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The processes of acquiring food in pre-historic Africa

The pre-historic African people lived by hunting animals and gathering food in the wild. It was the most sensible thing to do to survive at the time because they had not yet learned the art of domestication of plants and animals.
To execute his hunting and gathering process, the early man needed tools to work with. He did not go far away from his immediate environment. He found from around him materials with which he made his tools. He used stones, bones, leather and sometimes, eggshells.

One of the major means of getting food for the pre-historic man was to hunt for animals. These animals served as a source of food for them. One of the major tools used in the hunting process was the spear. Sometimes, the spear had a microlith attached to the end of the spear to ensure that hunting is effective. (A microlith is a small, usually stone, used as a tool. The microlith is the main tool, but ordinarily, it could on itself be used effectively as a tool without a handle, that is why it is set in wood to form a spear for hunting). 

Apart from using spears, the pre-historic man also used bows and arrows. The arrows had either a stone or bone head to be able to pierce the animals. This facilitated the easy killing of animals or sometimes just dazing them for the final kill by the hunter.

There was also the use of traps and snares to catch game. The trap or snare is set on a suspected trail of the animals and left there to be tripped by a passing animal. The hunter returns after some days to see if the trap has caught anything. If it does, he takes it away. If not, he waits for another time. Sometimes, he rechecks to see if the trap has any defects.

Another method used by the pre-historic man to make food available was to gather foodstuff. It is believed that this method was mainly used by the women-folks though the men cannot be completely ruled out. They picked fruits and nuts in the wild, sometimes even plucking from the trees. They also dug out roots and tubers from the soil. For those in the forest zones, they also picked caterpillars, locust and termites. All these, formed part of the pre-historic man’s diet.

Another method of obtaining food for the pre-historic African man was to fish. This applied in mainly the coastal belts and in the interior where there were large water bodies such as lakes, lagoons and rivers. They used bones to develop tools like fish-hooks and harpoon barbs for their fishing expeditions. They were able to fashion out canoes with which they went on the water to fish.

There was also the gathering of shellfish out of coastal rocks and those on the floor of rivers. They dived deep to the bottom of the water body to pick the shell-fish and this also added to the variety of food available to the pre-historic African.

1. Describe the pre-historic hunting and gathering process.

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