Southern Savannah - History of the East

16.2. States of the southern savannah

The zone of tropical forests, massive in the west, decreases in the east and practically disappears in the Mezhozerye region. There is a hypothesis that the migratory movements of Bantu-speaking peoples and, possibly, of some other ethnic communities, including pastoralists, brought farming (including other elements of the Neolithic complex) to southern Africa, primarily to the southern savannah zone, and iron-making (caste smiths in the south enjoys a particularly high prestige), not to mention cattle breeding. In any case, the Bantu-speaking at its core the south in many ways clearly gravitates to the north and, above all, to the Sudanese savannah as the primary source. It is not excluded that in part these links were also going through tropical forests. Thus, some groups of aboriginal forests, pygmies , were linguistically close to the Bantu.

There is one more hypothesis that can not be ignored. This is the so-called Indonesian agricultural complex. Those very small-language migrants who brought with them the first layer of culture to Madagascar, partly found themselves on the East African coast, as evidenced by the existence there of some items of material culture, in particular, boats of the Indonesian type. There is an assumption that it was these immigrants who migrated into the depths of the African continent that played a role in the spreading of tuberous farming in the forest zone (yams, banana, etc.). But, even if everything was just like that, it is practically impossible to prove it today. In addition, this has a direct bearing on the Africans of the forest zone (including the people living on the outskirts of this zone, such as the Yoruba), but not to the Bantu speaking in its essence the population of the southern savannah in question. Mention of existing hypotheses is necessary in order to emphasize the important role that, according to many sources, migration movements of peoples and related cultures played in the evolution of the southern part of the continent.

The permanent movements referred to in the Southern Savannah zone seem to have played a role in some acceleration of the development of the local agricultural population. In a number of cases, such development has reached the level of proto-and early statehood. One of the most striking examples of this can be considered public education in the lower reaches of the Congo. At the end of the fifteenth century, when the Portuguese appeared here, there were three such entities: Loango and Makoko north of the mouth of the river and Congo in the mouth zone , mainly to the south of it. About the first two little is known, but the Congo was in the center of Portuguese attention. It arose shortly before the appearance of the Portuguese, and many of its features and signs were in a state of becoming. The power of the ruler was limited to the council of the nobility, who had the right to choose the successor to the ruler. The army consisted mainly of mercenaries and slaves. The governors of the provinces and districts were appointed and displaced by the ruler, and they were usually elected from among his relatives. The population paid taxes, sometimes in the form of workings, and carried a duty. Vassal leaders sent tribute.

The appearance of the Portuguese sharply activated the trade relations of the Congo, and the ruling at the beginning of the XVI century. Affonso I (this is his Portuguese name) took Catholicism. His son, Enrique, who was brought up in Lisbon, became the first African bishop among the Africans themselves. Sources, obviously not impartial, describe Affons as a great ruler, who sincerely aspired to education and enlightenment of the people, to the progress of the country. But his hopes for the help of the Portuguese in this matter were not justified, for they sought for another, for colonial trade and profit. However, if the Portuguese wanted to seize power, they would easily have achieved this, but this clearly was not for them. Most likely, they did not go beyond the capital of San Salvador, built by them. Meanwhile, the fate of the Congo was unfavorable. Internal conflicts, perhaps, and strife between the ruler and the Portuguese, in the second half of the XVI century. were complicated by the invasion of the Congo of the Yaga tribes that sacked the capital of San Salvador (probably there was simply nothing more to plunder). This created an environment of instability. The matter was completed by the uprising in the late 16th and early 18th centuries, directed both against the rule of Christianity and in favor of strengthening the power of the ruler. And although the uprising of the beginning of the XVIII century. was defeated (led by Kimba Vita, a representative of the noble family, was burned in 1706 as a heretic), it led to the end of the independent existence of the Congo. The state was weakened, and the Portuguese were forced to make room under the pressure of the Dutch, the British and the French.

Congo took part in the Portuguese slave trade, but did not gain much from it, since it was rivaled by the Portuguese trading post on Sao Tome, which held the main flow of black goods in its hands. Somewhat later, the Portuguese transferred the center of gravity of the slave trade to the continent, but not to the Congo, and to the south, to Angola, which, after the construction of the port of Luanda, quickly turned into a colony, practically the first colony of Europeans islands, ports and factories on the coast) in Africa. During the XVII-XVIII centuries. Angola, divided into presidencies and ruled by military commandants, was not just the center of the African slave trade, but almost the main supplier of Negroes to Brazil. The governors and commandants of the districts acted through local leaders and for a small fee, mostly weapons, acquired slaves. This business turned out to be so advantageous over time that close to the coast as a stable intermediary organization in the slave trade emerged, as it was in Guinea, several local political entities (Ovimbundu, Matamba, etc.), which existed due to profitable operations associated with slave trade.

From the end of the XVI and the XVII-XVIII centuries. a number of new state formations (Lunda, Luba, Cuba) , in many respects also due to the existence of transit trade, primarily the slave trade, arose in the inland areas of the savanna, in the Congo Basin up to Mezhozerye. These were proto-state structures typical for Africa, within which the groups that rose above the communities held in their hands the assets of the collective and disposed of it. So, for example, in Luba this property was expressed in control over copper mines and salt mines Shabi (Katangi) .

Still further to the east, in the Mezhozerye region, in the XVII-XVIII centuries. there were several state formations of a very specific nature, caused by mass migrations of the Nilotic pastoral groups from the headwaters of the Nile. Overlooking the local Bantu-speaking agricultural population, in some cases already familiar with proto-state entities, the cattle breeders of the pilot language group luo or other groups created ethno-stratified structures , where as the ruling and privileged layer were they, while the local agricultural population was in the position of subjects, and even dependent.


So, in the Ankole region near Lake Victoria, the dominant layer at the beginning of the XVI century. became cattlemen- bakhima , led by the ruler- Mugabe, and peasants -bairu paid taxes and performed various duties. In the Ugandan region, the main and privileged ethnos were bito, and in Rwanda - batutsi, who not only dominated bahutu , but also forced them tenants to herd their herds, thus freeing themselves from productive labor and finding themselves in the position of the ruling and dominant caste.

Finally, even further to the east, in the southern savannah zone, in the region of Eastern Kenya and Tanzania, the political formations of the Bantu-speaking peoples gradually formed, especially those that were somehow involved in trade with the East African coast, which had been greatly revitalized since the 18th century. after the appearance there of numerous Arab migrants of Muscato-Omani origin.

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