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Q : Discuss the features of African feudalism .


In Africa perspective feudalism existed in all societies which organized itself in states ( kingdom , chiefdom and empire ) . Feudalism was a system in which people with land granted it to landless with certain condition to be fulfilled e.g provide free labour in order to pay them taxes , providing them food etc . The major means of production was land .

Feudalism origiated from Latin word feudum or feudal which means the piece of land whether small or large granted or given to vassal who agrees to fulfill certain obligation to land . A vassal is a person who receive land and agree to fulfill feudal obligations. The feudal lords can be a king or queen .

According to Karl Marx feudal was the third mode of production and the second mode of production which based on exploitation relation and social antagonism .

However majority of African societies entered feudalism in 15 th century. However when European power come to colonized the continent majority African societies were in feudal mode of production while few societies were in the stage of transition from communalism to feudalism .

The following were common features of African Feudalism .( 19th century) .

- Society divided into social class of peasant and ruling classes .

This were clear class discrimination between rulers and common people within the society .

- Peasant or common people were exploited by rulers through payment or tributes .

. Peasant give various gift to their leaders as means of showing appreciation . The surplus products of peasants were consumed by the process of production e.g , each harvesting period peasants were obliged to offer special offering to their kings and chiefs . Etc .

- African feudalism was based in centralized states.

. African kings or chiefs were politically powerful to influence day to day running to their whole societies I.e existence of strong monarch in Africa .

- Traditional religion had big influence in political and economic organization of the society.

Africans had strong beliefs in their traditional religious beliefs which they believed of guided . And hence influence the process of production and their existence .

- Land and cattle ownership symbolized power , authority and respect

. In most cases African land was believed to be owned by God or Gods through their deal ancestors and the existing oversee ( rulers ) moreover the ownership of large herds of cattle symbolized wealth and influenced in the society example Tutsi against Hutu in Rwanda and Burundi .

- Characterized by subsistance farming.

The aim of agricultural production was to meet the immediate need for family and not for exchange . T h e y p r o d u c e l i t t l e s u r p l u s w h i c h t h e y e x c h a n g e w i t h o t h e r s o c i e t y .

- African feudalism existed in different forms .

African feudalism example in Egypt the power of rulers depend on his ability to supervise the production process and control River Nile for irrigation , but in other place like East Africa it depend on land ownership together with cattle .

- Feudalism was characterised with surplus production

. Improvement in level of productive force led to increase in production and hence enabled some people to engage themselves to other activities such as supervizing production , maintaining of power and order in a given society .

- Existence of private ownership of the major means of production

Feudalism in Africa deviated a little from communal ownership to private ownership . Production shifted from depending the whole community to individual people as a basic unity of production . Therefore most community land were distributed to a given family to be used and it was recognised to belong to such private people .

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