COMMON QUESTIONS ON DEVELOPMENT OF AGRICULTURE TOPIC
Hold a class debate on the topic: Solutions to Food Shortage in the Third World is to be found in the Third World itself.
Solutions to Food Shortages
This is the turning of potential land that is otherwise wasted into productive use. This can be done through irrigation in arid lands, draining swampy places or clearing bushes.
In places where this has been attempted new land has been availed for cultivation leading to increased food production, e.g., Mwea Tabere Irrigation Scheme in Kenya as seen in figure 3.15 and desert reclamation in Libya, and the Gezira Scheme in Sudan.
The agricultural policies should be reformulated from a concentration on cash crops to pay more attention to food production. New policies should also promote inter-dependence between agriculture and industry.
Provision of Extension Services
This refers to services such as advice, research, information dissemination, storage and preservation of farm produce especially food. Extension services are vital for the development of agriculture. These should be improved and the extension staff should be well equipped and kept conversant with all developments in their fields, so as to pass on this information to the farmers.
Family Land Use
This is the way families use available land through government policies and incentives like subsidies. Families should be encouraged to have at least a sizeable portion of their land under food crops. This would lead to self-sufficiency for the households, which could eventually contribute to national food self-sufficiency.
Research and Development
There should be an increased emphasis on research and development. Research can lead to the use and production of more efficient fertilisers, pesticides, and equipment and machinery.
Infrastructure refers to the development in transport, communication, storage, marketing, banking and credit facilities. These should be improved to link the farming areas with towns which provide market for the produce, machinery and inputs.
The aspect of planting more trees may influence the pattern of rainfall especially where unplanned and wanton destruction of trees has taken place. This will check desertification.
Environmental Conservation Measures
This relates to the conservation and protection of water-catchment areas. The building of gabions and terraces to check soil erosion and the proper utilisation of land can lead to an increase in food production like strip cultivation.
Effects of Food Shortage in Africa and the Rest of the Third World
High Mortality rates
There is bound to be an increase in death rates due to starvation of the people. This is caused by drought which makes it impossible for people and their animals to find food hence widespread famine.
Increase in Poverty levels
There is bound to be a general increase in poverty among the masses. This will in turn increase the rate of crime, e.g. robbery with violence.
Countries that face food shortages will in turn experience economic decline. People who can not find food will not take part in other economic activities, but only dedicate their energies in search of food.
Erosion of National Prestige
Countries that experience food shortages are constantly depending on foreign aid and grants. These may lead to overdependence on outside assistance which makes the countries not to stand on their own. The above situation can result into neo-colonialism.
High Debt Burden
The countries that receive food aid to solve their food shortage problem may have high debt burden. This is because all they generate in terms of revenue goes towards food and not servicing their foreign debts. This is common in Third World countries.
Increase in Insecurity and Political Instability
Food shortages may result in insecurity as people who do not have will resort to violence and criminal activities in order to get the badly needed food.
Decrease in Population Growth Rate
The population growth rate will decrease due to high mortality rates and low birth rates. It should be noted that a hungry population can not reproduce as food is an essential element in human reproduction.
Regions that have food shortages can easily become damping grounds for foodstuffs which are not consumed in developed countries. These are foods that may with time affect agricultural production of the regions.
For example, in 2003 Zimbabwe refused to accept genetically modified maize from America, as it was thought to have negative impacts on local agriculture.
People in countries that are affected with food shortages are bound to suffer if their governments use food aid as political tool against those who do not support them. Their democratic rights like choosing leaders of their choice will be curtailed.
There is bound to be movement of people from areas (countries) that are experiencing food problem. They become refugees in neighbouring countries or regions where they experience problems of misplaced people. They also cause problems to people they are living amongst such as pollution, insecurity and environmental destruction.
Spread of Diseases
Diseases that are related to food shortages are likely to break out and spread especially those that are nutritional in nature, for example, kwashiorkor, marasmus and stunted growth.
The desperation may also make people be involved in immoral practices such as prostitution leading to the spread of HIV/ AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.
The Food Situation in Africa and the Rest of the Third World
The Third World is the term used to refer to countries in Africa, Central and South America as well as part of Asia. These are also referred to as Developing Countries or Less Developed Countries (LDCs).
Most of them were colonised by Western European countries and their economies were determined by their former colonisers. Although they gained political independence, the economies of most of these countries have remained weak, while their food situation remains fragile.
Most of their attempts to attain self sufficiency in food production have been unsuccessful. This has led to serious food shortages and so they have had to get food aid from developed countries and international organisations like the World Food Programme (WFP).
Factors that have Contributed to the Shortage of Food in the Third World
Inappropriate Agricultural Policies
Greater attention has been paid to cash crops such as coffee, tea, cocoa, rubber, cotton and sugar-cane at the expense of food crops like maize, rice and wheat. This is a carry-over from the colonial period when cash crops from the colonies served as raw materials for the industries in the "home" countries.
Large tracts of land as well as a lot of resources have been devoted to these cash crops at the expense of food crops. This trend did not change at independence as these crops were and continue to be the main earners of foreign exchange.
Adverse Climatic Conditions
Most Third World countries lie within the tropics. Many of these countries experience climatic conditions characterised by little or no rain at all. It is in these areas that most deserts are found like Sahara and Kalahari deserts of Africa. The Sahel Belt of West Africa is another example.
Rapid Population Growth
The rate of population growth exceeds the rate of food production in most of these countries, leading to food shortages. This is further complicated by the fact that most of the population is wholly dependent and is not involved in food production due to their young age.
Insufficient Infrastructural Development
In most of these countries, infrastructural development in transport, communication, storage facilities and marketing is insufficient. Efforts by farmers to improve yields are often frustrated by this.
The poor transport and communication network in most Third World countries has hampered the investment in food production which requires immediate access to markets and storage facilities.
Rural-urban migration has increased labour shortage in the rural areas and negatively affected food production. A bias towards white collar jobs within the population is partly responsible for this drift.
In Africa, the HIV/AIDS scourge is seriously affecting the availability of labour for agriculture, as most of those infected are those that are economically active. This has made the aged and very young to assume the responsibility of working on the farms so as to feed the greater majority, a task they can hardly perform leading to low agricultural output.
Lack of capital to buy costly machinery, and fertilisers, and to practise modern agriculture has had adverse effects on food production.
Consequently, farmers in most Third World countries are still using traditional methods and tools like hoes and digging sticks which limit the area that can be cultivated. This limits the yields.
Destructive human activities like cutting down trees expose the soil. These coupled with overgrazing have led to soil erosion, landslides and a decline in soil fertility. These have lowered food production.
Pests and Diseases
These have rendered many potentially productive areas useless. Such areas include those infested with tsetse flies, and locusts. Pests such as the grain borer, locusts and the army worms have destroyed large quantities of food crops in the Third World countries.
Poor Processing Facilities
The processing facilities in many of these countries are poorly equipped and are therefore inefficient. Many of the processing firms do not pay the farmers that provide the raw materials promptly, a situation that has discouraged the farmers from seeking ways and means of improving production.
Many countries in the Third World suffer from various natural calamities such as floods and droughts. These destroy farmland and lowers crop yields.
Political instability in several Third World countries has diverted attention from food production. Many countries in Africa have experienced war and so they have relied on food imports. Many have been rendered as refugees hence dependant on food aid.
The Declining Production of Indigenous Crops
The production of disease and drought- resistant indigenous crops like cassava, yams, sorghum and millet has declined. Farmers have opted for crops such as maize, wheat and rice without paying attention to their suitability for the area.
Overdependence on Donations and Foreign Aid
This has greatly affected investment in agriculture as more of these donations from external donors like the World Bank are used in cash crop than in food crop production.
Consequently, the economic programmes of Third World countries are altered to suit these donors. This has also led to a situation where Third World countries have heavy annual debt repayments that leave inadequate finances for the agricultural sector.
Poor Implementation of Policies
Many Third World countries lack the commitment to implement the plans and policies on food production that they design.
The Agrarian Revolution in the United States of America
The United States of America is in North America which covers the USA, Canada and Mexico. It is home to many popular crops including maize, potatoes, tobacco and pineapples, among others. These were cultivated by the indigenous American communities, the Red Indians.
From the 16th century Europeans from different parts of Europe migrated to North America to escape religious and political persecution. These early settlers founded various colonics on the east coast of America and learnt to cultivate the indigenous crops from the native Americans.
Following the Agrarian Revolution in Britain, agriculture in the USA developed due to influence from Britain.
Factors that led to Agrarian Revolution in the USA
As a result of the enclosure system many poor people lost their land. Some of them moved to North America. They carried the new skills and knowledge that they had gathered from the Agrarian Revolution in Britain. They also took cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, fowl and seed, and improved them as they moved to the new world with a lot of enthusiasm and zeal to succeed.
The agriculture that developed in the USA was originally a blend of the old and the new. The modern plantation and estate farming, the crop-zoning, the use of hybrid seeds and farm machinery, the teaching of agricultural economics and extension education, and the increased use of fertilisers transformed agriculture into a big industry.
Availability of Suitable Land
Due to its size, the USA covers several climatic zones and so a wide variety of crops can be grown and many different kinds of livestock can be kept. This coupled with the fact that the USA was a vast country inhabited by few people meant that there was a lot of land available for all kinds of agriculture.
This led to the creation of specialised agricultural zones. The most prominent zones are the cotton and corn belts, the wheat, the dairy, the range and livestock areas, and zones for crops like rice, potatoes, citrus fruits, etc. Large-scale agriculture in all these areas is practised.
Availability of Labour
With the development of plantation farming a lot of labour was required. Thus, from the 18th century many slaves were transported to the new world including the USA in the Trans Atlantic trade. These provided cheap labour especially in the cotton, sugar and tobacco belts.
Development of Machinery
The invention and use of new machinery was also a characteristic feature of the Agrarian Revolution in the USA as it was in Britain. John Deere invented the steel plough in 1831 as an improvement to the iron plough that was in common use.
Cyrus McCormic invented a reaper in the same year. Later on, American scientists developed the refrigerator which preserved food by keeping it at low temperatures. These methods of preserving food and improved transportation encouraged farming.
The American government supported the agricultural sector. In 1862 the Homestead Act was passed. This legalised individual land ownership. It also authorised the Federal Government to grant financial assistance and loans for the purchase and development of land. With the capital availed to them, many farmers turned to large-scale farming or ranching.
In later years the government granted subsidies to the farmers and introduced tariffs on imported agricultural produce. These measures were put in place to protect the farmers against competition from imported agricultural produce.
The development in the transport and communication network in the USA especially the roads, railway and waterways enhanced and facilitated the advancement in agriculture. This made it possible for inputs to be transported quickly to the farms, and farm produce reach the market fast and in good condition.
USA crop zones
Large-scale farming/Estate farming Large plantations were established that initially used slave labour before the introduction of machinery.
Use of Fertilisers
To improve soil fertility, artificial fertilisers was used. Pest controls were invented that curbed spread of crop/animal diseases.
Effects of Agrarian Revolution in USA
The Agrarian Revolution in Britain
The Agrarian Revolution began in Britain. It was at its peak between 1750 and 1850. Agriculture was transformed from a simple and humble occupation to a complex and highly professional practice.
Factors that led to Agrarian Revolution in Britain
Growing Demand for Agricultural Produce
There was a big demand for food by the rapidly growing urban population and an even greater demand for agricultural raw materials for the many modern and improved textile and leather factories.
The Agrarian Revolution caused more fallow land to be cultivated.
Waste and moorland was reclaimed while increased irrigation saw food being grown all year round. Farmers then started using improved cultivation methods to produce more food from the land.
In 1701, one of the early British experimental farmers, Jethro Tull invented the first major farm implement called the seed drill. The seed drill made it possible for seed to be sown in rows, or drills. English farming was improved by the implement because the land between rows was kept clean and inter-row crop farming was made easier. Later, farm machinery was introduced for all sorts of farm work.
Jethro Tull also invented a horse-drawn hoe in the same year (1701) which replaced the harrow. With the use of this new machine, it was possible to keep the roots of plants moist and clear harmful weeds since it went deep into the ground.
Harvesting of crops which was a slow process and required many workers was also solved. Andrew Meikle invented a mechanical thresher in 1876 which speeded up the process. In the same way, from 1825, the iron plough effectively replaced the wooden plough. With machines for ploughing, threshing, harrowing and harvesting, the costly farm labour was minimised and wastage reduced and food production increased.
Breeding of Livestock
Meanwhile, another farmer, Robert Bakewell (1725-1795), had been experimenting on selective breeding for livestock. He developed animal husbandry and is credited for new improved livestock breeds such as the Shorthorn, Devon, Hereford, Aberdeen- Angus and Ayrshire. Some of the modern breeds of cattle.
Sheep breeds such as the Leicester, Shropshire, Suffolk and Oxford, and pigs such as Yorkshire, Berkshire and Tamworth were developed.
Turnips and clovers could be grown alternately on the same land. Clover was a cattle feed which also enriched the soil. Turnips, barley or oats, clover and wheat were now raised in a four-course rotation. Lord Townsend (1674-1738) who himself was an estate owner and renowned farmer popularised the rotation method.
Abolition of Fallows
The abolition of wasteful fallows increased land for cultivation.
Use of Fertilisers
Another improvement in agriculture in Britain followed Lord Townsend's recommendations that land should be manured to increase yield per hectare. Consequently, from 1835, Britain imported the phosphate-rich guano from Peru. Then in 1843, a superphosphate factory was opened in London by Sir John Lawes.
Another feature of the Agrarian Revolution was fencing and hedging of plots which replaced open fields in 1750. In the same year, Government legislation was passed making it mandatory for farmers to fence their land. This legislation quickened the pace of hedging and fencing.
By the Nineteenth century, almost all the farmland in Britain had been enclosed. The enclosure system reduced the risk of either crops or livestock contracting diseases as was the case in the pen fields. Aggressive farmers could now increase production without the hindrance of their neighbours.
The small strips of land were consolidated together to give room for large-scale farming.
Scientific Methods of Food Preservation
The development of canning and refrigeration made it possible for farmers to preserve perishable foodstuffs in large quantities and for domestic use.
The industrial revolution provided the agricultural sector with inputs and at the same time market for their produce.
Results of the Agrarian Revolution n Britain
Disadvantages of the Open-field System
Definition of AGRARIAN REVOLUTION
The Agrarian Revolution was the radical change in methods of agriculture and livestock rearing.
Characteristics of Agriculture in Europe before the Agrarian Revolution
Impact of Early Agriculture in Mesopotamia
Factors that led to Early Agriculture in Mesopotamia
Early Agriculture in Mesopotamia
One of the earliest areas in the world to develop farming was Mesopotamia. The name Mesopotamia means "the land between two rivers." These are the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Mesopotamia was located in present day Iraq and the earliest evidence of early agriculture was in Jarmo in the Kurdish Hills,
The southern part of Mesopotamia known as Sumeria, was arid and received very little rain. The Sumerians began to improve the land by irrigating it. Initially they practised basin irrigation, where they allowed the rivers to flood the plain and deposit fertile silt on the land. Agriculture was thus practised on the silt. Later, canals were dug to channel water into the fields whereas dykes were constructed to prevent further flooding of the felds.
The Sumerians later invented the shadoof that was used to draw water from the rivers. The water was then poured into the canals and used to irrigate the fields, see figure 3.4. These inventions increased the area that was cultivated. They also invented clay vessels and woven baskets for the storage of their poduce.
By 5000 BC agriculture had become one of the most important economic activities in Mesopotamia. The people were mixed farmers who mainly grew grains like wheat and barley, but they also grew figs, flax, olives, vines and vegetables. In addition, they kept cattle, ducks, donkeys, goats, horses, geese, sheep and pigs.
Impact of Early Agriculture in Egypt
Factors that led to Early Agriculture in Egypt
Early Agriculture in Egypt
Egypt was the first country in Africa where techniques of food production spread. Agriculture in Egypt was practised along the banks of River Nile. The waters of the Nile deposited the silt that it had carried from the Ethiopian and East African highlands into Egypt. The early Egyptians drained the water that caused the silt to be swampy and this way created their earliest farms.
Since Egypt was arid, they dug canals from the Nile to direct the water to their farms during the dry season. Thus canal irrigation replaced basin irrigation. This was followed by the invention of the shadoof. The shadoof invention consisted of a long pole that swung up and down between two supporting posts.
A bucket was hung at one end and a heavy weight attached to the other end. The bucket would be filled with water from the river which was then poured into the canal. The use of the shadoof made two harvests in a year possible.
The Egyptian farmers grew wheat, barley, beans, cucumbers, figs, lentils, onions, grapes, dates and flax. They were mixed farmers as they also reared cattle, sheep, goats, chicken, ducks, geese and bees. It is from Egypt that agriculture spread to the rest of Africa.
Factors for Domestication of Crops and Animals
There are a number of factors that made it necessary for human beings to discover agriculture. These were:
The Beginning of Crop Growing
Agriculture is the cultivation of crops to satisfy human needs. But popular use of agriculture now includes animal husbandry (keeping of animals) for products such as meat, milk, butter and eggs as well as bee- keeping and fish farming.
The feeding of world population depends on agriculture. The type of agriculture practised in any region of the world depends on climate, availability of labour and other resources. On learning to produce food, man became even more settled.
The Beginning of Domestication of Animals
The development of domestication of animals had its origin in some of the regions of earliest civilisations. That was about 10,000 years ago.
Before man learnt to domesticate animals, he was purely a hunter using the dog which he had managed to tame. He moved from place to place in all sorts of weather looking for animals to kill and gathering fruits, roots and other items. As time passed, man learnt to domesticate animals, he could keep them for food when weather conditions were not conducive for venturing out. As a result some of the animals like cows and goats provided man with milk. He did not see the need to kill these animals immediately. Furthermore, more animals like the sheep and cat became tamed.
This attempt at taming meant that man had to feed them. The taming of animals made man have a more settled way of life because hunting was now limited. This was an important step to settlement, and some families could now live together in villages. Man also began wearing skins of the animals he had killed.
According to archaeological evidence, cattle, sheep and goats originated from South- West Asia. Greece, Crete, Algeria and Egypt are also credited with being the origin of cattle.
From North Africa cattle spread to central and southern Sahara. By 300 BC they had reached the area around Lake Turkana and had arrived in Southern Africa by 2000 BC The cat, guinea fowl and the ass were among the animals which originated from Africa.
Benefits of Domesticating Animals
Origin of Agriculture
There are two theories which try to explain the origin of Agriculture. These are the independent and the diffusion theory.
The independent theory suggests that Agriculture as an activity developed independently throughout the world as local conditions dictated.
The diffusion theory states that agriculture started in the Middle East, i.e., in Mesopotamia from where it spread to other regions in the world.
Definition of Agriculture
Agriculture is the growing of crops and the keeping of livestock. It is also called farming. The growing of crops is cultivation, while the keeping of livestock is pastoralism, or herding. This can also be referred to as animal husbandry and entails poultry keeping.
In the course of the New Stone Age period, man's way of life changed from that of nomadic hunter-gatherer to sedentary agriculture. Domestication of animals and growing of crops became one of the most significant economic activities of man.
Work to Do
Cultural and Economic Practices of Early Man
Cultural practices depict the totality of man's way of life. Economic practices are the methods that man uses to exploit the environment for his well-being.
The evolution of man and his way of life can well be understood through the study of the Stone Age period. Through this study, we can understand events that have shaped and influenced man's life, these are:
The Old Stone Age (Lower-Palaeolithic)
This period, also referred to as Early Stone Age, lasted approximately from 3,000,000 - 200,000 years ago, and saw important advances in the pre-historic culture of early man. These advances included:
Weapons and Tools
The stone tools made by early man in the first phase of the Old Stone Age have been referred to as Oldowan or pebble tools. Some of these tools are shown in Figure below.
They were named Oldowan after Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania where they were first discovered. They were also called pebble tools because they were made from pebbles i.e., fairly large round stones.
Oldowan tools have been found widespread in South, Central and North Africa, suggesting that they were made and used only in Africa. The makers of Oldowan tools are believed to have been Homo habilis.
In the second phase of the Old Stone Age period, the stone tools man made have been called acheulian. These were named after Saint Acheul Valley in North France where they were first discovered. They first appeared in East Africa about 1.5 million years ago. They seem to have existed in some areas until 200.000 - 50.000 years ago.
At Koobi Fora near Lake Turkana in Kenya and at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, stone tools dating back to about 1.5 million years old have been discovered.
In Ethiopia, interesting tools and weapons which are more than one million years old have also been found at Hadar and Gona. and are among the earliest stone tools found in the world. These include scrapers and choppers or hand axe heads.
They were used for digging up roots. skinning animals. and cutting and scrapping animal skins. Acheulian tools were made by a more improved tool-making technique whereby a core stone was flaked on both sides to produce a sharp pointed end and longer cutting edges on both sides. Acheulian tools Hand axe
The Old Stone Age period must have been much colder than it is now. Therefore, as a result, man must have had a much more hairy body than he has now. He also walked naked because he had not learned how to make clothes.
The Old Stone Age people had not learnt to build houses. But research carried out in the Olduvai Gorge by Louis and Mary Leakey shows that on site DK 1, a semi-circular group of natural stones suggests a hiding place. The Old Stone Age people.slept in forests and on trees to avoid attacks by wild animals. They also used stone caves and rocks as shelter.
The Old Stone Age people ate raw meat for they had not discovered the art of making fire. Typha roots at one of Bed I sites at Olduvai Gorge, the presence of fig leaves at East Turkana show that early man brought back to his home base the plant foods he ate. In addition to this, he ate birds, eggs and insects which he gathered and collected.
In addition to gathering and collecting, the Old Stone Age man also hunted wild animals. ~ Hunting was a group activity. Man hunted by chasing the wild animals. He also trapped and caught wild animals around the watering points.
After successfully catching his prey, man then skinned the carcass and ate the meat raw. There was a bit of specialisation during this period whereby men hunted while women spent most of the day collecting wild fruits and berries. This life required strong people.
Man still used a crude form of communication, based on gestures, growling and whistling.
The Middle Stone Age (Middle Palaeolithic)
This period lasted between 200,00-50,000 years ago. Man changed his life by improving his weapons, building better shelter and inventing fire. Life became easier than during the Old Stone Age period.
Tools and Weapons
The Middle Stone Age period is associated with Homo erectus. Throughout Africa and the world where this hominid is thought to have lived, there was a general attempt to try and improve the tools using the Levallois method or technique.
This entailed the use of cores of smaller stones to hit bigger ones in a special way in order to remove the relatively thin sharp pieces called flakes and blade forms. Man then trimmed the flakes and ades into a variety of daggers, scrappers, pear points, choppers, etc.
In many areas of East and CentralAfrica, there is evidence of improved weapons and the attempts to make them smaller, thinner, lighter, sharper and therefore more convenient.
In East Africa in particular, there was an attempt to make tools from more than one material. Wood and stone for instance could be used together.
The Invention and use of Fire
One of the most important developments in the Middle Stone Age period was that man had learned to make and use fire. Clear traces of fire have been discovered in places where man lived. In South Africa, there are pre-historic sites where hearths of ash and charcoal have been found. Early man must have lighted this fire by rubbing two sticks against one another or striking one stone on another as shown in figure below.
The invention of fire changed man's life in the following ways:
During the Middle Stone Age period, man had started to have particular places where he took his game after hunting and where his family could retire and rest after the day's activities. This was an artificial shelter. An example of such home has been found at Orangia in Southern Africa.
The open site has at least six semi-circular stone structures two to three metres across and all open to the west. The ground inside each shelter had been scooped out to form a hollow perhaps for sleeping. A similar dwelling place was found at Olorgesailie pre-historic site near Magadi in Kenya.
Later on, man started to live in caves and rock shelters. At night they kept fires burning at the entrance to scare away wild animals. Examples of such caves are Matupi cave in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gamble's cave near Lake Nakuru in Kenya and Dar es Soltan in Southern Africa.
During the Middle Stone Age period, man continued hunting wild animals for meat which was his main food. His methods of hunting had now improved because he had better, lighter, sharper and highly specialised weapons like knives, spears and choppers.
It is likely that in the equatorial areas, very large animals like elephants and hippopotamuses were preferred for meat while in the grasslands the grazing antelopes were the main sources of meat. With the invention of fire. man could now cook the meat.
This did not only soften it but also added flavour. Cooking also neutralised the poison in some raw vegetables that man ate. In addition to meat, man ate fruits, birds eggs, insects and fish.
By this time man had learnt to wear animal skins. He scraped the skins clean to make cloaks out of them. He also made shells and necklaces and painted his body with red ochre and oil.
Man improved on gestures and growling and began to use clicks and grunts.
The New Stone Age (Neolithic)
This period, also referred to as Late Stone Age, is associated with Homo sapiens and is thought to have lasted roughly between 5,000 to 2,500 years ago. In this period there was a big change in many aspects of man's way of life.
Socially, politically and economically, man made great advances. He changed and improved the way he lived with his fellow men. Technologically he improved and invented new tools.
Tools and Weapons
In the Old Stone Age period, man merely chipped pieces of stone into the required shape. But in the Late Stone Age further improvement of Stone Age technology was noted. This period is marked by a type of tools called microliths. Microliths were very small tools, sometimes less than a centimetre in length. It was found that by pressing one stone against another, a tool maker could flake off small pieces of microliths.
Microliths were not used as tools alone. They were fitted or glued into wood and bone handles and used together as tools. In the Late Stone Age, emphasis was on "composite tools". These tools were made by fixing several microliths together in wooden or bone shafts. Examples of such tools include fishing harpoons, saw blades, arrow heads, sickles, bone needles for sewing skin cloths, bows and arrows.
Examples of these microlith tools made by New Stone Age Neolithic) man are found in places such as the Qadan site in the Nile Valley.
The tremendous technological advances enabled man to settle in villages, perhaps of about 1,000 members. As man began leading a settled life, several cultural practices developed. Man began to appreciate the need for bodily decorations. Man prepared red ochre in stone bowls and used it as body make-up.
In addition, he decorated himself with beads made of seeds, bone and ostrich egg shells. The use of rock shelters became more widespread during this time. Man decorated them with paintings of animals, hunting scenes and other designs.
Art and Crafts
The New Stone Age Neolithic man also made efforts to invent and develop simple arts and crafts. Man learned how to make rough baskets, how to spin and weave flax and other natural fibre, and how to make pots by shaping clay and baking it hard using fire.
He also painted pictures of the animals he hunted like elephants and reindeer on walls of caves. The best examples of this in Africa are found in Kondoa and Singida in North Central Tanzania and in Southern Africa at Apollo II cave.
It is likely that these pre-historic men thought that painting pictures of the animals they hunted would give their hunts greater success. By drawing pictures of wild animals, man believed that he could magically have a controlling power over his prey. Occasionally, he drew arrows piercing the animals he hoped to kill. Cave paintings also showed a keen observation of animal life.
The New Stone Age man developed a rudimentary form of spoken language with sign language being predominant.
Religion and Government
Another important cultural development was the beginning of religion and government. The first aspect of religion was the performance of rites and ceremonies by man probably with a belief that these rites and ceremonies could influence natural forces such as rain, drought and even death which were the main threats to man's life.
Examples of the development of religious practices are found at Njoro River cave and Hyrax Hill in Kenya. Here cremated remains of human beings buried with some of their tools and possessions have been found. This shows that the Late Stone Age man was religious and believed in life after death.
The New Stone Age paved way for the Iron Age. In some regions, some form of the two co-existed as iron-ore was not universally available. Gradually iron- working revolutionised agriculture and industry.
In conclusion, the cultural development of the Stone Age man from the period of Australopithecus was rough and long. He had started with crude and rough stone tools and improved and perfected them into lighter, and sharper tools and then invented fire.
During the New Stone Age period and after, man had developed smaller and sharper microlith tools and started moving towards a settled agricultural life; planting crops and domesticating animals. This organised systems led to the emergency of government and laws.
Stages through which Man Evolved
Archaeological studies show that man evolved through various stages. At each stage man developed certain physical and cultural features. The following are the stages of the evolution of man.
The probable earliest ancestor of man was an ape-like creature whose skull was discovered in the Faiyum Valley in Egypt. This creature was herbivorous. It lived about 33 million years ago.
Dryopithecus Africanus (Proconsul)
The skull was discovered on Rusinga Island in Lake Victoria in 1948. It resembled a chimpanzee. It lived about 25 million years ago.
Also known as the grassland ape, Kenyapithecus lived between 15 million and 7 million years ago. Its remains were first discovered at Fort Ternan, near Kericho in 1961. It was more man-like than other earlier ape. Other discoveries have been made at Samburu Hills, Lake Baringo and Lake Turkana basins.
Between four and two and a half million years ago, two varieties of small ape-like men came into existence in Southern and Eastern Africa.
These creatures are also referred to as Southern ape-men because their remains were first discovered in Southern Africa at Taung near Kimberley in 1924.
Similar fossils of a hominid belonging to the Australopithecus genius have been found scattered throughout Eastern Africa at such pre-historic sites as Olduvai Gorge and Lake Natron in Tanzania.
Australopithecus used the stone tools he made for defence and to get food. They used sticks and pebble tools to kill small animals for food. They lived in small hunting camps near water bodies and led a nomadic life often migrating following the game they hunted. Hunting was the chief process which set man on the evolutionary path that was to lead to his dominance over all other animals.
Species of Australopithecines
Features of the Australopithecines
At Olduvai Gorge where Mrs Mary Leakey found the Zinjanthropus skull, another of her sons, Jonathan Leakey, found the skull fragments of a very young hominid. The pieces were stuck together to form the back part of the head. Later a lower jaw and the bones of a hand were found.
Dr Leakey, convinced that this was a true ancestor of man, called the creature Homo habilis, meaning handy man', 'man with ability' or simply practical man'. Homo habilis thus became the first species of the genus Homo or man. Homo habilis had a bigger brain capacity (775 cc) compared to Australopithecus and was the first true man to make and use tools.
It is believed that both Homo habilis and Australopithecus lived in Africa about one and three quarter million years ago. But Australopithecus then disappeared giving way to new people who had bigger brains. Homo habilis represents a stage of human evolution at which the brain and the hands were beginning to work in closer conjunction.
Features of Homo Habilis
The other hominid which lived in Africa about one million years ago is called Homo erectus, also referred to as the "upright man". As the name implies. Homo erectus. resembled the modern man especially the upright walking posture. Some fossils have been found of Homo erectus in Hadar in the Afar Triangle of Ethiopia, about 500 km north-east of Addis Ababa.
Homo erectus is thought to have been more intelligent than Australopithecus and Homo habilis. He had a much higher brain capacity of between 750 and 1000 cc. He could spend a long time chipping away at pieces of stone and bone to make the weapons and tools he needed.
Evidence shows that Homo erectus lived in Africa, Europe and Asia and learnt to make many different and more refined tools like hand axes and later crude spears and arrow heads all from stone. It is believed that Homo erectus' knew how to use fire and had a primitive form of speech compared to any of his predecessors.
Features of Homo Erectus
Homo sapiens was divided into three species.
The Rhodesian man was given this name because his skull was found in Zambia, then called Northern Rhodesia.
Rhodesian man was closer to the modern man than Homo erectus was.
Even closer to the modern man was a hominid called "Neanderthal Man", whose fossils were first found in Neander Valley in Europe. Traces of Neanderthal have been found scattered throughout Europe and the Near East.
The oldest remains of the Neanderthal is dated about 250,000 years old. They consist of one nearly complete skull found in 1933 at Steinheim, Germany and three skull bones found in ancient gravels on the bank of River Thames and Swanscombe in England. More than 100 bones of this hominid have been excavated in South West France, Belgium, Gibraltar, Italy, Germany, former Yugoslavia, the middle East and North Africa.
They skillfully chipped stone tools and with them hunted a wide range of game. The arrangements of their bones found in excavations indicate ceremonial burials which show that they had developed religious practices.
Cro-magnon lived in Western Europe about 20,000 years ago.
Features of Homo Sapiens
Homo Sapiens Sapiens
Homo sapiens sapiens brings to the end the long struggle for early man to better himself and become civilised. This is when he made weapons and tools of flint stone, ivory, wood and horn. These tools were more refined than the earlier ones.
He caught fish with bone harpoons, cleaned animal hides with scrapers and made garments out of them with bone needles. Since he was intelligent and was thinking, he made fire and pots. The hunters captured and tamed animals. He began to grow crops, build huts and started leading a settled life.
Figure below depicts the evolution stages man is thought to have gone through.
Features of Homo Sapiens Sapiens
Why Africa is considered the cradle of man?
Africa is considered the cradle of man because of the following factors:
Archaeological Sites in East Africa
Among the most important pre-historic sites in Kenya are:
In Tanzania there are:
Some of the important sites outside East Africa are Omo Valley and Hadar in Ethiopia, and the South Africa limestone cave sites of Skerkfontein, Kromdraai, Swartkrans and Maka Pansgat.
Origin of Man
Among all living creatures, man is unique because of his high level of thinking. This is one reason why the origin of man has been of great interest to scholars for ages. There are three theories which explain the origin of man. These are:
Throughout the ages, individuals, communities and peoples have tried to explain how they came into existence. This explanation is given through the oral traditions, for example, in myths and legends. The Agikuyu believe that Ngai (God) appeared and created their ancestors, Gikuyu and Mumbi at Mukurwe wa Gathanga. The Maasai believe that their ancestors were dropped by Enkai (God) from the sky.
The Creation Theory
This is explained in various Holy Books, e.g., the Bible and the Koran. In the book of Genesis, it is written that God created the universe and all the living creatures, including man, in six days. God created man and woman in his own image. He blessed them and told them to reproduce and fill the earth. He gave them authority to control the earth in all ways.
The Evolution Theory
The evolution theory was put forward by Charles Darwin in 1859. In his book, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, he argues that plants and animals evolved from simple life forms that transformed or changed slowly over millions of years through;
Is an abrupt change in the form of a living thing as dictated by the climate or the genetic components of the living thing involved.
Is an instinct by which the stronger species out-compete the weaker ones for resources.
Follows after the first two where the surviving species isolate themselves from others as they adapt to the new environment. According to the evolution theory, human beings and primates (monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees) had a common ancestor.
Man then developed over millions of years through evolution. During this evolutionary period, certain creatures (hominids) who were more man-like than ape-like developed. The term hominids refers to man and his ape- like ancestors.
The increasing discoveries of fossil remains of the pre-historic man by archaeologists, especially his skull, bones and the tools he made and used. have made the theory of evolution more acceptable over the years.