Monday, May 16, 2011


We are better informed about the city of Zeila, a mere 40 km east of the actual Djiboutian border. Back in the mid-14th century, the Arab globetrotter Ibn Battuta was writing about this port:
The trip by sea from the city of Aden to the city of Zeila took four days.
The landscape is barren all the way down to Maqdashaw (Mogadishu). It takes two months to travel between these two cities.
The people of Zaila have black skin and they are known for their fat camels and sheeps.
Zeila is a large city with an important marketplace however it is the most dirty, unpleasant and malodorous place in the world. It is malodorous mainly because camels are slaughtered in the streets and the blood is left to flow all around. Fish is also left to rot in the open.
When we arrived there, we chose to spend the night on the boat and in the wind rather than inside that smelly town.
Portuguese sea charts became more accurate after Vasco de Gama was sent by the Portuguese king to discover more of the African continent in 1497 and, by 1585, those maps showed the coastline of the Gulf of Tadjoura with much details. See detail -->
By 1840, the British and the French had already etablished bases or were looking for emplacements to establish them on the sea route to China and its reputedly rich markets in Hunan province. The opium war of 1857 gave both nations the opportunity to establish colonies in those far-flung lands at a time when their colonial empires were expanding at an accelerated pace...

No comments:

Blog Archive