The Njanja iron industry: the decline of pre-colonial enterprise
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Nineteenth century travelers in Mashonaland were unfortunately obsessed with either gold or hunting.: In their pursuit of gold and game they missed or ignored perhaps the principal industry of several peoples of the area, iron mining, smelting} and manufacture, Those who did observe it failed to recognize its full economic significance but they invariably connected it with the traditional political hierarchy, . In W. Montagu. Kerr’s The Far Interior, there is;an account of forging of assegais by an iron smith who was also a. chief. Kerr unfortunately, did not see the smelting process, and the forging was not clone in its traditional place, but.on.the march. Still he closely links the chief’s two functions and describes the respect the old man received as being derived as much from his iron expertise as from his political authority. A,R,. Sawyer in The Gold-fields of Mashonaland described .Shona smelting techniques and provided excellent diagrams of a Shona furnace, but he did not place iron working in its societal context.