There is a great veracity in the verdict that the coming in of the Portuguese into the Mutapa State catalysed the state’s demise which was already underway. The Portuguese meddled with the politics of the Mutapa state, subortaged Mutapa state’s economy as well as stirred up disunity among the inhabitants of the Mutapa state thereby necessitating the decline of the state. On the contrary, the rise of a bigger and stronger Rozvi Empire, exhaustion of natural resources, rise of diseases as well as decline in trade had a great bearing on the demise of the Mutapa State. The impulse of this essay is to justify the degree of accuracy in the position that the advent of the Portuguese in the Mutapa state speeded up the process of decay which was already underway.
The interference of the Portuguese in Mutapa state’s politics significantly propelled the state towards decline. This is because the Portuguese were responsible for the state’s internal administration problems by fuelling successionist politics. The Portuguese would create tension between two leaders and rally behind one who would eventually give in to their greedy ambitions as well as further their interests once installed in power. For example, Mavhura Mhande and Nyambo Kapararidze were puppet leaders with controversial rise to power which was marred with Portuguese influence. Moreover, the Portuguese established an army known as the chikundas which directly marked the undermining of the sovereignty, independence and autonomy of the Mutapa State. This is because the chikundas’ operations were divorced from the state’s security organs thereby creating hostility and posing political instability as they had the potential to harm inhabitants of the state. Therefore, the interference of the Portuguese in Mutapa State’s political landscape was significant in necessitating the demise of the state.
The Portuguese were vital in triggering the decline of the Mutapa state as they surbotaged the state’s economy. This is because the Portuguese introduced the Prazo systems whereby they took large chunks of land to their own disposal, growing their exotic crops therein which the diet conservative Mutapas failed to consume thereby compelling the inhabitants of the state to clamour for their means of production. Moreover, the Prazo system was bombarded with forced labour which created disgruntlement and discontent as well as posing a threat of the emigration the state’s inhabitants who were the human capital. Furthermore, the Portuguese also evaded paying the “curva,” a form of trading tax which would be deposited into the state’s coffers and withdrawn at times of need. This, therefore led to minimal state reserves. Hence, the Portuguese surbotaged Mutapa state’s economy plunging it on the verge of decline.
The Portuguese missionaries created disunity which was vital in paving way to the state’s demise. This is because the Portuguese missionaries propagated Christianity flagrantly undermining the Indigenous Religion. This is evidenced in the connotations given to Indigenous Religion as a “primitive,” “barbaric,” “archaic,” “old-fashioned,” and “savage” religion. This created hostility between the Portuguese and the inhabitants of the Mutapa state. The disdain and hatred of the Portuguese by the Mutapa is evident in the assassination of the missionary, Father Gonçalo Da Silveira in 1561. Disunity intensified even among the locals as those who became Christian converts suffered social darwinism by having a mentality of being superior than their fellow people as well as deassociating from indigenous ceremonies such as nhimbe which were a pertinent source of oneness. Thus, Portuguese missionaries fragmented the unity fabric in the Mutapa state which significantly led to the state’s demise.
However, the rise of a bigger and stronger Rozvi Empire was also crucial in spearheading the downfall of the Mutapa State. This is because the Rozvi state was founded on capitalization of the Mutapa state’s weaknesses. This is evident in Changamire Dombo’s foreign policy which was aggressive towards foreigners who had aided the demise of the Rozvi state’s predecessor. Moreover, the Rozvi state had the panacea for a weakly secure Mutapa state by having a highly alert army which made it attractive for erstwhile inhabitants of the Mutapa State. In addition, the Rozvi state had competent leaders like Changamire Dombo who had military prowess as well as food security owing to a well lubricated agricultural economy. This attractive state captured the hearts of the inhabitants of the Mutapa state prompting their exit of the former and entrance into the Rozvi Empire leaving the Mutapa state with a populace that was below par. Therefore, the rise of a bigger and stronger Rozvi Empire was critical in leading to the demise of the Mutapa State.
To add on, exhaustion of natural resources was essential in necessitating the demise of the Mutapa state. This is because on of the reasons behind the Mutapa state’s rise was natural resources such as salt, pastures, gold, fertile soils and ivory which the Dande region was naturally endowed with. It was against this background that on the eve of the state’s collapse, the natural resources had depleted and were unsustainable prompting occupants to migrate in search of the resources in question for their livestock and own survival. Hence, the exhaustion of natural resources was pivotal in triggering a dismantled Mutapa state.
Adding on, rise of diseases also led to the collapse of the Mutapa state. This is because the Mutapa state was occupied at a time it was disease-free, however with diseases such as tsetse-fly oriented nagana as well as sleeping sickness flocking in, emigration was inevitable as it pushed people out of the state for fear of their lives while other inhabitants succumbed to these diseases leading to the state’s depopulation. Without a sufficient populace, the state could not survive. Thus, the rise of diseases was important in paving way for the collapse of the Mutapa state.
In addition, decline in trade was a great blow to the demise of the Mutapa state. This is because the Mutapa state’s backbone was trade. However, failure to meet trade demands such as trading items and trading partners therefore spiralled and choreographed the Mutapa state’s decline. The Portuguese who were a major trading partner neglected trade with the state since the trade was no longer attractive and viable owing to the state’s failure to meet demand by traders which emanated and stemed down from exhaustion natural resources. This, decline in trade, therefore, marked an upheaval to the Mutapa economy plunging it into an irretrievable path of collapse.
To sum up, this paper has emphatically justified the position that the advent of the Portuguese in the Mutapa state speeded up the process of decay which was already underway. On one hand, the Portuguese meddled in Mutapa state politics, stirred up disunity and affected the economics of the state while on the other hand the rise of a bigger and stronger Rozvi Empire, exhaustion of natural resource, rise of diseases and decline in trade paved way for the Mutapa state’s collapse. From the arguments above one can conclude that indeed there is a lot of truthfulness in the position that the coming of the Portuguese only quickened the rate of an ongoing decline of the Mutapa state.