Topic 1: Establishment Of Colonialism In Africa - History Form 3

Topic 1: Establishment Of Colonialism In Africa – History Form 3

History Notes Form Three, Topic 4: Colonial Social Services - History Form 3, Topic 3: Colonial Economy - History Form 3, Topic 2: The Colonial Administrative Systems - History Form 3, Topic 1: Establishment Of Colonialism In Africa - History Form 3

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Colonialism can be defined as the domination and subordination of one country by another powerful country economically, socially and politically. It is largely, the direct subordination of one country by another country politically, socially and economically with the aim of exploiting its resources.

By the second half of the 19th century, the imperialist powers from Europe in particular, established colonialism in Africa in order to meet their capitalist demands such as

  • raw materials for their industries in Europe
  • new areas of investment where they could invest their capital
  • market areas for their manufactured merchandise (goods)
  • cheap labor and
  • areas to settle the surplus population which was increasing at an increasing pace especially soon after the industrial and demographic revolutions in Europe from the 1750’s


The colonization of Africa was not an overnight process, rather a slow process that was well organized. The process of colonialism was fundamentally of three (3) main stages namely,

  1. The first phase was the penetration of the agents of colonialism namely explorers, missionaries and traders who are in other words referred to as the forerunners of colonialism.
  2. The second phase was the intensive scramble for and partition (division) of Africa amongst the imperialist powers from Europe in particular. The process of the scramble for and partition of Africa was characterized by rivalries and conflicts, things which led to the summon of the Berlin Conference (the Feast of the Beasts) from November 1884 to February 1885 under the then German Chancellor Edward Otto Von Bismarck. The main objective of the conference was to divide Africa amongst the imperialist powers as peacefully as possible.
  3. The third phase was the establishment of colonial rule from 1880’s to 1900. This phase was characterized by the establishment of company rule, establishment of colonial economy and suppression of African resistances (reactions) against the colonial rule.


Colonial agents were the Europeans who came in Africa in order to pave way for the process of colonialism. For instance, Missionaries as the people who came on behalf of their home government in order to accomplish the three major objectives: To spread civilization, Spread Christianity and to do commerce. The case of Traders came in Africa in order to look for raw materials and area for investments. Whereas the Explorers came in Africa in order to search for information that was needed by the capitalists (David Livingstone, Henry Morton Stanley and Samuel Baker.

The agents of colonialism were/are the forerunners of colonialism. These were in three stages as follows;


This was the first group which came to Africa for the purpose of colleting various information about Africa especially the geographical information about Africa. Examples of some explorers are/were Barton and Speke 1856, they passed Tanganyika to Uganda, they discovered Lake Victoria, the name of the Queen of England by then, Henry Morton and Stanley, David Livingstone (born on 19th March 1813 and died on 1st May 1873; he died of malaria and internal bleeding due to dysentery) a famous explorer in East, Central and South Africa, De Brazza etc.


  1. They informed the colonialists of the geographical position of Africa that helped and guided them in the process of dividing Africa.
  2. They provided valuable information about economic potentialities of Africa like the existence of minerals, fertile soil and so forth, which attracted the colonialists to Africa.
  3. They participated in the abolition of slave trade and gave information on the slavery that was taking place in the interior of Africa; such information was used by the abolitionists to abolish slave trade in Africa, a move which prepared the fertile grounds for the establishment of colonialism in Africa.
  4. They sketched the map of Africa showing all the potentialities found in Africa, the map was so very important as far as the process of colonization was concerned. David Livingstone mainly did this.
  5. The explorers signed some bogus treaties with some friendly African Chiefs, the treaties that provided the basis for the colonization of Africa.
  6. Some other explorers came to Africa in order to open up the interior for commerce. For instance, between 1878 and 1880 Joseph Thompson surveyed the region between Dar-es-Salaam and Lake Nyasa in order to construct a road for Zanzibar’s Sultan. William MacKinnon came for the purpose of opening a short route from the coast to Lake Victoria via Kilimanjaro to develop commercial activities in the interior of East Africa.

These were so called religious people who came to Africa on behalf of their home governments in the pretext of civilizing Africans, spreading Christianity and abolishing slave trade, who considered it as an illegal/illicit/illegitimate trade. However, these people had a hidden mission of softening the hearts and minds of Africans to accept colonialism as easily as possible. That is why some Africa’s scholars argue that the church was part and parcel of the capitalist system as it acted as a tool for exploitation of the Africans.

Examples of some early missionaries in Africa were Ludwig Krapt, John Rebman, and John Moffat from Britain. They established missionary societies, by the 19th century; the whole continent was full of evangelical societies like the;

  1. The Holy Ghost Mission from Britain (1837)
  2. The Church Missionary Society (CMS) from Britain 1799.
  3. The Scottish white fathers from Scotland (1791).


  1. They provided information and feedback to their home countries about the nature of the people of African population, structure and of course the natural resources.
  2. They brainwashed and softened the hearts and minds of the Africans. They used Holy scriptures as documented in the holy bible like “The poor are the blessed for them the kingdom of God,” Leadership comes from God” Do not admire what your friend possesses, forgive those who wrong you.”
  3. They trained Africans in western education in missionary schools to meet the production needs of the colonialists.
  4. They largely succeeded in abolishing slave trade in Africa.
  5. They conducted many treaties with the African local chiefs on behalf of their home governments. For example, Stanley in Buganda, Francis Coillard of the Paris evangelical society was very instrumental in persuading Chief Lewanyika of Southern Rhodesia in 1890 to sign a treaty with the British South African Company.
  6. Some missionaries provided social services for other colonial administrators in case of shortage. For example, accommodation, schools and colleges.
  7. They divided Africans along religious lines as one of the ways of ruling Africans via divide and rule tactic.
  8. They introduced European culture to the Africans; the missionaries regarded the Africans as barbaric.

These came to Africa purposely to look for raw materials, markets and new areas for investments. They established legitimate trade and encouraged the production of commodities such as cotton, coffee, and rubber, cocoa and so forth.

Examples of the early traders in Africa were James Stevenson, William Mackinnon, Harry Johnson, Karl Peters, Cecil Rhodes, and George Goldie and so on. These traders opened up different companies (Chartered companies) in Africa for the purpose of meeting their capitalist demands. Such companies include.

  1. The German East African Company, which was founded by Karl Peters on 28 March 1884.
  2. The Imperial British East African Company (I.B.E.A.C.O), which was founded by the British trader William MacKinnon on 18 April 1886.
  3. The Livingstone Company, which was founded in 1878 by James Stephen to trade ivory, gold and other products in East Africa.
  4. The United African Company (U.A.C) in 1881 and to the Royal Niger Company in 1886.
  5. The British South African Company, which was founded by Cecil Rhodes in 1889.
  6. International Du Congo


  1. They provided financial support to the colonial governments in the construction of physical infrastructure such as roads, railways, and harbors in order to facilitate the exploitation process.
  2. They conducted business on behalf of the colonial governments in their respective areas of administration in Africa.
  3. The traders signed bogus treaties with the African local rulers on behalf of their home governments. For example, Sultan Mangungo of Msowero in Kilosa and Karl Peters on behalf of Germany on 29 November 1884.
  4. The European traders bought manufactured goods from their countries to Africa.
  5. They opened routes to the interior of Africa laying the foundation for future European exploration. The colonialists later on used the routes, which were used by the traders.
  6. The traders competed for and exploited Africa’s resources, this in turn created rivalry between European countries for the right to control resources in various parts of Africa.
  7. The traders encouraged settlers to come to Africa to invest in various sectors like agriculture, mining etc. and the traders gave settlers loans with dear interests as one of the ways of encouraging them to come and stay.


The colonial agents played a very great role in the whole process of colonization of Africa in the following ways:

  1. They facilitated and speeded up the process of the scramble and partition of African continent among the imperialist nations, through important information that was provided to their home government.
  2. They consolidated colonialism through constant assistance, in the process of colonialism e.g. some explorers became governors, whereas missionaries trained collaborators in their schools.
  3. They led to the abolition of slave trade whereby, all colonial agents participated in its abolition good example; missionaries preached against slave trade by regarding it as against the will of God, traders on other hand introduced legitimate trade.
  4. It led to the spread of Christianity by training catechists who under took the role of converting Africans in the new religion and adaptation western culture which led to de-culturalization of Africans.
  5. Missionary won the confidence of African people and reduced the African resistance against colonialists, some African chiefs gained materially, militarily, and politically from the strangers they usually allowed and sometimes encouraged them to stay on. E.g., king Kasagama of Toro pleaded for the extension of the stay of lugard.
  6. They led to the introduction of commercial agriculture whereby cash crops and plantations were introduced at the expense of African self-sustaining agriculture.
  7. They integrated African economy into money economy I this case, African became the source of raw materials for the European industries.
  8. They led to the establishment of so-called legitimate trade by monopoly companies, which was unfair to the Africans and only favored the Europeans. This was because African resources were exploited to the maximum.
  9. They promoted disunity among the indigenous people that promoted civil conflict defending the white man’s’ religion e.g. in Buganda religious war between 1885-8 among the Catholics and the protestants.


The meaning of the concepts.

The word scramble simply means fight for something or struggle for something normally by many in order to get it before others do. The word partition means divide something into small portions.

Generally, the scramble of the European powers over Africa was the process of fighting for colonies in Africa, which took place in the second half of the 19th C.

The scramble for and partition of Africa were very remarkable events in the African history. They were a beginning of the end of African freedom. The scramble for and partition of Africa covered remarkably short period from 1884 to about 1900. It involved the occupation of the interior of Africa by European nations.

The scramble for and partition of Africa were due to European economic and political changes. Largely, the European capitalist powers quarreled against themselves for fighting in Africa, which they considered very important and potential for them. The scramble for and partition of Africa led to the complete confiscation of African independence and sovereignty to the European powers.


By and large, there are two (2) main schools of thoughts, which explain the motives (reasons) behind the scramble for and partition of Africa, namely Eurocentric school of thought which combines reasons as to spread Christianity in Africa, to abolish slave trade, to civilize Africans and so on. On the other end of spectrum, there is Afro-centric school of thought by African scholars and believers.

  1. Industrial Revolution in Europe. This was the primary factor, which led to the scramble for and partition of Africa and later on total colonization of Africa. The Industrial Revolution was the drastic change in the industrial production system that firstly occurred in Britain in 1750. This period was characterized by inventions of machines and mushrooming industries in Europe. The industrial revolution led to the construction of many industries in Europe something, which led to industrial competition over raw materials, and of course, markets for the European manufactured goods. Such a competition led to the rise of the five (5) major capitalist demands such as raw materials, areas for investment, cheap labor, areas to settle the surplus population and market for the European manufactured goods. All these demands led to the scramble for and partition of Africa, hence colonialism. Industrial revolution led to the needs of industrial demands as follows;
  2. Demand to get both agricultu-ral and mineral raw- materials. This was because agricultural raw materials like c-offee, cotton; sisal as well as mineral raw materials such as gold, diamond and copper were highly needed in Europe just to feed their hungry industries. As raw- materials in Europe were highly obtained in competitive leading to be sold in high price. Thus, low profit to the industrial owners (Europeans) in that case, to solve these problems Europeans decided to come in Africa where they would get cheap raw materials.
  3. Demand to get market for the European Manufactured goods. This caused the scramble for and partition of African continent simply because with invention of new technology together with application of heavy machines in Europe, European powers found themselves producing to the surplus, which could not be consumed completely within their (reach) country. The only solution was to find market elsewhere (outside) so that they could sell their surplus manufactured goods for high profit African in particular.
  4. Demand to get cheap labor needed in European’s plantations and mines. This caused the Scramble for and partition of African continent simply because with invention of new technology as well as application of heavy machines in Europe, they opened up large plantations which needed intensive labor, worse still it was expensive to hire (employ) European labor because they needed high pay compared to African labor who in a sense could work under meager (low) pay, thus a need to come in Africa where they could get cheap African labor to maximize their profit.
  5. Demand to get areas where they could invest their surplus capital. This is because European powers since primitive accumulation of capital had invested heavily to the extent that they had surplus capital. The accumulated capital needed to be invested somewhere else for further profit making in this case Africa having not been invested by any power was seen the only place where European powers would invest their capital. Hence, Europeans scrambled the area.
  6. Demand to get areas where they would settle surplus population. This was because with better improvement of social services like medical care, water supply, as well as good housing facilities it was apparent that large population in Europe were un employed eventually been in fear over being engaging in evil things like robbery, prostitution, and other chaos Europeans decided to come in Africa so as to get areas which would be used to settle such surplus population as the way to minimize and remove chaos that would affect their population.
  7. Due to the demand to solve different movements as pioneered by workers and proletarization in Europe or trade unions: Such movements were like Chartism, Ludism and new model trade unions as these demanded high payment, good working condition, and the reduction of working hours. In this case, production in Europe became very expensive and fall in profits of the bourgeoisie (capitalists).
  8. Strategic reasons. The colonization of Africa was also motivated by the strategic reasons, as some areas were considered more attractive than other was economically, thus, the scramble for and partition of Africa. Such areas included those which had potential minerals like gold, diamond, and copper which had accessibility to the interior, fertile soil and enough people to supply labor power in the colonies;
  9. Prestigious reasons. Some European powers especially the imperialist ones considered the scramble for and partition of Africa towards colonization as a prestigious thing. The more colonies one country had the more powerful it was considered.
  10. European balance of power. The issue of balance of power was considered to be one amongst the main reasons for the scramble for and partition of Africa. Following the European nationalism, for example German nationalism in 1870’s led to the need of balance of power for example after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 to 1871, France lost its two potential provinces Alsace and Larraine to Germany as the result, France looked for Tunisia and Morocco in Africa as a way of balancing the power, hence the scramble for and partition of Africa.
  11. Humanitarian reasons and civilization reasons, some European scholars argue that the scramble for and partition of Africa was for civilizing Africans who were considered to be barbaric i.e. totally uncivilized, killing one another, undertaking slave trade and other animal like practices.
  12. Due to the role played by the colonial agents: This is because colonial agents (Missionaries, Traders, and Explorers) provided the information/ feedback and reported on the economic potentiality of Africa that persuaded their home government to come and take over African countries. Thus through the information given they paved way for the colonization of Africa since Africa became globally known.


European powers were interested with different parts (areas) in Africa. This was because these areas would help Europeans to meet their demands as they had special qualities and significances. Some of the areas that experienced intensive Scramble in Africa were as follows.

  1. Easy accessibility to the interior/ Accessibility to the interior. Areas like Egypt and the Nile valley and of course the Congo basin have easy access to the interior since the areas have big rivers, which made navigation easier done during the colonial era. The transportation of raw materials was possible. Thus, those areas, which had easy access to both the interior and the coast, experienced more intensive scramble than others. In this case, areas, which had navigable rivers as if Congo, Niger and Nile were highly, scrambled by different European powers some of the powers who showed much interest here included Portugal, Belgium and France.
  2. Presence of fertile land// Agricultural Potentialities: Those areas which had proven soil fertility which ensured both growth and development of agriculture and growth of cash crops such as palm oil, cotton, coffee, sisal, rubber and so on were more scrambled than other areas. Some of these areas were like shire highlands in Malawi, Kikuyu high lands in Kenya and many other places that were fertile attracted many European powers because such areas were vital particularly in provision of reliable rainfall and good fertility which eventually fueled quick development of Agricultural activities. Other areas with fertility soil were Niger basin, Congo basin, and Nile valley. In these areas, different European powers showed much interest to ensure that they take lead of it. The well-known powers whose ambition was stifle included Britain, France, Belgium, and Portugal.
  3. Presence of minerals/ mineral potentialities: Those areas, which were naturally endowed with minerals such as gold, diamond, and copper, experienced more intensive scramble than others. These areas attracted mostly the European powers because of its presence of valuable minerals like gold, silver and diamond, which were essential for the provision of raw materials to feed their hungry industries. In this case different areas in Africa assumed to be potentiality as witnessed by Angola, Nigeria, Gold coast, presently called as Ghana and Congo (DRC). In all these areas different European powers showed much interest but the most over leading powers were Belgium, Britain France and Portuguese.
  4. Dense population/areas with high population. Those areas, which had dense population, were mostly preferred because they ensured constant supply of labor as opposed to those areas, which had no dense population. The dense population did not only ensure constant supply of labor but also the source of market for the goods, which were produced in the colonies. Some areas in Africa that had high population were like Cameroon, Senegal, Gold coast, Ghana and Nigeria.
  5. Geographical location. Those areas, which were geographically located in areas with conducive climatic conditions, were more scrambled than others were. For example, those in the equatorial region like the Congo and Niger basins were more scrambled by the European powers than others. Nevertheless, the process of the scramble for and partition of Africa led to the conflicts amongst the European powers, which threatened the peace amongst those powers. For example, the Congo crisis, the Egyptian crisis, the Niger crisis and so on. All these crises necessitated the call for the Berlin conference in order to divide Africa as peacefully as possible.
  6. The areas, which were too strategic, strategic areas, attracted Europeans in Africa because these areas would enable them to meet their demands, which all together focused on economic gain. In this way different parts (areas) in Africa became too strategic as such they motivated European powers to have more interests over such areas. Good example is Egypt that had Suez Canal. The British occupation of Egypt could make them benefit from the canal as it could be used as a shortcut and gateway to the trade caravans (ship) between Asia Africa and Europe through Mediterranean Sea.

More than that Egypt assumed of great significant during the Scramble for and subsequently the partition of Africa because it had substantial population, which could provide cheap labor in the capitalist investments. Cheap labor in Egypt was expected to increase profit maximization.

Again Egypt had Nile River which seems to be of a great importance because it enabled (served) for Agricultural purpose in which both food and raw-materials needed for European industries and food for the industrial workers could be easily obtained, above all it would serve for navigation purposes.

It served also as attraction to tourists due to its historical significances in which many people were attracted to visit the place. In this case scrambling over this place was expected to be of great benefits.

Egypt was so special to Europeans due to its strategic that it had this is because the place is regarded as the ancient places in which different civilizations like Greeks, Romans and many others passed here. Hence taking this area meant that the given powers were expected to learn many things to them.

In addition, Egypt became to be regarded as too strategic during scramble for and partition of Africa due to its technological background it had. This is because different technological discoveries were made in Egypt also various scientists who discovered different discoveries originated from Egypt because of this the area provided a forum through which European regarded it as strategic areas.

Another strategic area was Uganda because it is a source of Nile River in this case to make constant flowing of Nile River European powers became attracted over Uganda.

Mean while Kenya became to be regarded as a strategic area because Uganda that was needed for constant flowing of Nile River was a land lacked country (country with not port) thus a need to control Kenya so that it could eventually serve European over controlling Uganda by using Mombasa port to transport different goods/cargoes from Europe going in Uganda. The most outstanding European powers who had much interest in this place were Britain and France.


1. Account for the reason behind the scramble for and partition of African continent.

2. Why the scramble for and partition of African continent took place during the last quarter of the 19th C and not before or After?

3. What were the main factors for the European Scramble for and Partition of Africa?

4. Why African continent was scrambled during the 19th century?

Why some areas in Africa were highly scrambled by European imperialist power during the 19th C.

2. Why the position of Egypt became of more special during the Scramble for and subsequently the partition of African continent?


The Berlin Conference was the imperialistic conference, which was held in Berlin the capital city of Germany and named after the city in which it was held. The conference was firstly proposed by Portugal due to its claims over Congo and West Africa. It was held from Sunday, 15 November of the year 1884 up to Thursday, 26th of February of the year 1885. Under the leadership of the Germany’s Chancellor by then who was a lawyer by profession Edward Leopold Otto Von Bismarck. (1st April 1815- 30th July 1898). The main agenda of the conference was to divide Africa peacefully for the interests of the capitalist nations. Africa was not represented in the Conference, nevertheless, Denmark and the United States of America attended the conference as observers only.

This conference is also called the Congo conference or West Africa conference. The countries, which participated in the conference, were Austria- Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Ottoman Empire, Russian Empire, Spain, Sweden–Norway, The United Kingdom and the USA.


Berlin conference came into being due to the following events;

  1. Due to the information spread by missionaries, explorers and indeed traders about African in Europe. This is because these agents of colonialism fade substantial information on richness of Africa like presence of rivers, minerals, as well as its fertility. It was through these information European powers became motivated over the continent.
  2. Due to the pressure caused by the rise of industrialization in many European powers particularly during the period of monopoly capitalism in which it created economic demand in terms of raw materials, markets as well as areas where they would invest their investment.
  3. Due the result of the Scramble for Africa in order to acquire areas where they would meet their desire, indeed prompted the need to have the Berlin conference because European power were almost to fight in many parts of African continents such areas included Congo basin, Niger delta and south Africa. The way forward to get out of this was to have the Berlin conference that would eventually divide to each power peacefully.
  4. Due to the role played by a Germany chancellor Otto Von Bismarck in which after discovering the possibility of the eruption of war he decided to call the Berlin Conference to avoid war among the scrambling nations.


  1. Germany unification made Germany the most powerful and influential nation not only in Europe but also in the world by 1870.
  2. Germany’s industrialization which made Germany to be in need of colonies for raw-materials and areas for investment that is why Germany responded to the request of Portugal as quickly as possible.
  3. The role and personality of Chancellor Edward Otto Von Bismarck he was very ambitious leader who wanted recognition by other European leaders that is why he called (summoned) the Berlin conference.
  4. The hostility between France against Germany the conflict is rooted from the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871. Germany summoned the conference in order to check the French expansionism in Africa.


  1. The first and the foremost objective of the Berlin Conference of 1884 to 1885 was to divide Africa amongst the imperialist powers as peacefully as possible because of the process of the scramble and partition of Africa which had generated hatred/hostility amongst the imperialist powers.
  2. Portugal’s request for the conference in order to check for its claims in the Congo Basin and West Africa, thus the request by Portugal was one of the agenda which necessitated the summon of the conference in 1884.
  3. To abolish slave trade and slavery in Africa and establish the so-called legitimate trade.
  4. It was called in order to discuss the European balance of power amongst the European nations.
  5. Bismarck aimed at taming (to control easily) the French hostilities, after its defeat during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870.
  6. To deal with matters related to European trade and territorial claims in Africa.
  7. To discuss and settle the existing territorial disputes over the Congo and Niger basin as well as other parts of African continent.
  8. To avoid military confrontation among the imperialist powers that was eminent among the imperialist powers especially after the joining of Germany as a late comer in the process after taking over colonies in Togo, Cameroon, South west Africa (Namibia) and what came to be known as Germany East Africa the present Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda.


The Berlin Conference passed different resolutions, which later caused the process of colonization of Africa; these resolutions are as explained here below:

  1. The Congo basin was declared a free state under king Leopard of Belgium and the Niger River was free for navigation to all imperialist nations. It recognized Leopard’s so- called international association as the legitimate authority in Congo basin. In return, the Belgium king to allow European traders and missionaries free access to the area.
  2. They agreed that strong and sophisticated military weapons were prohibited to be brought in Africa. They allowed light weapons to be used in Africa. This aimed to maintain security in the colonies and to avoid the accessibility of such strong weapons to the colonized subjects (Africa).
  3. They agreed that effective occupation should be implemented by the imperialist nations this was through setting Administrators in the colonies who were to supervise tasks
  4. They agreed that in case of the resistance by Africans to the colonial occupation, no any European country should give help to the Africans to fight fellow European.
  5. They agreed that all colonial powers should take initiative measure to abolish slave trade and slavery in their colonies and to allow free access to the colonial agents in the interior as to campaign against slave trade and spread civilization in the interior.
  6. They agreed that in case of any disputes among the imperialist powers they should solve it peacefully without the use of force.
  7. They agreed that if a nation occupies a coastal area it had to extend it legally, to the interior and to colony of another colonial master.
  8. Principle of notification, it was agreed that any power requiring any part of Africa was supposed to inform another power in order to escape misunderstanding among the powers.
  9. The conference also agreed that areas in Africa already proclaimed protectorate by European nations before conference should remain in their hands, such areas included the Congo and those territories which Germany had annexed like Togo, South West Africa (Namibia)


The Berlin conference had the following impacts or effects on Africa as follow.

  1. It partitioned or sliced Africa amongst the European nations into the colonial possessions and fixed boundaries in their interests. For instance, Britain got 27 colonies, France got 12 colonies, Germany got 9 colonies and Belgium got 2 colonies.
  2. It led to the loss of Africa’s independence and sovereignty to the European nations, which established colonial rule.
  3. It led to the abolition of slave trade and the introduction of legitimate trade, which was of course beneficial to the imperialist powers.
  4. It led to much suffering amongst African people under the colonial administration especially when they (Africans) resisted against colonialism.
  5. It divided the ethnic groups in Africa into separate boundaries something, which implanted the spirit of disunity amongst them. For example, the Makonde in Mozambique and Tanganyika, the Luo in Kenya. Sudan and Uganda and the Maasai in Kenya and Tanzania by then Tanganyika.
  6. It planted the seed which led to the outbreak of the First World War (1914 – 1918) and the Second World War (1939 – 1945) because the conference did not satisfy the ambitions and interests of some nations i.e. dissatisfaction in territorial arrangements in Africa. For example, Germany was not satisfied by the conference for other powers like Britain got the Lion’s share.
  7. European nations introduced new systems of administration in AfricaThe German and British employed direct rule and indirect rule respectively in their colonies, while the French and the Portuguese used the assimilation and later on association policy to administer their colonies in Africa.
  8. The Berlin conference marked the beginning of colonialism in Africa. Many European powers took control of various parts of Africa, forcing African to work for them.
  9. It led to the introduction of foreign European languages in Africa to ease colonial administration in the colonies. For example, Francophone the French-speaking countries such as Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast and Benin. Anglophone (English-speaking) countries such as Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, and Nigeria. Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking countries such as Angola. Guinea Bissau and Mozambique.


The partition process of East Africa between Germany and Britain took place between1884 to 1890. It was completed into two (2) agreements between them.


This was the agreement between (Britain) and Germany. The reason for this agreement was Germany’s recognition of Karl Peters’ treaties. On arriving back in Berlin from East Africa in February 5th, 1885, Karl Peters presented his treaties to Bismarck and Kaizer William. Kaizer granted him the imperial charter. The area was by then to come under the society for the German colonization when it became chartered, the society came to be known as German East African Company. The Germany recognition of Karl Peters’ treaties threatened Britain’s interests and provoked the Sultan who protested and appealed to Britain for intervention another reason is that the British and German companies interfered with each other thus causing rivalry.


In the Anglo – German treaty of 1886 between Germany, Britain and the Sultan, the following agreements were reached.

  1. The Sultan’s spheres would be Zanzibar, Pemba, Lamu, Kismayo, Bravo, Merka, Mogadishu and the 10 miles’ coastal strip on the mainland.
  2. The German spheres of influence would be; the present day Tanganyika and Dar –es-Salaam.
  3. Britain part would be roughly the today’s Kenya.

The reasons for this agreement were first the Agreement of 1886 had fixed no boundaries in the West of Tanganyika and Kenya. Second, the question of Uganda, Karl Peters was already in Uganda to make treaties for German colonization. However, by then Britain had already colonized Egypt and that had to guard the Suez Canal. Third, the religious conflicts amongst religious groups in Uganda. The Christians who were led by the Christian missionaries (White fathers) against the Anglicans, the Muslims and the traditionalists under Kabaka. The conflicts led to the killings of missionaries and Christians as a whole. Therefore, the missionaries seriously called upon the colonization of Uganda. The Anglican missionaries called upon the British government while the white fathers called upon German government.


In the Anglo – German Agreement of 1890, there were only two parties, the German and the British. The Sultan did not matter by then. The following are the terms of the agreement.

  1. Britain spheres would be Zanzibar, Pemba, Kenya and Uganda.
  2. German sphere would be Tanganyika and an island in the North Sea called HELGOLAND. That is why this agreement is sometimes referred to as the HELGOLAND TREATY OF 1890 in which Germany gave up the claims to Witu.


Immediately after the Berlin Conference on 26th February 1885, the European powers managed to establish their rule and control over Africans. The establishment of control was made effective between 1885 and 1912 when African countries became under the colonial rulers.

As introduced earlier, the situation whereby one powerful nation dominates and controls the other weaker nation politically, socially and economically and establishes exploitative structures is known as COLONIALISM. The country, which dominates the other, is known as a COLONIZER whilst those, which are colonized, are known as COLONIES.

Colonialism is a situation where by a powerfully/ strong nation invade and dominate the weaker nation by establishing exploitative nature. OR,

Colonialism refers to the political, social and economic system through which one strong and powerful country/ Nation dominates the weaker one in all aspects of their life such as economically socially and politically. It can also refer to the direct subordination of one country by another country, politically, socially and economically with the aim of exploiting her resources.

By and large, colonialism was not accepted in Africa with open arms, thus, it was not easy to establish colonial rule in Africa, hence various techniques/tactics were used to establish colonial rule in Africa as follow.

  1. DIPLOMACY. This was one of the tactics, which were used by the imperialist powers to establish their colonial rule in Africa. This was practically done through agreements of treaties, which were signed between African chiefs and the agents of colonialism. The treaties signed were bogus; hence, many African chiefs lost power and independence. Example Carl Peter signed a treaty with Chief Mangungo of Msovero in Morogoro in 1884; Johnson hurry signed a treaty in 1900 with Daud Chwa of Buganda such treaties made Africans to be encroached (under) colonial rule.
  2. GUNBOAT DIPLOMACY. This is the way of making another nation accepts your demands through intimidation (force). This technique was mostly used in the areas where their chiefs seemed to be reluctant to offer their areas to the colonialists. E.g., Sultan of Zanzibar surrendered a treaty to Carl Peter of German because he used this technique; captain Lugard in Nigeria used the same approach.
  3. MILITARY CONQUEST. The colonial powers used military conquest in areas where diplomacy failed and when and where Africans resisted against the colonial rule; such tactics were used to suppress Chief Mkwavinyika Munyigumba Mwamvuyinga of the Hehe (1891-1898), Mkwawa died in June 1898 when he was only left with his two servants. Sergeant Merkel cut off Mkwawa’s head and dispatched it to Germany for Governor Von Liebert, offered 5,000 rupees to the person who would bring him Mkwawa’s head. The skull was finally retured to Tanganyika on 9th July 1954. Isike (Nyamwezi), Kabalenga (Bunyoro), Kaitolel Arap Samoei (Nandi).
  4. COLLABORATION. This was the colonial system of administration that created alliances between groups of Africans with the colonial powers against other African groups. Such a situation occurred when two (2) African groups were in conflicts. Thus, the weaker one cooperated with Europeans in order to get protection and support against its enemy. Examples of the African rulers who used collaboration method were Mangi Mandara of Moshi who cooperated with Germans against Mangi Sina of Kibosho in 1891, Chief Merere of Sangu who collaborated with the Germans against Mkwawa of the Hehe.
  5. IDEOLOGICAL METHOD. In this tactic, the colonialists introduced western ideologies to soften the hearts and minds of Africans to accept colonialism. For example, the Christian missionaries introduced Christianity, which went hand in hand with the provision of colonial education, which was of course offered, to the sons and daughters of African chiefs only. As a result, those who were converted to Christians became loyal to the colonialists, hence colonialism. That’s why some historians argue that “colonialism came armed with two weapons one in each hand, the bible in the left was presented first and the gun later”
  6. APPLICATION OF RACISM. This was the ideology, which internalized the belief that a certain race was superior to other races. The African black color was insulted to be the color of the devil, which was always painted in black color, and angels in white color as Europeans are, this brought inferiority complex amongst African.
  7. ADMINISTRATIVE TECHNIQUES. For example, Britain used indirect rule tactic of administering its colonies in order to do away with African’s resistances and France used assimilation and later on association Policies to administer its colonies.
  8. Through deportation of some of the tribal leaders who were exiled away to stop resistance. Good example, Jaja of Opobo was deported to West Indies in 1891. Mwanga of Buganda and Kabarega of Bunyoro were exiled in Seychele Island as they resisted colonial rule.
  9. Through divide and rule approach. Here colonizers on tribal lines, economic lines, divided the Africans and religious the Ganda tribe was given education and white caller jobs while the northerners were to provide cheap labor. The Catholics were segregated in the British colonies and all leadership posts were given to the protestants such acts kept African disunited and easy to be ruled.


During the early phase of the establishment of colonial rule in Africa, the colonial governments used charted companies to administer the colonies on their behalf.

N: B A charter is a written statement describing the right that a particular group of people should have.


A written statement of the principle and aims of an organization, therefore, chartered companies are organization qualified according to the principles and aims for which they were/are established. Basically, the chartered companies were trading companies; the European colonial powers opted to use the chartered companies in order to reduce the administrative costs.

Some of the chartered companies, which operated in Africa by then were; The Imperial British East African Company (I.B.E.A. Co 18th April 1888 under Sir William Mackinnon). The German East African Company (G.E.A. Co 28th March 1884 under Karl Peters), the British South Africa Company (B.S. A 1889), The Royal Niger Company (RNC 1886 under George Tauban Goldie) The Dutch West India Company (D.W.I. Co 3rd June 1621).


  1. They became active in abolishing slave trade especially in the interior of Africa.
  2. To administer the colonies on behalf of their home governments.
  3. To suppress and stop any African resistance against the imposition of the colonial rule. For example, the I.B.E.A. Co played an important role in suppressing the Nandi resistance in Kenya and so did the G.E.A. Co in Tanganyika against the Hehe under chief Mkwawa.
  4. To carry out construction of physical infrastructure in their respective areas of administration so as to ease the exploitation of African’s resources. For examples, they constructed roads, railways and harbors to ease the transportation of laborers and raw materials in the colonies.
  5. The companies under their leadership entered into bogus treaties with the African local chiefs in order to expand more spheres of influence on behalf of their home government.
  6. They opened up plantations in Africa so as to meet the very necessary capitalist demands, raw materials in particular.


  1. Remoteness of some areas. The company traders had difficulties in penetrating the interior of Africa because of thick forests and lack of reliable infrastructure, roads in particular.
  2. The company administration faced widespread resistances and hostility from the people of the interior of Africa; therefore, instead of concentrating on trading activities, the companies spent much time and money to suppress African resistances from the ethnic groups which were found in the interior of Africa. For example, the British trader Peter West and his thirty workers were attacked by the Nandi in Kenya in 1888, Abushiri bin Salim revolted against the Germans in Tanganyika.
  3. Running of the colonies was expensive due to lack of enough capital. For instance, staff wages and salaries this made the companies bankrupt hence, they could not get the expected profits something, which led to the failure.
  4. Lack of enough and experienced Personnel to administer the activities of the companies. The staff employed by the companies was mostly military officers who were not diplomatic and competent enough to fulfill the various duties that they were assigned to them.
  5. Language barrier. This is rooted from the fact that upon the arrival of the colonialists, Africans had no access to formal education. The traders did not know all the vernaculars that were used by the Africans by then something which led to communication breakdown, as the result some of the roles were not effectively done, hence the failure of the company.
  6. Imperfect competition between and amongst the companies. For instance, for the case of East Africa the Imperial British East African Company under William Mackinnon had regular clashes over the region against the German East African Company under Karl Peters something, which made the companies fail to execute their functions. The clashes led to the first Anglo – German Agreement of 1886 and the second Anglo – German Agreement of 1890.
  7. The threat of tropical diseases. Such as malaria. By then malaria was known to have no cure. It thus, claimed the lives of many agents of colonialism such as explorers, missionaries and traders. As a result, some of the traders did not go into the interior to trade as per the charter of their companies, besides they fell short of personnel due to death hence failure.
  8. Mismanagement or maladministration. Some chartered companies failed to execute their duties as effectively as possible due to mismanagement of funds. In this case, some leaders of the companies misallocated the funds for some objectives, which were not in accordance with the charter for which the companies were established. For example, it is historically recorded that Cecil John Rhodes (5th July 1853 went to South Africa aged 17 he entered the diamond at Kimberly in 1871 when he was 18 years, he died on 22 June 1893) had the vision of constructing a railway line from Cape Town to Cairo –Egypt, the project which had started costing his company (BSC) hence failure.


Etymologically, the term resist comes from a Latin word “RESISTENTIA” from the verb resistere which means hold back in Standard English language. By and large, resist means to refuse to accept something and try to stop it from happening or to fight back when attacked. One can define the term resist as dislike or opposition to a plan, idea.

African resistance means negative reaction against colonialism that involved the use of weapons by African societies. It was the phenomenon whereby Africans became hostile to European encroachment. Before and during colonialism Africans started to resist against Europeans. This is due to the naked fact that colonialism was not accepted in Africa by both hands. Several factors like land alienation, forced labor, etcetera led Africans to resist against colonialism.

Resistances of Africans against Europeans were highly involving Africans, who tended to use poor weapons to resist while opposing colonial rule.


There are two (2) types of resistances and these types are categorized while looking at the size or timing as follows:

      According to size

      There were two (2) categories according to size, small-scale and large-scale resistances.

1.      Small scale resistances

These types of resistances involved one tribe fighting against the colonialists and they basically covered a small area e.g.

  • Hehe Vs. Germans
  • Jaja of Opobo Vs. British
  • Mandinka (under Somare Toure) vs. French.

2.      Large scale resistances

They were types of resistances that involved more than one tribe fighting in unity against colonial rulers.


  • Majimaji war (it involved the Yao, Matumbi, Bena, Sangu, Mbungu, Ngoni, Zaramo, Sangu and Bena and other tribes on the southern part of Tanzania by then Tanganyika who resisted against the Germans)
  • Ndebele and Shona against the British
According to timing

1. Primary resistances

Africans against Europeans fought these resistances at the early stages of colonial rule in Africa before (1885).

2. Secondary resistances

Africans against Europeans fought these resistances during the colonial era (after 1885).

Case studies

E.g. of resistances in Africa involved:

  1. Ndebele and Shona resistance vs. British
  2. Nama and Herero vs. Germans
  3. Somore Toure (Mandinka vs. French)
  4. Jaja of Opobo vs. British
  5. Majimaji war in Tanganyika vs. Germans
  6. Mau Mau Resistances vs. British

Ndebele/Matebele and Shona resistance against the British (in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)

Shona and Ndebele are societies that are found in Southern Rhodesia. The Shona carries its origin in Southern Rhodesia while Ndebele can be traced to further parts of South of Africa.

The origin of Ndebele/Matebele can be deduced to be from South Africa. The Ndebele migrated from South Africa into Southern Rhodesia.

Due to the Mfecane war, Ndebele under Msilikazi started to migrate to north from the southern part of South Africa in 1830s, the war resulted in Shortage of land.

As they reached Southern Rhodesia, they met the Shona. They built relationships with the Shona and in the end; the Ndebele turned Shona into their servants.

The 1880s was a time when Europeans under the B.S.Ec. and several missionaries reached southern Rhodesia. Among the famous missionaries involved was R. Moffat who stayed in southern Rhodesia for not less than 30 years.

Europeans in southern Rhodesia started to collaborate with Shona while being against Ndebele.

During the time of Lobengula, who started to control Southern Rhodesia in 1880s, a position he took over after the death of Msilikazi, he (Lobengula) signed a treaty with B.S.Ec. In this treaty, he was promised to be given:

In the end, Lobengula gained nothing. Hence in 1883-1887 was the time when Ndebele under Lobengula started resisting against the British (up to this time Shona used to collaborate with the British).


The resistance started in 1893, Ndebele against the British while Shona collaborated with the British.

Factors for Ndebele resistance against the British
  1. “Mwari and Mlimo” cult. Africans (Ndebele) believed that the Rinderpest disease (was brought by the British). Hence, they started to fight.
  2. Cultural interference – the British started to help Shona from being punished by Ndebele leaders, before the British rule, Ndebele chiefs were allowed to punish Shona.
  3. Failure of the treaty between Lobengula and the British, the British did not meet the agreement; they did not give Lobengula all that they had promised him.
  4. Land alienation the British under B.S.Ec. started to take land from the Africans for opening their economies hence the alienated Africans started to fight to regain their land.
  5. Introduction of taxes – Africans were forced to pay cash tax an action that Africans were against as a result they started fighting more.
  6. Forced labor with less pay (conscription) – Africans was forced to work on colonial economies, without being paid or with little pay, (hence Africans started to fight).
  7. Harsh treatment/maladministration from the colonial government as coercive forces continued to harass Africans hence Africans resisted against this situation.
  8. Cattle confiscation – Europeans started to take cattle from Ndebele by force hence resulting into resistance. At the end of this war Ndebele were defeated by the British hence, they obeyed the British rule like Shona.


Chimurenga is a word in the Shona language roughly meaning “Revolutionary Struggle” During the resistance between Ndebele and British (1893 – 94) Shona used to collaborate with Europeans.

In 1896, a war erupted that involved Ndebele against the British, during this war, Shona also started to resist against the British, this resistance was called Chimurenga war.

During Chimurenga war, Shona and Ndebele used to fight separately against British that they failed in the resistance:


The factors that led to Chimurenga war were the same as those that led to the Ndebele war against the British (in 1893). Some of these factors were:

  1. British continued to take land from the Africans to open several economic activities, thus alienating Africans.
  2. Africans continued to be forced to work as cheap laborers in colonial projects.
  3. Introduction of taxes, Africans were forced to pay tax in cash hence Ndebele and Shona resisted against this.
  4. Harsh treatment (Africans were treated badly hence they resisted).
  5. Africans decided to resist trying to regain their political power.
  6. Local beliefs (Mwari and Mlimo Cult)

Effects of Chimurenga war

In 1887, both Ndebele and Shona were defeated (therefore, they agreed to be under the British Colonial rule). The resistance had several effects to both as follows:

  1. It led to the destruction of properties to both.
  2. Since Africans’ properties were destroyed, Africans decided to destroy infrastructure built by the British colonialists.
  3. It led to death of both Africans and Europeans even though the death toll for Africans was much higher.
  4. The British colonial masters were forced to change their administration style to reduce resistance from Africans.
  5. The resistance cost a lot; large sums of money were spent by the British to buy weapons and other things needed for the war.
  6. It led to the eruption of hunger for the Africans.
  7. The war ended with the Shona and Ndebele being defeated.
  8. It resulted into the decline of economic activities for both sides, for Africans (Ndebele and Shona) and for the British.
  9. It led to insecurity and lack of peace and harmony.

Failure of Ndebele and Shona on Chimurenga


“Failure of Africans on their resistances against colonial imposition was due to technological backwardness.” Discuss.

Chimurenga war ended with Africans being defeated. The failure of Ndebele and Shona was due to the following factors:

  1. Africans had lower technology levels hence they used poor weapons while Europeans used much better and more powerful weapons.
  2. Africans lacked experience in fighting compared to the Europeans.
  3. Africans had a weak economic base so they failed to resist for a long time.
  4. Disunity among the Africans while at first (1893) Shona collaborated with the British and in 1896 Shona and Ndebele fought separately against British.



The origin of Nama and Herero can be deduced in South West Africa (Namibia). Nama was under the leadership of Hendrick Witbooi and Herero under Samuel Maherero.

Before the intrusion of Europeans in South West Africa Nama and Herero were in good relations.  Starting from 1880s Europeans started to increase in large numbers in South West Africa and they decided to collaborate with Samwel Maherero (leader of the Herero) this action led to the conflict between Nama against Herero societies.

Early 20th Century was a time when conflicts started between Herero against the Germans. Starting from 1904 Nama and Herero started to resist against the German colonial government.


Several factors lead to Nama Herero resistance against Germans as follow:

  1. Germans started to take land from the Africans id est. land alienation, thus alienating Africans while opening their projects.
  2. Africans were forced to work in colonial economic activities while being paid very little. That is forced labor
  3. Europeans introduced taxes in form of cash something that Africans rejected. (This form of cash taxes were different from the forms used in pre – colonial times).
  4. Harsh treatment from the colonial government: the Germans (due to the nature of German administration) treated Africans badly.
  5. Cattle confiscation: German colonial masters started to take cattle from the Africans by force hence it resulted to resistance.
  6. Loss of political power, so Nama and Herero fought trying to regain their power from the German Colonial government.

Effects of Nama – Herero resistance against Germans

 At end of this war (1907) Nama and Herero were defeated (Africans failed to continue fighting). The end of Nama and Herero war against Germans had the following effects:

  1. It led to the destruction of properties for both Europeans and Africans.
  2. It resulted to death of both Africans and Europeans.
  3. It brought hunger and famine for the Africans.
  4. It taught the German colonial masters a lesson, as they changed the way of controlling their colonies (instead of using force they started to use peaceful ways of controlling their colonies).

Failure of Nama and Herero

Nama and Herero were eventually defeated and were under German colonial power. (Nama and Herero were totally defeated). The reasons for this defeat were:

  1. Africans (Nama and Herero) had poor weapons compared to Europeans e.g. of weapons used by Africans were Arrows and spears).
  2. Due to disunity – Africans fought separately (Nama and Herero used to fight against Germans separately).
  3. Africans were less experienced in fighting compared to the Europeans.
  4. Africans (Nama and Herero) had poor economic base thus they could not continue fighting for a long time.


By the 19th century, Germans had defeated many East African Societies such as the coastal states. In 1904, the prophet Kinjeketile Bokero Ngwale aroused at Ngarambe near Rufiji River. Kinjeketile started to mobilize people under the use of local belief; he introduced the use of the magic water in which some traditional medicine powder like had been added, as a weapon in war against the Germans.

By 1905 he mobilized a pilgrimage in Ngarambe he believed that the water could be used to defeat the Germans and turn the German bullets into water. The word Maji comes from the Matumbi vernacular “Mashe” which means water in English Language.

After the pilgrimage, on Monday, 31st July 1905 the war started, Africans on the Southern part of Tanganyika like Matumbi, Ngindo, Lugulu, Ngoni against the Germans (they started by destroying the colonial masters’ cotton plantations).

N: Germans hanged B. Kinjeketile due to treason on 4th August 1905. KINJEKETILE amongst the Matumbi means KIMENIITIKIA in Kiswahili language.


Majimaji resistance was a result of several factors:

  1. Africans were forced to grow cash crops e.g. Cotton in the southern part of Tanganyika.
  2. Introduction of hut tax (being in cash it affected many Africans as a result they decided to resist.
  3. Harsh treatment from the colonial Government e.g. Africans were highly punished by the German colonial government akaris.
  4. Colonial government used coercive forces like police, army, tended to force Africans to work in the colonial plantations (as a result Africans resisted).
  5. Africans were against Arabs, Akidas and the Jumbes who were appointed by colonial government to supervise the colonial economic activities.
  6. Exploitation from the colonial Government e.g. colonial Government tended to export of a lot of natural resources with high value from Africa while importing less value goods.
  7. The hatred of the Jumbes and Akidas who were quite unpopular.
  8. The German askaris slept with the Ngido wives something, which embarrassed the Africans.
  9. The influence of Kinjeketile Ngwale who was charismatic and religious leader who through his intelligence, he mobilized his fellow Tanganyika has to fight against Germans.
  10. Cultural interference by the Germans, the Christian missionaries in particular who set on fire the African’s traditional sacred huts


Majimaji resistance had several effects to both Africans and Europeans. Some of these effects were:

  1. It led to the destruction of properties e.g. Cotton plantations, railways and houses.
  2. Depopulation occurred due to death of several Africans and a few Europeans.
  3. It taught the colonial government a lesson (Germany changed the system of administration (instead of using force, they started to use peaceful ways).
  4. At the end, Africans were totally defeated.

Why the failure of Africans on Majimaji resistance?

Africans failed due to:

  1. Lack of experience in fighting wars compared to Europeans.
  2. Poor weapons compared to the Europeans.
  3. Disunity among the Africans.
  4. False belief in water (can be used as a weapon)
  5. Poor economic base for the Africans meant they could not fight for a long time.
  6. Poor organization amongst Africans.


Mau mau was a secret (or underground) movement of Africans in Kenya. The Kikuyu tribe started to fight secretly. At large Maumau movement had three class struggle being Government (colonial Government) settlers (who were Europeans and Asians) and Africans. To the large extent Maumau, war was a result of the first and second world wars, which led to ex-soldiers who started to organize their fellow Africans to resist against European colonial masters.

Factors for the Mau Mau movement (rebellion) in 1952

Mau Mau movement in Kenya started due to several factors:

  1. Africans were restricted to grow coffee in Kenya highlands thus, they resisted.
  2. Colonial government took land from the Africans giving it to the settlers (this was done through Crown Land Act of 1919). In this Act, land was granted to the Queen of England for 999 years.
  3. Introduction of hut tax, matiti tax, head tax etc to the Africans resulted in the negative response from the Africans (Africans were required to pay tax in cash).
  4. Introduction of forced labor – the colonial government used force to get Africans to work on the settlers’ plantations.
  5. The use of laws and ordinance e.g. Colonial Government introduced Identity Cards for Africans “Kipande” system. The identity card was to show one’s place of occupation.
Effects of Mau Mau resistance

Mau Mau war had several effects to both Africans and Europeans e.g.:

  1. It led to death of many Africans (almost 3,000 people died).
  2. The destruction of properties had a great financial impact to the colonial government. It is estimated that it cost almost £50,000 to restore destroyed property.
  3. It taught a lesson to both Africans and Europeans e.g. Europeans started to change the system of administration.
  4. It led to the destruction of properties to both Africans and Europeans (but Europeans were highly affected).
  5. It affected many settlers while they failed to continue with production due to the shortage of labor and the war itself.
  6. It led to the declaration of the state of emergence in Kenya.
  7. It raised Kenyans’ awareness and consciousness about their freedom and at the end of the day Kenya regained its independence in 1963 under Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
  8. It led to imprisonment and assassination of radical political leaders. For example, Dedan kimath was assassinated while several others imprisoned like Jomo Kenyatta.

The Nandi resistance (1890-1906) by Koitalel Arap Samoei who died on 19th October 1905.


African resisted/ reacted against the imposition of colonial rule because of many reasons these were;

  1. Because colonial rule was an alien (new) foreign to the Africa in a sense that it was imposed to the Africans by the European imperialists therefore Africans did not recognize and accept it.
  2. Colonial rule was undemocratic and illegitimate to the Africans since the Africans did not elect the colonial rulers, Hence Africans decided to react against it so as to get democratic and legitimate government that will fulfill African’s interests.
  3. Colonial rule were too oppressive, harsh and exploitative to the Africans especially the forcing of Africans to work, pay taxes confiscate all African resources like land made Africans not to tolerate rather to fight against colonialist.
  4. Colonialists interfered with African important interests such as land, trade traditional and customs i.e. women circumcision. Hence, Africans decided to react against. Example Mandinka resistance against France.
  5. African did not want to be controlled by the colonialist as a result they wanted to regain their lost sovereignty and their independence where by that time was under the hands of colonialist.
  6. African reacted against colonialist because they were against cash crops production, which they saw that was of no benefit to Africans especially during the colonial economy. This was because Africans were forced to produce cotton, sisal and coffee, which were not easily consumed in Africa due to shortage/ absence of industries. Thus, Africans decided to react against e.g. Maji Maji war against cotton cultivation in Tanganyika.
  7. African reacted against colonial rule because colonialist introduced Christianity, which killed African local beliefs as a result to maintain their beliefs Africans divided to react over European.


As shown in the types of African resistances, it is obvious that the nature and ways of resistances differed in Africa. While some societies had, active resistances other resisted passively or decided to collaborate with the colonial invaders. There are various factors, which explain these differences, such factors include.

  1. The level of development. People who had achieved great developments such as weapons like guns, strong leaders and high production in agriculture and other sectors of the economy were able to stage up stiff active resistances against the colonialists. For example, chief Marere of the Sangu allied with the Germans to defend himself against the strong army of Mkwawa of the Hehe.
  2. Ignorance of some rulers in several societies. Some rulers were ignorant of the white men’s ambitions because they thought that Europeans would be friends who could provide them with security so they collaborated with them but it was too late when they became aware of imperialistic ambitions in their societies.
  3. Presence of Missionaries in many societies led to the rise of collaboration. European missionaries urged their converts to refrain (to stop) from resisting because such actions were signs of backwardness and endangered the souls of those who might fight actively, most of the rulers who had allowed the British to extend colonial rule in Eastern and Northern Uganda.
  4. Individual interests among the leaders, either made them fight actively or conduct collaboration. Those who fought were trying to protect their political positions, because they feared that the white men had planned to overthrow them from leadership posts. Some rulers who were weak could not fight back thus they chose to collaborate with the whites, for example Kahigi of Kihanja of Bukoba in Tanganyika was the weakest leader in Buhaya, so he decided to ally with the Germans.
  5. Outbreak of disease e.g. Render pest reduced cattle, due to that Lenana leader of the Kaputie and Matapata Maasai and Sendeyo, a leader of the Loita Maasai collaborated with the whites.


African collaborated with Europeans because of the following reaons;

  1. Wrong perception, many African chiefs had wrong perceptions about the colonialists that were just visitors who would go back soon to their homes. When they realized that they came to stay they changed the resection e.g. Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda
  2. Existence of missionaries, missionaries’ brainwashed the Africans to accept colonialism through Christian indoctrination and mission the education that softened Africans’ hearts and minds e.g. “Resistance means backwardness”. Hence, such societies collaborated with the whites.
  3. Existence of enmity between two or more local African tribes, e.g. the Sangu and the Bena collaborated with Germans to fight against the Hehe.
  4. Military motives, some African societies collaborated with the Europeans with the motives of acquiring weapons to use them in future. E.g., Menelik II in Ethiopia deliberately collaborated with Italy to acquire weapons.
  5. Source of commerce and trade, some African societies collaborated because they regarded Europeans as the source of commerce and trade by collaborating with them they would become rich e.g. Buganda.
  6. They were weak militarily some of the societies allied with the foreigners because they were incapable to fight against the invaders and they saw that it was fruitless as they were weak militarily.
  7. Natural calamities, some African societies also made alliances with the whites because they had suffered greatly from natural calamities e.g. small pox, jiggers, drought, famine and so forth.


Ethiopia under their leadership of Menelic II managed to wage an active resistance over the Italians. This came into being following the death of John IV in 1889 which Menelic signed the Uccil treaty on May 2, 1889 that made him to be an emperor.

Later Italians became confident over attacking Ethiopia so as to compel (defeat) Menelik. It rule on 1895 in which during the 1896 at the battle (war) of Adowa the Italians were greatly defeated something that made Menelick II becomes most popular leader among the Ethiopians.

In October 1896, the Italians signed the treaty of Uccial that recognized Ethiopia as full sovereign state (independent state).


Ethiopia under Menelik II resisted against Italian rule became of the following:-

Italians expanded their boundaries to the Maghreb as well as the white country of Ethiopia this made the Africans to fight over them. The Italians stopped Menelick II from negotiating the diplomatic exchange of envoys with France and Russia.

This is because the Uccial treaty stipulated that Ethiopia was under the Italian’s protectorate and That Menelik II was not allowed to make any alliance and mediation with the British, France and any other European power.


Ethiopians were not colonized like any other African countries because of the following reasons:

  1. Due to religious beliefs in which the Ethiopians shared single religion which united them against their enemies Christianity.
  2. Ethiopian was lack to have leader who was talented on leadership and organization. In this case leader
  3. Ethiopian had diplomatic relations with Europe since the 18th C from Italy and Portugal she got weapons powers, in the 18th C Ethiopia captured some Briton.
  4. Ethiopia had diplomatic relations with Europe since the 18th C from Italy and Portugal she got weapons with which to resist the Italian invasion victoriously (that helped them to resist the over the Europeans).
  5. Due to under estimation of Ethiopian strength through the treaty of Uccial Ethiopia and Italy agreed that Ethiopia would be under Italian protection and that she treaty, Italy sent troops to punish Ethiopia but it was badly beaten.
  6. Geographically Ethiopia was a mountainous country with deep valley and caves, which eclipsed the resistors from being seen by their enemies, and there for, was able to wage guerrilla warfare.
  7. Ethiopia possessed a very stable, efficient, and well-organized army compared to any other African experience and knowledge in wars this mode them able to defeat against enemies.
  8. Ethiopians had established long a high spirit of national feeling and national unity, thus everybody had a role in defending the country against European rule.
  9. Due to little economic motives and lack of mineral potentials in Ethiopia. This is because Ethiopia had a generally unpleasant climate characterized by long period of drought and most of the soils were rocky or sandy with small fertile ports, again it had no raw – materials like minerals and agricultural products. These made Europeans to remove their interest to colonize the country.

Revision Questions.

  1. Account for the Ethiopia’s successful resistance against colonialism (Necta 2010 Qn. 9
  2. Why Ethiopia was not colonized during the colonial rul


Many African societies did not accept European domination and showed the reactions in different forms of resistances. However, their effort was confronted by severe attacks and defeats from colonial powers. These were mainly as the Europeans were using superior weapons such as the maxim guns and cannons, which were sophisticated while Africans used inferior weapons such as spears, clubs, bows and arrows, which did not match with those of the Europeans.

  1. Europeans used modern war techniques that made them easily attack the Africans. Africans depended on their closed forts, which were the main targets of attacks from the white enemies. For instance, the Germans demolished Mkwawa’s fort at Kalenga in 1894.
  2. Europeans had quicker means of mobility that enabled them to penetrate the heart of Africa such as the Congo forests and other areas easily. For instance, in West Africa colonialists used horses, while along the coast of East Africa Germans used steamboat to attack Abushiri at Pangani.
  3. Europeans had much knowledge of the heart of Africa, strategic areas and the nature of various people of Africa and their location. White missionaries, explorers, conveyed all such information to them and traders who visited Africa earlier thus it became easy for them to defeat Africans.
  4. The Europeans had strong and stable economies that enabled them to fight for a longer period, unlike Africans who were still in the subsistence economic that could not sustain them.
  5. The Europeans had common goals of colonizing Africans in their fights unlike African societies who lacked unity and were sometimes fighting each other or one another. For instance, the Sangu and Bena were attacking the Hehe, while Mangi Rindi attacked Mangi Sina.
  6. Some African societies suffered internal weaknesses on the accounts of slave-raiding activities, disputes and expansionism. A typical example was in Jos Plateau in Nigeria and Southern Tanganyika, where some African societies attacked or raided other societies in order to acquire slaves to sell them to the European traders.
  7. Africans had wrong superstitious beliefs. For example, the people of Southern Tanganyika were made to believe in the idea that water from Ngarambe Pool would change the white man’s bullets into water, ‘Maji Maji’, which was not true. As a result, many people were killed by the German armed forces.
  8. The capture and execution of African leaders demoralized their warriors, thus leading to their defeat. A good example was the capture and execution of Kinjeketile Ngwale on 4th August 1905 and Mpanda of Southern Tanganyika, during the Maji Maji uprising.
  9. Africans were destabilized by natural calamities because of the war; these included famines and infectious diseases such as smallpox and others. Good example of Maasai society suffered from cholera in 1879 to the extent that they failed to fight violently.
  10. Africans lacked good leadership and unity. This occurred, as some of the leaders were reluctant to cooperate with others. Hence, each tribe entered the war on its own. As a result, it was easy for the colonialists to defeat them.
  11. Due to the betrayal from among Africans. This caused the failure of African resistance against colonialists simply because; some Africans betrayed their fellow Africans by deciding to collaborate with the white men against their neighbors this eventually weakened their unity, Good example is Sangu and Bena allied with the Germans to defeated their neighboring Hehe.

Though Africans were defeated by the Europeans, their reaction against colonial invasion was marked as the early nationalist reaction in Africa and made them gain self-respect and were considered to be heroes of Africa.