The direct European colonial penetration of Central Africa was minimal prior to the late 19th-century ‘Scramble’, with the Portuguese maintaining the largest presence on the coasts of Angola and Mozambique. Seyid Said, the Sultan of Oman (r. 1806–56) annexed the ports of the Swahili coast – Kilwa, Zanzibar and Mombasa – and like the Portuguese profited from trade with the interior in ivory and slaves. Tippu Tip, working for the sultans of Zanzibar who succeeded Said, branched out on his own, establishing a personal central African kingdom of Utetera to control the supplies of ivory and slaves. Both the wealth and the depredation caused by this trade made – and broke – the African kingdoms of the interior. The Yao and Chokwe became powerful as procurers and hunters for the colonial markets. The Nyamwezi, controlling the key trade route confluences of Tabora and Ujiji, became the caravan-operators of choice in East Africa.
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