By the end of this topic. The student be able to;

a) Explain the meaning of History.
b) Explain the importance of studying History.

a) Identify sources of history
b) Assess the functions, advantages and limitations of Oral Traditions
c) Assess the functions, advantages and limitations of Historical Sites
d) Describe the functions, advantages and limitations of Written Records
e) Assess the functions, advantages and limitations of Archives

f) Assess the functions, advantages and limitations of Museums
g) Describe the functions, advantages and limitations of Archaeology


  • Evolution: Slow process of change from primitive form of life to complex form of life.
  • Bipedalism: Walking in two legs as primary form of locomotion
  • Primates: First creation from where man evolved
  • Homo habilis: Able man; capable of using tools
  • Homo Erectus: Upright man
  • Homo sapiens: Intelligent man. Had large brain capacity.
  • Stone Age: A period in history man discovered and used Iron.
    Meaning of history

History is the study of man and his activities in different times. These activities enable man to obtain his needs. Man’s basic needs are food, cloths, and shelter

In general, history can also refer to an academic discipline, which uses a narrative to examine and analyze the sequences of past events, and objectively determine the patterns of cause and effect that determine them. It is the record of human activities, which enable man to survival and attain essential needs from the environment.

Importance Of Studying History.

Understand how African societies were formed, how they developed and the factors that influenced this development.

It also allows us to develop an understanding of the events, conditions and factors that shaped the past and those, which have shaped the present conditions of the world in order to predict the future.

Historical knowledge makes the present comprehensive, which is why journalists and writers of sensational stories spend some time explaining the history of a particular incident; it is only when one knows the past of a person or an incident that the present can became meaningful.

Develop an understanding and appreciation of the cultural, political, economic and technological advancements made by African societies before and after colonial rulers.

Develop the basic skills of critical thinking, reasoning, judgment, empathy and effective participation in human developmental activities.

Studying history also helps us to understand and appreciate the efforts made and strategies used by African people to regain their independence and resist neo-colonialism

Develop, understand and appreciation the need for African unity, cooperation and interdependence, conflict resolution and effective participation in social, economic and political development of Africa.

It also helps us to develop an understanding of the relationships between African’s development problems and foreign intrusion, colonial domination, cultural subjugation and economic exploitation at various stages in history.

-Acquire knowledge for its own sake as you enjoy a novel with fiction, a film with an interesting plot. It is not clear why people are interested in these ventures and in the same way, people do enjoy to know the history of particular topics.

Develop our patriotism, history students know their heroes and heroes and traitors. This makes history a sensitive subject in places where political leaders are not sure of their legitimacy.

Enlightens people about the advantages of certain economic practices for example, the way the development in the world today is measured by the industrial revolution that took place in Europe in 1750.

Understand the level of development at different stages of human development. Without history, it is very difficult to determine or to tell what humans were doing in the past.

Helps us learn about technological transformations, for example primitive livelihood to advanced livelihood (using of stones and wood tools to iron tools)

Understand how humans adapted to their environment and how the struggled to earn a living from the environment. This therefore looks at the long struggle of man by exercises of his reason -to understand the environment and to act up on it.

Understand the relationship that existed between humans, and between humans and the environment.

Acquire skills in historical issues and becoming professionals in history, some people such as archaeologists and historians study history for career purposes.

Sources of History

Refers to the avenues that can be used to get historical information. It requires inter-disciplinary Sources of history approach in order to get the actual historical information.

Therefore, the following are sources of history/historical knowledge:

  • Oral tradition
  • Historical sites
  • Written records/documents
  • Archives
  • Museums
  • Archeology
  • Audio- visual record, e.g. Cassets, Cd’s, and TV programs etc.
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics

  1. Oral Tradition:

This involves the passing information by word of mouth through talking and listening. Oral tradition passes historical information into two ways

a) Through culture practices like art, music, religion, riddles, songs, proverbs, superstition, poems and stories.

b) Narration of past events.

Function of Oral Tradition

  • It preserves historical information of society
  • I t collects and pass historical information between generations in the society.
  • It helps researchers in data collection.

Advantages of Oral Tradition

  • It preserve and reveal historical information which are not recorded
  • Both illiterate and literate people can obtain historical information.
  • Within oral tradition, there are warning and teachings.
  • Is the easiest and cheapest method of obtaining information?
  • It is live source, since it involves physical interaction.

Disadvantages of Oral Tradition

  • It needs much attention and power of memory
  • False information can be given by storyteller.
  • Narration of historical events are centered to those people of status i.e. Kings, Queens, Chief. White talking little about common society.
  • There is a language problem when narrator uses vernacular language.
  • It is difficult to distinguish what is real and what is imaginary information.
  • Translation is very difficult because some languages are no longer in existence.

3. Historical Sites:

Are special places where by the past human remains can be found and shown to the public. It is a place where the remains of once lived human in the past can be found.

  • They comprise man’s physical development, tools that were made and used from time to time.
  • In these areas we find /see past human products and animal bones.

Examples of historical sites in Tanzania include Isimila, Olduvai George, Kondoa Irangi, Bagamoyo, Zanzibar, Kilwa, Mafia, Engaruka, Kagera etc

In Uganda Nsongezi, Biggo, Ntubi, Rusinga Island, Magosi and Ishago.

In Kenya. Lake Rudolf (Turkana), Lake Naivasha, Njoro, Olongesailie, Lake Magadi, Lamu, Mombasa and mt. Kenya

Functions of Historical Sites

  • Preserves historical information for the coming generations.
  • They are useful sources of information and to reconstruct history.
  • They are the symbols of social cultural heritage to the society concern past human tools, rock, paints etc

Disadvantages of Historical Sites

  • They help for practical historical learning e.g. through observation of past human tools, rock, paints.
  • Used to reveal past settlement patterns, levels of technology, economic development of political organization reached by the past societies.
  • Acts as centers of tourism.
  • They helps in transforming theoretical teaching of history to practical historical learning.
  • It acts as the resource centers to researchers.
  • It provides employment opportunities e.g.: guiders

Disadvantages of Historical Sites

  • It brings confusion to interpret the remains found in historical sites
  • Many of historical sites are found on remote areas hence difficult for many people to visit them.

3. Archaeology:

This refers to the scientific study of past human remain.
It is the study of material remains of man’s past through scientific methods. The one specializes in archeology is called ARCHAEOLOGIST. Archaeology involves excavations (digging) of the remains of man’s past historical sites and interpretation.
The famous archaeologist in East Africa was Dr. Louis Leaky with his wife Mary Leakey
Archaeology involves the use of carbon 14 dating to determine plants and animal remains.
Functions of Archaeology

  • Gives important information about man through different stages.
  • It is a useful method of revealing soil covered historical remains.
  • It arouse curiosity of searching past man historical information.

Advantages of Archaeology

  • It helps people to know when and how people lived in a certain place.
  • Past objects tell us about the life and culture of past people.
  • It helps us to know and reveal the technology, pastoral, agricultural and commercial activities of the past man.
  • Through excavation, we get knowledge of artifacts e.g. Pottery, building etc.
  • It reveals religious beliefs of the past man
  • We can compliment other sources of information through archaeology e.g. History
  • We can know the past relationship between different people such as trading activities, migration, marriage, birth, death and political relation.

Disadvantages of Archaeology

  • It consumes time because of excavation.
  • It cannot reveal the past people’s language.
  • It cannot give out the out reasons for historical events such as wars.
  • It needs full experts and advanced technology.
  • Poorly interpreted remains can bring false information
  • It cannot tell anything about the past social organization

4. Archives:

These are places where collection of public and private documents and old record are preserved. These documents includes personal letters, early travelers and missionary records, traders writings, personal and government files, political parties documents, etc.
Functions of Archives

  • Archives preserve public and private records that have enduring value to the society.
  • The public makes the records in archives available for use.
  • However not all records can be viewed by everyone.
  • Archives collect records of enduring value from various places. For example, the nation archives have records from different regions of the country.
  • The archives staff maintains registers of the record in the archives.
  • Archives have facilities for restoring damaged documents of enduring value.
  • Archives have facilities for restoring damaged documents of enduring value.
  • The historical information in the archives ensures continuity. For example, company policies from previous years can still guide the employee today.
    Advantages of Archives
  • Easy to identify ideas and literacy level of the past man.
  • It is easy to identify the exact date of historical event.
  • It used to store historical information.
  • Easy to get historical information from different places and different people.

Disadvantages Of Archives

  • It may lead false information, if author is biased.
  • Illiterate people cannot get historical information.
  • It is not easy to get information of society whose information is not documented.
  • It is difficult to get remote information from archives.
  • It is non renewable once disrupted either by wind or o

5. Museums:

These are places or buildings where information and objects are preserved it involves all terms, which shows culture, political economic and technological development from the past to the present. Objects can be early coins, clothes, and mineral cowries, religious and ceremonial symbols. Museum can be national, Regional, District and village. e.g. National Museums in Dar es Salaam, Bagamoyo, Butiama, Kalenga Iringa.
Functions ofMuseums

  • Preserve historical documents and objects.
  • Shows concrete remains of objects.
  • It is the place for tourist and study tour.
  • It is the center for cultural and national identity.

Advantages of Museums

  • It preserves objects, which are used as the teaching aids.
  • Museum preserves culture and national identity.
  • It used by researcher (source of information)
  • It acts as tourist center.
  • People learn about technological development.
  • Enable learners to arouse creativity.

Disadvantages Of Museums.

  • It needs knowledgeable people.
  • It is possible to distort information through biases by the museum attendant.
  • Poor preservation of the past items e.g. coins, pieces of cloth, slaves chain can distort information.
  • It needs extensive care to maintain its beauty or origin.

6. Written Records:

Are the documents, which comprise written historical information. This includes books, letters, maps, magazines, journal, newspaper, minutes of meetings and conferences. Written records can be found in libraries, schools, colleges, universities, internet cafes, offices etc.

Functions of Written Records

  • Written records provide pictures of society.
  • These records reflect public opinion at the time of writing. For example, the letter to the editor in newspaper expresses the readers’ feelings on current issues.
  • Written records serve as stores of a large variety of information, including discoveries, government policies, statements, religious beliefs, fashion, speeches and agreement.
  • In-depth reports of daily events are kept as written records. For example in a diary, newspaper or biography.

Advantages of Written Records.

  • It is easy to get information.
  • Easy to make references
  • It is helpful in doing researches.
  • They can be kept for long time.

Disadvantages of Witten Records

  • It can give false information if they are biased by the author
  • It is difficult to read everything from written records
  • They are subject to be badly written.
  • Illiterate people cannot get information.

7. Linguistics:

Is scientific study and analysis of language. It includes study of sound, structure, information and relationship between various language groups.

Advantages of Linguistics

  • It helps to get information from various sources.
  • Enables to discover links between different people.
  • It helps to determine dates f historical event e.g. “Aluta continua” (Period of struggle for independence in Mozambique)
    Limitations of Linguistics
  • It consumes time and finance learning a particular language
  • Through translation, one can commit some important work.
  • The present language may be corrupted.

8. Anthropology:

Is the study of the society’s cultural systems, beliefs, ideas etc. The study can give important information about movements, settlements and production activities of the past.

Dating Historical Events

Historians usually divide time into several categories, namely

  • Day – is a duration of twenty four hours (24hrs)
  • A week – is a duration of seven days (7days)
  • Month – is the duration of four weeks (4 weeks)
  • A year – is a duration of twelve months (12 moths)
  • A decade – is a duration of ten years (10 yrs)
  • A century – is the duration of one hundred years (100 yrs)
    • A millennium – is the duration of thousand years (1000 yrs)
    • A generation – is the average differences on ages between a child and his/her parent.
    • Age – is the period based on ma’s economic activities and type of tools used e.g. stone age, iron age, industrial age, science and technology age, etc.
    • A period – is determined by one continuous event lasting for number of years
  • E.g. Period of slave trade in East Africa
  • Period of long distance trade
  • Period of colonial rule in Africa
  • Some points has chosen in order to divide time
    • Year ZERO – present the year when Jesus Christ was born
  • It is known as Anno Domino (A.D) meaning the year of the Lord
    • All years before zero are called (B.C) meaning (Before Christ)

How To Determine Dates

Dates are instrument in a science of history; these historians divided dates into four ways;

1. Recalling events: - here important events are recalled/remembered e.g. drought, farming, floods, birth, eruption of diseases etc.

2. by studying languages: - Some names helps people to remember dates of some events. E.g., Word “Karafuu” started when Cloves were introduced in Zanzibar.

3. Carbon 14 is a scientific method of determining dates. It used in the finding dates for remains of animals or plants, which died beyond 5000 years ago. Carbon 14 is a gas found in carbon dioxide, which exists in the atmosphere. It absorbed by plant and other living organisms. When died carbon 14 that starts to decay at a fixed rate from the time of death.

4. Orders of events: ways showing order of events, period and ages, among them are-

  • Time graph
  • Time chart
  • Time line
  • Family tree






The Britain Conference



The first World war period



The second world war period



Tanganyika become independent



Tanganyika became republic



Introduction of multipart’s in Tanzania.


  • There are two main theories which explain origin of man. These are creation theory and evolution theory.
  • Theory of evolution was proposed and put forward by Charles Darwin.
  • The stages of man’s evolution include primate; Homo habilis Homoeractus, and Homosapiens.
  • Homo erectus means upright man
  • Homo habilis means able man
  • Homo sapiens means intelligent man
  • Stone Age is a period of human technological development which was characterized by use of stones.
  • Stone Age is divided in early Stone Age, middle stone age, and late or new Stone Age.
  • Earlier man learned to make fire by rubbins together pieces of wood until wood produced hot powder that could light kindle.
  • Fire changed man’s life in very many different ways
  • Iron Age was stage of development in which man tools and weapons were largely made of iron.
  • Discovery of iron brought great changes economically, socially, politically and culturally in African societies.






(i) Who advocated the theory of human evolution?

  1. Dr. Leakey
  2. Early man
  3. Olduvai Gorge
  4. Charles Darwin.

(ii) In creation theory, human being is considered as

  1. Creation like other animals
  2. Primates
  3. Homo habilies
  4. God’s creation

(iii) In his archeological work which led to discovery of skull of the first man. Dr Leakey was assisted by:

  1. Charles Darwin
  2. Zinjathropus
  3. Earlier man
  4. Marry Leakey

(iv) Which of the theory of origin of life below is not scientific?

  1. Creation theory
  2. Organic evolution theory
  3. Big bang theory
  4. Comorian theory.

(v) Microliths are:

  1. Sharper smaller and lighter stone tools of late stone age period
  2. Small iron age tool found at Olduvai
  3. Tiny stone age tools of middle stone age
  4. Stone tools found in Engaruka

(vi) The evidence of middle stone tools is found in parts of:

  1. East Africa rift valley
  2. Ukerewe Islands
  3. Isimila
  4. None of above

(vii) With fire man could?

  1. Cultivate desert areas
  2. Run faster than before
  3. Roast his food and live in colder areas
  4. Burn all forest and make desert

(viii) Which of the following was called able man?

  1. Home Habilis
  2. Homo Erectus
  3. Primate
  4. Zunjathropus

(ix) Which is not a feature of primates?

  1. Hairly body
  2. Bipedalism
  3. Quadrapedalism
  4. Lived in forests.

(x) Which is not a characteristic of Homo sapiens?

  1. Large brain capacity
  2. Less thick jaws and jaw muscles
  3. Highly skillful and manipulative of environment
  4. Worked using four Limbs.

2. Match the item in LIST A with their correct response from LIST B. Write down letter of correct response in space provided.



  1. Father of evolution of man
  2. Modern man
  3. Walked on four limbs
  4. Could make tools and had large brain capacity
  5. The earliest man who could stand upright.

  1. Homo erectus
  2. God
  3. Primate
  4. Homo Habilis
  5. Homo sapiens
  6. Charles Darwin
  7. Zunjathropus
  8. Clever creatures

3. Write T for true statement and F for false statement.

  • Stones were first weapons to be used by man
  • During earlier stone age man resembled apes
  • Human being in earlier Stone Age lived in permanent settlement.
  • Man had greater mastery of the environment during late stone age
  • One of sites of earlier Stone Age tools found in central African is Olorgesaile.
  • The body of Homo habilis was more hairly than that of Homo erectus.
  • The theory of creation and that of evolution of man are sometimes similar.
  • It was better for man to use stone tools than iron tools
  • Art and cultural diversity emerged before 100,000 years ago
  • During the Iron Age people did not have permanent shelter.


4. (a) Mention (4) four human characteristics that made man different from the other Primates.

(b) Fill the spaces below

  1. Human beings during earlier stone age lived in_________
  2. Two main activities of man during earlier stone age was_______ and __________
  3. Hand axes which were used by early man have been found in _____________ and _________

5 (a) Name four uses of tools by man in Old Stone Age period.

(b) Mention three ways used by early man to get food.

6. Show the different between tools used by man during the middle stone age and those of old stone age.

7. (a) Explain how fire was discovered

(b) Explain the contribution of fire to man

8. Mention the difference between the following

a) Stone Age

b) Iron Age.

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