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7 - Why Do Indians Have Dowry and Africans Lobola?

Pre-Colonial African Economic Systems

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 August 2022

Johan Fourie
Affiliation:
University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
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Summary

Africa is a massive continent. One could fit all of Western and Eastern Europe (including the UK), India, Japan and China, and the United States into the continent, and still have space left. Africa, of course, has far fewer people. In 2021 an estimated 1.4 billion people lived on the African continent. The combined number for those other countries was a startling 3.7 billion people.

This makes Africa a land-abundant continent. In other words, Africa has a low labour-to-land ratio – there are about 46 people for every square kilometre in Africa as compared to 150 people, on average, in those other regions. The numbers for China (153), Western Europe (174) and India (464) are much higher.

This high land–labour ratio is not a new phenomenon. Africa has historically also had an abundance of land relative to the number of people who can work it. As we will see in this chapter, it has shaped the types of production systems and institutions that developed on the continent.

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Chapter
Information
Our Long Walk to Economic Freedom
Lessons from 100,000 Years of Human History
, pp. 38 - 42
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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