Topic 2: Socio-Economic Development And Production In Pre-Colonial Africa Social Organization - History Form 2

Topic 2: Socio-Economic Development And Production In Pre-Colonial Africa Social Organization – History Form 2

History Notes Form Two, Industrial Capitalism Africa And External World, Topic 2: Socio-Economic Development And Production In Pre-Colonial Africa Social Organization - History Form 2, Topic 1: Interaction Among The People Of Africa - History Form 2

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What is Socio-Economic Development?

Refers to the mode of production existing in a particular place at particular time. Modes of production involve productive forces that are human labor, instrument of labor, economic activities and objects of labor and production.


Is the relationship between production and productive forces including the following; human labor, surplus production, instrument of labor, objective of labor and population.


Is the consciousness and purposeful activity of people to produce material wealth.


Is a major in the series of economic processes that brings goods and services to people. It includes creation, distribution and consumption.


Are the things used in production such as hoes, machines, roads, buildings etc.


Are things upon which man’s labor is applied (mostly land).


Are means of production created by a society especially objects and instrument of labor.


Are simple and direct relations which people enter to one another in actual production process either exploitive or exploited class.


Are conflicts that developed between exploitative mode and non –exploitative modes example capitalism and socialism.

Topic 2: Socio-Economic Development And Production In Pre-Colonial Africa Social Organization – History Form 2



This was the first mode of production to exist in pre-colonial African societies and is divided into two namely.

1. Primitive communalism, the first mode of production through which all societies passed was primitive communal ism. It is called “primitive‟ because of the low level of productive forces and “communalism‟ because there was no exploitation of man by man. This mode of production existed for much longer period than any other mode as it ranged from the emergence of man more than one million years ago.

2. Advanced communalism, during that era man advanced in his tools through various discoveries like iron tools. It is because of this technological advancement that is why it came to be known as advancement communalism The nonproductive members of the society such as the elders, disabled and children were exempted from work due to their disabilities.

The invention of agricultural tools encouraged man to cultivate bigger plots of land. Rapid increases in population also encouraged people to increase their farms so as to get more food, which could feed the growing population.

Some of African societies in the present days are still practicing communal mode of production. These include;

The Tindiga and Hadzabe of Singida and Lake Manyara and Central Tanzania.

The Dorobo (Okiek) of Maumau forest and Tesoin Uganda.

The Mbali found in the equatorial rain forest of the Congo DRC.

The bushman (san) of South Africa.

The KhoiKhoi of Kalahari Desert of Botswana

The Tur of Ghana.


1. Absence of exploitation, there was no exploitation among the people in a community. All the able-bodied members of the society worked hard and shared what they produced.

2. Low level of production, the level of productive forces were low hence none or very little surplus was produced. The implements used in food procurement were crude and simple.

3. Dependence on nature, in communalism life was entirely dependent on nature therefore the environment dictated how man lived.

4. Communal ownership, the communal ownership of properties was a major characteristic of communalism. The major means of production like land, tools and minerals were owned by the community.

5. Hunting and gathering, this was the main occupation in these communities; people were grouped together in collective groups known as hunting bands to facilitate this means of production. This later led to the development of stock raising and agriculture then it brought the division of labor.

6. Subsistence economy, due to low level of development of science and technology people produced enough food for their consumption.

7. Lack of specialization, Because of limitation of their science and technology (knowledge) these people learnt to perform all types of jobs. They worked together in marking roots, hunting and looking for food later on very simple division of labor based on gender occurred.

8. People in communal society treated each other equally, there was no standing army and ruling classes; even elders were not lords or rulers.

9. Learning by doing, people in communal societies shared knowledge. This was acquired through learning by doing, youth and children obtained knowledge and skills from their elders.


1. Neolithic revolution is the term for the first agricultural change describing the transition from nomadic, hunting and gathering to permanent settlement. Neolithic revolution brought socioeconomic changes such as establishment of permanent settlement, extension of division of labor based on age and sex, emergence of specialization, surplus production and spread of diseases due to permanent settlement.

2. Advanced in science and technology, this turning point gave improvement in agricultural production. The tools produced were sharper and stronger than the older ones. The improvement of tools led to the expansion of socioeconomic activities beyond hunting and gathering.

3. The reliable rainfall and fertile land, Allowed the expansion of agriculture especially the cultivation of permanent crops such as banana in Uganda.

4. Population growth, by either natural increase through giving birth or artificial means through immigration that was associated with transformation of the social organization and forming of strong empire.

5. Development of permanent settlement, even with nomadic pastoralist or shifting cultivation the area of operation became limited as the number of people increased due to the Neolithic revolution.


SLAVERY refers to a situation in a society where a person is owned by another purposely as an instrument of production.

SLAVERY MODE OF PRODUCTION was the second mode of production and the first exploitative mode of man by man. The emergence of surplus production created two different classes these were the rich and the poor. Under slavery systems slaves could not acquire wealthy and could not cultivate own land. Slavery in Africa existed in; Egypt where they constructed dams and pyramids.

Chagga, Haya, Ganda, Hehe. Kerewe and Sambaa in East Africa interior.

Along the coast of East Africa, slaves were used in carrying loads buildings, cities, constructing dams and irrigation scheme. Slavery in Africa never existed as an institution except in Egypt Muslim communities and on the coast of East Africa.


1. Existence of two classes, that is the slave masters who were exploiters and the slaves who were exploited group.

2. Private ownership of the major means of production. The slave masters owned slaves, cattle and all implements of production.

3. Low productive force, under the slave mode of production the productive forces were still low though more advanced compared to those used during communalism.

4. Existence of surplus production, there were extra products due to the use of advanced tools and improved skills of man to control his environment. The slave masters owned surplus production produced by slaves.

5. Existence of political institutions, these began to emerge and existed in various areas example slave masters had state apparatus such as army, prisons and police which were employed in exploiting and suppressing slaves.

6. Class struggle existed between slaves and slave masters, the slaves started to resist in form of strikes, rebellions, idling and running away.


The term feudalism originated from the Germany word “feud “which means fees. In this context fees refer to payment of tax.

Feudalism; was the third mode of production and second pre-capitalist mode of production based on exploitation of man by man. The economy of feudal society was based on private ownership and renting of land and livestock by the ruling classes.


1. Agriculture became the major economic activity: Following the discovery of iron technology productive forces were improved drastically.

2. Payment of rent to the property owners; rent was paid in various forms.

Labor rent; existed in form of labor or service in which peasants (serf) were required to work for three days in week for the property owners.

Rent in kind: The serfs regularly had to deliver the quantities of his products to the property owners. The products could be in form of grain, cattle or vegetables.

Money rent: Was the system in which money used as a major means of paying rent.

3. Exploitation of man by man, example peasants (serf) were exploited by property owners and the distribution of production was not equal.

4. Little freedom to peasant, peasants were tired due to various restrictions as they were treated as children.

5. Private ownership of major means of production, such as land, mining sites, houses and cattle all these belonged to feudal lords.

6. Division of labor, this based on age and sex where men specialized in military while women specialized in farming and taking care of children.

7. Existence of classes, property owners as exploiters and serfs as exploited class.

8. Existence of strong political empires, example Bunyoro, Buganda and Karagwe. Feudalism in Africa existed in various forms. Its nature depended on place in which it was practiced for instance societies that exercised feudalism were those found in the inter lacustrine region of East Africa, South Africa, West Africa and the North Eastern Africa

9. Improved productive forces: Especially tools applied in agriculture and military warfare, this was brought about by iron technology. Generally, African kingdoms such as Buganda and some forest states of West Africa, used means of production centered around either land or livestock-especially cattle-peasants could use the land freely but they were required to pay rent.


1. Nyarubanja system: In this form of feudalism the major means of production was land. Under Nyarubanja system in Buhaya and Karagwe there was two classes, that is the Batwazi (ruler) and Batwana (serfs). These two classes had to pay rent in kind and rent in labor services to the property owners.

In Buganda Nyarubanja system known as Mvunjo and Busulo, there were two classes that is Bataka (chiefs) and the poor people who rendered labor service and paid of their products to the property owners known as Bakopi. Under the system labor services provider was known as Akasamvu and part of their products was provided to the ruling class known as Obusulu. Bunyoro was the kingdom-practiced feudalism in East Africa. The kingdom was divided into provinces known as Saza’s under chiefs.

In addition, there was caste system in East Africa under this feudal system there was two classes, which were Bahima (pastoralists), and Bairu (agriculturalists). Bahima who were pastoralists dominated and employed the Bairu who were agriculturalists. It was common in Rwanda, Burundi and Buhaya.

2. Umwinyi system: was another form of feudalism found along the coast of East Africa. Wamwinyi controlled the productive forces such as land, serfs and tenants; also monopolized the political and economic power. The serfs and tenants were given land by Wamwinyi (feudal lords) to live on them in return of labor services and tributes which were paid to Wamwinyi. Before Arabs colonization, The Mwinyimkuu was the greatest property owners and ruled Zanzibar with the help of Shehe in Unguja and Diwani in Pemba.

3. Ubugabire system: was another form of feudalism practiced among the Tutsi and Hutu in Rwanda and Burundi. The Tutsi (donor) also known as SEBUJA could transfer their cattle to the Ifutu (recipient) as sometimes known as BUGABIRE. The Omugabire and his family were obliged to perform several duties for the masters including house-building cultivating.

4. Ntemi system: This was practiced among the Nyamwezi and Sukuma. The power of ruler was based on the control of land The Mtemi organized his people to open up new land wherever it was available. The process of opening up new land was known as Kutema.


(i) The rich supported the poor with food during drought and famine.

(ii) The weaker people in the society were protected by the king or the rich land owners. For example, among the Rwandans, the Tutsi had an obligation to protect their tenants, the Hutu.

(iii) The landowners gave all poor people in the society a piece of land to cultivate.

(iv) The society was highly stratified, with each class of people knowing their position and role.

(v) There was peace in the state as the rich classes maintained law and order.


(i)The rich exploited labor force of the poor.

(ii) Only a few people in society owned land.

(iii) There was inequality in society between the rich and the poor.

(iv) The peasants were forced to undertake military duties and endanger their lives for their property owners.

(v) It encouraged inter-community warfare as property owners fought in order to increase their land and vassals.


  1. Explain the term social organization and production
  2. Identify the types of social organizations and production that existed in Africa up to the19th century
  3. What is communalism mode of production?
  4. Identify the characteristics of communalism
  5. Show examples of the societies that had communalism up to the 19th century
  6. What is slavery and slave mode of production?
  7. Explain the features of slavery in Africa.
  8. Show areas where slavery was practiced in Africa.
  9. What is feudalism as mode of production?
  10. Explain the characteristics of feudalism.
  11. Show societies in east Africa that had feudalism up to the 19th century.
  12. 12. Explain the feudal relation (forms of feudalism) that existed in the following areas. (i) Interlacustrine region of Lake Victoria (ii) Indian Ocean coast of East Africa.