Lunda - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Subsistence production consists mainly of cassava—the basic staple—supplemented by maize, bananas, pumpkins, pineapples, sweet potatoes, yams, beans, groundnuts, tomatoes, cabbages, and a wide variety of other vegetable crops. Millet and sorghum, once the major food crops, are today grown primarily by women, for the production of alcoholic beverages. Goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, and a few cattle are present in most areas. Game is fairly abundant and is secured either through hunting or trapping. Honey, mushrooms, fruits, berries, and other wild foods are regularly gathered in the forest. Fishing with hook and line, nets, and traps is a popular activity.

Cassava, maize, pineapples, and sunflowers are the major commercial crops. Since the mid-1980s, fish farming has become an increasingly widespread activity.

Industrial Arts. Traditionally, the Lunda were well known for copper- and ironsmithing, pottery, basket making, mat weaving, and woodworking. Local craft production, however, declined precipitously under colonial rule and persists today at a very low level.

Trade. Precolonial trade was characterized by a vast array of goods from both Europe and the Indian Ocean nations flowing into the Lunda region in exchange for copper, iron, ivory, skins, slaves, honey and wax, rubber, and food. During the colonial era, 1884-1964, external trade was forcefully curtailed. Today there is extensive interregional trade between Lunda in Angola, Zaire, and Zambia, exploiting the differing price structures of each country. The trade consists mainly of foodstuffs, particularly dried fish and game meat, in exchange for manufactured commodities such as sugar, salt, cooking oil, clothing, and household utensils.

Division of Labor. Males, females and children all plant cassava extensively. Men are responsible for cutting trees and clearing the fields. Women do all the processing and cooking. Men are responsible for providing the household with protein foods, either by hunting, trapping, fishing, raising domestic stock, or through cash purchases. Men are also responsible for all village construction and for providing tools, as well as some clothing, for wives and children. Women provide most of the child care, with some assistance from husbands and older children. Women also secure and maintain the cooking and other household utensils.

Land Tenure. Land is rather abundant throughout most of the Lunda territory and is, therefore, rarely a subject of dispute. Traditional use rights are established by requests made to local chiefs and senior headmen. Requests for land are generally denied only if a prior claim exists. Owing to the practice of shifting cultivation, fields as well as entire villages move frequently, and land is not generally considered an inheritable commodity. Access to land in or near towns is granted through local government councils, often on a ninety-nine-year lease basis. The civil war in Angola has, since 1975, made all land tenure uncertain in that country. Zambia has held national discussions on the future of land tenure in rural areas.

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