The Journal of African History

Papers on Firearms in Sub-Saharan Africa, II

Firearms in Southern Africa: A survey1

Shula Marksa1 and Anthony Atmorea2

a1 School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

a2 Centre of International and Area Studies, University of London

The relationships of the peoples of southern Africa after the establishment and expansion of the white settlement in the mid-seventeenth century can be seen in terms of both conflict and interdependence, both resistance and collaboration. The conflict often split over into warfare, not only between black and white, but also within both groups. As time passed, firearms came to be used by ever-widening circles of the combatants, often as much the result of the increased collaboration and interdependence between peoples as of the increased conflict. As Inez Sutton has pointed out, ‘in contrast to most of the rest of [sub-Saharan] Africa, the presence of a settler population ensured that the supply of arms was the most modern rather than the most obsolete’, and on the whole non-whites were acutely aware of changes in the manufacture of firearms in the nineteenth century.


1 The short series of articles which are referred to and follow this introduction, like the West African series which appeared in the J. Afr. Hist. xii, no. 2(1971), were first presented to the African History Seminar at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, London University, in 1968–9.