State Formation in Eastern Africa 0435943642

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State Formation in Eastern Africa
 0435943642

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State

Formation in Eastern Balowoka Chewa Yao Bunyoro Acholi Luo

Shona Lugbara Kitutu

W Ethiopia Swahili dited

by Ahmed Idha Salim

BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY

,

^u

State

Formation

Edited by

in Eastern Africa

Ahmed Idha Salim

Associate Professor, Department of History University of Nairobi

IDRAWN Mo

longcf

tft§

property of tho

Sate of this material benefited fte

Heinemann Educational Books NAIROBI LONDON IBADAN

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5:

pp

Heinemann Educational Books Ltd, Kijabe Street, PO Box 45314, Nairobi 22 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3HH PMB5205,Ibadan EDINBURGH MELBOURNE AUCKLAND HONG KONG SINGAPORE KUALA LUMPUR NEW DELHI KINGSTON PORT OF SPAIN

© History Department, University of Nairobi 1984 First published

1984

British Library Cataloguing in Publication

State formation in Eastern Africa. 1.





Politics

Salim, Ahmed 320.1 '09676 I.



Politics and government To 1886 and government 1886-1918

Africa, Eastern

Eastern

Data



I.

JQ2945

ISBN 0-435-94364-2

Set in 10/11 Times by Activity Ltd, Salisbury, Wilts

Printed in

Kenya

P.O.

by

Homa Bay Road, Box 18001, Nairobi, Kenya.

General Printers Ltd,

2.

Africa.

1

Contents

List

of maps

v

List of contributors

vi

Introduction

1

Ahmed Idha Salim

1

Precolonial states and European merchant capital in

15

Eastern Africa

Bonaventure Swai

2

The Balowoka and

the establishment of states west of

36

Lake Malawi

Owen

3

J.

Political

M. Kalinga

change among the Chewa and Yao of the

Lake Malawi

region,

c.

53

1750-1900

Kings M. Phiri

4

The emergence of Bunyoro:

the tributary

production and the formation of the

Edward

5

mode of

state,

70

1400-1900

Steinhart

'State' formation

and language change

westernmost Acholi

in

9

in the eighteenth century

Ronald R. Atkinson

6

The construction of dominance:

the strategies of

Luo groups in Uganda and Kenya Herring, D. W. Cohen and B. A. Ogot

selected

R.

S.

Hi

126

iv

1

Contents

Ideology and state formation : political

and communal

ideologies

among

1 62

the

south-eastern Shona, 1500-1890 J.

8

K. Rennie

The Lugbara

states in the eighteenth

and

195

nineteenth centuries

O.

9

J.

E. Shiroya

In search of a state

among the

Kitutu in

207

historians

216

the nineteenth century

William R. Ochieng'

10

Witu, Swahili history J.

11

and the

de Vere Allen

State formation in south-western Ethiopia

250

Eike Haberland

Index

261

List of

Map

1

Map

2

Map Map Map Map Map Map Map

3

Map

10

4 5 6 7 8 9

maps

Northern Malawi in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, showing the Lowoka states and their neighbours The Lake Malawi region: location of some nineteenth-century Chewa and Yao states

The The The The The

Uganda

Bunyoro area

in

Acholi region

in the

distribution of

eighteenth century

Luo groups

in

Kenya and Uganda

south-eastern Shona area in Zimbabwe Lugbara and neighbouring ethnic groups Western Kenya in the nineteenth century The Kenya coast, showing the area surrounding the Witu Sultanate South-west Ethiopia

List of contributors

James de Vere Allen, formerly of the Institute of African Studies and Department of History, University of Nairobi Ronald R. Atkinson, Department of General and African Studies, University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana

David W. Cohen, Johns Hopkins University Eike Haberland, Director, Frobenius-Institut, University of Frankfurt S. Herring, Department of History, University of California, Santa Barbara

Ralph

Owen

J.

M.

Kalinga, Department of History, University of Malawi

William R. Ochieng', Department of History, Kenyatta University College, University of Nairobi Bethwell A. Ogot, formerly of the Departments of History, University of Nairobi and Kenyatta University College

Kings M. Phiri, Department of History, University of Malawi J.

K. Rennie, Department of History, University of Zambia

Ahmed

I.

Salim, Department of History, University of Nairobi

J. E. Shiroya, Department of History, Kenyatta University College, University of Nairobi

O.

Edward Steinhart, formerly of the Departments of History, University of Nairobi and University of Zambia Bonaventure Swai, Department of History, University of Dar es Salaam

VI

Introduction

AHMED IDHA SALIM This volume brings together eleven papers selected from those read at a conference held in Nakuru in September 1979 on the theme 'State formation in Eastern Africa in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries'. The conference was organised by the Department of History, University of Nairobi, and sponsored by the Goethe-Institut. Geographically speaking, the region covered by the conference papers stretches all the way from Ethiopia in the north to Malawi in the south and from the Zairean-Ugandan border in the west to the Indian Ocean in the East. It is thus a vast area and the authors were given the freedom to write on any Eastern African society here amidst which a state of sorts was established.

Inevitably, each author must have been confronted with the problem of defining the term 'state' in the course of writing his contribution. considerable amount of time was expended during the conference's

A

deliberation on debating this issue of the definition of 'state' (even

if

this

not reflected anywhere in this volume) and, not surprisingly, a consensus proved elusive. Not surprisingly, because such a consensus has never previously been achieved. One is aware of the on-going interest in the theoretical side of the 'state' and the 'state formation' debate. This volume provides additional case-study material reflecting some of the points at issue which will be dealt with in this introduction. Much of the literature devoted to the subject of the definition of the term 'state' has been polemical and normative, given to advancing proofs of the 'superiority' of one system as opposed to another. Conflict and parochialism have prevented arrival at an agreement and have overshadowed the search for a set of common denominators. As a result, it has proved impossible to offer a uniformly acceptable definition of the is

term 'state'. Thus, definitions of the term have tended to cover a wide spectrum. At one extreme, the state is defined as possessing one or more concrete or specific features such as organised law-and-order institutions (e.g. a police force) spatial boundaries or a formal judiciary. At the other end of ,

the spectrum, the state is seen simply as the institutional aspect of political interaction, with no specific politico-juridicial structures. In between come other definitions, invariably inspired by the historical period and the socio-political situation the theorist lived in, observed or

2

Ahmed I.

Salim

wished to see created. Thus, Machiavelli, the man who introduced the 'state' in its modern sense into the vocabulary of politics, was more concerned with the sixteenth-century problems facing his native Italy, 'the traditional bone of contention' between emperors and popes, where petty republics and principalities were engaged in a ruthless struggle for power, and where, therefore, there existed a dire need for one powerful ruler to serve as a focus for the creation of a single state. Inevitably, such a ruler had to have maximum power and possess the skills and the genius to maintain it. The early critics of this theory were the first to give 'machiavellian' its perjorative meaning. More acceptable in Europe was Jean Bodin's concept of 'state' which, like Machiavelli's, was shaped by the sixteenth-century conditions of his native country, France. Bodin laid more emphasis on the ruler as law-maker than as custodian of supreme power. Then came 'the storm of change' late in the eighteenth century. Rousseau's Social Contract sought to replace monarchical power with popular sovereignty, a theory that gained currency during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Karl Marx was to base his theory of state formation on class formation and the mode of production. In his view, the state is thrown up when a class society has developed within which a dominant class, possessing control over the modes of production, perpetuates this dominance and the control upon which depends its dominance. It does so by using instruments of coersion (e.g. police and the military) or ideology (e.g. religion and ritual). In other words, Marx sees the state simply as an agency of economic oppression of one class by another. It will be seen therefore that theories about, and definitions of, 'state' developed out of the European experience and milieu. These definitions have linked the concept of state to one or several of the following: territoriality, sovereignty, religion and economy. Thus, questions on these lines have arisen: does a state have to be a defined territorial unit? Answer: there are problems in the association of a state with a defined and bounded territory. The result is that the term has been stretched so broadly as to encompass both acephalous, territorially unfocused kinship groups and a formally organised, territorially delimited, complex society.

word

Territoriality in turn raises the question of sovereignty

- a

authority in charge of decision-making. But, again, sovereignty relative concept.

Some

states claim total

power

in the

hands of

final is

a

their

may be circumscribed and reduced. Thus, in England, Magna Carta served this purpose in a feudal setting. Anthropologists and sociologists working among precolonial African societies have recorded the structural limits imposed on the power of the ruler who, in many polities, has been found to be inhibited in the exercise of his office by the need to rely on advisers and agents and by the weight of ritual and tradition. Some essays in this volume reflect this, as will be seen. rulers. In other polities, the ruler's authority

Introduction

Lastly,

it is all

too obvious that the

economy

3

constitutes the core of a

and a fundamental factor in state formation. No state can exist that plays no role in the economy, and very often that role is the raison d'etre of the state. Division of labour, the mode of production and the exchange of commodities are a central feature of a state. Thus, if in writing their respective contributions to this volume most state

unnecessary to define 'state', the chapters themselves of the features expected in a state, such as those described above. Essentially it consists of a dominant group (even if it cannot be rightly called a 'class') that comes to control the modes of production, trade or sources of commodities, using either ideology (ritual and authors

felt

it

many

reflect

some instrument of coercion (a military/police force) or order to enhance or buttress its authority and safeguard it as well as protect its sources of wealth. The borders within which such power, authority or influence is exercised may or may not be clearly delimited. The political organisation that would arise therein would range from the simple to the highly centralised or complex. This is the nearest thing to a definition of state this writer will venture to give. Swai, in his chapter on 'Precolonial states and European merchant capital in Eastern Africa', notes how colonial historiography regarded the idea of a state as 'un- African', with Africa considered as 'tribal', religion) or

both

in

'stateless' or 'acephalous'. By contrast, in post-colonial historiography, the idea of the state was indigenised and nationalised with a view to

glorifying the African past.

Swai maintains that state formation in Eastern Africa was very much and agrees with Iliffe that trade encouraged large-scale political organization. Wealth created by this trade supported the central leadership. This leadership had to provide security for traders and maintain stability in order to acquire luxury goods which the rulers related to trade

utilised to secure loyalty.

In Eastern Africa, trade relations consisted of the indigenous producing communities interacting with merchant classes - Arab and Swahili - who, in turn, depended for credit upon Indian capitalists based in Zanzibar. Swai uses the Marxist concept of regarding this merchant capital as 'parasitical': it added nothing of value to the commodities it purchased; it had to 'buy cheap and sell dear'. This capitalist system entailed the controlling of the sources of commodities and the markets to which they were destined. It exploited the weak nature of the

pre-industrial agrarian state with

its

'parcellised'

mode

of production,

its

its

numerous middle-men, who intervened

between the cultivator and the

state to share in the 'grain heap' of the

diffused administration and village.

The rise

of

era of mercantilist imperialism witnessed, and contributed to, the many states in Africa. In Eastern Africa this is exemplified by

Madagascar, Zanzibar and Ukimbu

in

western Tanzania. The French had

4

Ahmed I.

Salim

acquired Madagascar as a French sphere of influence about the middle of the nineteenth century. It became a source of slaves and food products for their sugar states in the Mascarene Islands. The British takeover of Mauritius early in the nineteenth century did not end that island's

dependence upon Madagascar for foodstuffs. Anglo-French rivalry of, or influence in, Madagascar. After tumultuous relations under Queen Ranavalona, her successor, Radama II, helped by the emerging petty bourgeoisie, encouraged European penetration of his country and adopted an open-door policy towards western religious and economic influences. The 1885 Lambert Charter paved the way for the European merchants to exploit Madagascar's agrarian and mineral continued for control

resources and, eventually, for colonisation of the island. Swai sees the tentacles of this mercantilist imperialism linking Madagascar with Zanzibar, which provided its plantations with slaves. Zanzibar's own plantation system and trade in ivory and slaves and cloves were linked to the Orient. The Indian merchants' capital in Zanzibar was hardly ever invested in the physical development of the island state before 1835, while they grew prosperous through the capitalist world economy represented by British, German, French and American merchants. Nyungu-ya-Mawe's state of Ukimbu based its economic life on trade with foreign merchants and on agricultural tribute imposed on its people, who were concentrated for this purpose in fortified royal villages. But the masses (or peasant class) ultimately revolted against this exploitation and coercion by their ruling classes and broke away to form splinter chiefdoms.

Thus, Swai's contribution exposes the ruthless face of merchant capital, which, while initially contributing to the rise of states like

Zanzibar and Ukimbu, eventually transformed them into client states for itself and led to the subjugation of the poor and the peasants by their rulers and the alien traders associated with them. The importance of trade in the formation of states is highlighted also by Kalinga in his chapter on 'The Balowoka and the establishment of states west of Lake Malawi'. A significant feature of these states is that they were almost all founded by immigrant traders, the Balowoka, who crossed Lake Malawi from its eastern shore and settled in the central region of what is now northern Malawi between c.1720 and c.1800. The Balowoka, spearheaded by their pioneer, Kakalala Musaiwila, were drawn west of Lake Malawi by commercial opportunities, represented by the abundance of ivory, rhinocerous horn and a variety of skins, for which the Yao had already established a trading network. Kakalala won acceptance and trading concessions from the indigenous inhabitants of the Nkhamanga plains. Through marrying into the most influential family, he consolidated his position and influence there and the foundations were thus laid for subsequent Balowoka political and

Introduction

5

economic ascendancy, especially under the subsequent mixed generation which exploited the first generation's influence and prestige to take over political control in these states.

Kalinga's chapter bears out Swai's theory of the central leadership

and to maintain order to obtain the trade goods upon which the economy of the depended. Thus, Kakalala concluded an agreement with

feeling compelled to provide security for the flow of trade stability in

state

Katong'ongo Mwahenga, the chief

in control of the

Henga

Valley, in

order to secure the trade route to the shores of Lake Malawi, from whence ivory was transported to the east coast. He agreed to supply Katong'ongo with cloth and other rare goods in return for continued access to the lake, and for salt and hoes which Katong'ongo traded in. Kakalala made similar agreements with other important rulers to secure other key routes of trade and thus develop his commercial empire. Kakalala died about 1750 and his son, Gonapamuhanya, transformed his economic empire into a political kingdom and founded the Chikulamayembe dynasty to rule it. It was this Chikulamayembe state that was the most prominent Balowoka political entity west of Lake Malawi. It and other neighbouring states demonstrate how a hunting-trading people from Central Tanzania moved to the regions west of Lake Malawi, where they became deeply involved in the long-distance trade to and from the coast. While the first generation were content to establish commecial spheres of influence, their descendants, through intermarriage with indigenous ruling clans, utilised their pioneering fathers' influence and prestige to found states and assume political control therein. The means they utilised to establish these states were a mixture of social, religious and economic strategies. Just south of the Balowoka states, in the southern half of Malawi,

developments were leading to the emergence of Chewa and Yao fill in the political vacuum created by the decline of the old Maravi empire. Kings M. Phiri discusses in his chapter the emergence of such Chewa states as Mwase Kasungu, Mkanda, Kanyenda and Dzoole. The emergence and viability of these states seem to have depended largely on military, economic and religious factors. Thus, we learn that when neighbouring groups, such as the Tumbuka and Nsenga, began to challenge Maravi or Chewa military supremacy by the mid-eighteenth century they created the need for the Chewa to reassert their control over these people and these areas. This military reassertion enhanced the power of the dynasties of Mwase Kasungu and Kanyenda. Secondly, the Chewa states developed strength and legitimacy as they responded to new economic developments brought in by foreign traders and artisans. The advent of Bisa and Yao traders and Tumbuka iron-workers led to greater involvement in trade which the Chewa rulers used to enhance their leadership. This was augmented by presiding over courts attended by officials and advisers, collection of tribute from the similar

states to

6

Ahmed I.

Salim

countryside, leadership in war and in rituals which enhanced the authority of the ruling dynasty. The factors that led to the foundation of one of these Chewa states, that of Mwase Kasungu, recalls those that led to the establishment of the Balowoka states further north. The founder of the Mwase Kasungu kingdom, Mwase Mkangawala, like Nakalala, the founder of the

Nkhamanga plains, was a trader and (again like Kakalala) settled down in the area of his future state and gradually won acceptance, popularity and political influence, emerging in the end as the de facto ruler, whose descendants controlled a large kingdom between the Bua and the Luangwa Rivers by the middle of Balowoka

hunter

state established in the

who

the nineteenth century. The process of state formation among the Yao of the Lake Malawi region was also largely economically based. Before the eighteenth century, the Yao had lived on subsistence agriculture and barter, with a marginal reliance on hunting and iron-working. From the eighteenth century, however, some sections of the Yao had begun to adopt

commercial production and to pursue commercial objectives, which in turn led to a significant change in social organisation. The leading Yao traders came to rely on a great pool of followers (enhanced by slave

manpower)

to establish control over the reproductive forces of the

way, they developed into territorial chiefs, whose and authority were determined by the size of their following. Mataka Phiri was one such chief who controlled an area to the east of the southern coast of Lake Malawi. The Yao states were underpinned by a military machine in the hands of army commanders, which was deemed necessary to protect strategic commercial areas and trade routes and by a commercial system supervised by caravan leaders in

community. In

this

political status

charge of trade with the coast. Religion was a main factor of stability and strength for the Chewa states which remained comparatively weak economically and militarily. This weakness was to be revealed late in the nineteenth century when they succumbed to Ngoni and Swahili pressures and attacks, while the Yao, on the Upper Shire, were able to reach a sort of military balance with the Ngoni. Phiri likens the Chewa states with pre-1900 Bunyoro in terms of their rulers conducting services and rituals (which increased their prestige and authority)

and collecting

tribute

from the commoners of the countryside.

This similarity is borne out by Edward Steinhart's study of the emergence of Bunyoro as a state. In his view, a state is not 'any organisation of society' but a particular kind of organisation of society, in which there is 'an instrument of control by a ruling class, consisting of the means of coercion and ideological hegemony, an apparatus of administration and extraction of surplus'. Steinhart discusses the rise of the Bito in Bunyoro-Kitara and considers the formation of a state there as a gradual transformation from

Introduction

7

a 'dyna-state' (or a proto-state), which lacked class antagonism and the dominance - both prerequisites of a state - to a

political relations of

proper

state,

which did not emerge

until after the reign of

Olimi

III, i.e.

after the last quarter of the eighteenth century.

This change coincided with the transformation of the economy from autonomous village economies, based upon exchange and lacking class distinctions, to a new mode of production based upon a redistributive economy, with a dominant class controlling a state apparatus and appropriating and enjoying the surplus product, created local

by the majority, in the form of tribute. This change in the mode of production (precipitated by the ecological stress of drought and famine and efforts to cope with and adapt to it) and the new relationship between the ruling class (the Banyoro 'freedmen') and the producing class, which was politically and legally subordinate to was paralleled by the development of institutions and a state it, bureaucracy to supervise and control the new mode of production in the state. Steinhart also notes that the naturalisation or 'Bantuisation' of the

Bito within Kitara accellerated the transformation of Kitara from a 'dyna-state' to a state.

According to Ronald R. Atkinson, it was from Bunyoro-Kitara that and structures were imported into westernmost Acholiland to the north, via the Luo-speaking area of northernmost Bunyoro, to contribute to the formation of the states that emerged around Mt Kilak and Mt Lamola during the eighteenth century, although many ruling clans in western Acholi 'deny, mask or at least fail to acknowledge' that they adopted these concepts and structures, such as the rwotship, tribute payment and the royal regalia (drum) after they centralising concepts

settled in the area.

The Pabo tradition of the arrival of a rainmaker, Ogwang, from Bunyoro-Kitara has been interpreted as marking the advent in the Pabo chiefdom of these socio-political concepts and structures c. 1725-55. Lamogi traditions also speak of the arrival of a rainmaker - and, hence, the same socio-political structure - from loka (across the Nile: Paluo or Bunyoro). Pagak chiefdom is the only polity in western Acholi whose royal clan is specifically identified as being from across the Nile (i.e. from Bunyoro or Paluo). Peaceful interaction between the founder Gak, and his people on the one hand and Karakara and his Paluo followers on the other, ends with conflict, in which Gak and/or his people are defeated and the chiefdom falls to Karakara but keeps its name Pagak. The chiefdom of Papee emerged as a polity in the eighteenth century with the symbol of office being the royal drum which was handed over by the defeated indigenous group, the Papee, to the incoming immigrants, the Parabongo, late in the eighteenth century. Thus, Atkinson's essay traces the patterns of dominance and stratification in westernmost Acholi and the spread of new socio-political models in the polities that developed there. The spread of these models

8

Ahmed I.

Salim

and the response of any group to them determined that group's linguistic designation. In western Acholi, all those who adopted the new socio-political order, whatever their linguistic origins, eventually spoke Luo as their primary language although the area was overwhelmingly Central Sudanic. Atkinson attributes this, in part, to the spread throughout the area of the socio-political structure brought in by immigrants from Bunyoro-Paluo. The theme of dominance which Atkinson traces in the chiefdoms of western Acholiland is taken up by R. S. Herring, D. W. Cohen and B. A. Ogot as the central subject of their contribution; they trace it over a much larger area, settled by Luo groups in Uganda and Kenya. In their joint chapter, 'The construction of dominance', the three note two characteristics that distinguish the Luo-speakers who settled in Packwac-Pawir and later in Alur, Acholi, Busoga and Nyanza from others. One of these is economic: their adoption of a mixed farming mode of life. The second is ideological, namely their belief that certain elite clans had an inherent or hereditary right and capacity to rule others. This right to dominance was to be legitimised by the possession of special royal objects such as drums, stools and spears. The authors proceed to trace how these ideologies influenced the behaviour of the Luo-speakers towards those they encountered in several selected areas - Alur, Acholi, Busoga and Nyanza. Thus in Alur, the Atyak clan believed that it was descended from a supernatural being called Ocak, who left them with 'power rain-controlling stones', together with other sacred objects such as drums, spears and beads, which gave them the right to enjoy a political status. The Atyak exploited claims to these powers to extend their overlordship over non- Atyak, weak groups so that, by the late seventeenth century these groups had started to turn to the Atyak

dominant

leaders for ritual assistance, one of the first steps to political incorporation into an Atyak-led chiefdom. This political influence gained through their ritual role was reinforced by the wealth they possessed as cattle-owners, which they used to gain greater following and prestige, and by forging marriage alliances with the groups they settled amongst. The result was a fast growth of the Atyak's descent group with widespread local roots. The centre of radiation of Atyak power was Okoro, which became the largest single polity in Alur. From there, Atyak princes established smaller chiefdoms among the non-Luo groups west of Okoro during the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, forming thereby an Atyak commonwealth encompassing over half the Alur population. Ogot, Cohen and Herring agree with Atkinson's thesis that a large section of the chiefly groups in Acholi were strongly influenced by the social-political ideas of the Banyoro. These Acholi groups claimed dominance not because they were descendants of superhuman ancestors

,

Introduction

9

Atyak - but because they were linked with the chiefly groups of Bunyoro and possessed Banyoro-type royal, rain-making drums. These elite groups seem to have capitalised on the earlier contacts of the indigenous, non-Luo groups in Acholi with the Banyoro. They recognised the local ritual leaders, but they centralised ritual life and enhanced the

-like the

prestige of local priestly families. In so doing, they consciously sought or

unconsciously obtained, more political authority. The rainmaking drums were used to acquire subservience and tribute. The wealth thus accruing was used to gain a following and elicit return offerings and thereby 'establish reciprocal economic bonds with their followers'. In addition, marriage bonds became a matter of policy by the nineteenth century and they ensured that the royal groups became the largest kinship groups in the At the same time aspiring chiefs adopted the role of mediators which was a contributory factor towards attracting followers and establishing viable chiefdoms among the diverse populations of Acholi, whose internal tensions predisposed them towards accepting an outsider as a mediator, especially if he owned a rainmaking drum. noteworthy aspect of a the political strategy adopted here is the significant degree of power-sharing with the indigenous groups. Local groups were granted hereditary posts as sub-chiefs, councillors and messengers, while villages were allowed the autonomy to run their own affairs. The result was a situation in which 'the chiefs had a good deal of prestige but little power and the commoners gave up a little autonomy in return for joining a larger community in which some of their leaders had important institutionalised roles'. They also enjoyed greater economic advantages within the greater polity or state, which was able to mobilise larger numbers of people for such economic pursuits as hunting and chiefdom

.

,

A

raiding.

Owiny-Karuoth groups adopted a somewhat different dominance In the field of religion while they took over control of some important local shrines, they also acknowledged the importance of some local priestly families. Second, from the outset they intermarried with the non-Luo groups, the Bantu-speakers, and sent their In Busoga, the

strategy to obtain

.

,

sons to be raised in their mothers' households. Whilst this did not alienate the sons entirely from their paternal (Luo-speaking) kin, the custom accelerated the process of cultural integration of the immigrants and hastened the latter's adoption of Bantu speech. Even so, the Karuoth believed that their right to dominance did not only survive but was in fact spread through these marriage alliances with Bantu-speakers. Maternal relatives gave Karuoth princes sources of military power and acted as agents for Karuoth states and ideology. In this way there were created many centres of Karuoth dominance with little extension of authority from one centre to others. It was only later that the impulse towards centralisation was created in Busoga.

10

Ahmed I.

Salim

Luo-speaking people settled in Nyanza in greater numbers than in Alur or Acholi. Greater use was also made of military and ritual powers to take control of areas in Nyanza. J. K. Rennie's contribution, 'Ideology and state formation: political and communal ideologies among the south-eastern Shona, 1500-1890', highlights the ideological level of analysis in studies of state formation which, he avers, tends to be omitted in such studies, with concentration instead on the political and socio-economic bases of states. He defines ideology as 'a shared world view, designed to explain events and to orient action' and takes as his area of operation of state formation the region between the Sabi River and the coast. By the time of the arrival of the Portuguese, the Karanga of the northern Mashonaland plateau had already established themselves as a dominant aristocracy throughout this region, importing into it the political institutions from the states in the interior, and basing their authority upon military power. Not one but several states emerged in the

and conflict among the Karanga. There was Teve (Uteve), founded late in the fifteenth or early sixteenth century, which thrived on trade with the Muslims of the coast, but which declined as a result of Portuguese aggression and finally disintegrated under the impact of the Nguni onslaughts about the middle area, since the Portuguese encouraged rivalry

of the nineteenth century. The name Teve survived into colonial times as a tribal label for the people of the former state. Then there was Danda, at first related to Teve, but later independent of it, and also active in trade in gold and ivory with the coastal polities. Like Teve, it was also to suffer decline as a result of the expansion of the Tsonga and internal conflict among the chiefs. By the 1870s little remained of state power. In colonial times the name survived as that of a sub-section of the Ndau. Two other states of the Karanga dealt with are Sanga and Shanga. They were all ruled by aristocracies that maintained elaborate courts, including singers, jesters and royal officials. Revenue accrued to them not through direct and regular taxation but through an administration of justice that involved fees and the taxation of the merchant class. For example, traders paid livestock and cloth to have an audience with the king of Teve. Revenue also was obtained from monopolising part of the gold trade. Below the ruling aristocracies were territorial chiefs (sing, nyamasango) who administered small areas of the states and enjoyed the economic privilege of claiming some of the elephant tusks collected in their area of jurisdiction.

In short, the ruling class in these states enjoyed a considerable control of the accumulation and redistribution of wealth The basis of their power or dominance over the other classes - the clients (murandd) and the .

- was essentially military. But, in addition, there was an elaborate symbolic and ideological structure that further buttressed that

cultivators

Introduction

11

power. The kings claimed power over rain. In Sanga, they presided over an annual offering at a cave at Ngaone, where they consulted royal spirits on matters of war and peace; oaths were administered on the royal drum at Gambe. All these rituals and ceremonies served to reinforce the power and prestige of the ruling class. Further legitimation was achieved through the claim that these states were founded by 'sons' of Mwenemutapa, the founder of the largest and most celebrated Karanga state, for which, therefore, these were secondary states.

A

complex pattern of religious beliefs formed part of the communal ideology of the Karanga states, helping the community to adapt itself to its environment. This system of beliefs triggered off a process of social and economic differentiation. In their turn, the state systems of the Karanga provided this social and economic differentiation with political and ideological support. The Nguni invasion caused drastic changes in the economic and political organisations of the Karanga states. A more rapacious military aristocracy was imposed upon them that appropriated surplus production more voraciously than the native aristocracy had done; the new state evolved a different ideological legitimation. For his chapter on 'The Lugbara states in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries', O.J.E. Shiroya depended entirely on oral traditions collected by himself. He describes the three divisions of these Sudanic-speaking peoples, namely the Madi, the Jaki and the Banale, and notes the cultural ascendancy and the numerical superiority of the first group, which forced the Jaki and the Banale to adopt the language of the Madi and eventually led the three divisions to fuse into one cultural entity, reinforced by similarity in 'political ideas and in social philosophies'.

Population growth and pressure on available land triggered off secondary migrations by small Lugbara groups from the original area of settlement - the Liru-Watu Mountains area - throughout the eighteenth century. These secondary migrations led to the rise of new chieflets. Each one of these numerous chieflets was headed by a chief (opi) who settled internal disputes, receiving advice from the ojoo (priest/doctor/ diviner), while the Opi Ozooni (chief of rain) exercised both military and political powers that covered many chieflets in times of crisis. Thus,

Lugbara society was not a 'stateless society'. The chieflet was the basic and within it institutions governing politics, economies, religion, law, the army and foreign relation were based and controlled.

political unit

W. R. Ochieng's contribution looks at the shortlived attempts at state formation among the Kitutu, a section of the Gusii of Kenya, during the nineteenth century. The chapter reveals potential for a strong centralised state - with a chief considered divinely ordained to rule, with the aid of a council of family and clan heads, and a strong military machine kept every ready by constant threats from neighbours such as the Luo, the Kipsigis

12

Ahmed I.

Salim

and the Maasai. But internal tensions and

conflicts

over succession

hampered its development even before colonial rule intervened to put an end to the comparatively outstanding resistance of the Kitutu. The second half of the nineteenth century witnessed the rise and growth of the last precolonial Swahili state on the Kenyan coast, the Witu Sultanate, the subject of J. de Vere Allen's essay. Events leading to its foundation in what is now Lamu District were clearly political. It was the creation of a member of a long-established and formerly powerful ruling house (the Nabahani of Pate), who had been forced out of all his other possessions by superior military might (of the Busaidi of Zanzibar and their puppet Nabahani allies). Military considerations seem to have partly determined the siting of Witu town in a deep forest. They explain the impregnable gate that controlled the entrance to it. But economic motives also contributed to the decision of its siting in an area that was heavily populated by Boni and Somali pastoralists, with their herds of livestock, and agriculturalists such as the Pokomo with their surplus products of rice and other grains. Runaway slaves, watoro, supplemented the working population. The Witu rulers' encouragement of slaves from Swahili towns like Lamu to settle in the area as freemen represented both a form of guerrilla warfare as well as an economic war against the coastal towns controlled by the Busaidi enemies. According to Allen, the concept of building the core of the town in stone, as was the tradition in many Swahili towns, was implemented to give it permanence. The founder, Ahmed Fumoluti (nicknamed Simba) was the Mwenyemui (owner of the town). He was helped to run its affairs by leaders representing different communities for whom the town became a focus of economic and social life in the traditional style of a Swahili urban centre The modern concept of defined boundaries was unknown in Witu as indeed, it was unknown in most of the states discussed in this volume. The Sultan of Witu's writ was largely over the town of Witu and its immediate environs. Elsehwere his influence and prestige spread as far as ,

,

.

,

men

could take it in the course of their travels in pursuit of trade among such groups as the Pokomo and Oromo. Witu's independent life lasted some 30 years only, until 1890, when Anglo-German rivalry into which it was reluctantly dragged, led to British intervention and systematic denudation of its sovereignty and independence. By 1894, a British puppet Wali (governor) had replaced the last Nabahani Sultan, Pumo Omari. The state had survived owing to its establishment among communities that were willing to tolerate it and integrate themselves in its socio-economic and political life. This was supplemented by what Allen calls the 'Commercial Theory' and the 'Cultural Theory.' Witu supplied the surrounding communities with luxury goods emanating from the coast and bought from them their surplus of grain and livestock. The cultural theory, on the other hand, involved the transmission of Swahili civilisation, or what Allen calls u-ungwana.

Witu's

,

Introduction

13

Allen suggests that there were no rainmaking personages in Witu as was the case with other states dealt with in this volume. But it is likely that Swahili medicinal powers, derived from magic or the Quran, may have played a role in the acquisition of prestige and influence. Another factor not given its due importance in the formation of the state is intermarriage. The founder's mother was Oromo. The Swahili have always been prone to integrate through marriage with the societies they lived and traded with, which, in most cases lent them a notable degree of prestige and influence within those societies.

The last chapter in this volume, that by Eike Haberland, tackles the impact of north Ethiopian Christian civilisation and political concepts on the formation of states in the southern parts of the country. The establishment of a Christian empire in the north was accompanied by political developments, such as the institution of the rex etpropheta, who came to be regarded as the legitimate successor of King David. His exalted politico-religious status was bolstered further by a myriad of myths and legends of divine kingship. This institution accompanied Christianity in radiating southwards into an area that had hitherto been inhabited by a number of small egalitarian clan groups amongst whom a priest or the eldest member of the clan enjoyed the prestige of rainmaker but had no political power (contrasting with the rainmakers in other polities discussed in this volume, whose possession of this gift gave them political authority as well). It was the impact of kingship and Christianity that led to the formation of states like Kaffa in the south, in which the paraphernalia of the northern state was reproduced. Egalitarian societies were transformed into monarchical polities, in which egalitarianism was replaced by a complex hierarchy, topped by a divine monarch and his elaborate court, whose pomp and circumstance was in many cases out of proportion to the state's size and population. Reading all these contributions, one is struck by the significant degree of both similarity and contrast in the factors that led to the emergence of a state or kept it together, in each contribution, one or more of the principal features related to the concept of state or its formation emerge. Thus, the theme of the role and importance of ideology in state formation is discussed by Atkinson, Herring et al and by Rennie. Economic and commercial control as a major factor leading to the formation of a state is dealt with by many authors in this volume - Swai, Kalinga, Phiri, Herring et al., Rennie and Allen. Class formation and/or class domination are seen as prominent features in the areas of their study by Swai, Steinhart, Atkinson, Herring et al. and Rennie. Intermarriage as a strategy to acquire power and influence is an important theme that emerges in several contributions, notably those of Kalinga, Phiri, Herring et al. and Allen; while the use of religion and ritual to buttress that power and influence is seen in operation by Kalinga, Phiri, Atkinson, Herring et al.

14

Ahmed I.

Salim

Haberland and, to some extent, Allen. Similarly some states discussed in volume relied on a veritable military machine to perpetuate their power or hegemony. This use of the military to buttress the state in general or to protect its economic and commercial resources is discussed by Kalinga, Phiri, Herring etal., Rennie and Ochieng. this

Precolonial states and

7

European merchant capital in Eastern Africa

BONAVENTURE SWAI When

practising historians severed or tried to cut ties with philosophy

and literature with a view to being better able to 'reconstruct the past' and in that way tell the story as it actually happened, they wanted to 1 reconstitute their craft as an independent field of study. Yet it soon transpired that 'anyone who has tried to tell the story of historical events knows full well that unless he analyses his information in detail so as to determine the significances in it, his story will be not history but

and he will be not an historian but an antiquary'. An historian has to 'penetrate the core of events' he seeks to describe, and in this 2 venture, ideas are important. This stance appears to be of importance not only to metropolitan historians, but also to imperial scholars, and chronicle,

even more so to postcolonial historians. 3 In colonial historiography the idea of the state was considered With the ascendancy of postcolonial historiography, this idea was indigenised and in some cases nationalised with a view to 4 glorifying the African past. In both cases this idea was considered non-problematic. Its periodisation within African history, as well as its nature, was considered unimportant. Thus description outstripped 'un- African'.

and reductionism, which was as partial as it was ideological, assumed a leading role. 5 It is not the purpose of this essay to discuss the analysis

origins of states in Africa or elsewhere.

The

materialist aspects of this

were started in the previous century by Engels who had much to borrow from Morgan. 6 Rather, I wish to discuss the changes which some Eastern African states underwent in the era of European mecantilist imperialism, which was predominant in this area 70 years or so before the imposition of colonial rule upon Africa.

The

state in African history

Many

\

nineteenth-century historians argued, at times vehemently, that was synonymous with change itself. Where there was no change, there could be no history. The place of the state in society was their craft

16

Bonaventure Swai

considered crucial in an historical process. According to Robinson and Gallagher, only that state which governed least governed best, for 7 development depended, to a large degree, on economic freedom. Such was, inter alia, English liberalism, which helped release enterprise from the dead hands of the state and which allowed social energy to follow easily from 'the happy play of free minds, free markets, and Christian morality'. From 'this liberty to think, speak and worship, to inquire and invest, to buy cheap and sell dear, to accumulate and venture capital, to practise thrift and self-help', there lay the basis for English success at home and abroad. 8 The mid- Victorian outlook of the world 'was suffused with a vivid sense of superiority, if with very good intention'.

Upon the ladder of progress, nations and races seemed to stand higher or lower according to the proven capacity of each for freedom: the British at the top, followed a few rungs below by the Americans and other striving, go-ahead Anglo-Saxons. The Latin peoples were thought to come next, though far behind. Much lower still stood the vast Oriental communities of Asia and North Africa where progress appeared unfortunately to have been crushed for centuries by military despotism or smothered under passive religions. Lowest of all stood the aborigines whom it is thought had never learned enough social 9 discipline to pass from the family and tribe to the making of a state. While the Orient was considered stagnant because of its despotic system of government, Africa was regarded so because it was still tribal and thus stateless or acephalous. Where the Hobbesian state of nature was rampant, there could be no progress because it was assumed that all were 10 against all. Here then, according to Malinowski, history was 'dead and buried', irrelevant mythology.

11

For many imperial proconsuls and historians, colonial intrusion into such a 'stagnant pool' was necessary. It was intended to act 'as yeast and leaven the lump'. Such were the origins of jingoism and imperialist 12 chauvinism. The 'unhistorical African past' and the paternalism of the colonial period are some of the things which postcolonial historiography has sought to refute. The state has been considered crucial in restoring 13 history to the hitherto unhistorical precolonial past. The 'historical sense', Cesaire and Fanon have observed, 'is, in the hands of the oppressed, a powerful tool for revolutionary mobilization'. 14 It was for this reason, then, that African institutions were robbed of their history in the colonial era, and it is for the same reason, it seems, that this 15 history had to be restored following the demise of colonialism. The search for states and their history was of particular importance because it offered 'precedents which justified the capacity and right of Africans to enter Nkrumah's long-awaited "political kingdom'". This search was

7

Precolonial states and European merchant capital

1

intended to challenge the 'hamitic myth' which had dominated colonial historiography, and to show that the capacity of rule was not the monopoly of any particular race. Yet many of the inarticulate premises that abound in colonial historiography were incorporated into postcolonial historiography where discussions of precolonial states were concerned. Descriptions of state formations mainly concentrated on their

were shown in terms of cataclysmic processes. state and stateless societies continued to be maintained. State societies received more attention on the alleged understanding that they were richer in historical information. Thus, whatever could be said for or against relativism, evolutionism or diffusionism, most of these ideas remained a camouflage for the 16 empiricist ideology dominant in liberal historiography. origins; but such origins

The

distinction

between

The trade thesis and

the state

Studies of the state in precolonial African history have been conducted 17 within the problematic of the enlargement of scale. In this, the trade played a leading role. Enlargement of scale has been thesis has regarded as the process of an increasing awareness by members of specific societies of the outside world. The process varied from one member of

and from one society to the next. The process seems to have been complex, but it is one which brought about differentiation, and so made 'modernization and deprivation. .two sides of the same process'. The resulting tensions, it has been observed, 'provided much of the dynamic of (among others) Tanganyika's modern history, especially in society to another,

.

the political sphere'.

The aim

19

which in postcolonial historiography has been regarded as synonymous with the economic base of society, was intended to show the ability of African initiative in enmeshing outside forces or impositions from without into their own body politic. It was also intended to illustrate what has been called the 'politics of survival'. Thus Iliffe has observed with regard to the history of nineteenth-century Tanzania: It is

a

to relate state formation to trade,

commonplace of African

history that long-distance trade often

encouraged large-scale political organization. Trade developed communications and created wealth to support central governments. Rulers used scarce goods to secure loyalty. Traders needed security and backed stability. They often lived in towns, which were relatively easy to govern, and possessed skills, especially literacy, which facilitated administration.

Stability

20

was assured by the fact that, as well was changing from

chieftainship in Tanzania

as the rule of arms, ritual

power towards

18

Bonaventure Swai

bureaucratic organisation and economic power as the basis of leadership. Moreover, the acquisition of power and high office by birth tended in the nineteenth century to give way to rewards for personal achievement and loyalty. Such were the symptoms of 'bureaucracy and modernity' which have been regarded by historians as the basis for political stability and prosperity.

21

The existence of trade, and even more so merchant capital,

as well as

its

personification, merchants, 'requires merely that at least a portion of the

products should be converted into commodities, and that money with its various functions should have developed along with trade in commod22 ities'. Such conditions, indeed, existed in East Africa. What has been written about African initiative in the commercial sphere together with the existence of entrepreneurship in precolonial East Africa attests to 23 Such conditions of commodity production, coupled with the this. existence of merchant classes, proved a fertile ground for the penetration of European merchant capital, or the articulation of this with regional

and local merchant capitals. Local merchant capitals, however, were soon subordinated to regional ones, especially Swahili and Arab, due to the credit facilities which the latter could enjoy from Indian capital which was then controlled from Zanzibar. 24 But merchant capital is trading capital. Its characteristics have been summarised thus:

The independent and predominant development

of

capital

as

tantamount to non-subjection of production to capital, and hence capital developing on the basis of an alien social mode of production which is also independent of it. The independent development of merchants' capital, therefore, stands in inverse 25 proportion to the general economic development of society. merchant's capital

is

As trading capital, merchant capital is not rooted in the sphere of production; rather it is parasitical to it. It develops no independent economic or political base, but instead uses what it finds extant. As trading capital, merchant capital adds nothing of value to the commodities which it helps circulate. To secure a profit therefore, it must 'buy cheap and sell dear'. This entails controlling its source of commodities and the markets to which such commodities are destined. This gives merchant capital its monopolistic and monopsonistic character. It is a tendency which entails the establishment of social relations which are intended to control the social formations with which it trades, especially the state systems and the merchant classes it finds in situ. 26 One characteristic of the precolonial state which has helped the penetration of merchant capital in precapitalist social formations is the parcellised nature of its sovereignty. This has forced leading local potentates to use merchants to help them control their subordinates (or

9

Precolonial states and European merchant capital

1

where the leaders were weak). The crucial point which has been stressed by Fox and Frykenborg in the case of Indian pre-capitalist social formations, and Southall as far as precolonial African states are vice versa

concerned,

is:

were often less than the sum of their During the course of any dynasty local strong men and

Pre-industrial agrarian states parts.

disgruntled peasants threatened, or actually dissolved, the thin film of state hegemony which bound them to the central power. Industrial states created high levels of regional economic specialization and necessary interdependence not found in simpler technologies. Indust-

have major communication and transport webs which and regions to the central economic and governmental cores. Pre-industrial agrarian states, however, are characterized by economically, and therefore potentially politically, self-sufficient regions - each with its own wider cultural distinctions of kinship, 27 language, ritual observances and beliefs, customs, and 'manners'. rial states also

cement

local areas

Fox uses the pre-industrial/industrial polemic, but the point is well made. Here, one finds that production is parcelled into small 'household oriented peasant producers', and so too are the mechanisms of appropriation, as well as the instruments for reproducing such a process. point to emphasise is that while western states provide the coercive force in the society, and control its administration and its judiciary, that was not the case with pre-capitalist states. There the organisation was dispersed, and control might be in the hands of independent local chiefs, kin groups or state officials. The same conditions applied to the process of surplus extraction in that 'many levels of local, regional, and finally central power holders interceded between the cultivator and state autonomy'. Each power holder had a share in the 'grain heap' in the 28 village, and was not paid for his services by the centre. In industrial societies, on the other hand, local officials depended on the centre for their share of surplus, a condition which was underlined by the fact that the centre (in the Weberian sense) enjoyed a monopoly of coercive force. The structure of power in pre-capitalist states was highly localised. This localisation of power corresponded to the nature of production as well as appropriation, which was very parochial. It is for this reason that it has been observed:

The

Feudal kingdoms were precarious alliances; their true locus of power at the base, in the hands of the local lords. The dialectic between the central authority and local power made it a complex polity. Anderson speaks of this as the 'parcellization of sovereignty'. He writes: 'Political sovereignty was never focussed in a single centre. The functions of the state were disintegrated in a vertical allocation

was

Bonaventure Swai

20

downwards, at each level of which political or economic relations were, on the other hand, integrated. This parcellization of sovereignty was 29 constitutive of the whole feudal mode of production. This then

is

the explanation for the instability of the pre-capitalist state

30 and the alleged struggle for survival with which it has been associated. This weakness was exploited ruthlessly by the agents of merchant capital. Precolonial African states have been analysed along the continuum of enlargement of scale. This continuum has of late been dubbed historicist because those who subscribe to it, it is alleged, have failed to take cognisance of the facts. Indeed it has been asserted that such a continuum was non-existant because while some empires rose, others fell, the more so along the coast where the competition to participate in overseas trade was more intense than in the interior. But while this was true of the Congo empire, it was not so with nineteenth-century Zanzibar. To be sure, one can go on pointing out such contradictory sets of facts for ever. Crucial, however, is their content; the social relations which constitute their 31 Some of these points will now be illustrated with the help of the core. histories of nineteenth-century Madagascar, Zanzibar, and Ukimbu in

western Tanzania.

Madagascar The reaction of African rulers to mercantalist imperialism has intrigued many scholars; the more so if it is considered in relation to state formation or political initiative. For many scholars, the period of mercantilist imperialism saw the rise of many states in Africa. This has been regarded as an aspect of political development, modernisation and so on. The events of this period have been viewed as a clear indication of the 'African genius' in harnessing outside forces for the development of the continent. Indeed it has been argued that had it not been for colonialism the formation of the nation-state could have been realised much earlier, given the constant tendency of enlargement of scale within Africa. 32 But this phenomenon aside, it is important to note the nature of the states which were founded or consolidated during the mercantilist era of African history, particularly the states which emerged along the African coast. Nineteenth-century Madagascar is a case in point. 33 In the aftermath of the Berlin Conference which heralded the scramble for Africa, the island of Madagascar became a French colony in 1896. Nevertheless, this event was preceded by a long history of Franco-Malagasy association which began towards the middle of the seventeenth century. This period of association, which has also been called the era of informal imperial influence, had an extremely chequered history. As was common with European traders elsewhere, the French began their

Precolonial states and European merchant capital

21

with Madagascar as interlopers before the East India Dauphin in 1643, which nonetheless was short-lived. Even so, the island of Madagascar was for a long time regarded as a constituent part of the French East India Company's sphere of influence. To support this claim, medals bearing the inscription Colonia Madagascarica were issued in Paris in 1665. The French considered the island of Madagascar important notwithstanding this anomaly because of its position as an 'external arena' 34 For these islands, for the plantation economy of the Mascarene Islands. Madagascar remained the chief source of slaves and food, commodities which were crucial for the survival of the sugar estates. Following the Anglo-French struggle for global hegemony in the aftermath of the French Revolution, the Mascarenes were brought under British imperial control, and although Bourbon Island was again transferred to the French in 1815, the sister island of Mauritius remained under British control. British presence in this area of the Indian Ocean increased the chances of abolishing the slave trade between Mauritius and Madagascar. The British were also able to enhance the so-called legitimate trade between the two islands, for as we have already noted, Madagascar was the chief source of food for the island of Mauritius. Thus began a new era of Anglo-French rivalry for the domination of Madagascar. The nineteenth-century history of Madagascar has been viewed as the meeting of two forces: one external and European, and the other internal and indigenous. Colonial historiography paid too much attention to the external point of view. The postcolonial fashion has been to emphasise the Malagasy point of view; to focus on 'Antananarivo rather than on London or Paris'. In this context Malagasy reactions have been seen as a series of adjustments and reforms to the growing complexity of 'the 35 foreign structure erected over them'. The initial stages of permanent connections between Europe and Madagascar were established in the 1810s. In 1817 a 'treaty of friendship' was signed between the British and the Malagasy. The treaty was signed between Radama I, who was the king of Madagascar at that time, and the Governor of Mauritius, Sir Robert Farquhar. The treaty was intended to forestal undue French influence in Madagascar, to abolish the slave trade between Madagascar and the British colonial empire, and to ensure a reliable source of rice and meat for Mauritius. This was the first treaty ever to be signed between a ruler of Madagascar and a foreign power, and it signatory, Radama I, believed that it would increase his chances of survival, for with it he hoped to obtain British support to bring the whole of Madagascar under his control, as well as to establish a reliable source of foreign aid with which to develop the island. Subsequent to the signing of the treaty, missionaries began to arrive on the island. As well as their missionary work, many of these new arrivals proved useful in matters of education and in a number of small but important industries. Radama I association

Company

built the settlement of Fort

22

Bonaventure Swai

died in 1828 and was succeeded by Queen Ranavalona, who was hostile to the British. In the following year, therefore, Anglo-Malagasy relations turned sour, and the British agent on the island, James Hastie, was asked to leave the capital of the Merina Kingdom, Antananarivo. Queen Ranavalona was also not happy with missionary work in Madagascar, for 'she noticed that whenever any of her subjects embraced the new religion, they appeared to renounce their allegiance to her; and, instead, they talked about, and every Sunday prayed to, one called 'Jesus Christ'. As the Queen and her advisers believed that Christ was the white man's ancestor, the government became convinced that in embracing Christianity, the Malagasy turned their backs to their own ancestors for the sake of those of the foreigners.' For this reason therefore a decree forbidding the teaching of Christianity in Madagascar was issued in 1835. Many Malagasy Christians fled the island to places as far away as England. Since relations between Madagascar and France and England were worsening, Queen Ranavalona decided to send an embassy abroad in 1836 to resolve the deadlock. Diplomacy, it has been said, was a method Malagasy rulers were to resort to time and again as a means of conflict resolution, since they 'realised that because of their weakness, vis-a-vis the great powers, the best way to live in peace with them was to talk, rather than to turn their backs, to their enemies'. Not much, however, was gained by Ranavalona's diplomacy. In 1845, therefore, the Malagasy port of Tamatave was bombarded by an Anglo-French squadron on the instructions of the governors of British Mauritius and French Bourbon. To add insult to injury, in 1857 two Frenchmen, Lambert and Laborde, attempted to overthrow the government of Queen Ranavalona with a view to making her son, Radama II, the king of Madagascar. The queen died in 1861, and many people, it is said, sighed with relief. Indeed, a missionary called Ellis welcomed her death with the hope that 'the oppression, cruelty and fearful destruction of human life which had long afflicted that unhappy land, and had excited profound commiseration of all civilized communities' would now stop. Ranavalona was succeeded by Radama II, and it has been asserted that the new king and his ministers could be called 'the men of the Age of Improvement, men who, unlike the older generation who had dominated the early part of Queen Ranavalon I's reign, were willing to renew contacts with the outside world and accept foreigners in their country'. Iliffe calls men of 'the Age of Improvement' those who 'sought to improve both the society and their own position by utilising novel opportunities'. 36 Radama II was anxious to open the country to European influence, and in this endeavour he was helped by Rahaniraka (a Christian convert who had sought refuge in Manchester during the reign of Queen Ranavalona) and a small group of the emerging Malagasy petty bourgeoisie who called themselves 'readers'. These were products of a missionary education, and

somewhat

Precolonial states and European merchant capital

23

they lived in and around the Malagasy capital of Antananarivo. Radama and his supporters took three measures to ensure increased western penetration of Madagascar. They lifted the ban on Christians, undertook a diplomatic offensive to normalize relations with Britain and France, and indulged in what has been called the open-door policy to step up what in reality amounted to capitalist penetration of the island. The endeavour to intensify missionary activities was an easy one, for since the ban of 1835 missionaries had been hovering in the wings ready to return to Madagascar when conditions proved favourable. The king also sent a 'letter to the Pope, inviting Roman Catholic missionaries to come to Madagascar, and requesting the Pope's support for his government'. To bring about a thaw in the relations between the people of Madagascar and Europe, emissaries were sent to England, France, and the islands of Mauritius and Bourbon. The Frenchman, Lambert, was sent to France and England. In France, he asked Napoleon II to declare Madagascar a French protectorate, and spend to the tune of 200,000 francs so as to enhance French influence in Antananarivo. From Paris Lambert went to London, where he was well received, and Queen Victoria agreed to resume diplomatic relations with Madagascar. Thus: ... had taken the initiative, and he was now waiting for the response of the two governments and the missionaries. In the meantime laws for the protection of foreigners were promulgated and

the King

,

,

Tamatave and the capital were improved of an influx of Europeans into the capital.

the routes between anticipation

in

The British in Mauritius were the first to respond effectively. The governor, Stevenson, sent Middleton to Antananarivo to restore the former good relations that existed between the colony and Madagascar He also urged the Colonial Office to safeguard the independence of Madagascar against French ambitions. Stevenson's initiative was understandable since Mauritius depended so much on Madagascar for 'bullocks, rice and other necessities of life'. Middleton was very well received by the Malagasy king who told him that 'his whole wish was to extend trade, to know and honour the English, and do all he could to obtain their regard and friendship; that he looked upon the English as his greatest and truest friends, and that he very much wished to encourage English education'. Although the French were not tardy in responding to the Malagasy overture, when they did so they were dismayed to find that the British were already entrenched at the Malagasy king's court. British influence in Madagascar was shown by the dinner given to the French emissary, which was smaller than that which had been prepared for the British ambassador, Middleton. Nevertheless, the two European powers soon appointed consuls, Pakenham for Britain and Laborde for France, to

24

Bonaventure Swai

look after their interests in Madagascar.

Laborde was

specifically

instructed to pay special attention to the increasing British influence in

Madagascar.

The

third

programme which Radama embarked on was that of opening

the island to European economic interests. This was done by granting concessions to Europeans. Radama believed that the granting of such concessions would be of help in developing his country. That which was granted to Lambert in 1885 and which gave him control of the whole of

north-west Madagascar was ratified in 1862 and became known as the Lambert Charter. By this Charter, Lambert was authorized to form a company with exclusive rights to exploit all the minerals in Madagascar; to acquire timber; cultivate lands on the coast as well as in the interior; make roads, canals, yard-buildings, and other works of public utility ... the right to select and acquire any land anywhere in Madagascar which the Company might desire for cultivation ... it would make coins for Madagascar; its exports and imports ... were exempted from any taxation [and the Company would pay the king 10 per cent of its .

.

.

profits].

The Malagasy Government, on the other hand, agreed to assist the company in all ways possible, especially in the procurement of labour. it was believed by those who favoured the formation of the company, would 'help the Malagasy in their plans for the amelioration and civilization of their country'. Such, too, was what Radama and his 'readers' understood by the concept of development. Many Europeans residing in Antananarivo believed that the granting of such concessions to their kith and kin was advantageous to the people of Madagascar. Thus the British consul observed that for a 'country such as Madagascar, without the proper capital to develop the resources of the country, one had to look to the introduction of collective European capital and industry, and thereby bring about material improvement likely to be followed by moral advancement'. Remarks of mutual advantage were also made with regard to other areas. Thus, in their relations with Brazil, the British time and again pointed out the advantages which accrued to both sides. But Madagascar was worse off than Brazil. On Rahaniraka's death in

This,

1862 Radama appointed 'a crazy, drunken, unprincipled American', William Mark, as his principal secretary of state for foreign affairs. Furthermore, Ellis, whom we have already mentioned, was given a bigger role in the administration of Madagascar; and to cap it all the king appointed the French consul's son in Madagascar, Clement Laborde, as one of his secretaries for foreign affairs. Even the French government

Precolonial states and European merchant capital

25

admitted that the king of Madagascar was going too far and so ordered the cancellation of the appointment of Clement Laborde. The age of improvement proved a cause of frustration to many people in Madagascar, and in 1863 the prime minister, Rainivoninahitriniony, masterminded the assassination of Radama II and prepared the way for Queen Rasoherina's accession to the throne. The Lambert Charter was withdrawn and, in the same year, diplomatic missions were sent to Paris and London to explain the changes in policy being affected in

Madagascar. The British Government was understanding, but the French Government was not. Eventually, however, there was some rapprochement and new treaties were signed with the two European powers. Western penetration was intensified, the queen and the prime minister became Christians in 1869, and although between this year and the French annexation of the island in 1896 there were times of conflict, this was not an obstacle to the increasing European influence. That was Madagascar's tragedy, not withstanding her efforts to modernise, and her will to survive. It has been concluded that a number of historical events in nineteenth-century Madagascar showed 'the remarkable tenacity with which the Malagasy leaders pursued the policy aimed at opening their country to foreigners so as to secure benefits for the island', 'the desire and determination of the Malagasy leaders to utilize the knowledge and experience of the Europeans who came to live in their midst for the improvement of their way of life', and so on. But whether 'Madagascar wished to show the foreign powers that she was a "civilized" nation, worthy to be considered a member of the "community of nations'" is one thing; the context within which this was done is another. Europeans in Madagascar were continually involved in conflicts with the Malagasy ruling hierarchy. Observers of the time, like Ellis, blamed the crises on Malagasy rulers. The Lambert Charter, which was granted in 1862, however, snowed that Europeans in Madagascar, many of whom were merchants, intended to control the Malagasy economy. As merchants they were not involved in actual production but in circulating commodities, an enterprise which entailed constant interference with the political system. Where there was involvement in production, the same proviso is also aplicable. Interference in the political system tended to alienate some groups of people within the political hierarchy. Such then was the cause of friction between the Malagasy and the Europeans, which Ellis blamed on the former. Modern liberal historians have attempted to counter assertions like those of Ellis by alleging that the Malagasy were as civilized as the Europeans, or that they were, at least, trying to catch up with Europeans. But such allegations tend to avoid the inarticulate premises found in imperialist chauvinism. Moreover, civilisation is not an independent

26

Bonaventure Swai

entity, like a piece of furniture to be appreciated independent of its surroundings or make. Civilisation or otherwise, the context is equally important. To reap profits easily and quickly, the Malagasy kingdom was turned into a client state. The appointment of Europeans into the administration in the name of modernisation and the urge to survive is

quintessential.

Zanzibar story is not all that different from that of Madagascar. Zanzibar grew famous in the nineteenth century, which was also a period of increasing domination by European merchant capital in the western region of the Indian Ocean basin. The establishment of a plantation

The Zanzibar

economy

in the Mascarene Islands intensified the association of these areas with Madagascar. The plantation system also stimulated the establishment of relations with the East African coast, first with Kilwa and later with Zanzibar, which was to remain the centre of the East African slave trade until its abolition in 1873. Such commercial activity was augmented by the trade in cloves which was largely destined for the Orient, and that in ivory, intended for the same region as well as for

Europe.

Around this kind of commercial activity capital congregated. Locally, the leading fraction of capital was that which was controlled by Indians. It is normal practice in conventional textbooks to assert that the rise of Seyyid Said in Zanzibar was related to the Banias from western India who controlled the Customs House and collected revenue with which to finance his administration and so on. So too has it been alleged that the 37

Zanzibar town depended on such Banias as well as on trade. Suffice it to observe here that merchant capital is not productive capital and that Zanzibar did not owe its growth to its resident merchants, who appear to have invested little money locally. There was little urban development in Zanzibar before 1835 when the area was essentially a maritime trading town. Only after 1835 and the transition to a plantation economy was surplus labour appropriated from the countryside by the Arab aristocracy, to give rise to wealth, new buildings, and the appurtenances of luxury. Meanwhile merchant capitalists continued to pursue channels of 'unequal exchange', contenting themselves with investing only in the simple tools of their vocation and reinvesting the major part of their wealth into their business. 38 To pursue their policy of buying cheap and selling dear effectively, the Bania merchants of Zanzibar attempted to control the social formation by their presence in the Customs House, until 1857 'a mere shed (albeit a long one) with a mat roof and supported only by rough tree-stems ... where hundreds of thousands of dollars changed hands annually'. 39 To rise of

Precolonial states and European merchant capital

27

Arab aristocracy, the Bania supplied credit. The use of the 'debt-trap' an old one; true to the ethos of the cash-box, however, the Bania did not want to displace the Arab aristocracy in controlling land, lest their the

is

Trade was still lucrative business. Only with the and the imposition of laws favourable to British merchant capital with a view to taming Indian capital did Bania 40 merchants begin to invest in land. As for the caravans which were sent Africa in search of commodities, the Bania to the interior of East merchants of Zanzibar controlled these by the credit system which proved superior to anything that the Arab and Swahili merchant could offer. Indeed the last two groups of traders were eventually subordinated 41 to and controlled by the Bania merchants. We have emphasised the primacy of production with a view to showing that it is the determinant sector of the economy. But this is not to depreciate the importance of the sphere of circulation with which production is dialectically united. Circulation or consumption, in nineteenth-century Zanzibar as anywhere else, gives 'the finishing stroke 42 While the to production (and thus produces its opposite)', production. prosperity of the Bania merchants of Zanzibar was dependent, among other things, on the plantation system established in the area in the nineteenth century, it was made possible by the rise of the capitalist world economy which was dominated by Western capital. This capital (English, French, American, Belgian, and so forth) found its way into Zanzibar when the sultan was made to sign 'a series of "Amity and Commerce" treaties with the United States of America (1833), Great Britain (1839), and France (1844)'. The treaties were accompanied by the establishment of consulates in Zanzibar town 'for the protection of the above powers' 43 commercial interests in East Africa and in the Indian Ocean'. But of all Western nations, the British were still the leading economic power, as shown by their dominant position in Zanzibar. Here they wanted to control not only the Bania merchants, whom they claimed were British subjects, but also the Zanzibari state. The latter was eventually turned into a client state to allow easier penetration of British merchant capital, and later the taming of this in the interest of British monopoly capital. The rise of the Zanzibari empire was accompanied by its subordination to European capital. The Zanzibari state was no longer an isolated entity, but part of a broader world economy and an international 44 division of labour which it was helping to perpetuate. capital turn productive.

British colonisation of Zanzibar,

Ukimbu, Western Tanzania that has been asserted, at times somewhat vehemently, nineteenth-century East Africa did not witness a disintegration of political systems, notwithstanding the Ngoni invasion and the slave trade. It

28

Bonaventure Swai

Rather, this period saw the rise of many empires. Indeed research which has been conducted so far attests this. Such investigation was undertaken with a few to dislodging the hitherto dominant conventional wisdom that Africans were unable to build empires of their own, and to show that imperial proconsuls did not have an easy task when they were establishing European colonial administration. Indeed, they encountered viable African states which offered stiff resistance to colonial penetration and so induced them to compromise with a number of local potentates. This measure, it seems, offered many chances for 'local initiative in African 45 Nyungu-ya-Mawe's empire of the ruga ruga in Ukimbu, history'. western Tanzania, has received similar attention, and, largely, for the 46 same kinds of reasons. Nyungu-ya-Mawe's empire of the ruga ruga, which was situated to the south of Fundikira's empire of Unyanyembe, and with which it was 47 was founded in the latter half of the nineteenth contemporaneous, century and disintegrated in the aftermath of German colonial ons48 Like other nineteenth-century political systems which arose in laught. Africa, Nyungu-ya-Mawe's empire has been interpreted variously. Most significantly, however, it has been used to show 'the [African] intellectual capacity and political acumen to hold a million restive, diverse people together in one state - especially under the limitations imposed by pedestrian transport which characterized most of sub-Sa49 haran Africa before the twentieth century'. This empire has also been analysed in relation to the long-distance trade of nineteenth-century East 50 Africa, as well as the Ngoni invasion. The name of the founder of the empire of the ruga ruga sounds somewhat strange. Nyungu-ya-Mawe literally means 'the pot of stone'. His lieutenants, vatwale, some of whom commanded his army of the ruga ruga, which was an army of mercenaries whose soldiers were known for their valour as much as for their allegiance to Nyungu-ya-Mawe himself, were known by more fearsome names. These were, inter alia, Nzwala Mino ga Vanhu (Wearer of Human Teeth), Pundu ya Mbogo (Bull Buffalo), Nsikine (the Grinder), Kafupa Mugazi (Spitter of Blood), Kunia Vanhu (Defector of Men), Hovela Mbesi ( Vulture), Kadela Ka Msimba (Lion Skin), and Huzya (the Pacifier). The ruga ruga also seemed somewhat fearsome: 'On their heads they wore grisly trophies hacked from the bodies of the slain, and round their loins they wore a red cloth to which they pointed in battle, shouting to their enemies: "This is 52 your blood!"' The behaviour and appearance of Nyungu-ya-Mawe's empire has induced contemporary observers to assess him from various perspectives; for some he was 'the famous Nyungu' while for others he remained the 'Brigand Chief, terror of the Ngunda Mkali'. 53 On several occasions Nyungu-ya-Mawe disrupted the long-distance trade which passed through Tabora. Yet he also depended on the trade route for his supply of

Precolonial states and European merchant capital

29

It was to merchants along this route that he sold commodity upon whose procurement he had declared a state 54 monopoly. Nyungu-ya-Mawe's ambivalence to merchants is indicative in African societies of this time. They were still a parasitic status their of lot dependent on determinant modes of production, and to be 'had' or pampered as dictated by prevailing circumstances. The existence of

luxuries

and weaponry.

his ivory, a

merchants in precolonial societies has been used as an indication that Africans might have been capitalist but for colonialism. The nature and characteristics of merchant capital, have already been discussed, and we shall now show its impact on Ukimbu social formation. Nyungu-ya-Mawe controlled the procurement of ivory in Ukimbu. This came in the form of tribute or the surplus labour of gangs who were organised to hunt for the ivory. The ivory was exchanged for 'fire-arms and the new forms of storable wealth, chiefly cloth and beads', 55 for ivory was not the only form of surplus labour which Byungu-ya-Mawe exchange for luxuries, and which he shared with his confidants in the army and administration. But neither the army nor the administration could survive on the distribution of such luxuries or plunder alone. There had to be a more stable form of tribute, which was directly linked to the mainstay of the Ukimbu economy, peasant agriculture. To secure a stable supply of tribute Nyungu-ya-Mawe embarked on a policy of placing the people of Ukimbu into large concentrations under the watchful eye of his administration. 'This new form of settlement facilitated the work of the conqueror, Nyungu-ya-Mawe, who set up in the 1870s an incipient if not actual centralized state system over most of Ukimbu, and exercised a tight economic control of hunting and trade.' 56 With the German occupation of western Tanzania, Nyungu-ya-Mawe's fortified royal villages were dismantled. As a result, by the 1920s 'the Kimbu were now living in "independent" settlements, breaking away from control of the chiefs, and building "family settlements consisting usually of four male house-holders at most'. There were attempts to reintroduce the village concentrations in the 1930s but they were a failure and the British colonial government was rebuffed. The Kimbu resented the constant 'exposure to regulations and control; in 1949 and 1951 there were massive movements away from Kipembawe concentration in 57 protest against enforcement of agricultural and hunting rules'.

The movement away from administrative control was also a phenomenon of the nineteenth century. Thus Shorter observed that the distribution of new forms of storable wealth caused 'on the one hand a frequent change-over from matrilineal to patrilineal chiefship when they were successful; and on the other, the formation of more splinter 58 chief doms'. The establishment of village concentrations in Ukimbu was intended to intensify the exploitation of the

Kimbu peasantry. As in other owned their own

pre-capitalist social formations, the producers either

means of production or had

fairly

easy access to them. Extraction of

30

Bonaventure Swai

tribute therefore was not mediated by the market but by force coupled with the ideology of dependence: the strange name of the ruler of Ukimbu, Nyungu-ya-Mawe, as well as those of his lieutenants, were cases in point. The use of 'sympathetic magic' under the control of Nyungu-yaMawe is also a pointer in the same direction. 59 The severe exploitation coupled with coercion to which the peasants of Ukimbu were subjected forced them to revolt. The disgruntled members of the Ukimbu

aristocracy capitalised on this situation by establishing splinter chiefdoms, which did nothing to improve the life of the ordinary people of Ukimbu. Rather the movement of history here was cyclical. The content of the politics of factionalism and the formation of new chiefdoms in Ukimbu have to be related to the desire of Kimbu peasants to emancipate themselves from oppression and exploitation.

Conclusion has usually been argued that relations between foreign merchants and East African rulers of the precolonial period were amicable. This was so because it seems that the number of Swahili and Arab merchants who were involved in trading with the interior was small, and that the weapons which they could have used in the course of raiding African villages were not very effective. But generalisations of this kind are very misleading. They are more ideological than realistic, and form part of the endeavour to humanise capital. Utani, a system of joking relationships between tribes which emerged during the mercantilist era and which was maintained in the colonial era due to the intensification of migrant labour, has been used to justify this claim of harmony but, as has also been observed, 'good natured jesting could degenerate into wholesale 60 raiding of food on the part of the hungry travellers'. The merchant's heart, however, is in his cash-box, and in this regard, merchants who operated in East Africa in the nineteenth century were no exception. Their ruthlessness was shown in the latter part of the century It

demand

acute, and its availability more country, eastern Zaire, harassed the people of the area with gangs of armed slaves and decimated its population. Rumaliza, around Lake Tanganyika in the 1880s, attacked and deposed leaders, and took over a vast tract of territory which he guarded with armed retainers and from which he received tribute. Around Lake Nyasa Mwinyi Mtwana set himself up as chief of Mdaburu, 61 in a strategic position on the central caravan route. These people plundered the areas under their control and ruined them completely. The Manyema ran away from eastern Zaire and were soon to be found all over the central route which ran from Ujiji, via Tabora, to Bagamoyo. Such as the

scarce.

for ivory

Tippu Tip

in the

became more

Manyema

Precolonial states and European merchant capital

31

to be called the 'Manyema slave 62 trade detritus'. Elsewhere the plunder which ensued was not so detrimental, but authoritarianism was on the ascendant, and led to much instability, which 62 took the form of revolts and secessions. The poor had to part with a larger portion of their labour to allow the rulers and their aristocracies to buy some of the luxuries which merchants could offer. At times the latter were also turned into clients of merchant capital. These are some of the

were the origins of what eventually came

which must be taken into account when discussing the history of under the mercantilist era in nineteenth-century East Africa: the changing of empires into client states of merchant capital and the increasing subjugation of the poor to the whims of their rulers and alien issues

states

traders.

Notes

The

of History (New York, 1956),

1

F. Stern, ed.

2

D. A. Low, 'The anatomy of administrative Makerere, 1958, mimeo.

3

H.S. Hughes, Consciousness and Society (St Albans, Herts, 1974); A. J. Temu and Bonaventure Swai, Historians and African History (London, forthcoming).

4

J.

,

Varieties

Uganda

1890-1902',

Depelchin, 'African history and the ideological reproduction of exploitative

relations of production', Africa

5

origins:

p. 16.

Development

1,

1^76.

A. Mafeje, 'The octopus and the clock: problems of The Hague, 1968, mimeo.

reification in the social

sciences',

6

However, see

also

M. Bloch,

ed.

,

Marxism and Social Anthropology (London,

1975).

7

R. Robinson and J. Gallagher, Africa and the Victorians (New York, 1961); L. Billet, 'Political order and economic development: reflections on Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations', Political Studies 23, 1975; C. B. Macpherson, The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke (London, 1962). See also his The Real World of Democracy (Oxford, 1966); P.M. Blau, Exchange and Power in Social Life (New York, 1964).

8

Robinson and Gallagher, Africa and

9

Ibid., p. 203.

10

the Victorians, p. 2.

Bonaventure Swai; 'The colonial leviathan and Kenya', in A. J. Temu and Bonaventure Swai, eds., Kenya under Colonial Rule (London, forthcoming).

32 11

Bonaventure Swai

Quoted by O. Onoge, 'The counter-revolutionary studies: the case of applied anthropology',

and Social Studies

tradition in African

The Nigeria Journal of Economic

15, 1973, p. 329.

12

Robinson and Gallagher, Africa and the Victorians, p. 3; see also P. M. Kennedy, 'The decline of nationalistic history in the West 1900-70', Journal of Contemporary History 8, 1973.

13

Bonaventure Swai, Antimonies of Local Initiative in African History (Dar es Salaam, 1979). See also my 'Local initiative in African history: a critique', Dar es Salaam, 1977, mimeo.

14

Onoge, 'The counter-revolutionary tradition'. See also his 'Towards a Marxist Sociology of African Literature', Dar es Salaam, 1977, mimeo.

15

F.

16

Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (Harmondsworth, 1965).

A. Kuper, Antropologists and Anthropology (Harmondsworth, 1972); J. C. and Kinsmen (Oxford, 1976). I.N. Kimambo and A.J. Temu, eds., A History of Tanzania (Nairobi, 1969). A. D. Roberts, ed., Tanzania Before 1800 (Nairobi, 1968). Miller, Kings

17

Roberts, Tanzania Before 1800.

18

R. Menon, 'Zanzibar in the nineteenth century: aspects of urban development in an East African coastal town', MA thesis, UCLA, 1978; S. Lemelle, 'Class struggles in precolonial Africa', Maji Maji 37, 1970.

19

A. Modern History of Tanganyika (Cambridge, 1979), pp. 1-2; G. Wilson, The Analysis of Social Change (Cambridge, 1968). Roberts, Tanzania Before 1800.

J. Iliffe,

andM.

History of Tanganyika, pp. 52-3.

20

Iliffe,

21

Ibid.; see also Roberts, Tanzania Before 1800; D. A. Low, J. Depelchi, reviewing I. Wilks, Asante in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, 1975), Africa Development!, 1977.

22

K. Marx, Capital, Vol.

23

W. Rodney, reviewing R. Gray and D. Birmingham, eds., Precolonial African Trade (London, 1970), Trans african Journal of History 1, 1971. E. A. Alpers, Ivory and Slaves in East Central Africa (London, 1974). See also his The East African Slave Trade (Nairobi, 1967); J. E. G. Sutton, Early Trade in Eastern Africa (Nairobi, 1973); A. C. Unomah, 'Vbandevba and political change in a Nyamwenzi kingdom', Universities of East Africa Social Science Conference 1970, mimeo.

24

1

(Moscow, 1971

edition, p. 83.

Menon, 'Zanzibar'; E. A. Alpers, Ivory and Slaves; P. Curtin, S. Feierman, Thompson and J. Vansina, African History (London, 1978); Bonaven-

L.

Precolonial states and European merchant capital ture Swai, 'East India

33

Company and the Moplah merchants of Tellicherry',

Social Scientist 7, 1979.

25

K. Marx, Capital, Vol. Ill (Moscow, 1974 edition), p. 322. Quoted by I. Habib, 'Potentialities of capitalist development in the economy of Moghul India', Journal of Economic History 29, 1969, p. 75.

26

Marx, Capital, Vol.

27

R. G. Fox, Kin, Clan, Raja and Rule (Berkeley, 1971). pp. 8-9. See also A. Southall, 'A critique of the typology of states and political systems', in M.

I,

p. 83.

Panton, ed., Political systems and the Distribution of Power (London, 1968).

Anderson, Lineages of the Absolutist State (London, 1974).

28

P.

29

H. Alavi, 'India and the colonial mode of production', Socialist Registrar, 1975. See also C. Keyder, 'The dissolution of the Asiatic mode of production', Economy and Society 5, 1976.

30

Iliffe

31

,

History of Tanganyika.

C. C. Wrigley, 'Historicism

in Africa: slavery

and

state formation', African

Affairs 70, 1971; R. G. Roland, Africa: the Heritage and the Challenge (Greenwich, Conn., 1974). J. Omer-Cooper, 'Kingdoms and villages: a

new perspective in African history', University of East Africa Social Science Conference, 1968. A. J. Hanna, The Beginning of Nyasaland and North- Eastern Rhodesia (Oxford, 1956). possible

32

Iliffe,

History of Tanganyika; F. N. Mutibwa,

The Malagasy and the

Europeans (London, 1974). 33

This section

is

based on

my

paper, 'On the international behaviour of

precolonial states in the age of capital',

Dar es Salaam,

1977,

mimeo.

Modern

34

The term

35

Mutibwa, The Malagasy. See also his 'Trade and economic development in nineteenth-century Madagascar', Transafrican Journal of History 2, 1972, from which the quotations in this section are taken, unless acknowledged otherwise.

36

Iliffe,

37

Z. Marsh and G. W. Kingsnorth, An Introduction to the History of East Africa (Cambridge, 1965); L. W. Hillingsworth, Zanzibar under the Foreign

'external arena' is borrowed from World-System (New York, 1974).

Wallerstein, The

History of Tanganyika.

Office (London, 1953).

38

I.

Menon,

'Zanzibar'.

1

34

Bonaventure Swai

39

Ibid., p. 12.

40

A. M. H. Sheriff, 'The Zanzibar peasantry under imperialism 1873-1964'; Bonaventure Swai, 'The colonial state: a study of its establishment in Zanzibar'.

4

Iliffe ,

42

K. Marx, Grundrisse (Harmondsworth, 1972 edition); quoted by W. Suchting, 'Marx on the dialectics of production and consumption', Social Praxis 3, 1975, p. 296.

43

J.

Ibid.;

History of Tanganyika Curtin

Depelchin,

A. M. H. 44

;

46

,

African History

.

economy of Zanzibar 1870-1914', E. Ferguson and Zanzibar under Colonial Rule (London, forthcoming).

'Political

Sheriff,

N. Bukharin, Imperialism and World Economy (New York, 1973); R. Jenkins, Exploitation (London, 1971); J. N. Rosenau, 'Pre-theories and theories of foreign policy', in R.B. Farrell, ed., Approaches to Comparative and International Relations (Evaston, 1966); H. Morgenthau, Politics among Nations (New York, 1967). H. K. Girvetz, The Evolution of Liberalism

(New York, 45

et al.

1966).

T.C. Ranger, The Recovery of African Initiative in African History (Dar es Salaam, 1969). See also his 'Connections between primary resistance movements and modern mass nationalism in East and Central Africa', Journal of African History 9, 1968.

For an excellent and new way of discussing precolonial African kingdoms see J. Guy, 'Production and exchange in the Zulu kingdom', Journal of

J.

Southern African Historical Studies

2, 1978.

47

A.C. Unomah, 'Commerce and political centralization Tanzania 1800-1890', Ibadan, 1978, mimeo.

48

A. Shorter, Nyungu-ya-Mawe (Nairobi, 1968). I have also used example in other works, and I therefore apologise for this monotony.

49

R. G. Armstrong, 'The development of kingdoms of the Historical Association of Nigeria 2, 1960.

50

For a detailed discussion of Ukimbu see A. Shorter, 'Ukimbu and the Kimbu chiefdoms of Southern Unyamwezi', D. Phil, thesis, Oxford University,

in

in

Negro

Unyamwezi,

this

Africa', Journal

1968. 51

A. Shorter, 'Nyungu-ya-Mawe and the empire of the ruga African History,

9, 1968.

52

A. Shorter, 'Kimbu', Oxford, 1967, mimeo.

53

Shorter, 'Nyungu-ya-Mawe'.

ruga'. Journal of

.

Precolonial states and European merchant capital

35

54

Ibid.

55

Shorter, 'Kimbu'.

56

Shorter, 'Southern Unyamwezi'. See also T. O. Ranger, 'Historical studies of rural development in Tanzania', East African Academy Symposium, 1968.

57

Ibid.

58

Shorter, 'Kimbu'.

59

Ibid.

60

D. Bryceson, 'Peasant food production and food supply in relation to the development of commodity production in pre-colonial and colonial Tanganyika', Dar es Salaam, 1978, mimeo, p. 9. See also S. Lucas, Utani Relationships in Tanzania (Dar es Salaam, 1974). historical

61

Iliffe ,

62

J.

63

History of Tanganyika p 48 ,

.

M. Lonsdale, 'Origins of nationalism in East Africa', Journal of African History 3, 1965, p. 373. Iliffe,

History of Tanganyika; N. N. Luanda, 'The dilemma of the Third 1979, mimeo; P. Redmond, 'SongeaNgoni',

World Worker', Dares Salaam, Tanzania Zamani 12, 1973.

2

The B alow oka and the establishment of states west of Lake Malawi

OWEN J. M. KALINGA In order to examine the process of state formation in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century northern Malawi, I am taking as my definition of a state a governmental system with a definite or discernible hierarchical structure, in which the leaders control or have access to key resources, be 1 they manpower or of a general economic nature. Although the states discussed here did not develop bureaucracies of the type found in some interlacustrine kingdoms or even some West African states such as Benin, Asante and Dahomey, there were definite pyramidal structures notable feature of the and means of controlling various resources. northern Malawi states is that almost all were founded by immigrant traders who were able to accommodate indigenous institutions and, in some cases, adapt them to suit their convenience. Between c.1720 and c.1800 a number of families crossed Lake Malawi from its eastern shore and settled in the central section of what is today northern Malawi. All these families - usually referred to as the Balowoka because they crossed the Lake - were originally traders. They established political authorities in He we, Uyombe, Nkhamanga, Wenya, Fulirwa and along the South Rukuru River. The polities established by the Balowoka lay to the south of the older southern Songwe states of Ungonde, Misuku, Ulambya and Kameme, and north of the states of the Tumbuka-Chewa marginal zone, Kanyenda, Chulu and Mwase Kasungu. The geographical area involved is roughly 5,646 square kilometres and the current population is approximately 80,000 people, mainly Tumbuka-speaking. Below is an account of the foundation of these states and how they interacted during the initial stages of their establishment; how the arrival of the Balowoka, a new type of traders, changed the political configuration of the region so that an unprecedented enlargement of scale occurred; and how the arrival of the Balowoka attracted the interests of the more established kingdoms such as that of the Ngonde and Kanyenda, and how they changed and developed in relation to them. The Balowoka rose to power by manipulating a judicious mixture of social factors, religious institutions and economic

A

monopoly. 2

The Balowoka

37

UNYIHA Livingstone Mt

Modern international boundaries — — •—• MLOWE Lowoka states •

60

Map

1

miles



Northern Malawi in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, showing the Lowoka states and their neighbours

38

Owen J. M.

Kalinga

Although the term Balowoka tends to refer to all the nineteenth-century state builders who came from the eastern side of Lake Malawi, and although, as will be noted in the discussion of individual families, most of them originated from the same area, it must be pointed out at this stage that they did not cross the lake as a group. Rather they arrived west of the lake at different times over a period of six decades. It would appear that the first immigrants to arrive in the area were led by Kakalala Musaiwila, a hunter who had originally come from Usaiwila in southern Unyamwezi in what is today central Tanzania. According to tradition, Kakalala and his family moved southwards towards the eastern shores of Lake Malawi, settling in the Songea region. He and those who followed him appear to have been part of the general southward movement of the founders of the various Kimbu chiefdoms. The push factor probably lay within the politics of the Kimbu, while the pull factor which determined the new homeland seems to have been primarily concerned with commercial 3 opportunities. They remained in Songea only temporarily, being drawn west of the lake by the availability of ivory, rhinoceros horn and a variety of valuable skins. As Vail has also suggested they had probably been drawn into the trading network which the Yao had been actively creating since the seventeenth century, many of the products of which found their way to Kilwa and Mozambique. This is suggested by the fact that west of the lake the Balowoka were described as 'Arabs' because of their style of dressing.

4

Kakala Musaiwila crossed the lake from Manda and landed at Chilumba on the western shore. He travelled southwards along the shore to Chiweta, from which point he followed the South Rukuru River upstream into what later became the Henga Valley. He proceeded westwards and, finally, reached the Nkhamanga plains not far from

Malambo

in the Luangwa Valley. The Nkhamanga plains, the Malambo region and the Luangwa Valley were heavily populated with elephants. While these regions probably possessed more elephants than people, they were inhabited by a number of clans, the most notable one being the Luhanga; other clans originating from the west included the Mkandawire, Zgambo and the Nyirongo. In pre-Lowoka times, the clan was the basis of the political, social and, to some extent, economic system. Clan heads looked after the welfare of their members. The clan head not only had authority over the various lineage heads within the clan, but also tended to be the custodian of land which in a mainly agricultural economy, was a very important resource. Upon arrival, Kakalala Musaiwila was taken to Chilundafya Luhanga, the headman, by Mwachanda Luhanga, a relative of the chief. According to tradition, the inhabitants did not consider ivory as of any special value and happily agreed to sell it to Kakalala Musaiwila in return for cloth, beads and conus shells (mphande). The Luhanga were so happy to see Kakalala Musaiwila that, in order to ensure that he remained with them

The Balowoka

39

they encouraged him to marry into their family. By marrying into the most influential family in the vicinity, Kakalala forged an important link with the indigenous people which proved politically and economically very useful to him.

Kakalala Musaiwila became a popular and influential trader in the To consolidate his position he paid visits to other clan heads and people of importance. To each he gave a blue-black cloth with which to make turbans which they wore to signify their superior status. Although this act suggests that Kakalala was seeking to establish political leadership in the area, it is emphasised that he never declared himself a chief or pretended to be one. Indeed, it is said that the indigenous political systems continued to operate as they had always done. In the early days, the contacts that he had made were used to promote trade and most of his new turbaned friends became his commercial agents. These new relationships ensured that ivory and its transportation could be easily region.

obtained.

5

But though Kakalala was commercially successful in the Nkhamanga he was anxious to control Hewe, which was immediately north of Nkhamanga and closer to the Luangwa Valley. It was also in this area that Kakalala Musaiwila's contemporary, Katumbi Mulindafwa Chabinga, had recently settled. Katumbi, like Kakalala, was a Mlowoka of Nyamwezi origin and interested in the ivory trade. Before crossing the lake, Katumbi had lived in the area just north of Manda Bay, controlled by Mapunda, who, it would appear, was himself a trader. According to the Katumbi tradition, their forebear had lived as a trader in Mapunda's area for many years. Later, he and his followers crossed the lake to Chilumba and travelled north to the kingdom of Ungonde. Katumbi was advised by the Kyungu or king - probably Maghemo (c. 1725-65) - to go into the hills where he could find the riches for which he was looking. Katumbi settled at Chigoma, which a few years later was to become the first capital of the Kaonga, the founders of the Nthalire chiefdom. From Chigoma, Katumbi began to establish an economic base and, like plain,

Kakalala Musaiwila, he gave turbans to local influential people in order and to feel economically secure. The names of the families found in the Chigoma area are not mentioned in the Katumbi tradition, but it is possible that the Ghandira clan was amongst them. The establishment of the Katumbi sphere of influence in the key region north of Kakalala's area of operation seems to have upset the latter's ambition to control the ivory trade of the north-eastern Luangwa and the adjacent area. In pursuit of his ambition, Kakalala interfered in the succession to the headship of the Katumbi family upon the pioneer leader's death. He dispatched his junior associate, Chipofya, to Chogima, where the sons of the deceased Katumbi were captured and taken south to Hewe. A junior Katumbi called Chimbavi was appointed head of the family and made to pledge to promote the economic interests to win their confidence

40

Owen J. M.

Kalinga

of Kakalala. Thus, Kakalala was now in control of trade which hitherto direct to the east coast from Katumbi. As Vail has pointed out, this 'take-over', albeit in a commercial sense, of the 'Katumbiship', by Kakalala is validated in the Katumbi tradition by stressing the point that Chipofya, Kakalala and Katumbi belonged to the same family and that the first two were nephews of the last. On the other hand, Kakalala's

had gone

7

descendants claim that Katumbi and Chipofya were his nephews. As rightly argued by Vail, it would appear that family relations between the Katumbi and Kakalala were established through intermarriage after and not before this incident of domestic interference, in order to solve a 8 politico-economic problem. It hardly requires stressing that these few

common ethnic origins and settled among a strange and numerous people, had to co-operate and not fall into feuding, if they were aliens, all of

to be successful.

In Hewe, their new home, the Katumbi found the Zorokere, Kanyerere, Nchuka, Mwavintiza as the indigenous clans. Although Chimbavi Katumbi was a junior and his appointment had been backed by Kakalala, he appears to have been politically astute. Traditions of the Zorokere, for example, state that their ancestor, and the other people of Hewe, at first refused to recognise Katumbi's authority, but that in the end they accepted the turbans given to them by the new arrival. A descendant of Chiwulukutu Zorokere quoted Katumbi as having said, 'Now that you have been given a black cloth to wear around the head, you have been honoured because it is the black cloth which makes a person a

Katumbi Chimbavi also established contact with Mlomboji (Muromboji) - probably of the Nthali family - the local religious leader who was based at Mwanda Hill, confirming and recognising his status and 9 influence. Thus, Katumbi not only controlled the economy of the region, but also the dominant families as well as the religious heads. Unlike Kakalala Musaiwila, therefore, Katumbi Chimbavi immediately real chief.'

set out to establish himself as the political authority in the area.

The reason for the difference in style between Kakalala and Katumbi probably lies in the fact that Katumbi met considerable resistance from the autochthones. He was therefore forced to take over and establish political authority. Second, Katumbi was clearly aware of Kakalala's ambition. To forestall the eventual assumption of political authority and subordination to the Nkhamanga trader, Katumbi had to strongly declare and assert his interests in the Hewe region. Third, Katumbi found it easier to penetrate and influence the religious system based on Mwanda Hill, than Kakalala would have done if he had tried to influence the more widespread cult based, among other places, on Chikang'ombe hill in Nkhamanga. 10 The localised cult in Katumbi's area was ideally suited to be adapted to the role of the religious centre of a chiefdom. Finally, it cannot be ignored that the character and personality of the two men were different. Katumbi was politically ambitious and this may have had

The Balowoka

41

something to do with the fact that he was a second generation immigrant, while Kakalala, the older man, was satisfied with being the richest merchant in the region. In many cases to be discussed hereafter, it was the second generation which established political authority, based

on the influence the fathers had gained. Having established good relations with the leader of the new Hewe polity which assured him of more ivory, Kakalala's next problem was to ensure the security of the route to the shores of Lake Malawi, from which points ivory could be transported to the east coast. He turned eastwards to the area along the South Rukuru River in what is today the Henga Valley. Here Katong'ongo Mhinga, originally from UheheUbena, had established himself not long after Kakalala and Katumbi had settled in Nkhamanga and Chigoma respectively. In his new home, Katong'ongo found many clans, the Mzumara, Munthali and Mkandawire. He married into all these, thereby strengthening the ties between his family and his hosts. Furthermore he seems to have ingeniously taken control of the local shrine at Phwezi and declared himself its priest. Katong'ongo also had qualities which appealed to the indigenous people and thereby increased his influence. He was a good hunter and distributed meat to his neighbours; he was an artisan who made bracelets, and he specialised in salt production. The last skill was particularly advantageous. He became prominent when he began to work the famous high-quality salt deposits at Kamembe. He traded in salt with the people along the lakeshore, the Phoka, and even those on largely

the Nkhamanga plains. To the latter people he also sold the highly11 prized Phoka hoes. It was not long before Katong'ongo turned these

commercial, social and religious advantages into political dominance under the chiefly title, Mwahenga. Katong'ongo Mwahenga's rise to prominence worried Kakalala because a powerful trader-chief on the routes to the lake might easily skim off the main profits of trade through customs dues and other levies and finally cut off the trade completely to exact his demands. Kakalala concluded an agreement with Mwahenga, where by the latter would be supplied with cloth and other rare goods of commercial value in return for continued access to the lake and for salt and Phoka hoes. Kakalala made similar arrangements with other important rulers on the key routes to Chilumba, so that, should one or more interfere with the routes, Kakalala might still have access to the lakeshore points. These rulers were Mwankhunikira, Kachulu, Mwamlowe and Jumbo, but all of them, including Katumbi and Mwahenga, remained politically independent. By a series of commercial agreements Kakalala had turned himself into the commercial master of the region stretching from 12 When the Luangwa in the west to Chilumba and Mlowe in the east. he died around 1750, his son, Gonapamuhanya (also known as

Khalapamuhanya), inherited

his father's influential position, but, like a

42

Owen

J.

M. Kalinga

number of these second generation traders, he went further than his father by turning part of this economic empire into a political kingdom. Gonapamuhanya, Kakalala's son by his Luhanga wife, acceeded to the political position of his mother's family and became the founder of the Chikulamayembe dynasty which was to rule Nkhamanga for a time. Using the political power of his maternal relations and the economic muscle of his father, Gonapamuhanya set out to establish firm control over the Nkhamanga plain. He tried as far as possible not to disturb the traditional religious system by leaving the Kachali - a branch of the Mkandawire - as the custodians of the shrine at Chikang'ombe Hill. Whenever need arose for prayers and sacrifices at Chikang'ombe, the Chikulamayembe requested the priest to conduct the ceremony and the chief himself contributed the offerings to be made. As time went on, however, the Chikulamayembes - especially Gonapamuhanya's successors - unsuccessfully attempted to eclipse the influence of the Chikang'ombe shrine by introducing the worship of their own ancestors. New shrines were created at a number of places including Mang'weng'we and dedicated to the ancestors of the new rules. They further attempted to weaken the Chikang'ombe shrine by controlling

the administration of the mwavi poison ordeal employed in indigenous judicial procedures. The control of the mwavi was designed to enhance the authority of the Chikulamayembe who would through it become the 13 ultimate judicial authority in the Nkhamanga plain. Gonapamuhanya was succeeded by his sister's son, Kamphungu, remembered in traditions as a harsh ruler who for some time banished all his predecessor's sons because their presence made him feel 14

His unfriendliness to his cousins tends to overshadow his in the Nkhamanga plain and the neighbouring territories. Kamphungu continued Gonapamuhanga's efforts to consolidate the hold of the Chikulamayembe over Nkhamanga. He also devoted time to trade. Largely because of their success in the ivory and rhino-horn commerce, traders from the eastern side of the lake were attracted to the region and many of them posed a threat to the economic hegemony that Musaiwila and Gonapamuhanya had established. The most notable of the new immigrants were led by Mpamba Kaunga, recognised as the founder of the Nyirenda clan. Kaunga and his trading partner Mkama, a Bisa, set themselves up in the Henga Valley and from there began extensive trading in an area that hitherto had been monopolised by the Chikulamayembe and their agents. 15 This story of a Bisa trader suggests that the Bisa were active in this region prior to the Balowoka. Generally the Balowoka pushed out, displaced and took over the commercial role of the Bisa. It was possibly because Kaunga met such stiff opposition from the earlier established Balowoka that he allied himself with the Bisa who were also under great pressure from the insecure.

other

activities

same newcomers.

The

B alow oka

43

Some traditions claim that the Kaunga Nyirenda arrived in the region 16 These brother during the reign of Pitamkusa, Chikulamayembe III. rulers have been dated to the period 1777-1815, but in view of the insistence of the Nyirenda - both of Rumpi and Nkhata Bay - that they settled in the Henga Valley during the reign of Kamphungu and before a major drought and, since we know that this major drought took place between 1794 and 1798, we can with some certainty date their arrival to 17 The Chikulamayembe unsuccessfully waged the 1780s and early 1790s. war on the new immigrants. To prevent the Kaunga Nyirenda from entrenching themselves in the area, Kamphungu made Njakwa his vassal, demanding tribute from him. The Kaunga had married into this family and this must have been an added worry to Kamphungu. Kaunga was killed by a Njakwa woman, probably at the instigation of the Chikulamayembe. Kaunga's children escaped to Choma but were pursued by Kamphungu and defeated. Meantime he despatched Mankhaka to the lands beyond (present-day Nkhata Bay) which were ruled by a man called Thula. The latter had been defeated by a vassal of the Chewa chief Kanyenda and as a consequence had come under the paramountcy of Kanyenda. Mankhaka was given a turban by Chikuslamayembe and made chief. He ws also given 'medicine' to enable him to defeat Kanyenda's

vassal.

1H

Mankhaka regained the land but whereas Thula had been weak and ineffectual, the new ruler was unpopular. This provided an opportunity for Mahawu, a grand nephew of the last Kabunduli, to revive the Kanunduli chieftaincy which had been abolished when the house of Thula had taken over. The original Kabunduli had been a Chewa of the Phiri clan who had tried to set up on the periphery of the Nkhamanga plain the furthest northern extension of the

Maravi influence.

It

seems that

this

chieftancy had been usurped by a trader group from the west, and under Chibisi in the eighteenth century had moved away to the south due to the l9 activities of the immigrant Balowoka. The foregoing description of events suggests that while pursuing their trading rivals, the Chikulamayembe - both Kamphungu and Pitamkusa also tried to further their political ambition, or even that in pursuit of

economic monopoly they were forced

to seek political hegemony. Their abortive attempts to extend their political kingdom have been incorrectly employed by some writers to argue that the area as far south as the Dwangwa River was once under the Chikulamayembe. 20 This view is strengthened by the fact that during the 1794-8 drought, many clans and sub-clans settled in the Nkhamanga plains and other areas badly affected by the drought migrated towards the lakeshore in Nkhata Bay. Some of these clans may previously have been subject to Chikulamayembe and, therefore, led some people, including the Nkamanga rulers themselves, to

assume that

all

jurisdiction of the

that vast expanse of territory

Chikulamayembe.

had once

fallen

under the

44

Owen J. M.

Kalinga

that because of the success of the Katumbi because of mere expansionist ambition, the Ngonde rulers began to take an unusual interest in the area north-west of Hewe, which ultimately became organised as the Nthalire chiefdom. The

Meantime

it

would appear

in the ivory trade, or

Kyungu had

established a centralised political authority in the

Karonga

lakeshore plain some time around 1600 and, contrary to some commentators, there is no evidence in Ngonde traditions to show that they had regarded ivory as of commercial value. Ugonde traditions are agreed that as a mark of respect, the Kyungus received one tusk of every elephant 21 What leads one to speculate killed and these were used as ornaments. about the change in attitude to ivory is that some time in the late eighteenth century the Kyungus helped to establish what came to be known as the Nthalire chieftaincy.

According to traditions collected in Nthalire, it would appear that, in the early decades of the eighteenth century, the reigning Kyungu, probably Maghemo (c. 1725-65) sent some freemen, the Chilongo, to upstream along the North Rukuru River. For reasons that are not clear, the Chilongo annoyed the Kyungu and they were recalled to the capital at Mbande and rebuked by the Ngonde ruler. One Chilongo tradition claims that the Kyungu was angry with their ancestor who had married a member of the Ngonde royal family, because of his arrogance and aggression towards some of their neighbours and for 22 allowing the royal woman to behave like a chief. Another Chilongo tradition says that the Kyungu was angry because the Chilongo were creating mud in the north Rukuru River, whose source was in the Nthalire, 3 thus causing the fish to disappear/ Whether this tradition refers to the drying up of the river during a particularly severe dry season is not clear. One of the praise names of one branch of the Chilongo is 'Destroyer of establish a settlement

fish traps'.

24

The story of fish is also connected with the establishment of a new lineage of rulers in Ungonde, the Ngana house, the details of which have been discussed elsewhere. Mwakasekele, the Ndali father of Kasyombe, the founder of the house of Ngana, was a trader and fisherman and probably it was Kasyombe (c. 1765-1805) who rebuked the Chilongo and 25 sent out their immigrants, the Kaonga, to establish a state in the area. According to the Kaonga tradition, their ancestor, Jeya (c. 1782-1815) and his party left their home somewhere in the Undali/Usango region, crossed the Songwe and went into the Misuku Hills, finally descending to Ungonde. Jeya and his followers were hunters, and one day they were sitting around a buffalo which they had just killed in the bush not far from Mbande when they were found by women from the court. They reported the matter to the Kyungu, who called for them and was so impressed by Jeya that he gave him his sister to marry. Since Jeya was looking for a country in which to settle, the Kyungu directed him to Nthalire. It is said that the Kyungu's sister was at first unhappy about going there because,

The Balowoka

45

being upland country, she would miss the fresh fish which she liked so Once they settled in Nthalire they began to send presents and tribute to the Kyungu. It is emphasised though by the Kaonga tradition that Jeya, his party and their descendants were not professional ivory hunters or even traders, and that whatever ivory was occasionally sent to the Kyungu, it was not sold to anyone by him. As pointed out earlier, Kyungu Kasyombe's father was engaged in the fish trade and it is clear from both Ngonde and Sukwa traditions that the Ndali - to which group Kasyombe's father belonged - were famous 27 It would seem that Kasyombe probably had more interest in traders. trade than his predecessors or his conservative advisers the makambala. During his reign Kasyombe initiated many changes and, although credit for this and for increased external contacts is often given to Kyungu Mwangonde (c. 1805-45), it is possible to trace the initial stages of this development to Kasyombe's era. There is no evidence to show that the Ngonde were involved in the ivory trade to any marked degree in the eighteenth century and early nineteenth century but this does not mean that the Ngonde were unaware of the developments to the south and south-west of their country. There is, however, another interpretation of Kasyombe's extraordinary interest in the Nthalire area. He was new to well.

and in a determined manner made major constituMbande, much to the displeasure of the makambala. It is thus possible that Kasyombe was keen to help establish a new political chiefdom on which he could, whenever need arose, fall back for support against his political adversaries. He probably thought he could more safely rely on his Ndali compatriots than upon the people in central Ungonde. That the Kyungu was becoming interested in the upland region to the west of Ungonde is demonstrated by the way he dealt with two other Balowoka state builders. The first of these was Vinkhakanimba Mughogho who, like Musaiwila and Katumbi, came from Unyanyembe and was a hunter. Some traditions claim that he was in the same party as the other two Nyamwezi hunters, but it would appear that he arrived slightly later. Upon landing at Chilumba from Manda, he went north to Ungonde to seek the Kyungu's advice on the best place to settle. The Kyungu, most likely Kasyombe, is said to have advised him to go beyond Bthalire, and this fact is confirmed by the Kaonga tradition, which

Ngonde tional

political life

changes

at

mentions that there was a clash between the Mughogho and Nthalire soon 28 In other words, after the former had arrived in the upland area. Vinkhakanimba Mughogho settled in the uplands probably in the 1790s, after the Kaonga and the Kyungu's sister had established themselves in Nthalire.

As advised by the Kyungu, Mughogho finally settled in the Kavikula area - later called Uyomba - and there he found the Mbambala who are reported to have been of Fungwe origin and therefore probably a

46

Owen J. M.

Kalinga

Nyiha-speaking group. The Mbambala practised mixed agriculture, growing millet and sorghum and rearing cattle. They are also said to have been iron smelters and to have made hoes that were similar to the famous Kinga hoes. In their new home, the Mughogho found Bisa families, who probably either moved away or were absorbed into the new Yombe political and economic system. The Mughogho tradition also reports that the Mbambala and the people of Bisa origin did not know the value of ivory and that, on their arrival in Kavikula, the Mughogho, following the custom of their homeland, took a gift of ivory to their new hosts; the offer was turned down becase 'these are bones so why are you bringing

them

to us?'

29

It seems highly unlikely that as late as the 1790s the Bisa were so out of touch with the commercial world that they did not know the economic value of ivory. It would appear that this story was part of the propaganda of the newcomers to cover up the manner in which they drove the Bisa out of the trade. It seems very likely that the Bisa pioneered the trade over the entire region; the Balowoka merely seized an already developed

trading system. Presumably the Balowoka traders were willing and able to pay much higher prices and offer more attractive goods than the Bisa had been able to do. This stimulated many more local people to become involved in the hunt for ivory than had been the case previously. The

Balowoka created a scramble for ivory. They began to hunt for elephants and sent the ivory to the eastern shores of Lake Malawi from whence it was transported to the east coast of Africa. The founder of the new Yombe state also sent ivory presents to the Kyungu in appreciation of his assistance in directing them to their new homeland. The friendship between the Kyungu and the Yombe rulers continued. It is stated that although they sometimes sought the Kyungu's advice, they were left to manage their own affairs. The Mughogho had their own place of worship on Kalanga Hill where the priest, Balamula Mkonda, who was probably of Fungwe origin, made sacrifices. The priesthood was hereditary. It is emphasised that there was no cult such as 30 that of Chikang'ombe. Other Balowoka who were directed to the upland area by the Kyungu were the Kayira, the founders of Wenya state. The story of the Kayira, especially in its early stages, is better told in conjunction with that of the Mwafulirwa, who came to rule the area south of Ungonde, because they were descended from a common ancestor, Malongo. Malongo was originally from Upangwa near the Livingstone Mountains in modern Tanzania. He was a trader in Kisii pots and other products such as salt. He was selling these items to the people at Chilumba. He is said to have married into the Mapunda family and it is possible that, like the other Balowoka, he had heard about the bright trading prospects on the western side of the lake. Malongo and his family decided to cross and settle in the Chilumba area where they came in contact with the

.

The

B alow oka

47

Mkandawire, an old established clan in the region. Malongo was also a renowned magician. He married a girl from the Mkandawire family and this girl gave birth to a son called Waifwa Wasambo, who was to become the founder of the Fulirwa dynasty in the Chilumba region. Malongo had other sons by a Mapunda woman and one of these, Mwendamjira Musyani Kayira left for the upland countries and settled first at Thete in Nthalire. The rulers of the latter area, the Kaonga, who, as discussed earlier, were related to

newcomers

Kyungu by marriage, in their

felt threatened by the arrival of the sphere of influence. They immediately reported the

matter to the Ngonde ruler. The Kyungu sent a Mwendamjira Musyani Kayira advising him to leave

and

his compatriots travelled

stern warning to

Nthalire.

Musyani

north-westwards to Zibang'ombe, where

they found the Simwaka clan. The Simwaka were of Nyiha origin and had 31 lived in the region for many centuries. An argument arose as to who was to rule the land and it was resolved by the staging of two competitions The first involved fire-making by friction Musyani won. To confirm that the results were valid, a second test was decided upon This time both contestants were required to sleep overnight on leaves which were hairy and sticky. The one who woke up with the leaves sticking to his body would be declared the loser. Musyani won again because this time while Simwaka was asleep, he had burnt all the sticky hair attached to the leaves. In the morning he was declared the victor. The Simwaka then handed over power to Mwendamjira Musyani who became the founder of the Kayira dynasty which still rules the traditional polity of Wenya. Musyani married into the Simwaka, who now assumed the political role of advisers of the new rulers and the religious role as kingmakers. Some members of the Simwaka family were also appointed 32 rulers of sub-units of Wenya. The story of the fire-making competition also features in the traditions covering the take-over of power of the Mwaulambya from the Sikwese on the plains of Chitipa. As in the case of Ulambya this contest probably refers to a symbolic transfer of power from the indigenous people to newcomers. In both cases the newcomers are pictured as strong people who could create fire and defeat the autochthones. As in Ulambya, fire became an important part of many 33 rituals. For example, upon the death of a Mwenewenya, all fires were extinguished in the kingdom of Wenya and new ones relit from the royal 34 fireplace upon the installation of the new ruler. Again, as in Ulambya, but unlike Ungone, power was shared between the new rulers and the indigenous people, suggesting that the Kayira take-over of power was more peaceful than that of the Kyungus. The latter forcibly displaced the Simbowe, the previous rulers, and all the court officials were chosen from 35 the newcomers who had assisted the overthrow. While the Kayira were establishing themselves in Wenya, their kinsman .

.

,

,

,

Waifwa Wasambo was rising to prominence in Fulirwa. It will be recalled that Waifwa Wasambo was the son of Malongo by a Mkandawire woman

48

Owen J. M.

Kalinga

and, therefore, unlike Kayira, there was a kinship relationship between him and the people he came to control. Waifwa, whose dates, c.1789 to 1819, are calculated from the Wenya and Fulirwa regnal lists, became 36 famous during a drought which traditions claim lasted four seasons. This was undoubtedly the drought of 1794 to 1798, which threatened life in Nkhamanga and the whole of central Africa. Chikulamayembe (possibly Pitamkusa, c. 1777-1817) called upon both the Mkandawires of Chilumba who were noted magicians, as well as Waifwa who had inherited the magical powers of his father. While the Mkandawires failed, their nephew Waifwa Wasambo succeeded in calling rain. There were four days of torrential rain and Waifwa was called upon once again, but this time to reduce it. Once more he was successful. This earned Waifwa a great reputation and so impressed Chikulamayembe that he immediately declared him the ruler of the Chilumba area. Waifwa later assumed the title

of Mwafulirwa.

37

No evidence exists to show that the Chikulamayembe had any political control after the foundation of the new dynasty. Traditions do not mention tribute paid to the Chikulamayembe and there is only one incident of interference by the Nkhamanga ruler in internal Fulirwa politics. It seems clear that the Chikulamayembe were once again merely trying to ensure that the rulers of the important

Chilumba area were

We saw how Musaiwila had worked out arrangements the various polities on the route to Chilumba. We also

friendly to them.

with heads of discussed how immediate successors went further than Musaiwila in extending their sphere of influence. With the establishment of Uyombe and Katumbi-Hewe, both of which seem to have evolved more viable political systems than that of Nkhamanga and both of which were interested in the Chilumba port, the Chikulamayembes were anxious to extend a firmer economic control over the Chilumba region. The Chikulamayembes became involved in the internal affairs of Fulirwa in the 1820s when Bamantha (Chikulamayembe VI), on a visit to Chilumba, is reported to have been insulted by Wanthowa (Mwafulirwa III). Apparently, Wanthowa asked Bamantha to help him to make a hoe handle. This request made it appear as if Mwafulirwa considered himself superior to his guest. 38 The Chikulamayembe is said to have appealed to Kyungu Mwangonde (c. 1805^5) to help him punish the Mwafulirwa for his insolence. Kyungu Mwangonde sent his eldest son, Mwakasungula, to mediate between the two quarrelling rulers. Wanthowa apologised to Bamantha and gave him two women as compensation for the mistake he had made. He also gave the Kyungu two women out of 39 gratitude for his mediation. One tradition has it that Bamantha was asked to help make a hoe handle by Mwafulirwa during the days when he had been in exile from the harsh rule of Kampungu. He is said to have sworn to avenge this insult. His opportunity to do so came when he became Chikulamayembe VI. 40 In any case the significance of the

The Balowoka incident

is

that

it

49

demonstrates that the Chikulamayembes were becoming

increasingly worried about their hold over Chilumba and wanted to remind

the Mwafulirwa that they originally owed their political authority to them.

Summary of political power by a group of hunter-traders, usually referred to as the Balowoka, in what is today northern Malawi, occurred as a result of the scramble for ivory which took place in the eighteenth

The assumption

century, when demand for that product greatly increased and prices rose as a consequence. It appears that the Balowoka swept away the Bisa trade of the area, which had concentrated on the exchange of Africna produced goods, of which ivory was merely one.

The pattern of the foundation of the various states which emerged was remarkably similar. Most of the hunter-traders came out of the Nyamwezi area of central Tanzania and moved to the regions West of Lake Malawi. Here they became deeply involved in the long distance trade to and from the coast. Their expertise, their manner of dressing, the turbans they gave out and the exotic goods they imported indicated this in no uncertain manner. The first generation were content to remain trader barons, the second generation utilised their father's influence and prestige to take over political control.

Very

were the means by which all of them seized political was a mixture of social religious and economic factors which led to political power. They intermarried with the leading families, they penetrated or manipulated indigenous religious institutions, and they monopolised commercial activities to win a large number of clients and followers. Aliens in an alien land, by and large they co-operated in partitioning the land among themselves clearly recognising that they were few and vulnerable. It was not long before elephants became scarce in the region and the new chiefs were forced to depend upon tribute and tolls extracted from the caravans passing from the Luangwa Valley to the lakeside ports. It seems likely that the second generation coincided with this depletion of resources. The sons either had to seize political control to control

similar too

.

It

,

,

tax the carvans or never expect to equal the affluence of their hunter-trader

The sons had another advantage over their fathers. The former could be considered native sons because of kinship connections on the maternal side. Furthermore it is clear that from being leading families in insignificant polities, the maternal relations rose to become branches of the royal families in states of size, importance and wealth. Even in the Ngonde kingdom founded in c. 1600, an alien trader who had married into the royal family became king in the 1760s. It has long been an axiom that trade and politics are closely interwoven and that trade, either regional or long-distance, often gave rise to states. However, the process is much more complex than that. It also requires the fathers.

Owen J. M.

50

Kalinga

creation and judicious manipulation of social and kinship bonds and the penetration and influence over institutions of religion. Not every wealthy and successful trader became a king.

Notes 1

2

For different definitions of a state, see R. Cohen and E. R. Service, eds., Origins of the State (Philadelphia, ISHI, 1978). Also included in this discussion is the Nthalire chiefdom which although not a Lowoka state, is best discussed against the background of other polities established in the eighteenth century. The oral traditions are classified according to the areas in which they were collected. Thus, those collected in Nthalire and Wenya are referred to as Nthalire Historial Texts (NHT) and Wenya Historical Texts (WHT) respectively. The population figures are from Population Census 1977: Preliminary Report: Density of Population and Dwelling Units (Zomba, ,

National Statistical Office, 1978). 3

For the situation in Ukimbu and Central Tanzania in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries see Aylward Shorter, Chiefship in Western Tanzania: a Political History of the Kimbu (Oxford, 1972), pp. 163-222; id., The Kimbu', in A. Roberts, ed., Tanzania Before 1900 (Nairobi, 1968), pp. 98-103.

4

northern Malawi: the towards a reinterpreted Tumbuka history', in B. Pachai, ed. The Early History of Malawi, (London, 1972), pp. 154-7. The section on Katumbi, Chikulamayembe and Lwahenga has greatly benefited from Dr Vail's work and field notes some of which he has kindly given to me For the Yao connection of Kakalala Musaiwila see also T. Cullen Young, Notes on the History of the Tumbuka- Kamanga Peoples of the Northern Province of Nyasaland (London, 1970), p. 37; E. A. Alpers, Ivory and Slaves in East Central Africa (London, 1975), pp. 161-3; J. B. Webster, 'From Yao Hill to Mulanje Mountain: ivory and slaves and the southwestern expansion of the Yao', Staff-Student Seminar Paper, Chancellor College, University of Malawi, 1977.

H. Leroy Vail, Trade and

strange

relationship',

Ms.;

politics in pre-colonial id.,

'Suggestions

,

,

,

.

5

6

Trade and polities'; 'Preface to Annual Report: North Nyasa District, 1931, National Archives of Malawi; Henga-Kamanga Historical Text No. 3.

Vail,

Chief Katumbi,

The

history of

Katumbi Mlowoka', being a summary of from elders in his area; Vail, Trade

traditions collected in 1970 by the chief

and polities'. Jim Allen has suggested to me that the blue turbans indicate a connection with the east coast because they were not found in the interior. Pers. comm. J. de V. Allen, Nairobi University. 7

Katumbi, 'Katumbi Mlowoka'; Young, Tumbuka- Kamanga, pp. 165-7.

The Balowoka 8

9

Vail, 'Trade

and

51

polities'.

Katumbi, 'Katumbi Mlowoka'; interview: Sub-Chief Zorokere with Vail; Khunga, 'Madauko ya Fuko-la Zolorokore', in Mldauko (Blantyre,

Isaac

1965).

10

For details about this cult, see H. Leroy Vail, 'Religion, language and tribal myth: the Tumbuka and Chewa of Malawi', paper presented at the Conference of Central African Religious Systems, Lusaka, September 1972.

11

A.K. Mhango, 'The history of the Henga people', Final Year History Student Seminar Paper, Chancellor College, University of Malawi, 1970; Vail, 'Trade and polities'.

12

Vail, 'Trade

13

Vail, 'Religion, language

14

'Preface to Annual Report: North Nyasa Kamanga, pp. 87-9; Saulos Nyirenda,

and

polities'.

people', Bantu Studies,

1,

and

tribal myth'.

District, 1931';

Young, Tumbuka-

'History of the

Tumbuka-Henga

1930, pp. 16-18.

15

R. G. Mkandawire, 'The corridor in Tumbuka and Chewa history: migration and settlement of the Tonga with special reference to Kabunduli, c,.16O-c.l860', Staff-Student Seminar Paper, Chancellor College, University of Malawi, 1978-9; Vail, 'Trade and polities'; id., 'Suggestions', p. 160.

16

Vail, 'Suggestions', p. 160.

17

F.

Mkandawire, 'The

corridor'; Nyirenda, 'History of the

Tumbuka-Henga

people', pp. 9-16; for the dating of this drought see J. B. Webster, 'Drought and Migration: the Lake Malawi littoral as a region of region of refuge', in Z.

D. Kadzamira, ed., Topics

in

Malawi History (Forthcoming).

18

Mkandawire, 'The

19

Ibid.

20

Young, Tumbuka- Kamanga, pp. 41-7; 'Tribal intermixture in Northern Nyasaland', Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 63, 1933, pp.

corridor'.

1-18; Myirenda, 'History of the

21

Ngonde

22

NHT,No.

23

WHT,No.2.

24

In vernacular

Tumbuka-Honga

people', p. 16.

Historical Texts, Nos. 1-6. 2.

it is

'Ne Chipangula Nyono'. See

WHT, No.

2.

1

.

Owen J. M.

52 25

NHT,No.

Kalinga

2.

In Nthalire, Jeya found the

26

said that there

was no

Ghondira and Chilongo amongst others and it is between the new immigrants and the

conflict

indigenous people.

27

See

Owen J. M.

Ngonde kingdom of northern Malawi', London, 1974, pp. 113-16, 147-50.

Kalinga, 'The

thesis, University of

PhD

28

Interview: Chief Muyombe with Vail, 7/8/71; notes from the National Archives of Zambia kindly given to me by Dr Harry W. Langworthy of Cleveland State University.

29

Interview: Chief Muyombe with Vail.

30

Ibid.

3

WHT No

32

Ibid.

33

Kayira, 'Kayira Clan'.

O

Y Kayira 'A survey of the history the Kay ira clan of Northern 1 Malawi', Final Year History Student Seminar Paper, Chancellor College, University of Malawi, 1970-1; see also Fulirwa Historical Text, No. 2.

Owen

34

J.

.

;

M.

.

,

.

Kalinga, 'The establishment and expansion of the Lambya Studies Review 21, 2, 1978. pp. 57-60.

kingdom c.1699-1750', African

Owen J. M.

35

Kalinga, 'Trade, the Kyungus and the emergence of the

kingdom', International Journal of African Historical Studies, 12,

1,

Ngonde

1979. pp.

21-31.

36

will be found in chapter 1 of A History of the Ngonde Kingdom, being the revised manuscript of my PhD thesis. The references to this particular drought are many but only one mentions the 'four seasons' it lasted See 'A history of the Mwafulirwa', NN1/20/7, National Archives of Malawi.

These dates

,

37

Ibid.; 'Preface to the

Historical Text,

38

No.

Annual Report: North Nyasa

District, 1931';

Fulirwa

2.

Ibid.

39

A. Mwakasungula, M. Mwakabanga and

P.

of view', in Young,

pp. 63; 73-4.

Tumbuka-Kamanga,

Mwamlima, 'The Nkonde

point

Acknowledgements I

am

grateful to the Research

and Publications Committee of the University of which enabled me to carry out field-work in northern Malawi. I also indebted to Professor J. B. Webster for his useful criticisms of an earlier

Malawi

am

draft.

for funds

Political change

3

among the Chewa

and Yao of the Lake Malawi region, C. 1750-1900

KINGS M.PHIRl The period from the mid-eighteenth century to late nineteenth-century around Lake Malawi was marked by a number of important political changes, which taken together make this an exciting phase in the precolonial history of the region. In the north, a group of trader immigrants known as Balowoka migrated into northern Malawi from the 1 eastern side of the lake and ultimately established a chain of states. In the central and southern areas, the Maravi imperial system, which in the previous two or three centuries had dominated the region, declined and

was gradually replaced by several small-scale successor states, most of which survived into the colonial period. 2 In addition, the nineteenth century witnessed the immigrations of the Yao and Ngoni, both of whom established their own patterns of military and economic dominance in the region.

3

The indigenous inhabitants of the area which spans the southern half of Lake Malawi were the Maravi/Chewa/Nyanja cluster of peoples. In the late eighteenth century, they were politically organised into a number of chieftaincies, the successors to the ancient

Maravi 'empire'. In the early

nineteenth century, the eastern part of it was infiltrated by many groups of Yao immigrants from the northern part of Mozambique. These Yao immigrants created their own states or chieftaincies and established a tight hegemony over the indigenous Chewa or Nnanja inhabitants. It will be argued that the viability of the successor Maravi/Chewa states of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries depended on the

economic and religious functions which the ruling families and their advisers were able or expected to uphold, as well as on the exigencies of the interaction which existed between the Chewa and neighbouring ethnic groups. As for the Yao, it appears the growth of states or strong chieftaincies among them in the nineteenth century was the result of their economic specialisation and geographical displacement from their traditional homeland in northern Mozambique. After surveying the circumstances in which the Chewa and the Yao states of the period were established,

I

will

then discuss some of the organisational or structural

54

Kings M. Phiri

features of these states, with particular reference to the integrative function of economic and religious control. Finally, because the second half of the nineteenth century was a period of military crisis for most Chewa states at least, an assessment will be made of the extent to which these states were adapted militarily for survival against the many odds

with which they were confronted in the

last

decades of the nineteenth

century.

Following the decline of the Maravi 'empire' in the early eighteenth century, the area surrounding the southern half of Lake Malawi was a power vacuum. The once politically centralised Maravi/Chewa reverted to kinship rather than territory as the basis of political organisation. In other words, the political units into which they were organised were coterminous with the corporate structure of clan segments. Occasionally, alliances were contracted between two or more units of this size, but this was never more than a temporary arrangement. By the mid-nineteenth century, it was being observed by the early European visitors that the Chewa had become a hopelessly disunited people, with only vague 4 memories of their glorious imperial past. It is evident, on the other hand, that this view should be reassessed, because in some parts of Chewa country, particularly in areas that had been peripheral to state formation during the classical Maravi period, several strong chieftaincies developed as 'successors' to the Maravi empire. The most distinguished of these chieftaincies emerged among the Northern Chewa in the present northern districts of central Malawi, such as Mchinji, Kasungu,

Nkhota-Kota and Dowa. Beginning from about 1740, if the chronology of Chewa states is reckoned by means of the dynastic generation method (see Appendix A), the Northern Chewa area witnessed the growth of some very powerful territorial chieftaincies, such as those of Mwase Kasungu, Mkanda, Kanyenda, and Dzoole. The factors and circumstances which gave rise to process of state-formation will be explored later. state of political affairs among the Yao, who still lived in their traditional homeland within northern Mozambique in the late eighteenth century, on the other hand, was not clear. Political centralisation appears this

The

have been a late phenomenon among them when compared to its early appearance among the Chewa or Nyanja to the west of Yaoland. It has even been suggested that the Yao may have been an insignificant ethnic group before the eighteenth century. 5 Like the most decentralised of the Chewa, therefore, the Yao in the eighteenth century lacked powerful rulers as well as institutions of centralised government. They only had headmen whose status was determined by the size of their following. The headman, it may be assumed, fulfilled the same judicial and religious 6 functions which Clyde Mitchell found them performing in the 1940s. With the help of a select group of elders the headman tried all the civil and criminal cases brought to his notice; and in conjunction with his eldest to

The Chewa and Yao

100

////j

Chewa

Yao

Map

2

200

55

miles

controlled territory

controlled territory

The Lake Malawi

Chewa and Yao

region: location of

states

some nineteenth-century

56

Kings M. Phiri

sister,

he conducted or authorised initiation ceremonies and made offering to his ancestral spirits for the productive and

sacrificial

7

reproductive well-being of his people. According to the regnal lists of the powerful Machinga Yao chieftaincies who occupied the eastern side of the Upper Shire Valley (see Appendix C), the change from small-scale kinship-based to large territorial-based polities must have occurred in the early nineteenth century. This change was accompanied by the addition of a commercial role to the judicial and religious functions which Yao leaders already discharged. To begin with, we shall look at the factors which accounted for the growth of the Chewa states which succeeded the defunct Maravi empire. These factors should, in my view, be sought within the context of the late eighteenth-century events among the Chewa and their neighbours. Those of the Northern Chewa who experienced most of the changes in question, for example, neighbouring ethnic groups like the Tumbuka in the north and Nsenga in the west, were by the mid-eighteenth century beginning to challenge Maravi or Chewa military supremacy north of the Zambezi. This created the need to reassert Chewa control over areas which these neighbouring peoples could have easily wrested away. The Northern Chewa dynasties of Mwase Kasungu and Kanyenda, for example, are said to have grown powerful by impressing their authority over the people who surrounded them. Secondly, new economic trends were under way in the area and they necessitated the adjustment of internal political relationships. For example, the immigration of Bisa traders from beyond the Luangwa Valley in the west and Tumbuka artisans (iron-workers) from the north was followed by the introduction of new and sophisticated techniques of iron-working, elephant-hunting and regional trading. These skills were readily noticed by some local rulers who then made use of the immigrants to enhance their own leadership roles. Thirdly, in the late eighteenth century, tremendous opportunities existed for the conversion of traditional tributary revenue into imported forms of wealth which the rulers could use to reward followers for their allegiance and service. Ivory, which was quite abundant in Chewa country, could be collected from the hunters and then exchanged for cloth, beads and brassware brought in by the Yao and Bisa traders who maintained regular 8 contact with the east coast. The development of the strong chieftaincies which was characteristic of Northern Chewa society in the nineteenth century has to be traced back to a combination of such factors. The chieftaincies in question differed a great deal, particularly in size. In function, however, all of them served as territorial systems which the rulers used to mobilise the resources of their areas for the attainment of specific goals - defence, a prestigious way of life for the ruling elite, etc. Furthermore, the rulers legitimated their authority through a number of institutionalised symbolic acts. Each of them maintained a court of some

The Chewa and Yao

57

which officials and advisers were in regular attendance, collected from the countryside, tried all cases brought to his notice, and directed his people in war. As in the Ugandan kingdom of Bunyoro before 1900, these were services and rituals the regular performance of which increased the authority of the ruler in the eyes of the commoners whom he ruled. 9 To understand how some of these institutional services came into existence, let us examine the circumstances which led to the growth of some of the Northern Chewa states to which they applied. The growth of Mwase Kasungu's state, for example, appears to have been an extension of the kinship system of governance which may have sort at

tribute

applied to the Mwase family long before its migration to Kasungu where the state was situated. In the seventeenth century, the area around Kasungu formed a part of the Maravi empire headed by the Kalonga. It was ruled by the dynasties of Chulu and Lukwa Phiri, both of which were close subordinates of the Kalonga. In oral tradition, the founder of the Mwase dynasty, who appears to have arrived in Kasungu in the 1740s, is said to have been an ivory hunter and trader who secured the good will of Chulu and Lukwa before he displaced them in authority. Mwase Mkangawala and his nephew, Kamphani, were traders and therefore an important source of imported wealth at the time of their settlement in Kasungu. As their popularity with their neighbours increased, they began to influence the course of political affairs in the area and to nourish their own political ambitions in the process. In subsequent years, Mwase emerged as the de facto rulers of the area and proceeded to allocate subordinate chieftainship positions in different parts of Kasungu to his maternal nephews. This was at the expense of the original rulers. By the reign of Mwase Chilipadambo in the 1850s and 1860s even sons of the king were being recruited for governorships in the outlying areas of the kingdom. With this outward spread of the royal family, Mwase was able to control a large area between the Bua River in the east and the Luangwa 10 in the west. To the east of Mwase Kasungu's kingdom, a similar process of state-formation was under way in Nkhota-kota, midway along the western shore of Lake Malawi. Here, the kingdom of Kanyenda Mwale was to expand and cover some 3,000 square miles by the mid-nineteenth century. The underlying factor in the growth of this kingdom was the dialectical relationship which existed between the immigrant Mwale clan to which Kanyenda belonged and the indigenous inhabitants of Nkhotakota, the majority of whom were Banda. On migrating to settle in the area, Kanyenda's family found that the Banda were organised into the small chieftaincies of Kalimanjira and Chithumbwi or Chotha. At first, the Banda tried to avoid confrontation with the immigrants by abandoning the lowlands and moving into the uplands west of the Nkhota-kota plain. It is maintained that since the Banda controlled the spirits of the land and the production of iron on the

58

Kings M. Phiri

escarpment abutting the plain, Kanyenda and his followers were forced come to terms with them. According to oral tradition, the third Kanyenda, Chilimanyungu, entered into negotiation with the Banda and convinced some of them to return to the lowlands, where they accepted the overlordship of the Mwale. Although the traditions emphasise the peaceful manner in which political power was transferred from the indigenous Banda to the Mwale immigrants, the process must have involved an element of conflict. The history of Kanyenda's kingdom up to the arrival of the Swahili in the 1840s is replete with stories of how, one to

Kanyendas tried to create more settlement areas for members of their own clan in order to encompass those of the indigenous after another, the

settlers.

11

The rise of Yao states in the early nineteenth century was marked by the emergence of a whole new generation of leaders, each of whom established a dynastic line that survived into the colonial period. This new generation of leaders acquired more power by exploiting extra-kin allegiences and the resources of a wider geographical environment. Two explanations have been advanced about the circumstances which led to the growth of the dynasties in question. One is that they emerged in response to the disruptions which afflicted Yao country at the beginning of the nineteenth century - a period which coincided with the dispersal of the Yao from their traditional homeland in northern Mozambique. The disruptions appear to have been caused by the growth of the slave trade and consequent spread of firearms in that area. As some people even within the same ethnic group took to slave trading and raiding, conflict between clans and clan-segments was intensified. Thus the coming into existence of larger political units which grouped strong parties together with weaker ones was an appropriate mechanism for survival at a time when the disruptions may well have led to the demise of some communities. According to the second explanation, however, the process of state formation among the Yao was economically determined. The Yao economy before the eighteenth century was based on subsistence agriculture and marginal exchange. To some extent iron-working and hunting were also important features of it. In the eighteenth century, however, agricultural self-sufficiency increasingly gave way to commercial production and the realisation, by some sections of Yao society, of surplus wealth which could be accumulated. The argument then is that the need to centralise the direction of these highly remunerative commercial activities led to the emergence of territorial chieftaincies among the Yao. In support of this thesis, it may be noted that successful involvement in trade with the east coast became a prerequisite of political success among the Yao. Given the changes which occurred in the organisation of trade with the coast in the nineteenth century, the successful trader was in turn forced to be a social or political broker as

The Chewa and Yao

59

He was anxious to have a pool of dependants from which his requirements for manpower could be drawn. This would in turn have entailed the establishment of an unconscious control over the reproductive forces of the community. All this led Alpers, the most notable well.

historian of the Yao, to speculate that it was traders who rose to the status 12 of territorial chiefs among the Yao in the early nineteenth century. In particular, the growth of a slave economy during the period must have had a bearing on the ability of commercial leaders to engineer political change. Traders could increase the size of their following at a faster rate than those who did not trade at all, since in addition to the reproductive capacities of their lineages they also had access to imported slave manpower. This was advantageous to traders politically since in Yao society, political status was determined by the size of one's following. Of the dynasties which dominated Yao country in the nineteenth century, that of Mataka Phiri to the east of the southern shore of Lake Malawi was the greatest. Mataka's dynasty then dominated the upper banks of the Luchelingo and Luambala Rivers east of the Mandimba Hills in the nineteenth century. In the mid-1860s, when David Livingstone visited Mwembe, the capital of the state, it had over 1,000 houses, was well located for defensive purposes, while the surrounding country seemed extremely prosperous agriculturally. 13 In the Yao traditions compiled by Yohanna B. Abdallah, it is maintained that state formation among the Masaninga Yao, of whom Mataka's people formed a part, was a function of brave leadership and the Mataka family's love for warfare 14 and adventure. Nyambi Phiri, the reputed founder of the dynasty, was a brave warrior and trader. He is said to have built up a sizeable following single-handedly by attracting those whom he impressed by his force of personality. Having thus gathered a following, he set out to make himself 'lord of Yaoland' by terrorising those who defied his authority. This could be an oblique reference to his involvement in the slave trade - a phenomenon which then seemed to enhanced rather than impede the state-building process. The chief could use his powers in war to acquire captives who were then taken to the coast to be exchanged for guns. The possession of guns in turn made it possible for him to attract a following of those who stood in need of protection. Both Nyambi and Nyenje, his successor, concerned themselves with the building of an effective machinery for the provision of military,

economic and

religious services to their followers.

commanders to organise

They employed army

raids against neighbouring peoples,

and caravan 15

leaders to superintend the carrying on of trade with the coast. It has been argued that Mataka's was a slave system of government. The king's power was based on wealth derived from a slave economy and

on the excessive use of force. One may, however, argue in reverse that the use of force was justified by the situation in which the state found itself at the time. Everywhere in Yaoland, the nineteenth century was a period

60

Kings M. Phiri

A

certain of lawlessness occasioned by the growth of the slave trade. amount of firmness on the part of the ruler was therefore necessary for the maintenance of law and order. Secondly, account must be taken of the intense commercial rivalry which then existed between the different Yao chiefs. This rivalry often resulted in raids and counter-raids, with the

taking of captives as one of the results. For example, Mataka and Makanjila on the south-eastern side of Lake Malawi incessantly fought each other over the control of strategic areas and trade routes, while Mtalika, near the confluence of the Lujenda and Ruvuma Rivers, gave as his main reason for indulging in the slave trade the fact that if he did not 16 he would become poor while the other chiefs prospered. Besides this information on the rise of the Mataka dynasty east of Lake Malawi, a great deal of light has of late been cast over the rise of the Machinga Yao states, the most powerful of the Yao polities in precolonial Malawi. At the height of their political influence in the 1870s and 1880s, the Machinga controlled the whole Upper Shire Valley of southern Malawi and the adjacent highlands in the east. Confident of their military strength and the viability of their ivory and slave-based economy, the Machinga Yao leaders offered stiff resistance to the British colonisation of Malawi in the 1890s. Three dynasties presided over the conduct of political affairs among the Machinga Yao: Liwonde on the Upper Shire, Kawinga to his east, and Jalasi in the north. All of them belonged to the

Mbewe clan. They traced the origins of their chieftaincy to Mpambi who ruled them before they migrated into Malawi, when their country still bordered on that of the Lomwe of northern Mozambique. Mpambi was apparently more of a ritual than political leader. If this was so, then by the time of their migration into Malawi the Machinga had manipulated the political succession so that men of proved military ability could become rulers. In fact, three chieftainships eventually emerged: Liwonde in which the tradition of religious leaderhip was maintained; Kawinga with a strong military tradition; and Jalasi who occupied a less clearly defined position.

17

In the course of establishing themselves in Malawi and overwhelming the indigenous Chewa or Nyanja inhabitants, the Machinga were obviously helped by their previous experiences of conflict while migrating out of northern Mozambique. It is argued, among other things, that they were forced out of their traditional homeland in northern Mozambique by Lomwe attacks upon them, but in the course of fleeing westward into Malawi they evolved an effective military organisation of their own. For example, while in the Mandimba Hills, where they settled for some time in the course of their migrations, they drove out the Nyanja as well as other Yao groups. Thereafter, however, their efficacy as state-builders hinged on the economic exploitation of the Upper Shire area and its inhabitants and on integrating the Nyanja into the social and political

The Chewa and Yao

61

Liwonde allowed the Nyanja to enjoy the on the Upper Shire, as long as he received tribute. Kawinga acted in a similar manner in relation to the Nyanja who manufactured salt in the Lake Chilwa plain. To secure a more permanent allegiance of the indigenes, the Machinga leaders recognised a number of Nyanja headmen and ritual leaders, who thus came to occupy a dignified subordinate position within the Machinga state. Liwonde in particular reached a mutual understanding with the Nyanja ritual chieftaincy of Bimbi on the Upper Shire, according to which the Bimbi was apparently promised Yao military protection in 18 return for agreeing to render religious services to the Yao state. The Machinga chiefs also allowed senior Nyanja headmen to retain their ritual prerogatives, e.g. the conducting of initiation ceremonies, and the structure

on

their state.

benefits of controlling the fishing industry

19

charging of the requisite fees (nsupo) for their services. As far as the nineteenth century is concerned, it appears that the state among the Chewa and Yao had a number of clearly defined economic and military functions to perform. Consequently, the stability of any state depended on its capacity to fulfil these as well as the religious functions. Unfortunately, little is known about the systems of economic production and exchange among the Chewa in the precolonial period. The little evidence that is available for some areas, however, indicates that the supervision of production and exchange was an integral part of chiefly authority. Mwase Kasungu, for example, is said to have exercised control over the production of high-quality salt in the Kasungu plain and also to have regulated access to the fertile hunting grounds in the western part of 20 his kingdom. In Nkhota-kota, Kanyenda consolidated his authority by collecting and redistributing tribute in dried fish and iron hoes, and by controlling the ivory trade through his area. Any subordinate who brought tribute to Nkhunga, Kanyenda's headquarters, was given a share. This pattern repeated itself at the lower levels of the adminstration as between subordinate chiefs and village headmen. Ivory could not be 21 exported without the king's consent. The economic function of the state was even more pronounced among the Machinga Yao than among the Chewa, Liwonde and Kawinga occupied an area that was strategically located for the control of trade in ivory and slaves which flowed through the area from west to east. Within their area, they not only controlled the organisation of coast-bound caravans but the means by which ivory could be collected as well. This was done through the proviso that hunters had to undergo a cleansing ritual following the killing of an elephant and it was the chief who 22

recruited the ritualists and distributed the gunpowder to the hunters. Prior to the nineteenth century, religious services among the Chewa at the shrines presided over by pre-Maravi Banda and shrine officials. This activity was centralised during the classical

had been rendered

Mbewe

Maravi period when the shrine of Makewana

at

Msinja

in

Lilongwe

62

Kings M. Phiri

district

23 became the main shrine of the Maravi empire. With the decline

of the Maravi empire and the proliferation of successor states, religious decentralisation became the norm again, though the nominal supremacy of Makewana and her shrine at Msinja was upheld. However, a major change took place. In most of the successor states, the Banda ceased to be the only ones who could control religious affairs. Instead, whoever was chief also controlled religious activities, perhaps as a dramatisation of his concern for the welfare of his people. Mwase Kasungu maintained his shrine on top of Kasungu Mountain. Kanyenda appointed his own brother, Mkwezi, to be the main religious functionary in Nkhota-kota,

own

Mkanda's kingdom in Mchinji Banda priestesses were confined to making pronouncements on local issues only. 24 The tendency was for each chief to establish his own cult and to appoint one of his and

in

the role of

councillors as presiding officer.

The shrines of Yao chiefs were located in the graveyard of their deceased predecessors and were ranked above the sacred tree shrines of the local headmen. While local shrines of this nature continued to articulate the spiritual concerns of the village community or lineage, the shrine at the grave of the chiefs predecessors became the mouthpiece for the spiritual concerns of the chiefdom as a whole. It was consulted in times of drought or plague and when trade caravans were sent to the coast. The ritual ceremonies at the chiefs shrine also became more elaborate, lasting for as many as three days or even a whole week. In the late nineteenth century, Yao chiefs adopted the new religion of Islam as a more adaptable way of expressing the spiritual concerns of their people in what were times of rapid social change. Among other things, Islam made it possible for the Yao leaders to communicate effectively with the political and commercial elite of Zanzibar and Kilwa and thereby to serve the economic interests of their states better than before. Islam also increased the authority of the chiefs by bestowing on them the privilege of rudimentary literacy. This opened to them vistas of 25 esoteric knowledge that were closed to the ordinary Yao. The military function which these Chewa and Yao states of the nineteenth century fulfilled should be discussed in relation to how they fared at the time of the Ngoni and Swahili military incursions in the second half of the century. The Ngoni, who migrated to Malawi from Zululand in South Africa, where they were displaced during the mfecane, settled among the Chewa between 1858 and 1862, and in the area which separated the Chewa from the Yao between 1868 and 1872. They proceeded to organise themselves into highly centralised political systems in which the king was commander-in-chief of the army and the ultimate source of all the laws in the kingdom. The chain of command encompassed the makosana (subordinate chiefs), the alumazana (heads of clans incorporated south of the Zambezi as well as influential indigenous advisers), and the amakhanda (ordinary village headmen,

The Chewa and Yao

63

whether indigenous or immigrant). The army, which had been tried in confrontations with those encountered during the trek from South Africa, was the basis of Ngoni political discipline. It was comprised of standing regiments stationed in different parts of the state and well tuned to respond immediately to the paramount's call for a general mobilisation which 26 normally came at the beginning of every dry season. Swahili intrusion into the Lake Malawi region, on the other hand, began in the 1840s, when a group of Swahili traders from the east coast settled at Nkhota-kota midway along the western shore of the lake, under the leadership of Salim bin Abdallah, the first Jumbe. Thereafter, other 27 Swahili traders settled along the Luangwa River in the 1860s. Although in gaining control of the trade in ivory and slaves primarily interested initially, the Swahili developed political ambitions as well with the passage of time and as their numbers increased. Their access to firearms from the coast gave them a decisive military advantage over the indigenous peoples in the midst of whom they settled. Thus, like the Ngoni, they represented a severe test to Chewa military organisation In general the activities of both immigrant groups exposed the military weaknesses of nineteenth-century ,

.

Chewa states. The Ngoni did this more thoroughly than the Swahili. By 1876 they had overrun all of the Chewa kingdoms with the exception of Mwase Kasungu's, and the small states of Kachigunda and Chinganyama in the Chewa heartland. 28 By removing those who surrendered from their traditional settlement sites to within the sphere of Ngoni influence in Dowa and Dedza districts, the Ngoni literally sacked the Chewa states. It seems reasonable to assume that the alliance system of military preparedness as well as the virtual absence of the institution of standing armies were the primary causes of Chewa defeat In addition the Chewa were for the most part conservative in adopting new military tactics and technologies. Equally helpless were the Chewa before the military threat posed by the Swahili. The two sides were brought into conflict with each other by the Swahili demand for slaves as well as by commercial competition. At Nkhota-kota, the Jumbe and the other Swahili apparently did not hestitate to enslave the local people who flouted their authority. Futhermore, the Jumbe and his clients destroyed the authority of the local Chewa ruler, Kanyenda, by gradually defeating his subordinates one after another and incorporating them into a new system of administration which the Swahili 29 themselves created. .

,

The Swahili were also apt to wage war against Chewa leaders who challenged their economic interests. This is what happened in 1882 when the Jumbe of Nkhota-kota went to war against Mwase Kasungu, the most powerful Chewa ruler of the time. The cause of the war was the mishandling by some of the Jumbe's subordinates of one of Mwase's caravans during its transit through Nkhota-kota. Mwase was decisively 30 beaten.

Kings M. Phiri

64

While the Chewa states proved incapable of withstanding Ngoni and Swahili military attacks, those of the Yao managed to cope with these threats. This is borne out by the military relationship which developed between the Maseko Ngoni on the Kirk Range and Machinga Yao in the

Upper Shire. It was a relationship based on mutual respect. By 1870, the Maseko Ngoni were overlooking Machinga Yao settlements in the Upper Shire Valley. For a few years a perfect balance of power was maintained between the two sides. Between 1873 and 1876, however, the Ngoni overran Yao settlements on the western bank of the Upper Shire and 31

forced the Yao to retreat eastward across the Shire. This defeat of 1874 forced Liwonde and Kawinga to concentrate on the importation of firearms from Quelimane on the Mozambique coast and the fortification of the western bank of the Shire River. The result was that the Maseko Ngoni, under their great king Chikuse, compromised mutual understandtheir attitude toward the Yao on the Upper Shire. ing was reached, according to which the area now known as Balaka, west of the Shire but east of the Ngoni homeland, was to act as a buffer zone into which peaceful settlers from both sides were later allowed to open

A

new

settlements.

32

Summary The nineteenth-century to be

political history of the Malawi region has tended dominated by what the immigrant Ngoni, Swahili and Yao groups

who

entered the country during this period did or accomplished. The and role of those who were indigenous to the area have thus been underplayed. An attempt is here made to outline the political transformation of an indigenous society - the Chewa, and that of the immigrant Yao. In both societies, strong territorial chieftaincies were a noticeable feature of political organisation in the nineteenth century, and the authority of the rulers was legitimated through a number of institutionalised symbolic events. The rise of such strong chieftaincies has been ascribed to economic trends of the period and to the incidence of internal conflict or friction with neighbouring groups. It has furthermore been proffered that the history of these states in the period under consideration should be approached by focusing on the economic, religious and military functions which they fulfilled. When this is done, it becomes evident that religion initiative

was the main factor of strength for the Chewa states which remained rather weak economically and militarily. The Yao states, on the other hand, lacked centralised religious institutions but were better organised economically and militarily than those of the Chewa.

The Chewa and Yao Appendix: some Chewa and Yao regnal A. *

lists

Mwase Kasungu

1936-73

Samuel Chimzimu

*1926-36

Shadrack Nyang'amile

*1913-26

Potiphar Kaluwani

*1896-1913

Kamchacha Chiwembe

*

65

1866-96

Mfusawudzu Chilipadambo

1836-66

Kaning'a

1806-36

Chaliwa

1776-1806

Mdopwe Kamphani

1746-76

Mkangawala

Sources After Stephen Rubens in Ngara Sub-District Notebook, Vol. I, pp. 26-35; and Revd. Hanock Msokera Phiri, Mdabwi Mission, Kasungu, 3/4/71.

Note:

B.

*

Fixed dates.

Kanyenda

*1973-present *

1943-73

Stowell

Mwale

Paulos

Simeon *1913-^3

*188S-1913

Kamgwila-mchuka

Manyenya Chagundakuti

1823-53

Kazanikamodzi Chinguwochalemba

1793-1823

Chilimanyungu

Kings M. Phiri

66

Kazangaza

1763-93

Kambongo Mkadzula

1733-63

Source: After F. Kwaule and E. Chakwera, 'Successors to the Kalonga's state: the case of Kanyenda and Dzoole chiefdoms', in Z.D. Kadzamira, ed., Topics in Malawi History (in press).

C. Kawinga

*1971-present

Nkola

*1915-71

Mboga

*

1885-1915

Chiwalo

1855-85

Kumlomba Nanyemwa Atwana

1825-55

Kunsanama

1795-1825

Mpambi

Source: After

Newby Kumwembe,

Amachinga Yao Historical

Peter

Rashid

Traditions, Vol.

and

James

Webster,

I.

Notes 1

2

H. Leroy Vail, 'Suggestions towards a reinterpreted Tumbuka history', in B. Pachai, ed., The Early History of Malawi (London, 1972), pp. 148-67; chapter 2, this volume. Kings M. Phiri, 'The Maravi state system and Chewa

political

development

to 1840', paper presented at the History Teachers' Conference, Chancellor

College, University of Malawi, August 1977. 3

B. Pachai, 'Ngoni politics and diplomacy, 1840-1904', in Pachai, Early History of Malawi, pp. 179-214; I. Linden, 'The Maseko Ngoni at Domwe', in Pachai, Early History of Malawi, pp. 237-51; E.A. Alpers, 'Trade, state and society among the Yao in the 19th century', Journal of African History, 10, 3, 1969, pp. 405-20; and J.B. Webster, 'From Yao Hill to Mulanje Mountain: ivory and slaves and the southwestern expansion of the Yao', History Staff Research Paper, Chancellor College, University of Malawi, 1977.

4

See Horace Waller, ed., The Last Journals of David Livingstone in Central Africa (London, 1880), pp. 126-35; also Mary Tew, Peoples of the Lake Nyasa Region (London, 1950), pp. 34-5.

,,

The Chewa and Yao 5

Webster,

in

'From Yao

tried to stretch

Yao

in the Social Structure

of a

Mulanje Mountain', has

Hill to

67

history as far back into the past as possible.

Clyde Mitchell, The Yao Village: Nyasaland Tribe (Manchester, 1956).

6

J.

7

Amachinga Yao

A

Study

Historical Traditions, Vol. I, compiled by Kingston Lepukeni Newby Kumwembe Peter Rashid and James Webster and Vol II by Kings Phiri Megan Vaughan and Dean Makuluni Zomba History Project Chancellor College, University of Malawi, 1977. ,

,

;

,

.

,

8

de Almeida Lacerda, Lands of Cazembe, ed. and tr. by R.F. Burton (London, 1983), p. 77; and P. Gamitto, King Kazembe and the Marave, Cheva, Bisa, Bemba and other Peoples of Southern Africa, ed. and tr. by I. Cunnison (Lisbon, 1960), pp. 117-75.

9

The

F.

kings of pre-colonial

Bunyoro legitimated

their authority

by pursuing a

policy of well calculated intermarriages with the rest of the population,

exacting tribute on a regular basis, and evolving symbolic court rituals and ceremonies. See E.I. Steinhart, 'From empire to state: the emergence of the Bunyoro kingdom, c. 1400-1900', Goethe-Institut sponsored Conference, Nakuru, Kenya, 13-16 September, 1979. 10

Gamitto, King Kazembe, p. 125; and E.H. Lane-Poole, The Native Tribes of Luangwa Province of Northern Rhodesia (Lusaka, 1973), p. 28.

the Estern 11

Kanyenda Historical Text (KHT), No. 1 from Stowell Kanyenda Mwale and Nkhunga Traditional Headquarters, T. A. Kanyenda, Nkhota-Kota, 21/8/78; and KHT, No. 13 from James Chaseta, Chaseta Village, T.A. Kanyenda, Nkhota-Kota, 3/9/78, collected by Fabiano Kwuale, Chancelothers,

lor College, University of

Malawi, 1978.

12

See Alpers, 'Trade, state and society, pp. 405-7.

13

Waller, ed. Last Journals of Livingstone Vol.

14

Yohanna B. Abdallah, The Yaos, ed. and (London, 1973), pp. 40-52.

15

Ibid., pp. 53-4.

16

Waller, ed. Last Journals of Livingstone, Vol.

17

Newby H. Kumwembe,

18

,

tr.

I,

pp. 73-8.

from Yao by M. Sanderson

I,

p. 68.

'The development of the Machinga chiefdoms 1840-1915', Student Research Paper, Chancellor College, 1978, pp. 2-3; and Webster, 'From Yao Hill to Mulanje Mountain', pp. 14-19.

Amanze

'The Bimbi shrine in the Upper Shire and its relationships with History Student Research Paper, Chancellor College, University of Malawi, 1979. Fr

.

J

Yao

.

chiefs,

,

1830-1925',

68 19

Kings M. Phiri

Kumwembe, 'Development of Machinga chiefdoms', pp. 13-16; and K.M. The Chewa of Zomba district and their interaction with the Mangochi Yao 1800-1895', History Staff Research Paper, Chancellor College, 1978, Phiri,

pp. 9-16.

20

David Livingstone, Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambezi and its Tributaries (London, 1865), pp. 526-7; K. Phiri, 'Pre-colonial economic change in central Malawi: the growth and expansion of trade systems to 1875', Malawi Journal of Social Science 5 1976, pp. 15-27. ,

21

22

Fabiano Kwaule, 'Chief Kanyenda, the Mwale expansion and the Swahili challenge', p. 9.

Lapukeni

et

al.,

Amachinga Yao

215—17; and Webster, 'From 23

Yao Hill

Historical to

in

Traditions,

Nkhota-kota

Vol.

I,

pp.

Mulanje Mountain', pp. 6-7.

M. Schoffeleers, 'The Chisumphi and M'Bona cults in Malawi: a comparative history', Conference on the History of Central African Religious Systems, Lusaka, 1972, pp. 11-23; H. W. J. Rangeley, 'Makewana: the mother of all people', Nyasaland Journal, 5, 1952, pp. J.

38-52.

24

Carl Wiese,

'Still

faithful allies:

journey to the lands of Muasse and Zoole',

Boletin de Sociedade Geographia de Lisboa,

II,

8 (Lisbon, 1892), p. 503;

and Kwaule, Kanyenda and the Mwale expansion', pp. 9-11. 25

E. A. Alpers, 'Towards a history of the expansion of Islam in East Africa: the matrilineal peoples of the southern interior', in T. O. Ranger and I. N. Kimambo, eds., The Historical Study of African Religion (London, 1972), pp. 183-5.

26

M. Read, The Ngoni of Nyasaland (London, 1956), pp. 11-34; and R. F. Kankondo, 'The Ngoni migrations, settlement and political organisation', Student Research Paper, Chancellor College, 1969-70.

27

G. Shepperson, 'The Jumbe of Kota-Kota and some aspects of the history of Islam in British Central Africa', in I. M. Lewis, ed., Islam in Tropical Africa (London, 1966), p. 196; and H.W. Langworthy, 'Swahili influence in the area between Lake Malawi and the Luangwa River', International Journal of African Historical Studies 4, 3, 1971, pp. 584-8.

28

Kings Phiri, 'Nineteenth-century intrusions among the Chewa of Central Malawi', in Topics in Malawi History, ed. Z.D. Kadzamira, Chancellor College, University of Malawi (forthcoming).

29

Kwaule, 'Kanyenda and the Mwale expansion

30

in

Nkhota-Kota', pp. 11-14.

For a detailed summary of this war, see Langworthy, 'Swahili influence', pp. 597-600.

The Chewa and Yao

69

31

Rangeley Papers, File 2/1/3 in the Society of Malawi Library, Limbe, Malawi. Also see Olivia M. Liwewe, 'The Maseko Ngoni from 1820 to 1896: a re-examination of the evidence from the Rangeley Papers in the light of some secondary sources', History Student Research Paper, Chancellor College, University of Malawi, 1978-79.

32

Kumwembe, 'The development of Machinga chiefdoms, 1840-1915'; and H. Kampango Chatepa, 'From Mpanyila to the Ntonda lowlands: the background to succession disputes in a new home', History Student Research Paper, Chancellor College, 1979.

4

The emergence of Bunyoro the tributary mode of production and the formation of the state, 1400-1900*

E.

STEINHART

The creation of pristine states with a high degree of central control and a marked hierarchic and authoritarian ethic has long concerned observers and students of the lacustrine region of Uganda. This is especially true of the western region where a pastoral group numbering only 5-10 per cent of the population had established dominance over the majority group of farmers and formed centralised states by the time of the first Arab and European intrusions in the nineteenth century. In recent years, the once 1 fashionable 'conquest theory' of state formation in this area which credited the origins of the state to a superior race of cattle-owning, light-skinned, state-building invaders has been laid in the dustbin of history. But as yet no satisfcatory explanation for the emergence of the state, rooted in either Marxian or conventional anthropological theory, has been devised to fill the gap. An attempt will be made here to formulate an alternative theory of state formation based on an analysis of changing modes of production within the Kitaran region of Uganda from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century. I will argue that the process of intensification and transformation of the forces and relations of production in a 'classless' society or social formation led to the emergence of an early class society 2 manifesting what I will term a tributary mode of production. In this view, the 'state' is thrown up by society only when a class society has developed, within which a dominant possessing class has become conscious of itself as a ruling class and asserts itself as such.

The particular social formation of Bunyoro-Kitara offers both advantages and disadvantages for the kind of analysis proposed. On the

*This paper

is

Crummey and

extracted and condensed from a more extensive paper to be published in D. C.C. Stewart, eds, Cultivator and State in Pre-Colonial Africa.

^

— The emergence of Bunyoro

71

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