ZIMSEC O Level History Notes: Early Societies (Late Stone Age – Early Iron Age): Rise of Agriculture and Domestication and Rearing of animals
- Rise of Agriculture and Domestication and Rearing of animals
- The use of iron tools led to the rise of agriculture as iron tools made it possible for people to clear large pieces of land and chop down trees
- The tree branches and leaves were turned into compost enabling the new farmers to use the same field for a couple of years.
- This method of farming is called slash and burn and is still in practice in several parts of central and Southern Africa.
- The first crops grown were millet, rapoko and sorghum
- It is of importance to note that “slash and burn is suitable for a small population and with the increase of population the societies started adding various roots, melons and bean crops to the main diet
- Surplus grain was stored for future use.
Domestication of animals
- It was revolutionary similar to the discovery and use of iron.
- The livestock domesticated included cattle, sheep, goats, chicken and dogs
- Two types of cattle reared due to their ability to suit the climatic and ecological conditions of the region
- These were long horned cattle raised in tsetse fly free areas of central Zimbabwe and western half of South Africa
- and short-horned cattle found in the Eastern parts of Zimbabwe, South Africa and Zambia
- The Early Iron Age people also kept fat-tailed sheep
- The Early Iron Age people were also nomads and moved from place to place in search of pastures and water for their animals
- This type of seasonal livestock movements is known as transhumance
- These movements did not involve everyone else but only livestock herders
- Hunting and gathering remained an important part of the economic base of the people
- Livestock keeping had the following advantages:
- Under good conditions they reproduce themselves
- Livestock survive more than grains which may be prone to infestation and grain pests
- Livestock can be killed and consumed at any time of the year and in times of crop failure
- Livestock is herded by young boys, thereby leaving time for arable farming by adults
- They could be used for barter trade
- They provided a variety for diet. i.e. proteins
- Livestock were a symbol of wealth and status
- They could also be used for fine payment and lobola payment
- They provided skins for making bedding, clothes and sinews for bow strings
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