The debate on the relation of trade and markets in West Africa has only belatedly been taken up in East African historiography. For the most part this debate has focused on the origin of markets; the two most extreme positions attribute them either to a“propensity to trade”at the local level or to contacts with long-distance trade routes linked directly to the global economy. Aside from the question of origins, however, there are other important aspects of this discussion, dealing more broadly with trade than with markets. Three such themes are addressed here: the role of trade between markedly different cultural regions; the relation of trade and markets; and the relation of trade networks to political centralization. It will be argued that in the area of Lake Kivu, environmental and cultural differences encouraged rather than impeded commercial interaction, that trade was carried out on a significant scale without organized markets, and that the Lake Kivu trade networks flourished independently of direct political control by local state structures.

This chapter focuses on the precolonial trade system around Lake Kivu, today the boundary between Zaire and Rwanda. Because this area was not directly tied to the coastal trade until late in the nineteenth century, the trade in bracelets, livestock, and food products discussed here remained largely autonomous of extra-African ties. Nevertheless, the Lake Kivu network was sensitive to alterations in the larger commercial environment, and commercial influences from neighboring systems north and south of the lake had important repercussions on the evolution of the Lake Kivu trade network; the effects of this will provide the fourth theme traced out below. Before exploring the historical evolution ofthe regional trade, however, I will first consider the general characteristics of the trade system, the commodities included in it, and the relation of this regional trade network to more local trade patterns. 

The Peoples of the Lake Kivu Trade  

Running north and south, and bordered by mountain ranges with peaks of three thousand meters and more in altitude, the Lake Kivu Rift has served as a major cultural as well as geographical divide, separating the Interlacustrine societies to the east (of which Rwanda is the best-known example) from the “forest cultures” to the west (including the Lega, Tembo, and Nyanga societies). The sharp social and political distinctions between these areas, however, have tended to obscure the strong historical interactions across the Kivu Rift, linking societies east and west of the lake. Combined with environmental and cultural differences distinguishing these areas, such enduring interactions served as a basis for the strong commercial ties that developed between Rwanda and areas west of the lake during the nineteenth century.

The regional trade system that emerged from these factors—one transcending political and cultural differences—was distinguished from more locally determined economic networks on several grounds. Producer and ultimate consumer in this system seldom interacted directly, as the goods passed through many hands, sometimes over long distances. Transactions of the principal goods in this regional trade were not characterized by processes of reciprocity or redistribution; although traders often returned to earlier trading partners, each transfer was seen as a discrete transaction in itself. Blood brotherhood and clan identities sometimes facilitated trade patterns, but kinship and social roles were not the determinant factors in the regional commercial patterns. All these factors distinguished this trade from more local forms of exchange.

The regional trade discussed here involved the present Havu, Hunde, and Shi peoples, but the major poles of trade, for which environmental and cultural differences were the most pronounced, were the Tembo and Nyanga areas (in the west) and Rwanda (in the east). Living just west of the Mitumba Mountains marking the western edge of the Rift Valley, the Tembo and Nyanga peoples form the eastern flank of the vast culture zone associated with the equatorial forest of the Zaire basin. Sparsely settled in precolonial times, they were organized politically into small-scale, ritually based units with a minimum of specialized political institutions. Their economy today is essentially agricultural (manioc, groundnuts, maize, legumes) but supplemented with game, fish, and vegetable products from the forest. As attested by ritual, myth, and cosmology, these hunting activities and forest products seem to have been more important in the past than they are today.

To the east, the Rwandan state was characterized by a strongly centralized polity, a markedly hierarchical administrative apparatus, and a highly stratified social structure. These aspects of the Rwandan state became increasingly marked during the course of the nineteenth century, and were especially important during the second half of the century. The mixed pastoralist-agricultural economy, relatively productive environment, and high population density of Rwanda were associated with a complex sociopolitical network that also served as the mechanism for considerable internal material transfer. Geographical expansion accompanied the increasing social stratification of the nineteenth century. The Rwandan state was much smaller in extent at the beginning of the century than at present; much of its effective expansion into the western regions took place in the last third of the century, a fact of considerable importance to the regional trade.

Between these two poles of the trade were the Havu, essentially associated with the shores and islands of Lake Kivu, and the Shi, on the plateau to the south-west of the lake. Although the Havu and Shi were primarily agriculturalist, their kingdoms included people of diverse cultural backgrounds, and thus pastoralism, hunting, and fishing activities were each important among some segments of the population. Of the two, the Shi were the more populous and their states the more centralized. They shared many features of Interlacustrine culture, but (except for the immediate royal family) they lacked the institutionalized social stratification and the degree of pastoral specialization that characterized Rwanda in the late nineteenth century. However, the Shi were incorporated into the Lake Kivu regional trade only late in the nineteenth century; their role in the trade became increasingly important as some Shi areas came to serve as contact points for the expanding trade network on Lake Tanganyika to the south of Lake Kivu. As essentially a lacustrine people, the Havu were important intermediaries within the Lake Kivu system itself (though some of their products also entered the trade). Indeed on Ijwi Island they maintained important social, commercial, and historical ties with the populations of what is today western Rwanda, while the mainland Havu (west of Lake Kivu) shared many cultural ties with the Tembo. But, as with the Shi participation in the trade, strong Havu ties with Tembo populations wereforged only later in the century, as the Havu political centers moved north along the western shores of the lake.

Thus the Havu and Shi people were important to this particular trade net-work primarily in the second half of the century. Before that time, the most im-portant participants in the trade were the Hunde and the Nyanga, at the northern end of the lake. Although the pattern of social and political organization intro-duced to Buhunde during colonial rule has caused them to be identified as part of the Interlacustrine area in recent scholarship,8 historically the people of Buhunde shared many similarities with Bunyanga and Butembo to the west, as well as with Bugoyi to the east. These historical ties enabled them to play a major role in facili-tating east-west interchange in the early nineteenth century.9

The Commodities of the Regional Trade Network  

Many commodities traded in the Lake Kivu area were important primarily within localized patterns of material transfer resulting from seasonal or local variations in production or from the presence of such specialized skills as smithing, boat-making, and fishing. Iron goods, agricultural goods, livestock, and fish formed the most important commodities of this trade. Because they were transferred primarily through social mechanisms, such items did not travel far. Nonetheless, they formed an important part of the larger network of material exchange in the region, for these transactions provided the mechanisms and personal contacts for the regional trade items.

Trade in iron products was especially important within Rwanda. During the early nineteenth century, one major source for hoes used in Rwanda was the small state of Kayonza, north of Rwanda.Over time, however, a new center for the Rwandan trade in iron hoes emerged in the southwest, focusing especially on Kaziba, south of Bushi.The timing of this shift in the Rwandan trade suggests that it was related to new sources of trade goods, including iron, arriving in the area from the Lake Tanganyika trade network to the south.

West of the lake, however, neither the sources of iron ore nor the skills of ironworking were sufficiently restricted to promote a regional trade in iron products such as occurred in Rwanda. Instead, iron products tended to radiate out from many local centers, wherever families or villages engaged in smelting and forging. These tasks were not occupations exclusive to single clans (though the skills tended to be hereditary), nor was ironworking an exclusive occupation; mostsmiths were also cultivators. Although in this area hoes were important socially as well as economically (as part of bridewealth, for example), only toward the end of the nineteenth century, when the expanding trade networks brought higher-quality iron into more widespread circulation, did hoes truly achieve a regional trade status and serve as regional standards of value west of the lake.

While the regionally based trade in iron goods showed important alterations during the nineteenth century, the localized trade in agricultural goods was more stable and less sensitive to new products and political changes. This trade resulted as much from cultural and occupational differentiation in the area—the presence of predominantly hunting, fishing, cultivating, or pastoral communities —as from environmental differences. From the later eighteenth century, a specialized aspect of this form of trade emerged with the establishment on Ijwi Island of small agricultural “colonies” from the mainland in what is today west-ern Rwanda. Benefiting from fertile land and a superior climate for agriculture (as well as slightly different cropping periods from the mainland areas), these island communities sent food, including beans, beer, bananas, and fish, to Rwanda in exchange for cattle, goats, and sheep.Although originally restricted to their home communities east of the lake, these transfer patterns outlasted the historical ties between communities; with the political changes east of the lake (associated with Rwanda’s expansion into the western areas), the Ijwi communities were increasingly separated from their parent communities east of the lake; the trade patterns were continued but extended more generally to include other communities as well, in a pattern well adapted to the larger regional trade discussed below.

In addition to the localized transfer of iron goods and food, other commodities were traded on a wider scale and tied to commercial links outside the region. Ivory was exploited locally, and probably some ivory from the Lake Kivu area reached the important trade centers of Maniema, west of the Rift, by the late nineteenth century.Slaves, too, were exported from Rwanda toward the end of the nineteenth century.But the quantities were small, and the impact of the trade in slaves and ivory in the immediate area of Lake Kivu was negligible during most of the nineteenth century.

However, despite the wide range of materials exchanged in the region, two commodities most strongly characterized the regional trade: livestock (goats and especially cattle) and fiber bracelets. Despite the prominence given to the former in most accounts of this region, it was the latter that most distinguished this trade network. The culturally determined demand for goods of a purely prestige naturewas a commercial characteristic strongly developed in Rwanda, where social stratification encouraged a demand for such items. Furthermore, the hierarchical nature of the centralized Rwandan state structure meant that a small group of people accumulated locally produced resources that could be used to buy such imports. And what Rwandans at the central court sought most from the west were butega (Kitembo: bute’a),a bracelet-anklet made of raffiafibers woven into a highly distinctive pattern. Because these were small, light, and relatively easy to transport, and because of their assured demand throughout the year in Rwanda, butega bracelets were used as a form of currency, at least insofar as they provided standards of value (and to a lesser degree as a medium of exchange, as well). In return, the major market demand among the Tembo was for livestock, not for social or political purposes as in Rwanda, but rather for meat, supplementing game in the Tembo diet.

Butega were fabricated by both sexes of all ages, though female domestic activities meant that in fact butega fabrication was predominantly the enterprise of men. The primary limitation of butega production (and hence the condition that ensured favorable market terms in the trade with Rwanda) was the size of the producing population relative to the market demand.Butega therefore were not a wasting asset, whose production was affected by a limited or slowly diminishing resource base over time, as were many other long-distance trade commodities elsewhere in Africa.But the Rwandan market was not the only source of demand for butega. Within Tembo society, butega assumed important roles in both social transactions (primarily for bridewealth) and local commerce (for hoes and salt); butega were also used in commerce to the west (to Bukano and Bulega).Therefore, it was possible to accumulate butega in several ways, in addition to direct production. Yet there is no indication either of specialized production (to the exclusion of other economic activities) or of a developing class system whereby some people produced butega directly for the use and profit of others outside of the accepted social and commercial channels noted above.

Tembo traders traded butega not solely for meat but for profit to acquire yet more butega which could be converted into a whole range of products and services: iron hoes, salt, hats, beads, wives, fish traps, nets, and other implements, or divining or medical services. And high profit margins, exceeding 100percent (and often much more), characterized regional commerce in butega: cattle or goats bought in Rwanda fetched at least double their original cost when sold inButembo for butega.In the early twentieth century, cattle were obtained in Rwanda for butega amounting to 280–300 man-days of work; bulls, for 180–200 man-days. Goats, the most commonly traded livestock in this system, were usually bought in Rwanda for about 1,000 butega, or forty to fifty man-days of work. But since making butega was a relatively simple skill, not requiring high levels of specialization (though speed and quality of workmanship varied), production was normally extended to an entire kin—or residence—group, and therefore the time for group production was reduced to a fifth and perhaps even a tenth of that for an individual working alone.

The Mechanisms of the Trade

As with production, the commercial aspect of the butega trade did not involve specialized knowledge or technology, nor were large capital or social resources necessary (to organize caravans, for example). There were, of course, individual differences among traders in terms of physical stamina, friendship ties, language skills, and business acumen, but these were relative differences and did not serve as exclusive barriers to participation in the trade. In short, the trade in butega was never as important an institution in Butembo as was regional trade or travel abroad in other African societies; therefore, this trade did not develop the specialized characteristics found elsewhere in the nineteenth century.

In addition to personal hardships of the trade, there were also social costs associated with prolonged absence from home. Hence trade, like production, was usually conducted in such a way as not to interfere with agricultural functions. This imported a seasonal bias to the Tembo side of the trade, though it was not a necessity brought about by resource availability or demand patterns. In consequence, much of the trade was conducted through intermediary populations; this reduced the social and economic costs of extended absence, and ensured that some trade, indeed, continued throughout the year.

The Tembo apparently traveled in small groups (usually less than ten). But they did not pool their resources; they traded as individuals or pairs, and hence these groups cannot be said to have formed caravans with a corporate commercial interest. In such groups individuals lodged separately, often staying several days at each stop before rejoining others (not always the same colleagues) for the march during the day. Especially among the intermediary populations, mobilitywas based on alliance, sometimes resulting from social ties such as marriage or cattle contracts, more frequently from friendship ties formalized by blood pacts. Within Rwanda, however, Tembo traders seldom contracted formal blood pacts; they would usually be lodged by their trade partner, but would pay for their food with butega.Though a Tembo would tend to return to the same trading partner, this did not establish formalized social ties or enduring obligations; there is no indication of a commercial contract form based on butega that was reflective of Rwanda social contracts based on cattle.

The distribution network of butega was therefore informal and very diffuse. Distribution was often undertaken by intermediaries—Hunde, Havu, Goyi, and, within Rwanda, through the hands of many Rwandans—and at least in the earlier period there was apparently no control over the trade by political authorities. These aspects are reflected in the Rwandan literature, which contains no indication of an organized butega commerce; in fact, precolonial trade contacts to the west tend to be overlooked. Such omissions attest to the informality and diffuse nature of economic exchange in Rwanda, the lack of political control over the trade, and the greater importance of political mechanisms (such as army organization or clientship) than commercial exchange for material transfer within Rwanda.

Despite the absence of court references to this exchange, recent research outside the court milieu indicates that trade with the west was carried out on a significant scale, independent of the social and political types of transfer. Though precolonial markets in Rwanda may have been infrequent and irregular, they were not totally absent; their omission from the official sources becomes all the more interesting in this light.In Kinyaga they were used by traders to obtain hoes of good quality as well as goats and cattle; within the society at large they became an expected marriage gift from groom to bride for both Hutu and Tutsi. By the late nineteenth century, butega were circulating widely in western Rwanda and were eagerly sought west of the lake, bringing traders from Kinyaga (in southwestern Rwanda) as far west as Kaziba and Kalonge (in Bushi).The expansion of the trade to new areas and the increasing participation of Rwandan traders moving west for butega indicate (in the absence of quantitative figures) an overall increase in the trade. Thus the western trade—especially in butega, but in other goods (mentioned above) as well—was much more important than commonly recognized in the official central court sources, not only in terms of the quantity of goods traded but also in terms of the institutional mechanisms that emerged along with the trade. 

The Historical Evolution of the Trade

Although the major axis of trade was oriented east and west, within the larger trade system important sub-patterns developed, where the butega network was influenced by products such as salt, iron goods, copper, and (later) beads from other regional trade networks. These variants appear to be associated with distinct stages in the evolution of the larger Kivu network, and therefore they will be examined as indicative of the dynamics of the system.

Important historical contacts east and west across Lake Kivu have endured for several centuries. Although it is likely that the transfer of livestock was included in those ties, it is impossible to determine when these assumed a commercial character. However, the emergence of butega as trade commodities may provide some indication of this; the available evidence indicates that the trade in butega was specifically tied to the growth of the Rwandan court culture, and we are presently able to trace its early evolution only through oral traditions relating to the Rwandan royal court.

The earliest references to butega in these court traditions apply to the regions of Bugoyi (now the northwestern portion of Rwanda) and to Kinyaga (in the southwest).Although the region of Bugoyi was incorporated within the Rwandan polity only late in the nineteenth century, it is clear that the people of Bugoyi maintained commercial contacts with central Rwanda much earlier; they also shared intensive historical and cultural ties with Buhunde, and hence with Butembo to the west.Because the Tembo did not generally speak Kinyarwanda (the language of Rwanda), and Kiswahili seems to have been employed as a widespread vehicular language in the area only recently, the Goyi were well suited and well situated to serve as primary intermediaries in the emergent butega-livestock trade patterns. This earlier trade with the west seems in fact to have served as a major prop in their later reputation as traders within Rwanda: “On every road in Rwanda and even far beyond, one meets the [trader from Bugoyi] … carrying a valuable load [of tobacco] on his head…. [The Bagoyi] have also become merchants of bracelets and anklets for women. These ornaments, much sought after by women, are woven from vegetable fibers and are made northwest of Lake Kivu among the Bahunde, who trade them to the Bagoyi. These latter take them to the interior [of Rwanda] and exchange them there for goats and young bulls.”

It is significant that one of the armies mentioned by Kagame as paying butega prestations to the Rwandan central court was stationed in Bugoyi.Although thisparticular army was established only during the reign of Rwogera in the mid-nineteenth century, Bugoyi was subjected to nominal central court influence much earlier, perhaps from the reign of Mwami Cyilima Rujugira near the middle of the eighteenth century.It is probable that rather than representing new material items for Bugoyi, army prestations were composed of items long established as important and valuable trade commodities with the central court.

Thus Tembo cultural ties with Buhunde and Bugoyi, and the commercial ties of Bugoyi with Rwanda, all indicate an early trade directed around the northern end of Lake Kivu. Because these conditions apparently predated the early nineteenth century, the emergence of butega commerce in the region may have preceded direct central control in Bugoyi. This conclusion provides not only a terminus post quem for dating the emergence of the trade with Rwanda, but also an explanation for the character of the butega trade as independent of political control, given that it preceded direct Rwandan control in Bugoyi. Nevertheless, it is also likely that later direct royal involvement in the region, correlated with a general expansion of Rwandan power (increasing both the degree of social stratification and the size of the elite), significantly increased the demand for butega.

Although earlier Rwandan-Tembo contacts were probably directed around the northern end of Lake Kivu, the major trade axis appears to have shifted south during the second half of the nineteenth century. Three factors seem to have influenced such a shift: the extension of Rwandan political influence toward the southwest; the movement of Shi and Havu political centers northward, more directly into the butega commercial zone; and the increasing influence of the Lake Tanganyika trade system in the Kivu area together with a decline in influence of the Katwe commercial system in the north.

In the region of Kinyaga in southwestern Rwanda, the introduction of Rwandan central court institutions occurred relatively recently; it is therefore possible to trace the historical process involved with some precision. Here, the demand for items such as butega was clearly related to the extension of social army prestations and land prestations, and therefore also to the degree of central court presence. Although central court sources date the installation of social armies in Kinyaga to the eighteenth century,recent research suggests that butega became army prestations to the court only toward the end of the nineteenth century, when Hutu families (who were responsible for western commerce) were incorporated within a central Rwandan network.

Paradoxically, then, one can postulate an earlier presence of butega in Bugoyi, where there was a relatively late army establishment, and a later butega presence in Kinyaga, despite earlier army presence. This is explained by Bugoyi’s long tradition of commercial links to central Rwanda and its apparently long-standing cultural ties to butega-producing areas. Kinyaga shared no such direct and extensive ties to butega areas in the west, and there are few indications that Kinyaga (separated from central Rwanda by rugged mountainous forest) maintained early commercial ties with central Rwanda on a scale commensurate with that of Bugoyi until the late nineteenth century.

Aside from the references to army prestations in butega, there is little mention of Kinyaga participation in the butega trade in the Rwandan sources; Pagès and d’Hertefelt cite butega only with regard to the northwest of Rwanda, attributing an origin in Buhunde. The absence of butega references to Kinyaga indicates that by the time the Tembo trade nexus shifted south to Kaziba and Kinyaga, new products (hoes of high-quality iron, cloth, and other prestige items) were viewed as the significant trade elements, obscuring the continuing active role of butega underpinning the trade in other products.This would confirm a late-nineteenth-century shift in the trade patterns and suggest that the presence of other goods served as a possible cause of such a shift.

Geopolitical factors were of some importance in this shift from northern to southern routes. Throughout the later eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, long-term changes were occurring in Shi political institutions, resulting in an augmentation of power and alterations in the loci of power. In general, Shi popu-lations and political centers west of the lake shifted progressively north over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This shift brought about closer interaction of Shi and Tembo, and undoubtedly facilitated commercial ties between them. At the same time, Havu political centers were moving north along the western shore and onto the islands in the lake, which previously had been only sparsely populated; these moves facilitated commercial contacts by introducing potential intermediary population in the trade.While kingship on Ijwi Island did not directly participate in the trade, the establishment of kingship on Ijwi was associated with immigration from the west. Together with ties of other Ijwi communities east of the lake, this demographic shift brought the Havu directly into the main-stream of east-west trade patterns; such changes on the southwestern shores of Lake Kivu coincided with growing Rwandan central court influence in Kinyaga, southeast of the lake. 

Alterations in the Neighboring Trade Networks

Because the sub-patterns within the regional trade network were associated with products introduced from outside, the indirect influences of other trade networks were even more important than local political considerations in the evolution of the trade. Mineral salt, much preferred to the local salt produced from vegetable sources, was particularly important in this regard. During the early years of the nineteenth century, the regional trade around the northern end of Lake Kivu had combined with the trade in salt from Lake Katwe (north of Lake Edward), itself the center of an extensive salt trade from at least the early nineteenth century.

From the mid-nineteenth century, however, and especially during the final quarter of the century, the Lake Edward trade may have been frequently interrupted, as Busongora, the state most closely associated with the Katwe salt trade, suffered a series of political catastrophes and military occupations. By an important marriage alliance, the royal family of Busongora was drawn into factional disputes in Nkore,and thus the region around Lake Katwe became enmeshed in the “big-power” politics of its neighbors. Subsequently, salt production and trade were also affected by the long series of wars associated with the secession of Toro from Bunyoro. Although political motivations were undoubtedly pre-eminent, the strategy of Bunyoro’s King Kabarega may have extended beyond the mere conquest of Toro to include control over the economic resources of the Lake Katwe area as well; the kingdom of Buganda, Bunyoro’s major competitor for hegemony in the region, had also shown an interest in the Katwe salt trade.Kabarega already controlled the Kibero salt center on Lake Albert (to the north of Lake Katwe), but apparently found the Katwe salt both superior in quality and more plentiful—and the more attractive because control of Katwe would give Bunyoro a monopoly over the mineral salt trade in the region.46 His occupation of Busongora therefore may have been intended to complete his domination of the salt-production centers in the western Rift Valley.

Thus, while political rivalries between the powerful states affected trade patterns in the region, European military presence also affected Busongora and disrupted salt production and distribution from Lake Katwe.Disease factors, associated both with Belgian administrative presence in areas bordering on Busongora and with the salt trade itself, also had an important impact on the area during the early twentieth century and perhaps before.All these influences undoubtedly affected the salt trade connections around the north end of Lake Kivu, and the frequent disruption of these supplies may well have made the northern route less attractive for butega traders.

In the latter part of the nineteenth century, the salt trade around Lake Kivu seems to have been diverted south to Kaziba, where it benefited also from other supplies of salt, perhaps originating in Uvinza, east of Lake Tanganyika (south of Ujiji).This shift occured as closer contacts were developing between the Havu-Shi populations and the Tembo, and was also associated with the influx of new goods from the Lake Tanganyika network. The salt trade from Uvinza increased during the nineteenth century, and this expansion may well have reached the northern reaches of Lake Tanganyika later in the century.Salt was, however, only one of several commodities in the Tanganyika trade system that had an impact on the Kivu regional trade network late in the nineteenth century.The convergence of several such commodities, all focusing on Bushi (especially Kaziba), was apparently an important factor bringing Bushi into the butega commercial network.

During much of the nineteenth century, Shi trade remained tied to the Tanganyika network and had very little influence in the Lake Kivu area before the arrival of new goods in the 1860s and after. In the earlier stages, therefore, the butega trade system seems to have touched the Shi states only peripherally. Although earlier east-west contacts may have occurred through the Havu-associated populations located on both sides of the narrow throat near the southern end of the lake (Cishoke-Luhihi in the west and Impara in the east),no intensive contacts with the Tanganyika system emerged in this region until the northward movement of Shi political centers in the mid-nineteenth century.This north-ward movement occurred at roughly the same time that Lake Tanganyika entered into direct contact with the coastal trading network, and the combination of these factors had a major impact on the evolution of the southern axis of the Tembo-Rwanda trade.

The alterations in trade patterns around Lake Kivu may also have been associated with Rwanda’s evolving trade policy. Until then the Rwandan court had remained independent of formal commercial contacts with the outside, and particularly with long-distance trade.But several references in the central court traditions refer to the development of such contacts late in the nineteenth century, both through Kinyaga to the Lake Tanganyika trade and through Rusubi to the southeast.It is significant that this change in official policy seems roughly to have coincided with other transformations in the regional trade and the ex-tension of Rwandan power in Kinyaga.

Another alteration during the nineteenth century was the emergence of middlemen from Buhavu and Ijwi, men who often had important social ties in Butembo and in Rwanda. The intermediary status of the people on Ijwi in thistrade is underscored by the goods involved. On the one hand, butega did not have the social role on Ijwi that they did in Butembo; they were fabricated on Ijwi specifically for the trade; most were obtained in Butembo and destined for the trade in Rwanda. On the other hand, cattle obtained through the butega trade frequently had commercial value only; those obtained in other ways (marriage, inheritance, gift, or cattle contract) were seldom a part of the commercial network. Because most cattle contracts associated with political alliance involved fertile cows and heifers, sterile cows and bulls were freed from social demands, and therefore available for trade; only under the most extreme conditions would one part with a productive cow in a strictly commercial transaction. Therefore, even by the nature of the goods involved, the trade was a separate sphere of activity from other forms of material transfer.

The regionaltrade in butega was distinct both from more locally determined economic networks and from wider patterns of trade, and these differences would seem to have been significant in the development and evolution of the network described here. Within the regional network, the producer and ultimate consumer seldom interacted directly. This meant that others, not primarily producers or ultimate consumers, participated in the trade, and hence the trade served as one mechanism of interaction between markedly different societies within the region. Although related to other forms of transfer, the butega network was of a largely commercial nature and was not absorbed within social institutions of transfer in the immediate lake area; it did not result in the creation of enduring social ties or in the establishment of obligations resulting from the politicization of such ties. Goods in the regional trade were neither gift nor prestation. The butega trade system was not primarily characterized by reciprocity (deferred payments to meet social obligations) or redistribution (from accumulated goods obtained through social ties).

What most distinguished the regional trade from the local trade was that the former occurred in a predominantly transcultural commercial context; the dynamism of the trade network was determined by economic criteria and market considerations. Yet, while market considerations were important, the network described here also seems to indicate the presence of highly developed trade prior to formalized marketplaces, and indeed this may have been a pattern of trade widespread in eastern and central Africa. Even where some precolonial markets existed in the Kivu area, the presence of markets and currency was not a necessary pre-requisite to trade based on market principles. In fact, the opposite correlation would be more exact: the presence of a regional trade, attracting new goods from other systems, seemed to encourage the emergence of markets, even where they had not existed before (e.g., for local commerce).

The most important of the factors distinguishing the regional trade from long-distance trade was the lack of direct linkage to—and ultimately dependence on—global economic networks. To be sure, the regional trade did not exist in absolute isolation, and this essay has stressed the important role of neighboring systems on the evolution of the Lake Kivu system. It is nonetheless true that regional butega trade was independent of outside factors for its motivation, origin, organization, production, and realization. Both producers and traders were native to the region; they were in no way supported or organized by capital from outside the region. Both the commercial network and the commodities traded were ultimately to be overtaken by such outside forces, but the very fact that such an intrusion resulted in the nearly total demise of the specifically regional trade of the Lake Kivu system only underscores the independent viability and integrity of this earlier system in its own right.

It would seem, then, that both markets and trade can emerge within a restricted regional context, and the present study has explored the conditions that favor such developments. The trade system considered here embraced markedly different cultures that corresponded with different ecological regions and zones of production. While distance or commodity alone does not seem to have been a defining characteristic of the regional trade, the transfer of goods between different cultures does seem to have met this criterion, for it removed transfer from the pervasive influence of social mechanisms. This factor corroborates the conclusions of Meillassouxand Vansinaregarding markets among the Guro and the Kuba. M. G. Smith also identifies early market activity emerging from foreign contact, and he extends this analysis to include earlier (noncommercial) exchanges among occupationally specialized groups within Hausaland, groups that correspond with our criteria of cultural differentiation.Trade as a commercial phenomenon, therefore, emerged from the interchange of complementary goods, grouping complementary cultures, rather than through the sim-ple extension or expansion in scale of local transfers.

The hypothesis that the early signs of commercial activity are more likely to be found in the contact zones between different cultures (and productive areas) seems borne out by this case. Early markets do in fact seem to have first appeared near lines of cultural differentiation; markets oriented to regional trade pre-ceded markets for local trade.The sharpness of cultural differentiation and theintensity of commercial interaction relative to social interaction would seem also to influence this development. Markets are more likely to form where cultural differences are clear and immediate and where there is either intense commercial interaction (measured by the number and variety of goods exchanged and their diversity of origins) or fewer social and political mechanisms (such as client-ship).Thus a large intermediary population may inhibit the emergence of markets, whether by providing transfer mechanisms through dispersed social channels or by diffusing commercial transfer through many channels.

Perhaps partly because markets were likely to form (and indeed trade likely to be more intense) in sharply transitional and in peripheral areas, regional trade in the Kivu area was also characterized by autonomy from direct control by political powers. It is significant that all of the major centers of this trade seem to have emerged in areas of minimal political control and centralization. It would seem that the Kivu regional trade gravitated to those areas that provided both security and autonomy, and that the latter was at least as important as the former. This may in part reflect the relative violence of the process of political centralization in the region, at least during the late nineteenth century.

The data presented here suggest a refinement of the argument that the growth of market trade occurs primarily in areas of strong political power. This view is most notably argued by B. W. Hodder, whose work was done in an area where well-established long-distance trade was closely associated with powerful state structures. Because the development of new markets there correlated with long-distance trade routes, market development therefore ultimately appeared to be associated with centralized structures. In the Lake Kivu area, too, there were important interactions of commercial development and political factors associated with centralized political units. However, the regional trade most flourished on the periphery of these units and may well have developed along lines of pre-existing cultural ties (as in Bugoyi), which seem to have been largely independent of direct political control by the major states. Consequently, it is possible that political centralization does not function as a necessary causal factor of market development. Instead, both centralization and market development may emerge from similar conditions also suggested by Hodder: cultural heterogeneity and a relatively dense population. In Kivu, as within Rwanda, these two concurrent factors served as a necessary, if not sufficient, condition for commercial development.

Finally, the Lake Kivu regional trade consisted primarily of elements that had a long history of production and exchange in the region in other contexts and that performed other noneconomic functions in their respective societies.

Hence there emerged neither a specialization of production for purely market demands nor the economic and social transformations often associated with “growth.” Such transformations, often associated with the process of increasing centralized control, ensured the greater accumulation of productive or distributive resources in the hands of a few. In this case, however, production and distribution were not exclusive to or controlled by a small group; trade west of Lake Kivu did not encourage the emergence of a class system, nor did it result in the domination of some groups by others. In Rwanda, the commerce did provide symbols representing, and hence perhaps reinforcing, internal class domination, but this process within Rwanda was a phenomenon whose origins and objectives were independent of the butega trade.

The importance of the Lake Kivu regional trade is not to be measured exclusively in economic terms, nor in terms of social transformation, nor in its interaction with political developments. Perhaps its most significant role was its contribution to cross-cultural ties as one of several mechanisms of cultural interchange within an ethnically heterogeneous region in the precolonial period. of kingsSocial & cultureThe debate on the relation of trade and markets in West Africa has only belatedly been taken up in East African historiography. For the most part this debate has focused on the origin of markets; the two most extreme positions attribute them either to a“propensity to trade”at the local...AMATEKA