Resistance To Colonial Rule

Resistance To Colonial Rule

  • This is basically where African societies or individuals refused to co-operate with the whites in the imposition of colonial rule.
  • Individual resistors included Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda, Omukama Kabalega of Bunyoro, and Laibon Sendeyo of the Maasai e.t.c.
  • Large scale resistances included Maji- Maji rebellion in southern Tanganyika, Abushiri revolt along the coast in Tanganyika, Nandi resistance in Kenya, Mau- Mau in Kenya, and Lamogi revolt in northern Uganda.

Reasons For Resistance

  • African societies wanted to preserve their independence e.g. Bunyoro, Nandi, Hehe.
  • The imposition of colonial rule had interrupted territorial expansion of some societies e.g. Kabalega of Bunyoro crushed with the British because they wanted to check on his ambition of expanding his Kingdom to Toro, Bunyoro, and Ankole e.t.c
  • Colonial economic policies such as forced labor, compulsory growing of cash crops e.g. Maji Maji rebellion was as a result of forced cotton growing by the Germans.
  • Some societies resisted because colonial rule interfered with their economic interests e.g. Arabs and Swahili traders resisted the abolition of Slave trade leading to the Abushiri rebellion.
  • Presence of able leaders also led to rebellion e.g. Kabalega of Bunyoro, Chief Mkwawa  of the Hehe, Prophet Kinjikitile who led Maji Maji, Mau Mau led by General China.
  • Land alienation also led to resistances i.e. Europeans forcefully grabbed African land to introduce the growing of cash crops e.g. Mau Mau in Kenya was as a result of the Kikuyu losing their fertile Kenyan highlands.
  • Heavy taxation also led the rebellions with in East Africa e.g. the British introduced hut and gun tax which left Africans in poverty.
  • The method used to acquire lands also determined the mode of reaction e.g. the British used force in Bunyoro and Lango hence leading to rebellions.
  • Religious propaganda and superstition also led to rebellions e.g. Maji- Maji fighters were miss-led by prophet Kinjikitile while the Nandi were encouraged by Kimnyole’s Prophecies.
  • Other resisted because their neighbours who in most cases were their enemies, had collaborated with whites e.g. Bunyoro could not cooperate with the British because the Baganda had done so.
  • Other resisted because they were sure of their military strength e.g. Kabalega and Mau- Mau militants believed that they were too strong for the Europeans.
  • Some societies resisted cultural and religious imperialism of the colonialists e.g. Arabs and Swahili traders wanted to defend Islam leading to the Abushiri rebellion.
  • Segregation and harsh rules by the Europeans also led to rebellions e.g. in Kenya, all Africans who were to move to urban centers were supposed to carry passes called Kipande (identity card).
  • Some societies resisted as a result of European interference with their Political affairs e.g. Germans had replaced local chiefs with the Akidas and Jumbes leading to Maji Maji revolts.

N.B: Most of resistances in East Africa where suppressed by the Europeans because of the following reasons:

  • False propaganda and superstition didn’t work in favors of Africans e.g. Kinjikitile’s magic water didn’t provide immunity to German bullets.
  • Africans where poorly organized e.g. they didn’t make enough preparation before war and didn’t have military training.
  • Disunity among the various tribes also weakened the Africans e.g. the Chagga and Nyamwezi didn’t join the Hehe rebellion.
  • Some African fighters lacked persistence i.e. they would pull out living fellow Africans to suffer the might of the European forces.
  • Superiority of European forces i.e. Africans depended on traditional weapons like spears, stones and outdated guns compared to Europeans who had modern guns like the Maxim gun.
  • Some societies had been hit by natural calamities e.g. drought, famine, diseases e.t.c and this weakened their armies.
  • Poor military tactics, African always fought in big groups while Europeans fought in troops which made it easy for the Europeans to defeat the Africans.
  • Influence of collaborators: African resistance was weakened by collaborators e.g. Kakungulu who worked for British helped in the capture of Kabalega and Mwanga.
  • The death of able leaders also left a power vacuum like chief Mkwawa of the Hehe was surrounded by German troops and he committed suicide by shooting himself while Chief Orkoiyot Koitale of the Nandi was also murdered in cold blood and this left their people without leadership.