Engaruka: the success and abandonment of an integrated irrigation system, c15th - 17th centuries John Sutton (abstract of paper published in Widgren and Sutton 1999 <../publications.htm>) Situated in relatively arid terrain at the foot of the Rift wall in northern Tanzania, but blessed with a permanent river and three seasonal streams, Engaruka can appear as an oasis. Three to six centuries ago a community of several thousand people thrived here on irrigated agriculture. This is demonstrated by clear remains of stone- divided and levelled fields, served by a network of stone-lined canals and secondary furrows, covering over two-thousand hectares, as well as seven concentrated village sites overlooking the fields. The main crop was sorghum. Some cattle were kept in small enclosures; it is deduced that they were stall-fed and their dung used as manure. There is clear evidence for hydrological decline along this escarpment during and since the life of old Engaruka. Some of the villages and artery canals depended on streams, which are now much too unreliable. The field system, moreover, underwent modifications, with realignments and attempts to heighten the main canals. While this illustrates the community's engineering abilities and labour organisation, it suggests also the strain being experienced. In part this may be due to the success of this cultivation system in a special environment, the population reaching the maximum which could be supported on the cultivable land which was circumscribed by the local relief and the volume of water descending the escarpment streams. Pressure to use the fields and to irrigate more intensively would have led to diminishing returns through soil-exhaustion and both surface and gully erosion, of which there are clear signs. One might imagine this as a case of over-specialisation contributing to the decline and eventual expiry of the system and its community. The unanswered question is whether this environmental change was entirely caused by this compact cultivating community while it thrived, and in particular whether the escarpment's hydrology could have been damaged by forest clearance in the hills for building and domestic needs, or, contrarily, whether there was a declining trend in rainfall in the middle and later centuries of the second millennium. Independent researches in the region, both in the Rift and especially in the Crater Highlands from which the Engaruka streams derive, may help, if combined with precise dating techniques. Engaruka was not exactly unique; there are a number of smaller sites forming part of the same cultural and agricultural complex. While all these are similarly deserted, some elements of the tradition survive in the Sonjo villages to the north. These lack cattle and manuring, and the dependence on irrigation has been less extreme than at Engaruka. The history of Sonjo - cultural, agricultural and environmental - might be approached by examining former village sites and should assist the questions raised in Engaruka.
Konso Integrated Agriculture as social Process Elizabeth Watson (abstract presented in Widgren and Sutton, 1999 <../publications.htm>) The intensive agriculture of Konso in south-western Ethiopia integrates a variety of special techniques to support a large population in a harsha nd upredictable semi -arid environment. these include construction of labour intensive stone -walled terraces over large areas of these hills, alongside square-ridged basins, zero- grazing of animals with the application of manure to the fields, and rain-water harvesting. This results in a permanently cultivated landscape supporting large, walled and densly populated villages. to understand this agricultural landscape it is necessary to appreciate its embedded social and symbolic role, relating in particular to land and labour. This paper reviews on institution in Konso, which plays an important role in the organisation of land and labour: the poqalla. These are male hereditary leaders (previously described as clan or lineage leaders and also priests). Their political and religious role is inextricably related to thier control over land and labour. Through a study of the poqallas, integrated agriculture can be seen as more than just a set of techniques, but part of the social process of Konso society. The Ruins of Engaruka conducted by Maasai warriors Approximate Fee: US $10 Accommodation: basic campsite included Food: women cook Guided by Maasai warriors, walk through the mysterious ruined city of Engaruka and the surrounding scrubland. Located at the foot of the Rift Valley Escarpment, Engaruka remains one of Tanzania's most important historic sites. Over 500 years ago a community of farmers developed a unique irrigation and cultivation system channeling water from the Rift Escarpment into stone canals and terraces. Although abandoned in the 1700s Engaruka illustrates a once highly specialized and integrated agricultural community which has been investigated by archeologists world-wide. Daywalks for birdwatching at the foot and slopes of the Rift Valley Historic visits to sites from the German colonial period A climb of Oldoinyo Lengai, a semi-active volcanic mountain A view into the Maasai culture, who continue a life of simplicity and peace Profits from your visit are used to protect the ruined city of Engaruka
Engaruka <Back to Last Page> <Full Glossary <library/glossary/blglossary.htm>> Definition: 15th to 16th century site in the Rift Valley of Tanzania, including seven large villages with a complex stone-block irrigation canal and intricate agricultural system. Related Resources:
Some more African achievements
"Pitfall is one American version of the African game issued by Creative Playthings. It is similar to Kalah, designed in 1940 by William Champion and now manufactured by Products of the Behavioral Sciences. I agree whole heatedly with John B. Haggerty, who writes: "the best all around teaching aid in the country"(page 328), and later: "in addition to its value as a diversion and as a means of developing the intuitive abilities so important to problem-solving... Page 131 of _Africa Counts_ by Zaslavsky, Claudia
Africans developed a game that is one of the greatest teaching tools
<snip> Crane's "African games of strategy" (1982) may be added. Crane informs about some of the most common types of African games involving strategy and mathematical principles, like games of alignment (Shisima (Kenya), Achi (Ghana), Murabaraba (Lesotho)), <snip> ------------------------------------------------------ In sub-Sahara Africa Negroes dominate (over whites) in a intellectual game like Chess called Morabaraba.
Gilbert Magabotse is the world champion morabaraba player. It's an African board game once taught to herd boys, demanding cunning and quick thinking.
Morabaraba is a tactical board game, involving cunning and mental agility, which is played widely among rural African communities - sort of a cross between draughts and speed chess.
It is not known how many South Africans play morabaraba on a recreational basis, but it is believed to be many millions, and clubs are sprouting up all over. "It is something traditionally South African we can be proud of, but we need to get funding from the government to breathe life into it." The South African War Games Union - which looks after tactical or strategic computer and board games - shares his sentiment. It has taken morabaraba, and other traditional games, under its protective umbrella to promote them in schools and urban communities. Colin Webster, the union's president, says the game is unstoppable: "It has been sidelined too long, but we can redress the wrong by crediting previously disadvantaged people for their excellence, allowing them to reach national prominence in a game which they already play."
Webster, who is compiling an anthology on morabaraba, says ithas cultural roots tied to the African concept of ubuntu: "While Western philosophy is based on the principle, 'I think therefore I am', ubuntu says 'I am because you are'. So while most Western games are based on beating the opponent, morabaraba is about giving your opponent space to move in order to win."
But Webster claims the built-in concept of helping the opponent (sounds more like trapping to me) means that white players initially become very lost, because they are out to win and find it frustrating. "I had a chess master from Russia who looked at the game and said, 'This is easy.' He was demolished by a 14-year-old." --------------------------------- http://home.intekom.com/assegai/SAWU.html
Assegai Central Wargaming Forum
The South African Wargames Union
The South African Wargames Union is the authorative body for all wargaming in Southern Africa, including figure gaming, traditional games, and board games.
Famous South African Wargamers in action with SAWU:
These are photos of the Morabaraba team that traveled to Bangkok for the 2nd Traditional World Games, in December 1996. A team will represent South Africa again in the World Traditional Games, in France, next year.
Gilbert Magabotse from the Spoornet Morabara Club is the current World Champion. Here's the Mpumulanga prize-giving, with Matthews Phosa handing over the trophy:
Thembinyana Hambiyana from Gauteng Draughts Association, our current National Champion. The Morabaraba team journied to Bangkok for the 2nd Traditional World Games, in December 1996 Lawrence Khashane.
Numerous megaliths or standing stones exist in the area around Bouar in what is now the Central African Republic, sometimes called the African Stonehenge. Possibly built as tombs, similar to the stone tombs found in Europe, little is known about these ancient monuments. Usually the stones are set up in groups and were placed near river sources or at the entrances of valleys. The huge stones are typically 1.5 to 2 metres high, but some are up to 5 metres tall and weigh 4 tons. In the native language, these monuments are called tajunu. http://home3.inet.tele.dk/mcamara/stones.html
Gambian stone circles of Senegambia
Required much work force and also the usd simple machines which most white supremist claim no western african did
Also not only that it diminstartes that western Africans cut stone and also qurried stone which also white supremis claim western aficas did not do