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The Indigenous Economic System: Distribution

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Chapter Summary

Much has been written about trade and markets in indigenous Africa, but dismissingly. For a variety of reasons, it has been argued that trade and markets could not have developed in Africa. Most African markets had market chiefs, appointed by a political chief or elected from among the traders to maintain law and order at the marketplace. Indigenous African economies were based on agriculture, pastoralism, markets, and trade. The importance of these activities was appreciated by both the rulers and the natives. A great deal of mythology and ignorance still surround the indigenous economic system, which was variously called "communism" and "socialism". Foreign observers who came upon the profit-sharing schemes of the natives hastily denigrated them as "primitive communism". Many African leaders also took the same profit-sharing schemes as proof that the indigenous system was "socialism". Much of this was, of course, mythology.

Keywords: African markets; indigenous African economies; primitive communism; profit-sharing schemes; socialism; trade



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