This Unit is about barter trade and Long Distance trade.


Barter is a system of exchange by which goods or services are directly exchanged for other goods or services without using a medium of exchange, such as money.

It is distinguishable from gift economies in many ways; one of them is that the reciprocal exchange is immediate and not delayed in time.

It is usually bilateral, but may be multilateral (i.e., mediated through barter organizations) and usually exists parallel to monetary systems in most developed countries, though to a very limited extent.

Barter usually replaces money as the method of exchange in times of monetary crisis, such as when the currency may be either unstable (e.g.,hyperinflation or deflationary spiral) or simply unavailable for conducting commerce.

This is exchange of goods for goods or goods for services.

Barter trade in kingdoms included:

  1. Bark cloth.

Advantages of barter trade

  • Direct barter doesn’t require payment in money (when money is in short supply) hence will be utilized when there is little information about the credit worthiness of trade partners or there is a lack of trust.
  • The poor cannot afford to store their small supply of wealth in money, especially in situations where money devalues quickly (hyperinflation)
  • It doesnt involve money.
  • It promotes a friendship

Disadvantages of barter trade

i) It is difficult to get a customer.

iii) It is difficult to carry bulky goods



Until the middle of the 19th century, Uganda remained relatively isolated from the outside world.

The central African lake region was a world in miniature, with an internal trade system, a great power rivalry between Buganda and Bunyoro, and its own inland seas. When intrusion from the outside world finally came, it was in the form of long-distance trade for ivory.

Ivory had been a staple trade item from the coast of East Africa since before the Christian era. But growing world demand in the 19th century, together with the provision of increasingly efficient firearms to hunters, created a moving “ivory frontier” as elephant herds near the coast were nearly exterminated.

Leading large caravans financed by Indian moneylenders, Arab traders based in Zanzibar reached Lake Victoria by 1844. One trader,Ahmad bin Ibrahim, introduced Buganda’s kabaka to the advantages of foreign trade: the acquisition of imported cloth and, more important, guns and gunpowder. Ibrahim also introduced the religion of Islam, but the kabaka was more interested in guns.

Was the trade that carried from interior to the coast of East Africa.

Tribes that participated in long distance trade in Uganda.




Slave trade: The buying and selling of human beings

Slavery: The state of being enslaved: It’s a system where by some people are owned by others and are forced to work for others without being paid for the work they have done.

It  involves capturing, transporting of human beings who become the ‘property’ of the buyer. The slave trade was one of the worst crimes against humanity.

It involved burning people’s houses capturing them by force,flogging, chaining and walking long distances to the markets once in the market, slaves were sold as you would sell cows, goats, hens and other commodities.

The trade was started by Arabs who wanted labour for domestic use and for their plantations. However, they were later joined by Europeans.

The study of slave trade, will help you to appreciate the historical facts that took place e.g. the suffering the people of East Africa went through and how it was overcome to gain freedom, liberty and brotherhood.

It will also help you to understand why people behaved the way they did, its consequences for the lives of individuals and how a change of attitudes brought an end to the slave trade.

Reasons for the rise of slave trade.

  • During the second half of the 18th century, France opened up larger sugar plantations on the islands of Reunion, Mauritius and in the Indian Ocean. African slaves were thus recruited from East Africa to go and work in those plantations.
  • Africans were considered physically fit to work in harsh climatic conditions compared to the native red Indians and Europeans. This greatly increased the demand for the indigenous people(slaves).
  • The increased demand for sugar and cotton in Europe led to their increase in price and therefore more labour (slaves) was needed in the British colonies of West Indies and America.
  • Strong desire for European goods by African chiefs like Mirambo and Nyungu ya Mawe forced them to acquire slaves in exchange for  manufactured goods such as brass, metal ware, cotton cloth, beads, spirits such as whisky, guns and gun powder.
  • The existence and recognition of slavery in East Africa societies. Domestic and child slavery already existed therefore Africans were willing to exchange slaves for European goods.
  • The huge profits enjoyed by middlemen like Arab Swahilli traders encouraged the traders to get deeply involved in the trade.
  • The suitable winds and currents (monsoon winds) which eased transportation for slave traders greatly contributed to the rise of slave trade.


  • The Legalization of slave trade in 1802 by Napoleon 1 of France increased the demand for slaves in all French Colonies.
  • The increased number of criminals, war captives, destitutes forced African chiefs to sell them off as slaves.
  • The Oman Arabs contributed to the rise in the demand for slaves. This is because they acted as middlemen between the African Swahili people,the Portuguese and French traders. They therefore worked very hard to get slaves in order to obtain revenue from them.
  • The invention of Spanish mines in West indices increased slave demands to work in the mines.
  • The exodus of slaves from East Africa to Northeast Africa, Arabia and Persia contributed to the increase in the demand for slaves. It led to an enormous number of slaves obtained from East Africa being transported to other countries.
  • The movement of Seyyid Said’s capital to Zanzibar led to an increase in slave trade. This is because when Seyyid said settled in Zanzibar in 1840, he embarked on strong plans to open up slave trade routes to the interior of East Africa. This boosted slave trade, whereby the number of slaves being sold at the slave market in Zanzibar annually by that time, reached between 40000 and 45000 thousand slaves.
  • The outbreak of diseases like Nagana led to an increase in slave trade. This is because the beasts of burden (i.e. camels, donkeys, etc) could not be taken on many of the caravan routes. It therefore necessitated people themselves to be involved in the transportation of the trade goods and ivory. Such people included porters who were regarded as slaves, or free Africans who could sell their services in return for cloth and other trade goods.
  • Development of long distance trade that needed slaves to transport goods from the interior of East Africa.
  • Plantation farming increased in some areas, especially the clove plantations were slaves worked.



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