African - Ayittey Chpt 9.docx

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Western University
Political Science
Political Science 3205F/G
Richard Vande Wetering

THE INDIGENOUS ECONOMIC SYSTEM INTRODUCTION  Agriculture was the primary occupation of Africans and the basic unit of productions was the extended family  Within the family, there was specialization of labour and sexual division of occupation  What a person grew on the land was his own free decision to make. The produce was private property  Centuries ago when Africa was sparsely populated, unoccupied land belonged to no one. Anyone could use natural waters and pastures  Family pot – each extended family had a fund into which members made contributions according to their means  Profit made was private property; it was for the traders to keep not for the chiefs or rulers to expropriate FREE RIGHTS  Some goods produced by the natives were traded or sold in markets  It was physically impossible for one homestead to produce everything it needed on the farm  Economic activity in African markets was not controlled by political authorities  There apparently were no price controls  Active supervision that existed and still exists concerns the butchering of meat. Every person who sells meat in the market must exhibit the skin of a butchered animal in a public place so that there will be no question as to the ownership of the animal IMPORTANTS OF MARKETS  It provided an indispensable avenue for social intercourse  Most marketplaces were associated with religious activities  Perhaps the easiest way to annihilate an ethnic group was to destroy its markets. For such a destruction would assail the very core of the society and the extended family itself  Every African today will declare that prices in the village markets are generally not determined or fixed by the village chief or king  The status of the buyer also affected how much one paid for a commodity  Haggling was the process by which prices were determined  To all intents and purposes, the African village market was an open and free market, howev
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