Sites & cities that bear the name of Sofala


Today in : Mozambique
First trace of activity : ca. 9th century C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 19th century C.E

Description : Sofala, at present known as Nova Sofala, used to be the chief seaport of the Mwenemutapa Kingdom, whose capital was at Mount Fura. It is located on the Sofala Bank in Sofala Province of Mozambique. It was founded by Somali merchants and seafarers. Sofala in Somali literally means “go dig”. This name was given because the area is rich with resources. One of the oldest harbours documented in Southern Africa, medieval Sofala was erected on the edge of a wide estuary formed by the Buzi River (called Rio de Sofala in older maps) which are made by the Somali merchants from Mogadishu, the capital of the Ajuran Empire, to establish a colony in Mozambique to extract abundant gold from the mines located there. The Buzi River connected Sofala to the internal market town of Manica, and from there to the gold fields of Great Zimbabwe. Sometime in the 10th century, Sofala emerged as a small trading post and was incorporated into the greater global Somali trade network. In the 1180s, Sultan Suleiman Hassan of Kilwa (in present-day Tanzania) seized control of Sofala, and brought Sofala into the Kilwa Sultanate and the Swahili cultural sphere. The Swahili strengthened its trading capacity by having, among other things, rivergoing dhows ply the Buzi and Save rivers to ferry the gold extracted in the hinterlands to the coast.

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