Economic activities of the Cushites in the pre-colonial period

reasons for migration and settlement of the Cushites into Kenya in the pre-colonial period.

  • Family feuds (internal rivalry) back in their original homeland.
  • Population increase or pressure in their area of origin.
  • Search for better pastures for their livestock.
  • Outbreak of diseases in their area of origin, which affected people and livestock.




  • Famine and drought in their original home area.
  • Hostility and attacks by the neighbouring communities, such as the Somali.
  • The spirit of adventure, especially the Eastern Cushites.
  • Heavy taxation by the rulers of the areas they originally lived in, especially Menelik ii).

The following are the economic activities of the Cushites in the pre-colonial period.

  • Pastoralism, characterised by keeping of camels, cattle, sheep and goats, which provided them with milk and meat and gave them prestige.
  • Trade, mainly with their Bantu neighbours such as the Mijikenda and Pokomo.
  • Fishing, particularly by Cushites living along the coast and near river Tana.




  • Agriculture, also practised by those living near river Tana. Grains, peas, beans, pepper and other crops were cultivated.
  • Hunting. Wild animals were hunted for meat, ivory, hides and skins.

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