Home HISTORY Long Distance Trade and Formation Of States in East Africa

Long Distance Trade and Formation Of States in East Africa


Long Distance Trade and Formation Of States in East Africa

Long distance trade was basically economic activity in which traders from caravans move over a long period of time with their goods and places organized into caravans and trade routes from the interior to the west , also can be classified three types or route namely the trans Sahara  trade , east Africa long distance trade and transcontinental trade

Long distance trade can be defined as the pre-colonial trade caravans which moved over a long distance in east Africa this trade system was organized into three trade routes which are Yao land to Kilwa which found in southern route, central Tanzania was conducted by Nyamwezi and the highland to the Mombasa.

The most participants in long distance trade were including the following coastal Arabs and Swahili traders, such as Mwinyikheri of Ujiji, Tipp tip of Western Tanganyika and others.

The goods that were used in exchange system were gun powder, clothes, beads and shoes from the Coastal Arabs commodities like ivory, slaves, gold, silver, animal skins and horns from the tribes found within the interior.

State can be defined as political organization with a territory by a single political unites, it must have government to control the political party.

 State is political organization that has laws and order that control people who live in the certain place; they have directed what to do and not to do.

In general a state can be defined that a political unity and organization with centralized leadership and institution which is made up with two instruments that is ideological and coercive instrument.

It is true that “for quite some time now historians have been making a correlation which links the establishments of state with the development of long distance trade at large extent of articulations as the follows.


Conquering tendency  this also made contribution in state  and developments of trade  activities which  was the part of their life  through conquering tendencies of these  strongly state  became bigger  under one leadership and trading  activity on their  route  they  used to set up their  centered  for markets.

This show that conquering tendency made a great force of developments and permanents market and formation of big kingdom as Banora, Tolo , Ukerewe island on the Victorian and Western part of Kenya as the result of Buganda grew powerful.

Introduction of weapons due to the developments of technology were productive tools like hoes, axes, which were being used as the source of agriculture activities that influence increase of food production and surplus due to availability of food it led to the formation of state and trade activities, state make good organization government leader and army that lead those people.

Those weapons were strong state to conquer weaker one, example Buganda conquers Bunyoro in 19th century and Mkwawa of Hehe conquers Bena and Sangu.

Developments of agriculture in relationship between long distance trade and state formation due to development of agriculture lead to the influence of food production and surplus this influenced people to start engaged in farming activities and increase more surplus

And brought about permanent market for those traders in trading activities cause they came in that  particular or state and start to exchange their goods with those people  who stay in that state  so traders  have got the permanent  market for their goods

Factors For State Formation In Southern Africa

Population growth due to availability of foods as the result of improvement in agriculture which lead to the increase of population which brought different chaos in trade where by people tend to compete among themselves this increase their economic prosperity that made people to find solution to those chaos which brought the state to control all people with under the particular laws and orders.


Trade activities also growth because other people were engaged in making of things and started to find market well t do exchange and got what they did not produce. That was the source of trade activities some of trader were gone too far on the trade route and make long distance trade.

The growth of town influenced the formation of state and allowed trade activities because towns became the centre of market were by there have big number of people use to conduct their trade to sold and bought different goods to fulfill their demands and needs

Hence different states were formed along the centre way in order to maintain peace and security. Among the state formed were Kilwa, Bagamoyo, Ujiji, Zenji Empire and Nyamwezi

Long distanced trade paved way to formation of strong army and this army was useful in provision of security during the trading activities, security which was provided to the Caravan routes passing through empire that’s security help to development and consolidation of the empire, strong army controlled the invasion and conquest from outside.

Taxation is the one contributed development of trade and development of state through the leadership using tax collection and tariff in and outside of their borders paved the way to state formation and growth of trade.

Good leadership like Kabaka contribute a lot in development in trade activities and state creation through making good relationship of the people in the state example the development of Buganda Kingdom, Ankore kingdom and other state as the big result of good leadership.


Iron technology also stimulate development of state and trade activities due provision of different equipments using in production and defensive of state help in strengthening the boarder of trade and expansion of state.

Strong unity this was made and contribute the development of state and trade activities especially long distance trade which were conducted in cooperative and peacefully way in one way another unification of people brought mutual support with themselves and outside of their boarder.

Common language also this stimulate the development of trade and state in different level due to people communicate by using one language then lead to the development of state since common language was taken as medium of communication at any field of work and daily life

Its true to argue that both state formation and development of long distance trade have a great correlation in its making both of it to work effectively and efficiently as like joint process or twins in supporting each other and bring developments.


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