History, The Gaza Empire
Soshangane, Portuguese India, private armies, Shire River, Sofala
In the 1820s, during a period of severe drought, Nguni armies began to invade Mozambique from what is now South Africa. One Nguni chief, Nxaba, established a short-lived kingdom inland from Sofala, but in 1837 he was defeated by Soshangane, a powerful Nguni rival. Soshangane established the Gaza Empire, which at its height in the 1860s covered the whole of Mozambique between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. From this area, Nguni armies invaded the north and established cattle-owning military states along the edges of the Mozambican highlands. Although not within the borders of modern-day Mozambique, these military states nonetheless served as effective bases for raids into Mozambique.
With the prolonged drought, the rise of Gaza, the dominance of the slave trade, and the expansion of Portuguese control in the Zambezi Valley, the once-mighty African cheiftaincies of the Zambezi region declined. In their place, valley warlords established fortified strongholds at the confluence of the major rivers, where they raised private armies and raided for slaves in the interior. The most powerful of these warlords was Manuel Antonio de Sousa, a settler from Portuguese India, who by the middle of the 19th century controlled most of the southern Zambezi Valley and a huge swath of land to its south. North of the Zambezi, Islamic slave traders rose to power from their base in Angoche, and the Yao chiefs of the north migrated south to the highlands along the Shire River, where they established their military power.
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