Historical Development of Co-Operatives Generally and in Zimbabwe
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The nature of co-operatives cannot be fully understood without first looking at some historical aspects. This will help us understand the modem development and direction of co-operatives. Social co-operation has existed since time immemorial. In fact it is as old as human history. We know that this is so because primitive societies all over the world had co-operative forms of organisation of labour to carry out, in common, certain economic activities like fishing, building huts, making paths or bridges, felling trees, breaking up new land. In Zimbabwe particularly prior to colonial rule, the country’s various communal societies deemed it expedient to group together for such tasks as crop watching, animal hunting, cattle grazing and collecting firewood, fruit and honey. This was over and above mutual aid given between different families in daily life. Mandel,* observes that the work was planned by the community in accordance with the custom and ancient rites based on a deep knowledge of the natural environmental factors like climate, soil composition and the habits of game. This was one way that customs developed and varied from one region or country to another and became binding upon all the members of the particular community. What is significant is that there were no laws imposed by a superior being upon another. The chiefs, kings or emperors were non- existent at that time. Everything was done through communal institution — the community — which Herskovits described as "dokpwe."