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European merchants in other parts of Africa

It was not in Ghana alone that the Europeans merchants settled to trade. They went to other parts of Africa too.  For example, soon after the Portuguese arrived in what is today Ghana, they also started to trade with the people of southern Nigeria, Chiefly in Benin, and later in Lagos. Lagos probably received its present name from Lago, the Portuguese word for lake. Other places on the coast of Africa where the Portuguese traded were Angola in South -West Africa and Mozambique in South-East Africa.

The Dutch also settled in South Africa. There they were later joined by the British settlers. The British pushed in Dutch inland to places called the Orange free state and the Transvaal.

Quite early in history, the people of North Africa had trading contacts with European people, living on the Mediterranean Sea. Do you remember the stories of Egypt and Carthage? For many years, the chief aim of the Europeans was only to trade.  Merchants traded with the people living along the coast of Africa.  They did not make any attempt to govern the people with whom they traded. However, to have a peaceful trade with the coastal people, the governors in the castles tried to be friendly with the local people. From time to time, the local people found it necessary to tinplate themselves under the protection of the European traders.  They did this to protect themselves against unfriendly neighbours who wanted to attack them.

As time went on,  the European merchants tried more and more to control the affairs of the local people. Later, European kings and other rulers decided to share out Africa among themselves.

Things to remember

Europeans, led by the Portuguese, sailed to West Africa from about 1434 onwards. Later they reached East Africa and the Far East. The chief reason for their voyages was trade. They settled at different coastal places in Africa. One of their most important centres was the castle which they built at Elmina. The merchants took more and more interest in Africa,  because of the profits which they gained through trade.

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