ZIMSEC History O Level Notes: The Mutapa State: Economic Organisation of the Mutapa State
- The following economic activities took place in the Mutapa State:
1. Cattle Herding
- The people kept large herds of cattle for meat, milk and hides.
- Cattle were also a symbol of wealth and they were also slaughtered at religious ceremonies and functions such as funerals.
- They were also a trade item that was used in both external and domestic trade.
- They were used to pay tribute to both the chiefs and the king.
- The Mutapa people mined gold, iron and copper.
- Gold was used to trade with foreign traders for goods.
- Iron was used to make iron tools such as hoes and axes for farming as well as weapons such as spears and arrowheads.
- Copper was used to make ornaments such as bangles and ceremonial spears.
- Mining was mostly done during the dry season.
- It was considered dangerous and laborious.
3 Crop cultivation
- They grew a variety of crops such as sorghum and millet
- These crops formed the staple diet of a thick porridge.
- They were also used to brew beer.
- Cultivation as oftentimes carried out in communal groups in a practice called nhimbe.
- Grain was harvested and stored in granaries for future use.
- The people practised internal and external trade.
- Long distance trade was carried out with the Swahili, Arabs and the Portuguese
- Foreign trade brought in needed goods and increased the wealth of the king allowing him to continue to rule and reward loyal subjects.
- The foreigners brought guns, cloth, beads and in exchange they got gold and other precious metals.
- Local trade was practised by families in order for them to get what they did not have for example grain, iron tools, pottery, salt, livestock and skins.
- These were items given to the king by his subjects either directly or through chiefs as a sign of loyalty.
- Tribute was in the form of cattle, crops, skins, gold, ivory, labour etc.
- It made the king wealthy and allowed him to exert continued control over his subjects.
- Pottery making-pots were made for cooking and storing liquids such as drinking water and beer.
- Basket weaving was practised to make different types of mats, winnowing baskets etc.
- Blacksmiths made iron tools such as arrowheads, hoes and axe heads.
- Crafts were also used in external and internal trade.
7 Hunting and gathering
- Was used to complement the other economic activities.
- Men hunted game and supplied meat, hides and ivory.
- Women gathered fruit, vegetables and termites.
8 Other economic activities
- Taxation of vashambadzi,European traders, hunters and tributary chiefs.
- Court fees and fines.
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