MAKUA PEOPLE OF MOZAMBIQUE PERFORMING THEIR TRADITIONAL DANCE
History of Makhua
The Makua themselves claim that they migrated to this country from the then Portuguese East Africa now Mozambique before the Arabs had set foot into this country. According to recent studies of the history of Mozambique, the Khoi and San people groups were the first inhabitants of at least the central and Northern parts of Mozambique (Martinez, 1988: 43). Some of the so-called “cave-drawings” that are found in other parts of Africa and are ascribed to the San people, are also found in Mozambique. “In nomadic bands of a few dozen people, these Stone Age folk hunted and gathered food instead of herding and cultivating” (Henriksen, 1978: 3).
Axelson (1972) deducts that since there were archaeological items that were found in Zambia and Zimbabwe that date to 100 AD and 300 AD respectively, it is reasonable to suppose that parts at least of Mozambique were also occupied early in the Christian era by iron users, who were doubtless Bantu-speaking Negroes. Early immigrants would have included the Zimba, Tawara, Tonga and Sena people groups. That Karanga establishes the renowned Mwene Mutapa (monomotapa) kingdom, perhaps as early as the 10th century AD. This kingdom covered a large part of today’s Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
The Makhuas formed part of the first “Southern Bantu” groups that emigrated out of central Africa. This migration took place during the first five centuries AD. The Makhuas progressively occupied the fertile planes next to the rivers in Northern Mozambique (Martinez, 1988: 44). The establishment of the Makhuas in Mozambique during the 4th to the 8th century was a slow but sure process. This process was also at the same time a transformation from a nomadic existence to a more stable and permanent setup. During this time the focus was upon settling, food and defense (Martinez, 1988: 45).
The 9th to the 14th centuries mark the migration of new/other Bantu tribes to the Southern parts of Africa. These migrations also directly affected the Makhuas and led to adjustments and changes. New commercial alliances were formed and the need for defense against frequent attacks from raiders increased. It was also during this time that the Arabs appeared on the Mozambican scene. According to Axell (1972: 607) there are recordings of a visit that dates as far back as 922 AD from Arabs to Sofala.The Arabs, local tribes and the Portuguese (when they appeared on the scene) all took part in the slave trade. Tribes like the Yao and Makhuas provided the Arabs and Portuguese of slaves on a big scale. The Arabs and Portuguese in turn sold the slaves to the slave ships (Van Aswegen & Verhoef, 1982: 11).
Because the economic and trade activities of the Arabs increased so much (especially along the coast), there came into existence what Martinez (1988: 46) called “Estados afro-asiáticos independentes” or “coastal independent states”. These “coastal states” were very inviting to the Makhuas. The Arabs introduced exchange trade with the Makhuas on a grand scale. The Makhuas were moreover exposed to more modern agricultural techniques.
The Makhuas started to group themselves together into confederations in order to have a better defense and to keep control over the ivory and slave trade. These confederations each consisted of a number of families/clans. The Makhua Meto group formed part of such a confederation in the Lúrio valley.
The Portuguese first set foot on Mozambique at the end of the 15th century. At that stage, they did not penetrate the areas where the Makhuas lived. The true occupation of these territories would only start at the beginning of the 20th century. In the 18th century the renowned headman Mucuto-Muno from the Namarróis confederation became famous for the way he organized raids and carried away slaves. He also imposed high taxes on the caravans that came from the interior (Newitt, 1995: 399).
BY: Kweku Darko Ankrah