eesti teaduste
akadeemia kirjastus
SINCE 1997
TRAMES cover
TRAMES. A Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences
ISSN 1736-7514 (Electronic)
ISSN 1406-0922 (Print)
Impact Factor (2020): 0.5


Full article in PDF format | 10.3176/tr.2021.1.05

C. G. Chidume, C. N. Oko-Out, G. C. Aro, O. C. Eze, I. N. Enwo-Irem, F. M. Nwankwo


The rise, fall and expansion of most kingdoms in pre-colonial Africa were credited to the activities of warfare. To sustain war efforts, various societies and warlords in pre-colonial Africa evolved unique military complexes, strategies and tactics, which they deployed during war times. The blacksmith was the fulcrum of pre-colonial war armory and strategy. The knowledge of iron metallurgy was the exclusive domain of the blacksmith. The knowledge of metallurgy made the blacksmith indispensable in actual execution of wars, hence he fashioned the weapon, went with the army to the battlefield to ensure adequate supply of weapons and repair of worn-out weapons for the reinforcement of the armies in the battleground. All these functions combined, made the blacksmiths an invaluable party in the preparation and actual execution of wars in pre-colonial Africa.


Achi, B. (1988) “Arms and Armor in the Warfare of Pre-Colonial Hausaland”. African Study Monographs 8, 3, 145–157.

Ake, C. (1981) A political economy of Africa London: Longman Publishers.

Alpern, S. (2005) “Did they or didn’t they invent it? Iron in Sub-Saharan Africa”. History in Africa 32, 41-94

Aremu, D. A. (2008) “Nigerian heritage sites for cultural and ecotourism development”. In D. A. Aremu, ed. Preservation of land, culture and wildlife for the development of ecotourism in Africa. Ibadan: Spectrum Books.

Chalmers, J. (1982) MITI and the Japanese miracle: the growth of industrial policy. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Child, T. and D. Killick (1993) “Indigenous African metallurgy: nature and culture”. Annual Review of Anthropology 22, 1, 317–337.

Fowler Museum (a) Fowler to debut the international traveling exhibition striking iron: the art of African blacksmiths 225 objects of utility, empowerment, and spiritual potency June 3 – December 30, 2018. Available online at 
<>. Accessed on 12 February, 2020

Fowler Museum (b) Fowler Museum exhibit reveals the artistry of African blacksmiths, 1 May, 2018. Available online at 
< exhibit-reveals-the-artistry-of-african-blacksmiths> Accessed on 13 February, 2020

History of Ohafia people and culture. Available online at 
<>. Accessed on 19 February, 2020.

Ikenegbu, M. O. C. (1990) Awka metal works (tradition and change). MFA Dissertation. University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria. 

Jagger, P. (1978) “The blacksmiths of Kano City: a study in tradition, innovation and entrepreneurship”. MA Thesis presented to the School of Oriental and African Studies University of London.

Law, R. (1976) “Horses, firearms, and political power in pre-colonial West Africa”. Past & Present 72, 1, 112–132.

Leftwich, A. (1995) “Bringing politics back in: towards a model of the developmental state”. Journal of Development Studies 31, 3, 400–427.

Okafor, E. E. (1993) “New evidence of early iron-smelting from southeastern Nigeria”. In T. Shaw et al., eds. The archeology of Africa: foods, metals and towns, 432–448. London: Routledge.

Onuoha, C. (2017) “Origin of iron technology in Africa: the Abiriba blacksmithing in focus” Pyrex Journal of History and Culture 2, 1, 1–9.

Onyejiaka, A. (1977) “Origin and development of blacksmithing in Nkwerre to 1945”. MA Dissertation. University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria.

Osuala, U. S. (2012) “Colonialism and the disintegration of indigenous technology in Igboland: a case study of blacksmithing in Nkwerre”. Historical Research Letter 3, 11–19.

Perani, J. and F. T. Smith (1998) The visual arts of Africa, gender, power and life cycle rituals. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Phillipson, D. W. (1981) “The beginnings of the Iron Age in Southern Africa”. In G. Mokhtar, ed. General history of Africa. Vol. 2: Ancient civilizations of Africa. California: Heinemann Publishers.

Reid, R. (2011) “Warfare in Pre-Colonial Africa”. In The encyclopedia of war. Wiley Online Library. Available online at 
<>. Accessed 12 February, 2020.

Roberts, Allen F. & Berns, Marla C., “Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths,” African Arts, 
Vol. 51, no. 1 (Spring 2018): 66–85. Available online at 
<>. Accessed on 12 February, 2020.

Ross, E. G. (2000) The Age of Iron in West Africa. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“The blacksmith artistry, culture”. Cultures of West Africa. Available online at 
<>. Accessed on 14 February, 2020.

Thornton, J. K. (1999) Warfare in Atlantic Africa 1500–1800. London: UCL Press.

Uzoigwe, G. N. (1987) “The warrior and state in pre-colonial Africa: comparative perspective”. Journal of Asian and African Studies 12, 1–4.

Yusuf, S. T. (2012) “Stealing from the railways: blacksmiths, colonialism and innovation in Northern Nigeria”. In J.-B. Gewald et al., eds. Explorative studies on appropriation in African societies, 275–296. Leiden: Brill.

Back to Issue