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Livneh, Avital (1976) Pre-colonial polities in Southern Zambezia and their political communications. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Throughout the history of the Iron Age peoples of Southern Zambezia, there was an apparent division between North and South. Organized major polities first appeared in the southeast, then a balance was evident between the northern centre of the Mutapa, and the southern centre of the Butua-Rozvi. Then, the northern centre declined, and the Ndebele invaders re-shaped the southern centre. The communications of the plateau are examined through these centres. A comparative examination of the political communication of the pre-l6th century elites, the Mutapa, the Rozvi and the Ndebele, respectively, shows that in all of them the bulk of communications was on an unofficial level. 'Official communications were influenced by the capacity for grain storage and transport, and by succession regulations. Officialdom was tied to rulers with ties of affinal, personal nature, and were not eligible for the throne. Word of mouth was the main tool of contact in all the states examined, and literacy and the wheel failed to penetrate them. The Rozvi and Mutapa states display similarities, although the Rozvi appear to have been more tightly controlled. The Ndebele brought new forms of organization, which enabled them to mobilize more efficiently than Shona, and the intensity of contact within their densely settled land was probably greater. Their relations with their periphery, however, followed in tribute enforcement in the footsteps of the Rozvi.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 14:58

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