chapter  3
12 Pages

The Origins of African Rural Settlement

WithJames L. Newman

Contemporary concerns are likely to be framed in a planning context or by critical social theories that run a gamut from traditional Marxism to feminism to postmodernism. Colonialism brought an end to warfare and the slave trade, and thus homestead living once again became possible. In general, population sizes for the living floors cum camps seem to have been in the thirty to fifty range, which accords with the general totals recorded for surviving gatherer-hunter groups. In some areas, population growth gradually filled up much of the intervening space between the fields of individual homesteads but, initially, areas of uncultivated land, either virgin or in some stage of regrowth, tended to separate homestead units from each other. Produced patrilocality, which proved to be a possible factor in encouraging dispersed homestead formation. The role of cattle became more important in Africa, however, as a result of environmental factors in areas of new settlement.