Early Sources of Energy.
Wood was developed as a source of energy after the discovery of fire. It was used as follows;
- a) Making fire which provides heat to warm people during cold seasons lighting, to cook roots and roast meat, for hunting(bushfires), tool-making to harden tips, means of communication, food preservation
- b) Charcoal made from wood fuel provided heat that was used for steaming water to provide steam power for steam engines during the industrial revolution. This is a form of energy still in use today since it is cheaper and easily available.
- Wind was used to drive sailing ships during the trade between East African Coast and the Far East
- Windmills were used in China to grind grain and process foods They were also used to pump water from polders in Netherlands Windmills are also used to generate electricity
- Windmills are mainly used in areas with fewer trees like in Isiolo, Garissa, Wajir and Mandera However the use of wind as a source of energy is disadvantaged by its being irregular and inconsistent in direction and strength.
- Water has been harnessed to produce HEP
- Water was used to turn wooden propellers (water wheels) which in turn turned grindstones to grind grains into flour.
- In England, it was used in the Textile and paper industry to turn spinning machines
- In Italy water-powered machines were used to make copper pots, weapons of war, to spin silk and to sharpen various tools
- Water also is not reliable as a source of energy since the levels may be too low during dry weather for HEP production.
Uses of metals in Africa
- a) Metallic tools were more durable. They could not break easily.
- b) Cutting edges of metals could be sharpened.
- c) Malleable Metals could be heated and reworked into deferent usable designs when need arose
- d) Metals are not prone to waste. Broken pieces can be smelted and reworked into useful items. For example a broken spear into an arrow.
Uses of Gold.
- a)It was used to make ornaments and decorations. In Egypt, it was used to make jewellery like rings, bangles and bracelets.
- b) It was used to make utensils, such as plates, vases and drinking vessels.
- c) It was used to make swords and flint knife handles among the rich in Egypt.
- d) It was used to make coins in Egypt.
- e) It was used as a trade item in East, central and west Africa
- f) It was used to make weapons such as sword and knife blades.
- g) Gold was also a measure of wealth in Egypt.
Uses of copper.
- a) Making utensils and containers such as pots and pans.
- b) The Egyptians used copper to make axes, tools, Chisels, Pins and fish hooks.
- c) It was used to make ornamental bangles, rings, helmets, needles, wire chains and statues.
- d) It was used as a medium of exchange in the form of copper bars.
- e) It was used to make daggers (weapons).
- f) It was used as a trade commodity. Those with copper exchanged it with other goods that they did not have.
- g) It was used to make alloys like Bronze and Brass.
Uses of Bronze.
- a) Making stronger weapons such as shields, spears, arrowheads, swords and daggers.
- b) Making sculptures and decorations. For example, in Benin it was used to make objects for religious ceremonies, masks and decorating the king’s palace. It decorated temples, palaces and pyramids in Egypt.
- c) Making knives, containers, pans and vases.
- d) It was a store of wealth.
- e) It was used to make tools, shields and chariots.
- a) The tools lost their sharpness and became blunt quickly since the metal was relatively soft. They required constant sharpening.
- b) Bronze was not cheap. The mixture of copper and yin had to be acquired through trade thus making bronze expensive.
- c) It was difficult to get an appropriate proportion of each of the two metals.
- It was first introduced in North Africa from the Middle East by the Phoenicians and the Assyrians, and then spread to west, East Central and South Africa.
- The art of iron working probably developed independently in Africa as evidenced by the Archaeological evidence in Buhaya(the oldest iron age site that existed between 5th and 6th C AD ) , North –West of Tanzania. The Buhaya iron is associated with the pottery style known as Urewe-ware
Ways in which the iron culture spread in Africa.
- Through wars of conquest e.g. Egypt versus Assyrians where the Assyrians forced the Egyptians to learn to use iron from Meroe to make strong weapons.
- Trade e.g. the Mesopotamians traded with Africans. The North African then traded with the West Africans, thus spreading the iron smelting technology across the Sahara.
- Intermarriages e.g. Arabs and Africans intermarried and hence a new iron culture and technology developed.
- Through learning and acquiring the technology from neighbors.
- Increased demand for iron tools for agriculture, weapons and iron products increased trade in iron.
- Migrations. E.g in east Africa where the Bantus and nilotes arrived from West African region with the iron culture which they introduced to east Africa.
- Travelers and messengers who gave out and received the gifts of iron
- It was used as medium of exchange. Iron bars were used as currency.
- To make agricultural tools such as hoes and pangas this increased food production.
- Weapons such as spears and arrows were made of iron, which strengthened some communities while others who lacked the same were easily defeated.
- Iron was used as a trade item where those who did not have it acquired it through barter trade.
- It was used for storing wealth. Smithers used iron bars as a measure of value.
- It promoted empire building. Many kingdoms and empires relied on strong iron, weapons s to fight expansionist wars e.g. Egypt, Benin and Mwene Mutapa empires.
- It led to migrations especially of the Bantus who war able to protect themselves during the journeys using iron weapons.
- It promoted agriculture since large tracts of land could now be used to produce more food using stronger tools.
- Adequate food resulted in population increase and later migration to areas with sparse population.
- It resulted in specialization and division of labour as some people became iron smelters while others engaged in other activities like trade.
- It stimulated construction and building works using stronger metals like iron. Better houses, temples and bridges were built.
- Metal technology also had an impact on religion in that metals began to be used when performing religious rites and in royal palaces e.g. the golden stool among the Asante.
- Trading and industrial towns developed within and around the major mining centres like Meroe Axum, in Ghana, in Zimbabwe and in Benin.
- Trade was promoted in that sometimes iron was used as currency and others became important items of long distance and regional trade.