Europeans and Africans

Mutual Discoveries and First Encounters


In Europeans and Africans Michał Tymowski analyses the first contacts between the Portuguese and other Europeans and Western Africans in the 15th and early 16th centuries, the cultural and psychological as well as the organizational aspects of contacts. The territorial scope of the research encompasses the West African coast. Michał Tymowski describes and analyses the feelings and emotions which accompanied the contacts, of both Africans and Europeans, analyses the methods in which both parties communicated and organized the first encounters as well as the influence of these contacts on the cultures of both sides. The work is based on a variety of source material, written sources and works of African art, in which Africans’ opinions and emotions are reflected.

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Michał Tymowski, born in 1941, is now a retired professor from the University of Warsaw. He was professor at the Université Paris IV-Sorbonne (1989-1993). He has published among others The Origins and Structures of Political Organizations in Pre-Colonial Black Africa (Mellen, 2009).
List of Figures and Maps
Abbreviations X


Part 1: Beginnings

1 Fear and Courage

2 Death and Attitudes to Death

3 How Did They Communicate?
  3.1 Interpreters
  3.2 The First Dictionary

4 Astonishment, Wonder and Curiosity

Part 2: Encounters

5 Feasts

6 First Meetings
 6.1 The Valarte-Guitenyia Meeting
 6.2 The Ca da Mosto-Budomel Meeting
 6.3 The Azambuja-Caramansa Meeting
 6.4 Comparing the Three Meetings

7 Places of Trade

8 Embassies of African Rulers to Portugal
 8.1The Embassy from Benin
 8.2The Voyage to Portugal of Bumi Jeleen, Toppled Ruler of the Wolof

Part 3: A Minority among the Majority

9 African Slaves in Portugal – Cultural and Psychological Aspects

10Degredados, Lançados, Tangomaos – Portuguese Exiles and Fugitives

11 Women

Part 4: Both Sides about the Other

12 Europeans’ Perceptions of Africans

13 Africans’ Perceptions of Europeans


Figures and Maps


All interested in the history of the 15th – 16th c. early European expansion, the history of Africa and the phenomenon of contact between cultures.
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