• The decline of Mapungubwe began in the late 13th century and by the early 14th century, the state had ceased to exist as a political entity.
  • The reasons for its collapse are not entirely clear, but the factors outlined below likely played a significant role.
  • Environmental factors: The area around Mapungubwe was affected by climate change, leading to prolonged droughts and reduced crop yields. This led to food shortages and famine, which weakened the state’s ability to maintain its power and influence.
  • Economic factors: The decline of trade routes that had previously connected Mapungubwe with other regions also contributed to its downfall. This decline led to a reduction in the number of goods and resources available to the state, which impacted its ability to maintain its economy and support its population.
  • Political factors: The kingdom faced external threats from neighbouring states, such as the rise of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, which challenged its dominance and power in the region. This competition for power and resources weakened Mapungubwe’s position and may have contributed to its eventual collapse.
  • Social factors: The society became more hierarchical, with the ruling class becoming increasingly isolated and detached from the rest of the population. This may have led to resentment and discontent among the lower classes, which could have contributed to the state’s instability.
  • Health factors: The kingdom was hit by an epidemic that significantly reduced the population, weakening the state’s ability to maintain its power and influence.
  • Migration: It is believed that some of the population migrated to other regions, leading to a decline in the population and weakening the state’s ability to maintain its power and influence.

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