FEUDAL MODE OF PRODUCTION
Feudalism was the second mode of production which was based on the exploitation of man by man.
In this mode of production there were two antagonistic classes which were the Land lords who owned the major means of production (land) and the serfs who were exploited (landless).
People with no land and other means of production had to lend land from landlords and in turn they were supposed to pay rent.
Three types of rents (payments) existed during feudalism:
1. Labour rent – in this type a peasant was supposed to work (offer labour) to the landlord for few days as payment for using his land.
2. Rent in kind – here a tenant had to offer some of his harvest to the landlord as a payment for using his land.
3. Rent in cash – in this case a peasant had to pay cash (money) to the landlord. This system came very late after the discovery of money as a medium of trade.
There were different forms of feudal modes that existed in Africa:
FORM OF FEUDALISM
TITLES OF CHIEFS/KINGS
|Buganda||Mvunjo / Busulo||Kabaka|
|Buha, Rwanda, Burundi||Ubugabire||Mwami|
|Unyamwezi, Usukuma, Ugogo||Ntemiship||Mtemi|
|Coastal areas of E. Africa||Umwinyi||Mwinyi|
CHARACTERISTICS OF FEUDALISM
1. Private ownership of the major means of production
Land which was the major means of production and as a source and symbol of power and economy and other properties owned individually by the Feudal lords. Only the feudal lords had access to the sources of wealth.
2. Exploitation of man by man
There was exploitation of man by man whereby tenants were exploited by the landlords in terms of rents which were divided into three groups i.e. Labour rent, Money rent and Rent in kind which the tenants were required to pay to the feudal lords (land lords).
3. Presence of classes
The society was divided into two classes: landlords or feudal lords and tenants or peasants (there were antagonistic classes which were Landlords/haves and serfs/tenants/haves not).
4. Emergence of exchange of commodities (trade)
The production of surplus was sufficient to support the exchange of commodities between people.
5. Characterized by inheritance of power
The succession system was used i.e. if the King died, his son was supposed to take the position/throne.
6. Strong and elaborated system of political organization
People who engage in feudal mode of production had strong political organization e.g. Nyamwezi, Zulu, Bunyoro, Buganda, these state were either centralized or decentralized states.
7. High level of productive forces
There was development in skills and experience, tools or instrument of production such as the use of iron tools.
8. Higher level of Science and technology
Under this mode, significant scientific and technological renovation had taken place, for example; iron technology, medicine and irrigation.
9. Depended much on land
Land was the major means of production where by land was very crucial and agriculture was the main economic activities.
MERITS OF POWER SHARING IN FEUDALISM
1. The weaker people in the society were protected by the king or the rich land lords e.g. among the Rwandese, the Tutsi had an obligation to protect their tenants, the Hutu.
2. The land owners gave all people in the society a piece of land to cultivate.
3. There was peace in the society as the rich classes maintained law and orders
4. The rich supported the poor with food during drought and famine
5. The society were highly stratified, with each class of people knowing their position and role. In this way, the feudal societies were very organized
DEMERITS OF POWER SHARING IN FEUDALISM
1. The rich exploited labour force of the poor.
2. Only a few people in society owned land.
3. There was inequality in society between the rich and the poor.
4. The peasant were forced to undertake military duties and endanger their lives for their landlords.
5. It encouraged inter-community warfare as landlords fought in order to increase their land and vassals.
6. It was discriminative in nature since the king often shared his power with members of his family or clan.
WHY SOME SOCIETIES DEVELOPED FEUDALISM IN AFRICA?
1. Environmental factors determined political development of the society.
The environment determined the development of an area. The areas which received enough rain developed easily to feudalism, different from the less favoured areas.
Tropical regions developed earlier than other areas, for instance the Ghanaians developed Ghana Kingdom becauseof climatic factors.
Several other African societies developed the feudal system because of the geographical location; Buganda offers another best example in Lake Region of East Africa.
2. Considerable Population was Another Determinant.
Population of an area determined the movement of a society to the next stage. As the population increased the political organizations emerged in which fewpeoplegot access to sources of wealth, for instance land, so feudalism emerged.
For example, population expansion in the Buganda Kingdom necessitated development of feudalism than the areas with low population such as Central Tanzania.
3. Availability of Potential Resources.
Presence of natural resources influenced the transition from the previous modeto feudalism, such resources involved iron, gold and copper.
For example iron led to production of weapons, agriculture tools and sometimesiron was used for exchange. Mali Kingdom and Mwanamutapa developed with theinfluence of iron, gold and salt resources.
In Mali, gold was available at Boure and Bambuk and salt was available at Awdaghast and Taghaza; the resources which became the central driving forcesfor the rise of feudalism in those regions.
4. Leadership of an area determined development of the society. Sometimes leaders of some societies developed their societies from primitive communalism to feudalism as they organized well the society’s resources for the betterment of their communities.
For example, popular leaders like Sunni Au and Askia Mohammad Turay influenced development of Songhai Kingdom as a feudal state.
5. Trade and exchange was another factor.
It caused variations in which some people became dominant and they became economically powerful and later on militarily powerful.
The Trans Sahara Trade influenced at a great extent development of feudalism in West Africa inGhana, Mali and Songhai from the fourth Century onwards.
6. Shortage of Land.
The shortage of land and its increasein value contributed to the development of productive forces since the people were conditioned to use small plots of land.
Such factors threatened the existence of communal mode of production consequently paved a way to the increase of feudalism.
7. Strong and well-disciplined army.
The Strong and well-disciplined army led to the establishment of feudal societies and feudal states because the army was used by their leaders to go and conquer the areas of their neighbouring kingdoms
Hence increase the land for their societies for example in Buganda, Kabaka used army to conquer Bunyoro-Kitare under Kabalega also in South Africa were Shaka used armywith establish Zulu Kingdom by conquering small kingdoms.
8. Advancement of science and technology.
The development of science and technology which was due to the making and using of iron tools led to drastic changes in agricultural production, this played a crucial role in the rise of feudalism in Africa.