Sustainable farming practices of Africans from centuries ago

Sustainable farming practices of Africans from centuries ago

Maboni Mmatli

From reincarnation movies and history channel documentaries, African people have and continue to be shown as people of communal farming practices. Chief amongst the many practices is farming with livestock – cattle, sheep, goats, etc. The farming practice has since been commercialised with a market estimated in the billions of dollars a year. What we fail to see when watching these historical broadcasts and re-enactments, is the sustainable nature of our farming practices from those early centuries.

Not only were African farming solely for meat but almost every part in the body was used for the improvement of life through different products – Science and Technology. When taking into account a mature cow, it provided basic needs for survival - shelter, food and clothing – and wants for the enjoyment of life. Throughout the cow’s lifespan, women would collect the dung in containers to take home, where building bricks would be manufactured through a soil, water and dung mixture. Upon the brick drying and rigidly solidifying, the men would use them to build huts that were round in shape. Not only would the house be left in that form but the dung would be mixed with water - to create what in the modern day is paint – to decorate the huts by drawing shapes and symbols on the walls. This is shelter! The same dung, when dried up, would be used as a source of fuel for fire combustion and used to cook and warming themselves up.

Upon the cow being mature enough, it would be slaughtered and its flesh (meat), intestines (tripe) and blood eaten as a food source (as it is today). This is food! The leather of the cow would be properly trimmed, removed of fat and scrubbed to perfection to make mats, blankets and clothes. This is clothing! Now that we have covered the needs, let us look at the wants. The leather would be cut and trimmed into thin strips and tied on a smoothly carved piece of stick to make a whip and the horns cleaned and a hole drilled through them to make an alarm/whistle. These would be played to call a meeting or at entertainment ceremonies known as “dinaka”. This shows that Science and Technology has been with us and we have been practising it sustainably without our notice of it.