Malindi, a Strategic Maritime Trade Stop

Malindi. Detail of Waldseemuller's 1507 map.

Malindi. Detail of Waldseemuller's 1507 map.* (Source.)


Duarte Barbosa (Ramusio), 1515.

After passing the city of Mombaza, at no great distance further on along the coast, there is a very handsome town on the mainland on the beach, called Melinde [Malindi], and it is a town of the Moors, which has a king. 

And this town has fine houses of stone and whitewash, of several stories, with their windows and terraces, and good streets. The inhabitants are dusky and black, and go naked from the waist[13] upwards, and from that downwards they cover themselves with cloths of cotton and silk, and others wear wraps like cloaks, and handsome caps on their heads. 

The trade is great which they carry on in cloth, gold, ivory, copper, quicksilver, and much other merchandise, with both Moors and Gentiles of the kingdom of Cambay, who come to their port with ships laden with cloth, which they buy in exchange for gold, ivory, and wax. 

Both parties find great profit in this. There are plenty of provisions in this town, of rice, millet, and some wheat, which is brought to them from Cambay, and plenty of fruit, for there are many gardens and orchards. There are here many of the large-tailed sheep, and of all other meats as above; there are also oranges, sweet and sour. 

The beaches at Malindi would have been a welcome relief after long sea voyages. (Source.)

This King and people have always been very friendly and obedient to the King of Portugal, and the Portuguese have always met with much friendship and good reception amongst them.


* This detail is from Martin Waldseemuller's 1507 map that was the first to use the name America—after Amerigo Vespucci  to label what Europeans were learning was a continent, not East Asian islands as originally believed.

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