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Social sciences: history

Grade 6

Trading in africa’s ancient kingdoms

Module 16

Early settlements in south africa

Meanwhile, what happened in our country? People first started practising agriculture in the present South Africa approximately 2000 years ago. With farming activities spreading from the coastal areas to the river valleys on the central plateau, farmers were obliged to adapt their implements, weapons, and clothing to changing situations. All those living in the small farming communities more or less had equal power and wealth and prosperous towns developed in time, due to the expansion of trading in cattle, ivory, gold, etc.

The earliest farmers south of the Limpopo River lived along the Indian Ocean coastline where the climate was mild, the rainfall adequate and the soil fertile. They cultivated grains and stored their harvests in pots and also gathered seafood. However by 1000 A.D., many settlements had been established in the interior.

We are going to find out more about three interesting settlements, namely those at Mzonjani, Broederstroom and the Boomplaas cave. But first take some time to study the time line and the map.

Activity 1:

To arrange events concerning the early settlements in our country in the correct sequence

[lo 2.1]

Connect column A and B by only writing the correct symbol from column B in column A.

Column A Column B
1. 0 A. Gold trade of Mapungubwe takes place
2. 250 A.D. B. First Indians settle in “SA”
3. 400 A.D.600 A.D. C. Dutch under Jan van Riebeeck settle at the Cape
4. 1050 A.D. D. Birth of Christ San and Khoina in “S.A.” already
5. 1200 A.D. E. Agricultural towns such as Mzonjani and Broederstroom already exist (See map on this page)
6. 1652 F. Farming spreads to the interior Black farmers have already settled in the river valley of “Natal"
7. 1860 G. Black farmers settle in the highveld
  • When the first farmers arrived in Southern Africa, they settled in the densely forested and bushy areas along the coast. This area was suited to slash and burn agriculture, which meant that trees were cut down and new fields were cleared whenever current agricultural plots stopped yielding good crops.
  • Once farming had been established along the coastal area, farmers started moving inland along the valleys and large rivers to the fertile plains of the interior.

Activity 2:

To use sources to obtain relevant information about the early settlements

[lo 1.3]


  • Traders from North Africa and the East sailed southwards along the eastern coast of Africa and discovered that Africa yielded a vast number of products. Gold and ivory were exchanged for beads and cloth.

Quite recently a group of road engineers who were busy building a new road north of Durban stopped their work for days on end to allow archaeologists to do archaeological excavations after bulldozers had revealed shards of ancient pottery. The excavation revealed more pottery shards, seashells, stones, animal bones and iron screws.

This was identified as the site of Mzonjani, one of the well-known agricultural villages of Southern Africa. People driving along the N2 highway approximately 20 km north of Durban drive over this site every day without realising that a Southern African village dating from about 280 A.D. was situated here.

Questions & Answers

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RAW Reply
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Brian Reply
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Stoney Reply
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Praveena Reply
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Damian Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, History grade 6. OpenStax CNX. Sep 08, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11011/1.1
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