Gold is one of the items traded in Mutapa kingdom. Image credit

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes: The Mutapa State (Kingdom): Trade in the Mutapa State

  • Three types of trade were done in the Mutapa state
  • That is, internal trade with the locals,
  • inter-regional trade with other states like the Ndebele and Guruuswa and
  • foreign trade with the Arabs and later the Portuguese.

Internal trade

  • This type of trade was done between producers of different goods in the state
  • Trade was in exchange of goods like carved wood, baskets, iron tools, minerals and game
  • In drought instances grains and cattle were traded

Inter-regional trade

  • It was done with areas such as Ingobe, Illede, Guruuswa and in the 19th century with the Ndebele.
  • The king also exported goods for trade like machira to the Maravi and silk to the Tonga and the Torwa
  • Common items traded included salt and copper

Foreign trade

  • It was done with far of people like Muslims and the Zambezi was used as a route to go to the Mutapa state.
  • The Mutapa people also traded with the Portuguese based at Sofala and Mozambique and travelled through Manicaland
  • These two groups competed for Mutapa gold and ivory
  • The Mutapas controlled trade
  • Trading places called feiras were established at Mukaranga and Manyika
  • During the 16th and early 17th centuries the Musapa was the most important feira
  • During the late 17th century Dambarare became the most important feira
  • Other trade centres included Manzovo, Ruhanje, Chipiriviri, Matafunga, Chitomborwizi, Mahaka, Maramuka, Hwanga, Makaka, Vumba, Masekesa, Amangwa, Mutare, Maungwe, Uteve, Nyaranga and Sembaza
  • Portuguese traded cloths, beads and ceramics in these feiras through their vashambadzi for gold, ivory and other minerals
  • Foreigners interested in trading had to pay a tax called curva to the Mutapa through the captain of the gates
  • The captain of the gates was responsible for guarding against foreigners entering into the Munhumutapa court or any parts of the state without his permission

NB Visit these pages to learn more about:

  1. Feiras in the Mutapa State
  2. Items traded in the Mutapa State

To access more topics go to the History Notes page.