Causes of the Rise of Military states in East Africa


Military states were states or societies which existed in Africa before the coming of the Europeans

By 1800 most societies had developed state structures although they may not have been so sophisticated.

They survived on the Military factor due to their Military power and other issues that were a source of survival such as economic and social organization.

The following factors led to the rise of Military states in East Africa

  • Strong and able leadership was a significant factor in the rise of Military states. The leaders organized the Military, economic and social structures of their respective societies. Able leaders tried to mobilize their people and created standing armies. These were used to maintain stability, security, and territorial expansion.
  • Trade was another important factor in the rise of Military state formation. Some states such as Nyamwezi, Akamba, and Masai lived near caravan routes and had therefore got involved in the long-distance trade. Through trade contacts, they were able to obtain firearms and other goods, especially from the coastal Arabs and later Europeans. Firearms became an important military asset and contributed to the growth of Military states. Some societies traded with their neighbors on many occasions.

  • The military factor also contributed to the rise of Military states. By 1800 many parts of Africa were undergoing a period of Iron Age and this provided military tools.
  • There were natural factors (environmental) such as good climate and fertile soils. This encouraged agriculture led to the production of Plenty of food and eventually high population growth. In some areas, the availability of minerals, such as salt and iron became a source of revenue.
  • Improvement in technology levels was yet another important factor. During the period of the Iron Age, people such as the Banyoro, and Nyamwezi were able to make iron equipment which they sold to their neighbors. These were sometimes used as weapons and also helped to increase agricultural production.


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