O Level History: The Political Organisation of Mapungubwe
- The political organisation of Mapungubwe was very similar to those of other states
- The Kingdom of Mapungubwe was ruled by a king who was the supreme leader and authority in the state.
- The king was helped to rule by his relatives, known as the royal family, who were selected based on their allegiance and loyalty to the king.
- The king had some provincial rulers who were spread across the kingdom. These rulers paid tribute to the king to show their allegiance and loyalty, but they also had some degree of autonomy.
- The political structure of Mapungubwe was flexible and incorporated conquered states with ease.
- Mapungubwe was not a militaristic state and did not have a standing army. However, the king could raise an army in cases of emergency and was helped by spirit mediums to instil discipline in the army.
- The army was mostly raised to force conquered chiefdoms to pay tribute, and witchcraft played a great role in the army.
- The king married into many families to foster unity among different communities.
- Kingship in Mapungubwe was hereditary along the male line, meaning that the king was succeeded by either his sons or brothers.
- The king’s senior wife had special political duties in the state, including responsibility for the day-to-day running of the state, acting as the chief advisor of the king, and mediating between the king and his subjects to maintain order and stability in the state.
- Other high-ranking women in the court, known as “great wives,” also played an important role in advising the king and maintaining social harmony in the state.
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