- Local trade refers to the exchange of goods among members of a community. Regional trade involves exchange of goods between a community and her neigbouring communities.
- Long distance trade was the exchange of trade goods between communities over long distance, for example between the east African interior and the east African coast.
The organization of long distance trade
- The communities that participated in the long distance trade were the Akamba, Swahili, Arabs, Yao, nyamwezi, Mijikenda and Baganda.
- The trade developed because of the demand for ivory in Europe and the United States of America, slaves for plantation agriculture at the coast and in Mauritius and reunion sugar plantations
- Ivory and slaves from the interior were exchanged for cloth. Utensils, ironware, zinc and beads at the coast.The system of trade were barter.
- The middlemen included the Mijikenda and the Akamba who obtained slaves and ivory from the interior. The Akamba adopted the long distance trade after the outbreak of famine in 1836 and due to the central location of their country.
- The Akamba organized caravans that left for the coast on weekly basis to sell ivory, gum copra, honey, bees wax, rhinoceros horns and skins. They had prosperous traders like chief Kivoi who is remembered for organizing the trade.
- They set up markets and routes in the interior.
- The source of slaves and ivory extended as far as Mt. Kenya region, Baringo and the shores of Lake Victoria.
- The trade led to the development of Mombasa and Lamu as important market points.
- The Waswahili and Mijikenda traders were also used in the trading caravans to the interior.
- By 1860s, Arabs and Swahili traders started penetrating to the interior of Kenya as far as Uganda.
- In Kenya, the main trading centres were taveta, Mbooni hills, elureko in Wanga and Miazini near Ngong and along Lake Baringo.
- By 1870, the Akamba dominance in the trade declined as a result of competition from the Arab and Waswahili traders who began penetrating into the interior to get goods from the source.
- Movement between the interior and the coast was carried out in caravans along well defined routes.
- The trade routes became insecure due to the Oromo and Maasai raids.
- The abolition of slave trade also affected the long distance trade.
- In Tanganyika, the Yao, nyamwezi, Arabs and Waswahili were great traders. The Yao exchanged tobacco, hoes, and animal skins at Kilwa with imported goods like cloth and beads. They were also the principal suppliers of ivory and slaves to Kilwa. The Yao were the most active long distance traders in east Africa.
- The Arabs and Waswahili traders organized caravans into the interior and set up markets and trade routes. They were given security by Seyyid said who signed treaties with Chief Fundikira of the Nyamwezi to allow the Arab traders to pass through his territory.
- They established interior Arab settlements at Tabora which became the centre of Arab culture.
- The nyamwezi organized trading expeditions under their chiefs upto the coast with ivory, copper, slaves, wax hoes, salt and copra. They returned with cloths, beads and mirrors. They established trade routes such as the route from Ujiji via Tabora to Bagamoyo. They travelled to Katanga in DRC for iron, salt and copper. By 1850 nyamwezi merchants such as Msiri, and leaders like Nyungu ya Mawe and Mirambo played a key role in the trade development.
- When the Arab and Waswahili traders arrived in Buganda, the kabaka welcomed them because he needed their goods such as beads, cloths, guns etc. He also wanted assistance in aiding his neighbours. E.g the invasion of Busoga in 1848 was assisted by the Arab traders. From the raids to Bunyoro, Toro, and ankole and Buvuma and Ukerewe islands, the Baganda acquired cattle, ivory, slaves and grains which the sold to the Arabs.
- The Khartoumers also practiced long distance trade. They raided the northern part of Uganda for ivory and slaves.
- Arab and Waswahili traders ventured into the Bunyoro kingdom by 1877 for ivory.
- There were three main trade routes that linked east African coast and the interior;
- a)From Mombasa through the Mijikenda area onto Taita-taveta then branching into two. One leading to Kilimanjaro onto the Lake Victoria region the diversion was to evade the hostile Maasai. . The other branch proceeded northwards from taveta across Galana River into Ukambani then to mt Kenya region and further west. Taveta became an important point on these routes.
- b) The route from Kilwa to Yao then branching southwards to Cewa in Zimbabwe.
- c) From Bagamoyo to Tabora where it branched northwards to Buganda and another branch to Ujiji then to Zaire.
Effects of the Long distance trade on the people of East Africa
- a) The trade led to Development of towns e.g. Mombasa, Lamu, Kilwa, Pemba and Zanzibar.
- b) It increased the volume of local and regional trade as varieties of new goods were introduced.
- c) There was the Emergence of a class of wealthy Africans along the coast and the interior as Arab, African and Waswahili merchants acquired a lot of wealth. E.g. Kivoi of Ukambani, Ngonyo of Mijikenda, Tippu tip, Msiri, Nyungu ya mawe of nyamwezi, Mwakikonga of the Digo etc.
- d) There was Introduction of foreign goods such as beads, cloth and plates to the peoples of East Africa.
- e) The trade led to Introduction of new crops to the coast e.g. bananas, rice sugarcane and mangoes.
- f) Arab and Waswahili traders introduced Islam to the East African Coast. They also introduced Islamic culture along the coast.
- g) Development of plantation agriculture in Malindi and Mombasa due increased slave trade.
- h) It led to the development of trade routes and market centres in the region. Such routes later became important highways during the colonial rule and upto today.
- i) Traders gave reports about the coast, its strategic and commercial stability leading to the colonization of East Africa.
- j) It led to the development of a money economy that replaced barter trade
- k) The trade facilitated the colonization of east Africa as the interior was exposed to the outside world.
Development and organization of international trade.
Factors that facilitated the development of international trade
- a) The existing earlier trade links between east Africa and the Far East before this period.
- b) The existence of regional trade which became a means through which goods such as ivory were acquired from the interior to be used in the international trade.
- c) The role played by Seyyid said through encouraging the foreign traders to come to the coast. He even signed treaties with them. He also gave letters of introduction to the Arab caravans leading into the interior.
- d) The improvement of the monetary system by Seyyid said facilitated the trade. He introduced the small copper coins from India to supplement the silver currency (Maria Theresa dollars and the Spanish Crown). He also employed the services of the Indian Banyans or Baluchis (Money Lenders) who organized credit facilities for the caravans going into the interior.
- e) There was a high demand for goods from the coast and the international community. Trade goods on demand were also readily available. E.g Gold ivory slaves cloths, beads, and guns.
- f) The existence of deep natural harbours and the attractive beaches lured many foreigners to the region.
- g) The existence of a class of wealthy merchants facilitated the trade.
- h) The establishment of specific trade routes and markets such as Zanzibar, Kilwa and Mombasa facilitated the movement and exchange of goods.
- i) The sultan’s identification of Britain as the sole trading agents in the interior overcame any rivalries which could have led to competition and decline of regional trade which would have in turn affected the international trade.
- j) The development of a sound trading policy by Seyyid said to ensure international market for his grains, coconuts and ivory. He developed trade links with Europe and America by signing treaties with USA in 1833 that opened a consulate in Zanzibar in 1837. He signed a similar treaty with Britain in 1839 that opened a consulate in Zanzibar in 1941. With France in 1844 and Germany in 1871.
- The arrival of IBEACo with William McKinnon further strengthened international trade links and increased the volume trade.
Consequences of international trade
- a) Through the trade, the east African coast was exposed to the outside world.
- b) Some of the European traders later spread their faith thus leading o the spread of Christianity in east Africa.
- c) The international trade fostered good relations between the east African coast and European nations and USA.
- d) The contacts between the coast and European powers later contributed to the colonization o east Africa by Britain and Germany.
- e) New trade goods and crops were introduced to the coast.
- f) Participants in the trade grew richer and exhibited high standards of living.
- g) The slave trade led to sufferings, killings and increased warfare.