Saturday, 21 August 2010
Ibn Battutah was a Muslim from North Africa who became famous for traveling to and writing about many countries.
He visited Kilwa in 1331. He had seen great cities in China, India, and West Africa but Ibn Battutah wrote that Kilwa was "one of the most beautiful and best-constructed towns in the world."
In Kilwa, people lived in three and four story houses made of stone and sea coral.
Traders had to pay huge taxes on goods they brought into the city. "Any merchant who wished to enter the city paid for every five hundred pieces of cloth, no matter what the quality, one gold (piece) as entrance duty," reported one visitor.
"After this, the king took two thirds of all the merchandise, leaving the trader on third."
In the early 1500s, Kilwa and the other East African city-states were conquered by the European country of Portugal.