Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Unbowed

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A Memoir

by Wangari Maathai

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  • First Published:
    Oct 2006, 352 pages
    Sep 2007, 352 pages

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A Short History of Kenya
Kenya is located on the East Coast of Africa, bordered by the Indian Ocean, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia (map). The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama was the first European on record to visit the area in 1498. Portuguese rule officially began in 1505, bringing the Portuguese a useful revenue source from tribute payments, but also strategic control of the Indian Ocean allowing them to extract high tariffs on items transported by sea.

By the 17th century, Portuguese influence in the area was on the wane due to British, Dutch and Arab incursions. Omani Arabs colonized the coastal areas in the 19th century, even moving their capital to Zanzibar (an island off the coast of Tanzania) in 1839. Their control of the East African coast continued until British interests took over. By the late 19th century the slave trade on the open seas had been completely outlawed by the British and the Omani's had little ability to resist the ...

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