• In its early stages, the social organization of the Mapungubwe Kingdom was egalitarian, with little social differentiation among the people.
  • However, as the population grew and the kingdom expanded, social classes emerged, with the ruling classes exploiting the lower classes.
  • The ruling class in Mapungubwe lived luxurious lives, with a diet that included lots of beef and beer. They wore imported cloth and their women wore beautiful jewellery.
  • The ruling class lived in expensive houses, which were built by those in the lower classes, and they lived separately from the lower classes.
  • Despite social differentiation, the state put more importance on courage, industry, and vision as compared to heredity.
  • This meant that those in the lower class but with special trade skills such as iron-smithing, and hunting among others were afforded the chance to show off their skills.
  • Pottery making was considered an important social activity in Mapungubwe, usually done by women.
  • Pottery was used to express the quality of life people were leading and their level of development.
  • The people of Mapungubwe were also known for soapstone carving, as the stone was readily available in the kingdom.
  • Some of the carved items discovered by archaeologists include sculptures of animals such as elephants, rhinoceroses, and baboons.
  • The kingdom had a system of totemism, with different clans identifying with different animals. The most prominent totem was the elephant, which was also depicted in soapstone carvings.
  • Trade was an important aspect of social organization in Mapungubwe, with the kingdom being a hub for trade routes that linked the interior of southern Africa with the east coast.
  • The kingdom also had a sophisticated system of agriculture, with the cultivation of crops such as sorghum and millet. Farming was done by the lower classes, who also engaged in hunting and gathering.
  • Music and dance were important cultural practices in Mapungubwe, with different musical instruments such as drums and xylophones being used to accompany dance performances.

ZIMSEC History Notes

Discover more comprehensive and exam-focused ZIMSEC Ordinary Level History Notes.

Get more notes