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Message-Id: <<
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 10:04:48 +0800 (WST)
From: Peter Limb <>
Subject: Historic Sofala Site: Representations

Forwarded message: From plimb Fri Oct 27 10:10:25 1995
Subject: Re: Sofala
To: (Marq de Villiers)
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 1995 10:09:26 +0800 (WST)

Historic Sofala Site: Representations

Dialog on nuafrica list, October 1995

October 26 1995

To: Peter Limb
From: Marq de Villiers

I'm trying to find someone or some source that could tell me about the old Mozambique trading port of Sofala. I'm doing a book on pre-colonial African empires, and Sofala was the major trading port for the Monomotapa (Zimbabwean) empire. What I really need is what it looks like now -- I have a number of written sources going back to Vasco da Gama telling what it was like then, but I have no idea whether it still exists. I think it is now either the modern city of Beira, or close to Beira, and I would love to talk to someone who has seen it. Any ideas?

Thank you!

I can be reached via above Compuserve address (preferred) or at

Dear Marq,

I seem to recall that Basil Davidson's *Africa* TV series of the 1980's MAY have included shots of Sofala, though this could easily have been Kilwa - as far as I can recall off-hand, I think it's an historic old site, but I've never been there. Would you like me to ask expert opinion? I am fairly familiar with the history of Monomotapa and there is some solid historiography on that.

Nova Sofala, I think, is another term for the place in general. A travel guide I looked at states: "The modern port of Beira .... To the south, Nova Sofala has a beautiful beach surrounded by tropical scenery near the site of the famous Arab and Portuguese gold-trading town of Sofala, which has since been destroyed by the sea." *Traveller's guide to Central & Southern Africa* p. 130

There is a booklet on the cartography of Sofala that may interest you:

A. Texeira da Mota, *Cartografia antiga de Sofala* (Lisbon: Centro de Estudos de cartografia Antiga, 1973) 18 p.

Some books with narratives on Sofala include:

Intriguingly, there is also a gold-mining town called Sofala in Australia - probably named after it!


Peter Limb

University of Western Australia
Nedlands 6907, W.A. Australia email: fax: +61 9 380 1012 phone: +61 9 380 2348

Publisher's note:

For those wanting a more general discussion of Sofala, readily accessible is the UNESCO General History of Africa, series, Vols. III-IV.