On the east coast of Africa, Portugal strengthened and extended its control over Mozambique. To the north of Mozambique, Great Britain and Germany Competed For territorial domination. The slave trade had been only marginally active in East Africa before the late 1700s, but it began to increase after about 1780. During this period of more active slave trading, the efforts of missionaries to end the slave trade focused public attention on the area and helped justify European intervention in the area.
The European nations rapidly carved the rest of East Africa into colonies. The only exception was the ancient empire of Ethiopia. Although Italy invaded Ethiopia, the Ethiopian army defeated the Italians at Adowa in 1896, thus ensuring their country’s freedom from foreign domination.
Another factor that made it easier for Europeans to colonize East Africa was an ecological disaster in the 1890s. Domestic cattle, introduced to Africa by
Europeans, carried a fatal disease known as rinderpest. Rinderpest decimated the East African herds, leading to widespread starvation. The people, thus weakened and besieged by troubles, lacked the ability to resist European colonization.