of all property within the kingdom, were permitted to engage in incestuous marriages, controlled all appointments to public office, and approved the inheritance of property. Such exalted figures also possessed life-and-death power over their subjects, for persons who displeased the king could be (and often were) put to death.
Even though considerable stratification among African horticulturalists did exist, such societies, as is the case among intensive horticulturalists more generally, were characterized by what Lenski (1966) has called a “redistributive ethic.” Among the Southern Bantu, for example, a chief was expected to be generous and to take the common good into account, and a failure to do so led to a sharp decline in his popularity. As Lenski notes (1966:165):
Though he is the wealthiest man in his tribe, he cannot use his wealth solely for the satisfaction of personal needs and desires. He is obliged to provide for the support of his ministers and courtiers. He must entertain all those who come to visit him. On great public occasions he is expected to slaughter many of his cattle and provide beer and porridge for all who gather at his village. He lends cattle, supports destitute widows and orphans, sends food to sick people and newly confined mothers, and in time of famine distributes corn from his own granaries or, if this is insufficient, purchases supplies from neighboring groups.
Similar systems of stratified life have also existed among many of the aboriginal societies of Polynesia. Hawaii before the arrival of the Europeans provides an excellent example from this region of the world. According to the description given by Marshall Sahlins (1958), Hawaii was divided into three main social strata: the “high chiefs” and their families, local stewards, and commoners. A paramount chief managed the use of