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Vasco de Gama, the famous Portuguese explorer, first landed at the site where Mombasa now stands in 1498. It was his goal to convert the native people there to the Christian faith as well as to expand Portugal's holdings and trade routes. Mombasa's natives were uncooperative with the invaders and put down all of Portugal's attempts at establishing trade there until the late 16th Century when the Portuguese government befriended Mombasa's king. The king directed his people to do as the Portuguese wished and a rich trading relationship was born between the two countries.
Mombasa became Portugal's most important African port, which served mainly as a trading post for African slaves, the Europeans exchanging spices and coffee with the Mombasans for their human cargo.
Portugal ruled Kenya for two hundred years, before it was taken over by the British. It was not until 1963 that Kenya was able to declare its independence and become a sovereign nation.