There are divergent views that have been advanced by various historians regarding the African continent when it came into contact with capitalist in Europe.
According to Eurocentric scholars, they claimed that before the advent of colonial rule, African societies didn’t have any kind of development; however African scholars argued that the continent had achieved a significant level of development in economic, social and political aspects.
Development can be defined as the improvement in economic, social and political aspects.
1. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
i . Trade
There are strong evidences of trading activities in pre colonial Africa. There were different types of trade i.e. local and long distance trade.
Local trade was the type of trade that was conducted within a given community.
Long distance trade was the type of trade which took place between one region and another. There was a long distance trade in east Africa which took place between the interior and coastal people of east Africa.
The main participants were the kamba and nyamwezi from the interior and the Arabs and Swahili traders from the coast.
ii . Agriculture
By the fifteen century agriculture had developed in Africa. There were various types of agriculture in pre colonial Africa. These included permanent crop cultivation and shifting cultivation.
Permanent crop cultivation took place in areas that received a lot of rainfall and fertile land. Mixed farming took place in those areas whose soil lost its fertility easily, thus forcing the farmers to shift from one piece of land to another land looking for fertile land. Mixed farming was widely practiced in the savanna region.
iii Manufacturing industries.
By the 15 th century Africa had developed a number of manufacturing industries such as salt making and copper mining. Salt making took place at Tagaza and Bilma in West Africa and uvinza in Tanganyika. Salt was not only used as an ingredient but also for preserving perishables.
Copper mining activities found in Africa by the 15 th century. Copper was only used for making ornaments. In central Africa, the Katanga region was famous for mining and processing copper. Copper mining also took place along the Gwai River in Zimbabwe
iv Maritime technology.
To a certain extent African societies had developed maritime technology, this was around water bodies. The societies that had acquired this technology are the Ganda and kerewe in east Africa; these were making canoes that facilitated their movement along rivers and lakes.
v Iron technology.
By the 15th century most parts of Africa had developed the art of making iron and using iron. In Africa the knowledge of making iron and use of iron tools developed at different times and at different places. The first places to use iron were Ethiopians and Egyptians. At around 200 BC Meroe & Axum became important sector for the production of iron
2. POLITICAL SYSTEMS
During the 15th century, there were various political organizations in pre colonial Africa. This included the following
i. Age set system.
This refers to the allocation of social functions according to sex and age groups. This system was mainly practiced by pastoral societies such as the Maasai of east Africa. The Maasai assigned social functions according to age groups. Example; from age of 0 – 8 no social functions were given, from 8 – 18 years, the boys were supposed to graze the animals.
ii. Clan organization.
This refers to control by clan head. This system mainly developed in the savanna region. The main economic activities were mixed farming and shifting cultivation. Mixed farming involved the cultivation of crops and animal keeping. Shifting cultivation involved the movement from one place to another searching for fertile land because the soil easily loses its fertility. Shifting cultivation made land very important, therefore societies needed strong leadership that would control and distribute land thus the rise of clan organization.
iii .State organization.
The state is a large political unity with a heterogeneous population having a centralized system with powers to collect tributes. Most of the states in Africa were formed in the interlacustrine region which received heavy rainfall throughout the year. This type of environment supported the increase in production that led to increase in population thus contributing to the formation of states such as Buganda and Karagwe in east Africa.
FACTOR FOR THE RISE OF STATE IN AFRICA
There was feudal centralized state where the power was in hand feudula lords
FACTOR FOR THE RISE OF STATE IN EUROPE
i. Changing of Trade organization, (to mercantilism)
ii. Organization of security
iii. Encouragement of production within empires for market
iv. Formation of foreign policy (colonial policy) abroad so as to have primitive accumulation through piracy, banditry and looting.
COMPARE AND CONTRAST WESTERN EUROPEAN POLITICAL SYSTEM WITH AFRICAN ONES IN THE 15th CENTURY.
• Both were ruled by kings or queen or chiefs – Example, Mani Nzinga – Congo.
• Function of the king were the same, In protection of citizens and defense for security for
• Both defend or encourage exploitation of serfs by landlords.
• Both encourage trade. Example: (a) In Africa, were engage in long distance trade. (b) In Europe – mercantile trade.
• Duration of the modal/ centralized state In Africa it was in premature but in Europe of was reached, its mature
• Emergence of merchants who challenged the rolling class while in Africa was not so
• In Europe was Broad rolling class (complex) but in Africa was very parochial.
• In Europe states Formation appeared after the turn of Roman empire for disintegration of slavery (and of slavery in Europe in Africa was not produced as a mode of production.
• In Europe 15th , there was great changes in Feudalism, It was highest peak and break down to give room to capitalism.
• Enclosure system in Europe while in Africa was not so
• Highest level of education in Europe than Africa.
This refers to the transmission of skills, knowledge and norms from one generation to the other. By the 15th century Africa had its own education system which was largely informal in character. The young people acquired knowledge by imitating the behavior of the elders. However it should be noted that there was literacy in pre colonial Africa especially along the Nile River in Egypt and Mali
There is strong evidence that by the 15 th century Africa had its own religion. Religious ceremonies were presided over by community elders, Example the laibon of the Maasai and the clan heads of clan organization. These elders were responsible for supervising religious ceremonies like organizing sacrifices.
SIGNIFICANCE OF TRADE IN THE SOCIETIES BETWEEN AFRICA AND EUROPE
1. Both trades found in Africa and Europe led to specialization where by a group of people emerged and specialized in different economic activities for example in Africa they emerged a group of specialized in agriculture, fishing, iron melting, pastoralism and trade as well as in Europe there was emerged of groups of people who specialized in different economic activities such as traders (merchant kings), people who specialized in farming etc.
2. Both trade found in Africa and Europe during the 15th C led to the development of science and technology in African and European societies. For Example It led to the development of ship building and, marine technology and compass bearing where by traders used advanced to travel in other parts of the world to look for raw materials, market, cheap labour etc. while in Africa there was development of different science and technologies which enabled traders to travel from one areas to another. For Example In West Africa traders across Trans-Saharan desert used camels from (West Africa) to (North Africa) used horse as means of transport.
3. Both trades found in Africa and Europe led to emergence of state (state formation). for example in Africa Ghana, Songhai, Mali, Oyo, Benin, Mwanamutapa empire, Mirambo empire as well as in Europe there was emergence of states especially in Britain and later on in France due to the trade. In Addition to that, the trade found in both Africa and Europe led to emergence of trading centers and growth of towns which later led to urbanization in both Africa and Europe. Example in Dodoma, Walata, Gao, Jere, but we also had some towns like Bagamoyo, Zanzibar, Mombasa, Kilwa, Pete, Lamu etc. as well as in Europe there ware towns due to trade such as Liverpool, Yorkshire, Manchester, Venice, etc.
4. Both trades in Africa and Europe lead to emergence of goods and strong leaders who later controlled the state for example in Africa Mansa Kankan Musa (Mali), Askia Mohamed (Songhai), and Mwenemutapa (Mwenemutapa Empire).
5. Both trades found in Africa and Europe led to emergence of strong army which was well disciplined to protect state and its routes for example in Britain there was emergence of navy army.
6. Both trades found in Africa and Europe led to emergence of people who later became rich because of being involving in the system of exchange in the societies. For Example Kings and individual traders who involved were involved in the trade became rich. For Example in Africa Mansa Musa, Askia, Samouri Toure, Mirambo, Mwenemutapa and In Europe Kings also became rich because they got much profit from trade.
7. Both trades found in Africa and Europe led emergence of strong faith because the trade lead to unity among the people in the society. For example the Trans-Saharan trade in Africa led to emergence of Islamic faith West and North Africa while in some East African societies there was emergence of Christianity due long distance trade (LTD) as well as in Europe there were emergence of Christianity due to trade conducted between European societies.
8. Trades especially in Europe during 15 th C lead to the growth of industries where by different industries were built using the wealth accumulated from trade. For Example Textile industries, Agricultural equipment industries.etc
9. Trade especially in Europe led to establishment of financial institutions like banks such as Barclays, House Lord in Britain after the merchant Kings and other. Traders had accumulated profit from the trade conducted between European nations and other continents of the world.
IMPACTS OF TRADE (SYSTEM OF EXCHANGE) BETWEEN AFRICA AND EUROPE DURING THE 15TH CENTURY
1.The trade led to stagnation of African technology simply because Africans who were skillful and knowledgeable were taken as slaves to offer their labour in big plantations and mining established by European absentee owners in America during the 15 th C.
2.The Trade also led to exploitation of African natural resources such as minerals, raw materials etc was taken specifically for the development of European nations.
3.The trade conducted between Africa and Europe during 15 th lead to destruction of African culture and introduction of European culture in Africa because it was during this contact African way of living, dressing style, marriage, eating Etc were destroyed by Europeans as Africans began to imitate what Europeans brought to African societies.
4. Trade contact between Africa and Europe during the 15 th C led to fall and rise of some African states. African states which existed before the contact between Africa and Europe during the 15 th C collapsed like western sudanic states (Ghana, Songhai.etc.) while some other African states like Dahomey emerged due to the fact that their leaders and prosperity of the state depended on the triangular slave trade.
5. Trade lead to the collapse of African trade that existed before the 15 th C hence led to underdevelopment of African continent and development of European nations simply because it was that trade that culminated the situation for European development in all aspects (socially, economically and politically) and African underdevelopment in all aspects.
6. The Contact between Africa and Europe during the 15 th C paved way for African colonization simply because this trade is the one which led to the influx of agents of colonialism such as trades, missionaries and explorers started their colonial ambition in Africa to explore the potential areas such as agricultural areas, mineral areas, lakes (water bodies) etc. hence colonialism.
SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BETWEEN AFRICA AND EUROPE BY THE 15TH CENTURY
1. Both Africa and Europe had developed in medicine technology to cure various diseases whereby they use roots, herbs and drugs to cure some diseases like malaria, cholera, etc.
2. Both societies had developed in iron technology where by some agricultural tools and many things were made both in Africa and Europe; example in Africa iron technology was found in Mwenemutapa Empire, Engaruka and in Britain, France.etc.
3. Both in Africa and Europe societies engaged in cultivation of crops; for example in Egypt there was a high development of farming activities especially through irrigation system along the river Nile especially during the dry seasons, In Zambezi basin there was agricultural development in which people practiced intensive terracing farming and in Europe there was use of irrigation system and use of scientific methods of farming during enclosure system
4. Both societies engaged in handcraft activities for example both societies made things like pots, baskets, mats and other vessels for their own development.
5.Both societies developed in navigation technology for example in Europe there was ship building industries compass direction and compass bearing where by European merchant were used to cut across big seas and ocean while in Africa societies used canoes and dhows as the major means of water transport; for example along Nile river, along the shore of Lake Victoria, Tanganyika, Nyasa.etc. Canoes were used for fishing and ferrying people and goods from one place to another.
6. Both societies (Africa and Europe) had developed in an architecture engineering technology. For example in the ancient Mwenemutapa Empire around Zimbabwe, Egypt and Sudan there were great architecture technology. for example in Zimbabwe they built 30/20 feet high by using stones and in Egypt at Giza plateau near Cairo the great pyramids consisted of two million of block of stones each weighing more than two tones like in Europe there were big buildings found in big towns of Europe like Paris, London.etc.
7. Both societies made weapons for self defense, security and conquering weak states; for example both societies made weapons like swords, arrows, axes, spears, machetes, aves, shields and matchet guns.
1.European societies were highly developed in animal breeding under enclosure system while Africa had not developed animal breeding under enclosure system.
2. Africans were highly advanced in animal husbandry than European societies this might be even up to now.
3. European societies were in transition from domestic (Cottage industries) to factory system (big manufacturing industries) than in Africa where there is no any sign of transition to factory system.
4. European societies were advanced more in navigation technology than in Africa. for example by the 15 th C European societies had ship building technology, compass direction and compass bearing which helped European merchant to cut across big oceans and seas to trade with other societies of the world while Africans used canoes to paddle and dhows in order to navigate in big rivers and along the shores of lakes and oceans.
5. Europeans were more advanced in gun making and bombs than Africans; the gunsmiths were better than those of Africa in 15 th C. This shows the reason why the Europeans (particularly the Portuguese) managed to defeat African societies easily along the coast of Indian Ocean and managed to establish city states along East African coast