • 1823 - 1826 Sulayman ibn `Ali al-Mazru`i

From 9 February 1824 to 25 July 1826 there was a British protectorate over Mombasa, represented by Governors. Omani rule was restored in 1826; seven liwalis where appointed. On 24 June 1837 it was nominally annexed by Zanzibar; in 1840 it was effectively taken by the sultan of Zanzibar .

On 25 May 1887 its administration was relinquished to the British East Africa Association (see under Kenya). The sultan formally presented the town in 1898 to the British. It soon became the capital of the British East Africa Protectorate and is the sea terminal of the Uganda Railway, which was started in 1896. Many workers were brought in from British India to build the railway. On 1 July 1895 it became part of Britain's Kenya protectorate (i.e., the coastal strip nominally under Zanzibari sovereignty).

Mombasa was part of the state of Zanzibar until 12 Dec 1963 when it was ceded to be incorporated into the newly independent state of Kenya.

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