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Ingombe Ilede and the demise of Great Zimbabwe

  • Innocent Pikirayi (a1)

Although new research suggests multi-directional trajectories in the development of the Zimbabwe Tradition (see Chirikure et al. 2016), regional population shifts need not be discounted, as some of these generated states (e.g. Vigneswaran & Quirk 2015). Oral-historical data from northern Zimbabwe counters persistent but often misleading views of pre-colonial states in south-central Africa as exercising power over static and stationary populations (Pikirayi 1993). Rather, human mobility shaped, among other things, the Zimbabwe Culture's spatial features, its strategies for accumulating power and managing resources, and the regional political, social and economic actors to which it was connected. This occurred with the demise of Great Zimbabwe from the second half of the fifteenth century and for much of the sixteenth. Ingombe Ilede attests to post mid fifteenth-century regional shifts in patterns of trade that would lure the Portuguese to south-central Africa from the early sixteenth century onwards. The Zambezi became the preferred inland route. Great Zimbabwe's expansionary thrusts to control this trade undermined its own political control over the southern Zimbabwe plateau, as this spawned new political formations like the Mwene Mutapa state and other polities, including Ingombe Ilede.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
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