Monday, October 25, 2010


Many people take black people in Africa for granted; they think a black person can not do a thing without a white person on his side. But I completely disagree with such stereotypes. A black man can do everything he wants without a white man intervention also a white man can do everything he wants without Blackman’s intervention.

The history fully concur with me that Africa was and is not a “dark” continent after all. There are people who still think that people in Africa live on trees and eat like animals.while others still think that Africa wouldn’t have developed and transformed the way it is today if it was not because of colonisers. I beg to differ with such assertions. The history proves that Africans have been in mining ages before my great grand parents were born. They have been trading with gold for goodness sake, Mapungubwe is a perfect example.

The truth is, whether you are black, white, Indian, or coloured, God made us all and gave us equal opportunities. We, ourselves we then take for granted of what we are capable of. Other people are suffering not because they lack money, but because they do not think. They are still oppressed with the mentality that “behind every Blackman success, there is a white man”. The reality is that if you keep on thinking like that, you won’t make it in every aspect of life.

As God’s creatures, White, Indian, Black we need to work together to achieve greater things. Colour is nothing; it’s about potential and mental strength.

Below is the brief History, background of Mapungubwe Kingdom, gen up

settlement and cultural sequence in the Limpopo River Valley

Hunter-gatherers of the Stone Age roamed the river flood plains and cave sandstone hills of the Limpopo valley from time to time and left their stone tools there. Paintings in rock shelters and a few rock engravings are evidence of San hunter-gatherer communities in the Stone Age landscape. The first communities who made iron tool and clay pots arrived in the central Limpopo valley during the early Iron Age, possibly by AD 500. These people were the forerunners of larger farming communities of the Iron Age who settled in the Limpopo River valley between AD 800 and AD 1400.
The Iron Age sites at K2 and Mapungubwe were inhabited between AD 1000 and Ad 1300. Archaeologists believe that both sites were once capitals of African kings. Unfortunately the inhabitants identity remains a mystery since this part of history goes back before the written record and no known oral traditions can be recorded over a period of a thousand years, therefore the inhabitants are merely known as the ‘Mapungubweans’.

Mapungubwe is the site of three royal graves and was the center of a terraced settlement. Stonewalls buttressed the slopes and homesteads were scattered about. The king and his soldiers lived near the top of the hill and were supported by the people on the lower levels. The neighbouring village of K2 indicates that the inhabitants were subsistence farmers, raising both stock and crops. A valuable feature of K2 is the large central refuse site, from which archaeologists have been able to glean a store of information. Human remains from various graves indicate that these communities enjoyed a healthy, varied diet. People were prosperous and kept domesticated cattle, sheep, goats and dogs. The charred remains of storage huts have also been found, showing that millet, sorghum and cotton were cultivated.

Findings on Greefswald are typical of the Iron Age. Smiths created objects of iron, copper and gold for practical and decorative purposes – both for local use and for trade. Pottery, wood, ivory, bone, ostrich eggshells and the shells of snails and freshwater mussels indicate that many other materials were used and traded with cultures as far away as East Africa, Persia, Egypt, India and China.
It seems foreign trade was an important part of life in the area and large quantities of glass beads were obtained in exchange for gold and animal skins. At K2, numerous garden roller beads were made from imported glass beads.

The two main sites, Mapungubwe and K2, were proclaimed National Monuments in the early 1980’s. Boundaries are being set for the creation of a cross-border peace Park, named Mapungubwe National Park, this is also now a World Heritage Site.

traditions, subsistence, technology and trade
The traditions of African farming communities were central to their social life, settlement patterns, animal husbandry, agriculture, technology and trade. Many of these cultural aspects are reflected in the remains from K2 and Mapungubwe. A traditional African village is organized around family relationships, and creates household activity areas and places for special social occasions such as initiation schools and religious ceremonies. The close relationship of the villagers with their cattle is often symbolized by the position of the cattle kraal in the village. The domestic animals kept by African Iron Age people included cattle, sheep, goats and dogs. These people cultivated plants such as varieties of sorghum, millet and beans. The Iron Age people were skilled miners and metal workers. Some evidence of their skills are the numerous gold mines in Zimbabwe and some tin and copper mines in South Africa.

K2 – AN IRON AGE SITE: at the foot of Bambandyanalo Hill
K2 is I km southwest of Mapungubwe Hill in a small valley surrounded by cliffs. G A Gardner, who excavated there during the 1930’s, named K2. Between about AD 1030 and AD 1220, for nearly 200 years, many generations of farming people lived at K2. The main site of about 5 hectares includes the remains of a central homestead area, a central cattle kraal and a central midden, surrounded by smaller homesteads.
EVIDENCE OF DAILY LIFE AT K2: the village of a successful farming and trading community
K2 is a particularly large Iron Age site with vast deposits containing a wealth of artifacts such as glass beads and pottery, often found in the numerous graves of the villagers. Huge quantities of bone fragments from slaughtered domestic animals and burnt seeds of domesticated plants such as sorghum and bullrush millet indicate that the K2 people were successful farmers. They were generally healthy people due to their nutritious diet. They were skilled craftsmen who produced characteristic pottery, large glass beads, tools and body ornaments of iron, copper bangles and figurines of humans and domesticated animals. They hunted elephants and traded the ivory for glass beads imported via the African East Coast by traders such as the Swahili.

MAPUNGUBWE: stratigraphic pages of African history
Mapungubwe Hill is a sandstone hill with vertical cliffs and a flat top approximately 30m high and 300, long. A substantial deposit with layers of soil covers it; remains of floors, burnt houses and household refuse. The Southern Terrace below was inhabited from around AD 1030 to 1290 (about 260 years). The hilltop was inhabited for about 70 years from AD 1220 to Ad 1290.

The gold objects from the Mapungubwe graves, such as the rhinoceros, sceptre and bowl, were originally gold sheet or foil covering wooden carvings. The gold sheet was folded around the wooden core and held in place with tacks. In some cases, the gold cover was decorated with punched indentations or incised lines.
Some of these objects, such as the sceptre and rhinoceros, were possibly symbols associated with a person of special significance or high status, such as a king. The person was eventually buried with these objects in accordance with traditional customs and social or religious beliefs. Numerous beads and bangles from graves on Mapungubwe Hill indicate that some members of the community adorned themselves with different types of golden jewellery. These ornaments probably belonged to senior members of the royal family at Mapungubwe.

Many objects were made of fired clay, or pottery. They were used for various purposes, some still unknown. Human figurines, usually with an elongated body and stumps for heads, arms and legs, were common at K2. They are often decorated with incisions or rows of dots. Some are highly simplified, like the conical figurine found at Mapungubwe.
Animal figurines, mostly from K2, include cattle, sheep and goats. At Mapungubwe, a giraffe figurine was also found. The conical figurines often found at Mapungubwe may have had symbolic significance. Some everyday practical items include spoons, whistles, a funnel and spindle whorls used in the production of cotton cloth. Large pottery beads and mould were used to manufacture large cylindrical glass beads, known as garden roller beads.

The Iron Age villagers adorned themselves with numerous beads made of ostrich eggshell, large land snails, bone and ivory.
They wore bracelets made of ivory, decorated their clothes and hair with pins made of bone and ivory, and wore perforated cowrie shells imported from the East Coast.
Some of the last inhabitants of Mapungubwe made and used polished bone arrowheads and arrow link shafts, similar to the arrows used by the San or Bushmen.
Some bone arrowheads from Mapungubwe have flattened front ends into which iron tips were fitted. The people used awls and flat needles made of bone, probably to manufacture clothes from animal skins.

Thousands of glass beads have been found in the middens and graves at K2 and Mapungubwe. Burial customs show that children and adults wore strings of beads in a traditional African way. Large quantities of these beads were traded through Swahili ports on the East coast of Africa. Trade beads were imported from foreign countries such as Egypt or India in exchange for ivory and gold from Africa.

The K2 people manufactured large beads, known as garden roller beads. Whole and broken trade glass beads were melted and the molten glass was wound into a prefabricated clay mould to set. The clay mould was then broken to remove the new garden roller glass bead. These are the oldest glass objects made in Southern Africa.

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Anonymous said...

In 500 AD when the Mapungubwe people settled the Limpopo Valley for the first time as Iron Age travellers white people had been out of the iron age for almost 2000 years. They had built Alexandria's Light House, the Alexandria library, the Parthenon, the Coliseum, travelled from Rome to China and Thailand, invented the wheel and more than one form of writing. Chinese were travelling to the Americas and invading countries as far as Sri Lanka and making the Terra Cotta Army. Indians had built the Taj Mahal.

Africans were in the early Iron Age...

Sorry Percy

Actually Mapungubwe was advanced for a European / Indian / Chinese culture at about 4000BC...

Anonymous said...

• Mapungubweans were subsistence farmers.
• Mapungubweans learnt husbandry (to tame animals and plants).
• Mapungubweans ate a healthy, but varied diet.
• Mapungubweans domesticated cattle, sheep, goats and dogs.

Brian Evans said...


What was the role of cattle, gold, ivory and iron in their lives?

• Cattle, gold and ivory were traded for glass beads, wood, bone, ostrich eggshells and the shells of snails and freshwater mussels.

• Cattle lived near people’s houses showing their value.

• Mapungubwe traded with China for glass beads and fragments of porcelain.

• Trade in ivory was not as important as it was in the late Iron Age settlements.

• Smiths made things out of iron, copper and gold for both practical and decorative uses - for local and trade purposes.

• Mapungubwe traded with East Africa, Persia, Egypt, India and China.

• It seems distant trade was a vital part of life as many glass beads were traded for gold and animal skins.

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