Was Feudalism In Africa?


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Connor Sephton answered
Although feudalism is a term often associated with the Western World and, more specifically, Medieval Europe, there have been some demonstrations of feudal systems in parts of Africa. Examples of feudal states in Africa date back to the 15th century and include places such as Rwanda, Buganda, Mpororo and Karagwe. In all of these areas, the banana plantain crop was the most valuable and the king would allocate productive land to his chiefs rather than political offices, meaning relationships were organized around land more so than currency.

This was the start of a feudalist regime across many parts of Africa, especially in the East. Land would be exchanged for armies and labor, whilst peasants would be given ownership of small land plots in turn for producing agricultural crafts and services throughout the course of the year. In many respects, the amount of land you owned was a measure of your personal wealth and power in society. The more land you had to your name, the higher you were seen as being in terms of social standing and influence. Many transactions would involve the exchanging of land instead of the exchanging of monies.

As in most parts of the world, feudalism is not the way in which society is typically organized in modern Africa. However, there are still some African nations which could be considered feudal societies in some respects - namely Zimbabwe in Southern Africa. Under the dictatorship ruling of President Robert Mugabe, all privately owned land has been reclaimed by the Zimbabwean government in what has been widely dubbed as a 'return to feudalism'. Proposals were made in 2004 to nationalize all farmland and make all game parks state-owned rather than the respective property of tribespeople in the area. This in itself is a modern demonstration of how feudalist regimes still exist in Africa today.

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