Cattle grazing. Image credit

Cattle grazing. Image credit

ZIMSEC History O Level Notes: Great Zimbabwe: Reasons for the rise of the Great Zimbabwe state

  • There are several reasons for the rise of the Great Zimbabwe state:
  • Rich soils- the availability of rich agricultural soils. The black and red soils around the Great Zimbabwe area were especially suited for agriculture. The Shona cultivated a number of crops that sustained them and thus were able to build a large state.
  • Pastures- the Great Zimbabwe area was suited for livestock area as it had a lot of pastures and the area was free from malaria and other diseases as well as tsetse flies. The Shona kept large herds of cattle which they used for a number of purposes including paying the bride price. Livestock rearing also enabled the ruling class to get richer as they acquired more wealth than the others and thus were more able to control the poor.
  • Trade-there was profitable trade between the Shona and the Indian Zone. Trade was a monopoly of the ruling class who received trade items from their subjects in the form of ivory and animal skins. All trade routes were controlled by the ruling class and the elite as a result they become much more powerful and were able to control their subjects. Also weaker groups were co opted and absorbed by the Shona.
  • Mining-iron, gold, tin and copper all contributed to the rise of the Great Zimbabwe state. The rulers became wealthy in mineral resources and the control of these resources enabled the Shona to exert control over neighbouring groups and for the rulers to exert control over their subjects.

To access more topics go to the History Notes page.

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