Raiding was an important part of the Zulu Economy.Image credit

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes: The Zulu State: Economic Organisation of the Zulu State

  • The economy was centralized and controlled by the king. He was the sole distributor of war booty and food production.
  • The most important economic activity in the Zulu kingdom was cattle rearing
  • Cattle rearing was only done by men
  • Cattle provided meat and milk which was the main diet of the Zulu
  • They also provided skins which were used for making shields and clothes
  • In the Zulu culture a man normally would not keep his cattle but would give to someone to look after them and this was called ukusisa.
  • The Zulu also reared sheep, goats and fowls and these animals were used for meat and skins
  • They also domesticated the dog and used it for hunting
  • The Zulu women and old men practiced agriculture
  • They grew maize, water-melons, calabash, pumpkins and different kinds of edible tubers and beans
  • The king was responsible for the official opening of the hoeing season and he planted and harvested first
  • The Zulu had a special ceremony for planting to begin called licking of the hoe
  • Iron smelting was another economic activity of the Zulu and it was done by blacksmiths.
  • They smelted tools like assegais, hoes, various kinds of knives, axes and ornaments such as rings
  • The Zulu practiced internal with the locals and eternal trade with the Portuguese at Delagoa Bay
  • They traded in goods like grain, iron tools and baskets locally and gold, ivory and silver externally
  • The Zulu people also did craftwork such as basketry, pottery and weaving
  • They also collected tributes from vassal states
  • Raiding was also an important part of the Zulu state

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