Examine the changes brought about by the advent of iron technology to Early Iron Age societies in Zimbabwe.
The entrenchment of iron technology in Zimbabwean societies before 1450D had both positive and negative effects as it transformed the societies’ socially, economically and politically. Some of the changes brought about include but are not confined to; division of labour based on sex, development of social classes, revamping of agriculture, trade, mining and raiding as well as development of states. This essay seeks to look closely at the changes brought about by iron technology to the Early Iron Age societies in Zimbabwe.
The entrenchment of iron technology was positive as it led to the transformation of early iron age societies as the inhabitants of these societies began to construct permanent settlements. It must be highlighted that iron led to people settling together in their numbers and constructing permanent shelters which then precipitated the sedentary lifestyle from the erstwhile nomadic lifestyle of moving from place to place. This sedentary lifestyle not only promoted growth socially, but economically and politically as well, since stability requires settling of a people. Hence, the entrenchment of iron technology was pivotal as it led to construction of permanent settlements.
The advent of iron technology led to negative social change as it fermented establishment of social classes. This is because by virtue of iron technology introduction, those that amassed iron and made iron exploits became more dominant than those without the precious resource. Those iron workers who had mastered the art of smelting and moulding iron implements such as the blacksmiths fell in their own bracket, which after all promoted social stratification as they tended to attract and command respect than the rest of the populace. Shona traditions have it that these were known in the Great Zimbabwe state as _”vapfuri”_, which placed them in their own category of privilege. Therefore, the entrenchment of iron technology was negative as it led to the emergence of social classes to Early Iron Age societies in Zimbabwe.
The advent of iron technology was negative socially as it led to the division of labour based on sex. This is because with iron technology introduction, the males were largely associated with iron working hence making women attached to tasks such as rearing children, cooking and gathering. This marked the birth of men as breadwinners. However, the status of women can be argued to have been denigrated by virtue of their dependency on men who had an upper hand in iron working. Thus, the coming in of iron technology was negative as it led to division of labour based on sex in Early Iron Age societies.
The advent of iron technology to Early Iron Age societies in Zimbabwe was vital economically as it led to improvement in the mining sector. This is because the early iron agers began underground mining as iron implements made it possible for them to penetrate the surface and acquire minerals. These minerals were used in trade as well as making other tools such as iron axes and hoes, essential in the politics and other economic facets of these societies. Therefore, the introduction of iron technology had a positive change in the economies of early iron age societies as it led to the improvement of mining in these societies.
The introduction of iron technology to Early Iron Age societies in Zimbabwe was key as it led to the beginning of iron working industries. This is because iron technology required industrial processes to be transformed into tools. Such industries include the iron smelting industry and blacksmithing industry which transformed iron from its raw form into tools. These tools were not only traded in and between Great Zimbabwe and its international trading partners but were also used to harness agriculture and raiding. Hence, the introduction of iron technology had a positive change in the economies of early iron age societies as it led to the surfacing of iron working industries in these societies.
The coming in of iron technology in early iron age societies was detrimental as it led to beginning of violent economics featuring raiding. This is because iron tools were abused to seize by force, the economic resources of other smaller societies by the giant societies like Great Zimbabwe. Economic resources violently taken over through raiding expeditions include people which were economically human capital, grain and livestock. It is therefore unmistakable to argue that iron technology made it easier for those possessing iron to violently take over economic resources of weaker and smaller societies which succumbed to raiding. Therefore, the coming in of iron technology was detriment to the Early iron age societies as it made smaller and weaker societies exposed to violent raids.
The introduction of iron technology was of great importance to Early Iron Age societies as it led to state formation. This is because iron technology led to creation of weapons that ensured security and defense mechanisms of the people from attacks by animals and other communities. Historians subscribe to the fact that guaranteed security and defense are the essential ingredients needed for state formation. Great Zimbabwe as such, is said to have risen as a result of defense profered by iron technology. Thus, the introduction of iron technology was positive in politics as it fermented state formation.
The introduction of iron technology played a downside role in politics as it triggered bloody wars. This is because with iron tools like iron axes, spears and arrows being made, wars were bound to be bloody as these were efficient in separating the soul from the body, that is, culminating in deaths. One such bloody war is the successionist dispute driven war between Chibatamatosi and Nyatsimba Mutota at Chitakochangonya. Therefore, the coming of iron technology was negative as it spearheaded bloody wars.
In conclusion, one can argue that the introduction of iron technology was largely positive to the politics, economics and social dynamics of the Early Iron Age societies in Zimbabwe. On one hand, iron technology positively led to the creation of states, improvement in mining and establishment of iron working industries, while on the other hand, it can be singled out for leading to bloody wars, raiding, social classes and division of labour based on gender. One can therefore qualitatively appreciate that the above examination applauds the introduction of iron technology in Early Iron Age societies as it brought positive transformation to the societies in question.