in Tonga culture, technological change, the nature of the imperial presence--make for a more convincing explanation of this phenomenon, as I shall show in analyzing the economic history of the Plateau in the imperial era.
I have described in this chapter a pre-capitalist mode of production in a period of considerable stress. The dominant domestic communities on the Tonga Plateau were examples of what Goran Hyden calls "economies of affection" where "affective ties based on common descent, common residence, etc." prevail, rather than market and/or class relationships. 70 The fundamental economic and social units--household, village, neighborhood--were small-scale. There existed a subsistence orientation, not because surpluses were unknown (under proper conditions, they certainly were known), but because communities and individuals aimed more at long-term survival and reproduction than at short- term maximization. The relative insecurity of the late nineteenth century meant that these goals were sometimes problematic.
In its culture and political economy, the Plateau occupied a border area between central and southern Bantu "complexes." The Plateau Tonga were matrilineal, like many peoples of the central African savanna, but unlike them were devoted cattle keepers; cattle keepers, yet far less centralized and hierarchical than most cattle-oriented peoples to the south, such as the Mpondo described by William Beinart. Indeed, I would emphasize again the egalitarian nature of Tonga society, and the centrifugal forces operating within it, to which matriliny certainly contributed. This should not be confused with homogeneity. Indeed Tonga culture provided unusually wide scope for individuals to achieve relative wealth and status, but simultaneously placed many demands on such figures and insured that their status would be transitory. Division between classes, or between royals and commoners, has no application to the Tonga; division between leader and follower and even between male and female was comparatively limited.