Their maternal connections but often succeeded to political position patrilineally

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their maternal connections but often succeeded to political position patrilineally.

Despite the spread of farming into more and more areas, gathering and hunting remained a powerful component in the regional economy of south­western Africa for many centuries. Along the lower Orange River and through much of the central interior of to day's Cape region of South Africa, numerous small societies, whose languages belonged to the Taa-Kwi branch of the Khoisan family, continued to follow a purely gathering and hunting existence between 300 and 1450. Their shamans carried on the ancient Khoisan rock art tradition, and many of the best preserved paintings known today in the moun­tainous areas of southern Africa probably date to these centuries.

Between the Benguela Highlands and the Zambezi River lay another region in which Khoisan gatherer-hunters-speaking languages of the Ju branch of Khoisan-long remained important inhabitants. But their economic and cul­tural experiences were quite different from those of the Taa-Kwi. Between 500 and 1450, the Lwena group of Western-Savanna Bantu gradually scattered out across the region, establishing themselves principally in a restricted set of envi­ronments. The Lwena found it difficult in most areas to raise cattle, because the climate, unlike the cooler Benguela Highlands or the drier areas settled by the Southwest - Bantu, was both hot enough and just barely wet enough to harbor the tsetse fly. On the other hand, the annual rainfall was only enough to sup­port the cultivation of grains, gourds, black-eyed peas, and the like, and most of the soils were sandy and low in nutrients. In consequence, the Lwena com­munities tended to concentrate along the major streams of the region, where they planted their gardens and fields in the heavier, wetter soils along the rivers and supplemented their diet with a great deal of fishing. In this situation the Ju were long able to continue exploiting the hunting and gathering resources in areas away from the streams, although even there they faced competition for game resources from the Lwena communities (see map 17).

Interestingly, the existence of a few words for cultivation adopted long ago into the Ju languages suggest that an informal kind of farming, still practiced by some of the recent, more northerly Ju communities, first came into being during this period. In this set of practices, people clear small fields and scatter seed on them, but then leave the fields untended to pursue their usual gather­ing and hunting activities, returning only later in the year to harvest whatever portion of the crop might have survived the weeds and animal predators.


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