Early Civilization: An Introduction to Anthropology

By Alexander A. Goldenweiser | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
UGANDA, AN AFRICAN STATE

The Baganda people inhabiting the Uganda country are situated north and northwest of Lake Victoria Nyanza. The economic life of this tribe, like that of their Bantu speaking neighbors, is complex and diversified. They are cattle breeders and herders on a large scale, and also keep flocks of goats and sheep. The care of the herds is in the hands of men who form a somewhat distinct group in Baganda society.

The cultivation of plants has progressed equally far. Maize1 is perhaps the principal staple food, but plantain trees are also cultivated on a large scale and, to a lesser extent, coffee trees. The multifarious cares involved in the processes of agriculture and tree culture are in the hands of women, barring only the assistance offered by men in the initial clearing of the ground of grass and trees in preparation for cultivation.

The prevalence of these occupations does not impair the importance of hunting, which is carried on by individuals as well as groups, communal buffalo and elephant hunting being especially highly developed.

Baganda industries do not reach the high technical perfection found among some other African tribes, but they are many and specialized. There are potters and bark cloth makers, basket makers and leather workers, there are ironsmiths and experts in ivory carving, while the art of building canoes is also in the hands of experienced craftsmen.

Before passing to the social and political organization of the Baganda, one further feature of their economic life must be noted which is characteristic for large areas in Africa, but perhaps unknown in all other primitive com-

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1
It may be noted that maize is a relatively recent importation in Africa, having been introduced by the Whites after the discovery of America.

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