History East &South Africa

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The Effects of Long Distance Trade in East Africa.
By Deborah of Uganda 7th May 2008

Long Distance Trade was the trade between the East African coast and other interior states of Africa in the early 19th Century. In involved movement over long distances, the major participants were the Swahili speaking peoples of East Africa and the Arabs. The interior people included the Nyamwezi, the Kamba, the Yao tribes. They moved in caravans of 100 to 1,000 people. Capital was provided by the Indian Bunyans who even gave out goods on credit.

The means of exchange was by barter trade and the means of transport by porters who carried the goods on their heads. Imports were gunpowder; guns, cloths and beads while the exports were gold, ivory, slaves etc. Exports were raw materials while the imports were mainly manufactured goods. Security was provided by both the Arabs and African leaders. Below are the effects of this on trade in East Africa.

1.There was development of new towns and cities like Bujiji, Tabora. 2.Local industries declined as superior manufactured goods were introduced. 3.Destruction of crops due to slave raids and wars.

4.There was depopulation in areas of persistent slave raiding activities. 5.Introduction of Swahili language in the interior of East Africa especially along trade roots. 6.Spread of Islam the interior of East Africa.

7.Trade led to development of large political units based on military and economic power like Mirambo of the Nyamwezi empire, Tipu-Tipu, Nyungu Yamawe etc. 8.Famine set in as a result of disruption of farming due to slave raids. 9.Some rulers expanded their territories in order to gain control of the trade routes markets, production areas like Kabalega of Bunyoro. 10.Trade routes used during LDT turned into important highways. 11.Those routes later were used by explorers, colonialists and missionaries who later colonised East Africa. 12.New crops were introduced in the interior like rice.

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