Development of Economic Activities and Their Impact


Relationship between agriculture, the environment, and technological development
Areas with fertile soils and sufficient rainfall developed agriculture earlier than dry areas. Examples of areas which had fertile soil and enough rainfall include those in the interlacustrine region in East Africa.
Africans societies which had arid climate normally lived by doing pastoralism. The most famous societies which had pastoralism were the Maasai in Tanganyika and Kenya, the Fulani in West Africa and the Khoikhoi in Southern Africa. All these societies could not cultivate the crops because their climate was dry without enough rainfall.
Agriculture developed near iron working sites. Axes and hoes as part of products of iron technology facilitated clearance of areas for farming while spears and arrows defended animals keepers during grazing of animals against dangerous wild animals.
The Types of Agricultural Practices in Africa
1. Permanent crop cultivation
Permanent crop cultivation involved growing crops in one area for a long time. Crops that were grown in this type of agriculture included banana, maize, yams, beans and potatoes.
In East Africa it was majorly practiced in the interlacustrine regions such as Buganda, Kagera Kenyan highlands, Ankole around Mount Kilimanjaro, parts of Kigoma and rungwe. In West Africa it was practised in the Fante, Yoruba, Ashanti, Ife and Akwam.
Mixed farming
This is an agricultural system which involves growing of crops and rearing of animals on the same piece of land. Crops grown in this agricultural practice included cereals such as millet, sorghum, cassava and maize animals kept included cattle, goats, sheep, cows and donkey.
Mixed farmers in East Africa included the Gogo, Sangu, Sukuma, Kurya and Fipa in Tanzania, Luyia in Southwest Kenya, the Basoga and Gisu of Eastern Uganda.
Shifting cultivation
This involves spending a given period of time working on land and moving from one area that is exhausted to a new fresh piece of land. It was mainly practiced by the people who lived in grassland plateaus for example Miombo wood land savanna in central Tanzania were the rainfall was little and unreliable and the soil could be easily exhausted.
This involves the keeping of livestock. The herding of domestic animals (cattle, sheep or goats), which were real and potential source of food particularly; milk, meat, animal skins and the herds were also exchanged with the different neighbouring societies.
In East Africa the dry areas include the lift valley areas of Tanzania and Kenya comprising of societies like the Maasai, Nyaturu, Barbaig and the karamanjong in Uganda.
How Agriculture Changed Man's Life
The development of agriculture changed man's life in various ways, for instance:
1. People began to live in permanent settlement
People lived in one place waiting for the harvest of their crops. This was the beginning of people living permanently on a certain area.
2. Increase of population
Population increased due to the presence of food. Food was obtained through agriculture.
3. Development of instruments of productions
Agriculture led people to be more creative in producing various agricultural equipment such as hoes and axes.
4. Development of centralized states
With the development of agriculture and other specializations which come with it, the number of people and activities increased and there was an increasing need for better organisation of people to coordinate activities. This led to the emergence of social-political organizations such as kinships, chiefdoms, kingdoms and later state organizations.
5. Development of trade
Those who produced food crops exchanged  them for iron tools for farming. The pastoralists exchanged milk and animal hides for food stuff from those who were farmers.
6. Production of surplus food
Man produced more food than he needed for his immediate use. He kept this food for future use.
Handcrafts can be defined as the art of using your skills and hand to designs and fashion things, or it is an activity done with one’s hands requiring artistic skills.
The following are some of the most prominent handcraft activities in African societies
I. Basketry
II. Carpentry
III. Cloth making handicraft
IV. Pottery handicrafts
An industry is a place where transformation of raw materials into finished goods is carried out. The natural resources that existed in a given society determined the nature of industries to be found in a given area.
Iron working industries
Iron working industries involved the smelting of iron to produce iron tools and items.
Blacksmiths are people who make iron items such as knives, arrows, spears, hoes and axes. The smelting of iron was done using charcoal or wood in clay furnaces to produce heat.
Areas which had iron working industries in East Africa included: Bunyoro, Buhweju, and Kayonza in Uganda. Engaruka and Ugweno in Northern Tanzania, Mashona in Zimbabwe, Mang’anja of Malawi and areas around Kalambo falls in Zambia.
Advantage of iron working industries
1. Led to the improvement of tools of farming like hoes and pangas.
2. Increased supply of tools for defence.
3. Increase of trade and trade revenue from selling of iron tools.
4. It improved agriculture by facilitating clearance of large areas for farming.
5. It improved food production.
6. It led to the growth of population.

Uses of different types of minerals in precolonial Africa
Gold was mined in Central Africa by the Mashona of Zimbabwe, Asante of West Africa, and many other societies.
Uses of gold
I. Trade item
II. Used to make ornaments and items.
States which mined copper were: Kafue and River Gwai in Zimbabwe, Ibo and Yoruba in West Africa.
Uses of copper
I. To make items of decoration.
II. To make items of home use like bowls.
III. It was used as a trade item.
Trade in Pre-Colonial Africa
This was the exchange of goods in pre-colonial Africa.
Types of trade
1. Local trade
It was an exchange of goods which took place between the people of the same ethnic group. Individuals from families did not walk longer distance.
Types of commodities exchanged
They exchanged commodities like beans, maize and yam for milk and animal hides. The societies which did local trade were agricultural and those which specialized in iron working and pottery activities.
2. Regional trade
Regional trade refers to trade conducted from one region to another. Forms of regional trade were: Long distance trade and Trans-saharan trade.
Trans saharan trade was a long distance trade across the Saharan desert between the people of West Africa and Northern Africa. It started around 800 A.D. Western Sudanic states such as Ghana, Mali and Songhai were the main participant in this trade. Others were: Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt in Northern Africa.
Famous commodities during the Trans-Saharan trade were: gold, ivory, kola nuts, gum, ostrich feathers and a few slaves who were taken by the Arabs of West Africa.
The people of West Africa got salt, porcelain, fire arms, camels, donkeys, silk and iron from the north.
Types of commodities exchanged during the long distance trade in East Africa
Tobacco, hoes and animal skins were exchanged for salt, clothes and beads at Kilwa. Also, slave and ivory were exchanged for guns, beads and porcelain.
Societies involved
It was done by people who lived in East Africa, Central and West and Northern African societies.
Impact of local trade
1. It united people within the same area.
2. Communities obtained goods such as tools, weapons food stuffs and medical herbs.
3. Transport routes were improved.
4. Emergency of important marketing centers.
5. It encouraged communities to expand production.
Impact of regional trade
1. It strengthened some societies
Societies which participated in trade were strengthened. For example, the Nyamwezi, Yao, Baganda and Kamba.
2. Rise of trading towns
those town were: Khotakhota and Karonga along the southern route. This grew because the Yao, Nyamwezi and Kamba had to build shelters to accommodate traders in trading stations.
3. Rise of Kiswahili language
Arab and Swahili traders used Kiswahili as the principle language of trade.
4. Insecurity
This is because slave traders were capturing people to sell them as slaves.
5. Depopulation
Number of people decreased because of slave trade.
6. Decline of African industries
This was due to importation of manufactured goods such as guns, swords and clothes which were more preferred than the local manufactured goods.
Revision exercise
James, S. (2018). African History Up to the 19th Century. Dar es Salaam: Africa Proper Education Network.
1. List four early permanent crop cultivating societies in the interlacustrine region.
2. Write down four African societies which are described as pastoral societies.
3. List five major commodities that were exchanged during the long distance trade.
4. What is trans saharan trade?
5. List down five impact of trans saharan trade.
6. Draw a sketch map showing the long distance trade routes as a form of regional trade in pre colonial Africa.

Other History Form One Topics

1. Sources and Importance of History

2. Evolution of Man, Technology and Environment

3. Development of Social and Political Systems

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