African response to colonial rule.

 African response to colonial rule. African leaders and their societies reacted differently majority in two ways i.e. some collaborated with the Europeans and others resisted the Europeans.

Reasons why Africans resisted the whites in their areas.

  • They wanted to preserve their independence.
  • Some Africans resisted because they felt they were militarily strong.
  • Some resisted because their rival enemies had collaborated i.e. the Fante had collaborated with the British against Asante.
  • The need to protect African cultures and practices led to resistance
  • The need to safeguard their position in trade by the African leaders led to the resistance.
  • The influence of traditional African leaders led to resistance.
  • The Africans in West Africa never wanted to pay heavy taxes imposed by the whites
  • They resisted forced labour imposed by the whites.
  • They wanted to pressure their land against the whites.
  • The influence of some courageous fearless leaders like Samoure Toure.
  • Some states resisted to preserve Islam and looked at Europeans as infidels
  • The harsh Europeans policies were harsh and oppressive i.e. the French system of Assimilation in Senegal
  • Racial segregation practiced by the Europeans in all sectors against the Africans led to resistance.

Reasons why African resistance.

  • Disunity among African states and rulers led to their defeat.
  • Africans were militarily weak i.e. African fighter were not well trained.
  • African economies were weak and poor and could not finance the wars to success.
  • The use of divide and conquer policy led to the defeat of the Africans
  • African civil wars had weakened the African Armies.
  • Effects of slave trade and slavery led to their defeat.
  • The role of chartered companies that had troops, finances led to the defeat of Africans.
  • Missionaries also softened the hearts of the Africans through their teachings.
  • The Europeans had strong arms than the African fighters.
  • Africans had been weakened by famine due to the decline in agriculture to wars.


He was the founder of the Mandika Empire, he was born in around 1830 from a poor and non Moslem family but he later became a Moslem.

How did Samoure Toure build his Mandika Empire?

  • Through conquering the neighbouring states e.g. Humadugu.
  • He used Islam as a tool of unity in the Mandika
  • He built a str4ong army which protected and expanded the empire.
  • He created friendship with the British in Sierra Leone who supplied him with arms against the French.
  • He built his own gunnery which produced his own guns and repaired the old ones.
  • He provided an effective system of administration.
  • He fought tribalism and promoted National loyalty.
  • He used diplomacy and trickery on the Europeans i.e. British and the French.
  • 9: He encouraged trade by removing custom charges on small states.
  • He encouraged education based on Islamic principles even in conquered areas.
  • He had a good spy network against his enemies using Dyula.
  • He imported guns from the coast which he used to equip his army.
  • He created a stable judiciary system using the sharia laws which solved all the conflicts.
  • He promoted agriculture to feed the army and the population.

Why did Samoure Toure conflict with the French from 1891 – 1898

  • He wanted to defend the independence of the Mandika.
  • He wanted to protect Islamic religion since the French were Christians.
  • He wanted to protect the trade which he had defended on for long.
  • He wanted to protect the Mandika culture against the French
  • The French colonial rule was harsh and oppressive hence could not accept them.
  • He wanted to defend the Mandika land against the French.
  • He was annoyed by the French when they blocked the importation of arms into his empire.
  • Toure’s willingness to hand over his empire to the British than the French annoyed them and led to war.
  • Samoure Toure’s invasion of Sisoko which was under the French led to fighting.
  • The French propaganda about the Bisandugu treaty of 1886 that he had officially given them the Mandika Empire.

Why was Samoure Toure defeated by the French?

  • False foreign assistance i.e. by the British, Creoles Tokolor to fight the but later left him alone.
  • The resistance against the whites in some places i.e. Asante Vias Samoure Toure defeated by the French.
  • He lacked the support of African leaders hence fought alone.
  • He lacked powerful weapons like the French i.e. Maxim gun.
  • The arms Embargo by the Europeans into West Africa affected Toure.
  • The co-operation that later developed between the British and the French affected Toure i.e. his retreat to the East was later blocked by the British.
  • Toure lost the gold field which used to give him a lot of revenue.
  • The scotched earth policy used by the French led to Toure’s defeat.
  • Slave trade i.e. selling becomes unpopular and lacked support.
  • The army became weak due to over fighting and movement from one place to another.
  • The period was for colonization and therefore the French were determined to conquer the Mandika
  • The French army was well trained than the ill trained Mandika army.
  • The Mandika Empire was economically poor and could not finance the war to success.
  • The use of divide and conquer policy i.e. the French got the support of the Kongo, Sikaso against Samoure Toure.
  • The French used propaganda i.e. that they wanted to liberate the Mandika from the dictatorship of Samoure Toure which made him lack support.
  • Non- Moslems in his empire supported the French against him. This was because of his hatred of non-Muslims.
  • He had no mountains and forests to hide as the Mandika land was open and flat.

Why was Samoure Toure able to resist the French for so long?

  • He had a strong standing army.
  • His diplomacy and tricking i.e. got the support of the British. His military battles i.e. avoided pitched battles and used small engagements.
  • He used scotched earth policy hence making the British to suffer. He imported guns from free town in Sierra Leone.
  • He had enough food supply to feed the army in the early stage. He had his own gunnery that produced and repaired guns.
  • The Mandika was united during the war.
  • He divided the army into three groups which led to his long resistance.
  • He had a sound income in the early stage i.e. gold hence financed the war.
  • The British failure to support the French and instead supported Toure in the early stages of the war led to his long resistance.
  • Toure’s personality i.e. courageous and good in organization let to his long resistance.
  • Islamic unity among the Mandika the Dyula traders to spy for him among the French.
  • The tropical climate was harsh on the French fighters hence his resistance for long.
  • The Bisanduggu peace treaty enabled him to resist for long as the French now believes that Toure was handing over the empire to them.
  • The vacation method used by Samoure Toure i.e. could evacuate all the people to other areas hence the French could not get army information.

The colonial administrative policies in west Africa.

There are basically two administrative policies used in West i.e. indirect rule used by the British and assimilation policy used by the French.

Indirect rule used by the British.

This was a system of administration where African chiefs were used at the lower levels to implement the policies made by the British administration in their colonies i.e. Nigeria. Ghana etc.

Why did the British use indirect rule system of administration.

  • It was cheap i.e. used African chiefs
  • The British were few in number hence provided manpower.
  • The system had worked successfully in other colonies i.e. India.
  • African chiefs could act as shock absorbers against African resistance.
  • Africans solved the problem of language barrier.
  • Some colonies had similar way of organization as that of the British government hence using indirect rule.
  • The British never wanted to remove the system got in Africa hence respect for African societies.
  • The British believed that colonies were not part of British hence used their chiefs.
  • The system could not cause resistance from the Africans.
  • Africans respected their own chiefs.
  • They were training Africans to become future leaders for self- government.
  • They believed that Africans were barbaric and hated change hence using indirect rule.

How was indirect rule applied in the British Colonies in West Africa?

  • Indirect rule was headed by the British secretary for colonies based in London who was answerable to the British central government.
  • In West Africa, colonies were under the governor general who was in charge of the British federal colonies and protection.
  • Then came the governor who was in charge of a particular colony and was answerable to the governor general and appointed by British colonial government.
  • There were also the provincial commissioners who were British senior officers who headed provinces in the colony.
  • Then came the district commissioners whose role was to oversee the work done by the local appointed chiefs.
  • Then below the district commissioners were African chiefs, elders who were elected by the local people but appointed by, the British.
  • The British made policies which were implemented by African chiefs
  • The local chiefs collected taxes on behalf of the British government.
  • The local chiefs were also allowed solve cases which concerned the local people.
  • The British administrators were not allowed to interfere in the traditional religion of the natives and mostly Islam in northern Nigeria.
  • Even if the chiefs were elected by the traditional leaders, the local chiefs had no powers to remove them
  • The local chiefs had their police force which they used to implement orders.
  • The local chiefs were to pay maximum respect to the senior officers i.e. the British as their masters.

Why did indirect rule succeed in northern Nigeria?

  • It did not interfere with the Islamic religion embraced by everyone in the area.
  • It did not interfere with the local traditional system i.e. worked with the Emirs.
  • It did not interfere with the local courts i.e. Alkali courts were allowed to function to administer the sharia laws.
  • It was cheap to run by the rulers of the area.
  • It promoted peace and order among the people.
  • It succeeded because the Emirs were given authority to collect taxes and some taxes remained with the Emirs to develop the villages which made them happy.
  • The willingness of the Emirs to work with the British led to its success.
  • The British built roads, railways, schools, which made people happy.
  • Lugard limited the activities of Christian missionaries to only non- moslems.
  • The British respected the Boarders hence northern Nigeria was isolated from other nations which could have promoted alliance against the British.
  • Decline in the trans-Saharan trade. Traders were not coming to Nigeria who could have influenced the area to resist the British.

Assimilation policy used by the french.

  • This was a French administrative policy in its colonies in West Africa.
  • It was practiced in the four communes of Senegal i.e. Dakar, Rufisque, Goreel and St. Louis.
  • This policy was based on the principle of creating “a white man in a black skin”. This is because assimilation came from a French word “Assimilar” which meant to cause to resemble.

How assimilation policy worked or applied.

  • There was a minister responsible for French colonies abroad based in France and reported to the French government.
  • In the colonies in West Africa were headed by the Governor General who headed all the colonies based in Dakar.
  • There were also governors who were in charge of a specific colonies and each reported to the governor general.
  • Colonies were divided into provinces under a provincial administrator.
  • The provinces were also sub-divided into districts under French chiefs.
  • At the lowest level were the village cantons under the African chiefs who were loyal, Catholics, could speak French.
  • The system succeeded in four colonies i.e. the four communes of Senegal namely Dakar, Rufisque, Goreel and St. Louis, they exercised the same political rights as the French in France.
  • In administration, there was resemblance or the same arrangement with that of France.
  • The Senegal communes sent their representative to the assembly of France and operated on equal status
  • For one to be accepted by the French had to speak fluent in French, adopt the French culture.
  • The French integrated their economies with those of Senegal & communes.The same official languages i.e. French to be used.

Why assimilation policy failed in West Africa.

  • It failed because of many difficult conditions for one to be assimilated i.e. speak fluent French, catholic etc.
  • The educated Africans preferred their cultures.
  • The Moslems also opposed the catholic religion and monogamy.
  • The French occupied administrative post meant for assimilated Africans i.e. subdivisions and commandant of communes.
  • The governors were dictatorial hence hated.
  • The French failed to develop their communes i.e. roads, railways, schools etc were poor.
  • Assimilation policy failed and was replaced by association policy which was like indirect rule.

The similarities and differences between the British system of indirect rule and the French system of Assimilation.


  • Both looked at colonization as a civilizing mission.
  • Both worked against African traditional cultures and was clearly shown by the British who only allowed African chiefs to work as ‘ puppets and work by consultation.
  • They all fought resistors who were called anti-development
  • Both exploited colonies through forced labour, heavy taxes.
  • Following the failure of Assimilation, the French also adopted association which was like indirect rule.
  • Both systems had centralized government system although that of the French was not so pronounced.
  • Both led to the division of the Africans i.e. collaborators and resistors.
  • In both, education was left in the hands of missionaries.
  • The authority of traditional chiefs was undermined in both as they only took orders.
  • In both native laws were undermined as Europeans favoured their Western laws.
  • Both mistreated the Africans i.e. taxation, forced labour.
  • Both made African traditional chiefs become dependents on European colonial masters.


  • Attitudes towards their colonial people differed i.e. Britain looked at colonies as different from Britain but the French with Assimilation looked at colonies as part of France.
  • The French accepted African representation in the chamber of deputies /parliament but the British did not.
  • Different administrative structure i.e. the British created a decentralized while the French centralized.
  • The British used African methods to get chiefs but the French accepted only those who could speak French, Catholics etc.
  • The British welcomed African elites but the French looked at them as a threat.
  • Religious policies were different i.e. the British opposed missionaries because their work would institution but the French welcomed missionaries.
  • The British respected African culture and asocial way of life but the French did not and. attacked African culture.
  • Assimilation policy was more expensive as compared to indirect rule.

The Rise of Nationalism In West Africa.

  • Nationalism refers to the love for one’s country and the people who fight for the freedom and liberation of their countries are called nationalists, in West Africa, there were various nationalists i.e. Kwame Nkrumah, Nandi Azikiiwe etc.
  • Factors for the rise of Nationalism in West Africa.
  • Growth of Pan African movement among African elites.
  • Effects of World War II i.e. diluted the dignity of the white man.
  • The formation of U.N after world war II
  • Development of elite class of people
  • Return of ex-service men from World War II
  • Harsh colonial labour policies on the Africans
  • Development of political parties i.e. C.C.P of Kwame Nkrumah
  • Low prices of agriculture products which was assign of exploitation”.
  • Land alienation by the whites.
  • Influence of mass Media and News papers
  • Rise of able leaders i.e. Nkrumah Azikiiwe etc.
  • The emergency of super powers like America that supported
  • African liberation.
  • Urbanization brought people together and shared ideas. Interference with African cultures by the whites
  • The granting of independence to Asian countries i.e. India, Pakistan The formation of trade unions as a solution to exploitation of workers.
  • Emergence of co-operative movements
  • Development of common language i.e: Swahili, English etc.
  • The Italo-Ethiopian war of 1935- 1941
  • Unemployment by the former ex-service men
  • The example of the Egyptian revolution of 1952.
  • The formation of OAU which united the Africans together
  • The Chinese communist victory in China in 1949 led to the rise of African nationalism.
  • The role of independent churches after 1945.

The career and contribution of some west african nationalist/ leaders who taught for the independence of their countries.

§  nkwame        nkrumah

§  nnandi       azikiwe

§  felik       houphout          boigny

§ leopold sedar senghor

i.            Dr. Kwame nkrumah

  • Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was born in 1909 and was one of the greatest leaders of black Africa.
    • After his primary and secondary education in Ghana, Nkrumah left for the United States in 1935. After graduation, he lectured at Lincoln University.
    • During his stay in America, he was inspired by the Marcus Garvey’s philosophy of “no other salvation for the Negro but through a free and independent Africa”. With the determination to liberate Africa from colonial rule and unite her.
    • When he went to London in 1945, he got involved in active politics and became vice-president of the West African students Union (W.A.S.U)
    • He was also one of the organizers of the fifth pan African congress of 1945.
    • At the congress, a plan to use mass party organization and positive action to achieve independence of African states was first mooted.
  • Nkrumah’s connection with Ghana’s nationalist movement began in 1947-when he was recalled to become General Secretary of the united gold coast convention (U.G.C.C).
    • After, Nkrumah revealed the radical nature of his leadership which alienated him from the moderate (U.G.C.C)
    • In Sept, 1948, founded the “Accra evening news” as the official mouth piece of the nationalist movement..
    • Nkrumah also founded a committee of youth organization in the whole of Gold coast
    • On June 12th 1949, Nkrumah founded the convention people party (C.PP) after breaking away from (U.G.C.C)
    • The economic grievances against the colonial government and the discontent among the ex- service men relied the people behind the C.P.P
    • In 1952, there were wide spread riots due to the government order to cut down cocoa trees, high prices for goods, unemployment among X- service men etc. increased peoples discontent.
    • Six leaders were imprisoned and these included Dangual and Nkrumah. This action reused international concern.
    • The C.P.P in an attempt to take more positive action and force the change in political wind organized strikes and boycotts.
    • Due to disturbances, Nkrumah was a gain imprisoned but his dynamism and oratory had won him many supporters.
    • Even in prison, he was able to secure 34 of the 38 contested seats in the general elections of February 1857.
    • Nkrumah was released from prison to form government.


  • He was born at Zungera in Northern Nigeria in 1904 from the Ibo parentage.
  • After his education in mission schools in Onitsha, Lagos and Calabar, he worked as a government clerk in the treasury from 1921-25
    • Azikuwe left for higher education in the USA and studied in Lincoln University and Harvard University and after graduation,
    • He lectures political science at Lincoln University and at the same time took a post graduate degree at Columbia University and the University for Pennsylvania.
    • He was influenced by his experience of colour discrimination, cruelty and by the Negro nationalists which reached its peak in the Garvey movement.
    • He also realized the immense power of Newspapers as an effective organ and studied journalism.
    • In 1937, he returned to West Africa determined to fight for the liberation of Africa from colonial rule and his Motto was that “man’s inhumanity to man must end”.
    • In 1937, he established the “West African pilot in Lagos. He later established a chain of other Newspapers and gave a new impetus to West African nationalism.
    • With his powerful and militant press, he spread the gospel of equality of all races.
    • Nandi also highlighted the injustices of colonialism and urged Africans to struggle for their rights.
    • He was the founder of the national council of Nigerian citizen (N.C.N.C) which was Nigeria’s nationwide mass political party.
    • Indeed he was in the vanguard of the nationalist movement from 1944 till the attainment of independence in 1960.
    • Under his leadership, the N.C.N. Campaigned vigorously against the defective Richard’s constitution.
  • He supported the general worker strike in 1945, which enable him to win popularity.
    • He believed in the United Nigeria and fought vigorously in 1950’s against separatist tendencies of the action group and the North people’s congress.
    • As a strong supporter of unitary system of government for Nigeria, he reluctantly conceded the federation system of government for Nigeria; he reluctantly conceded the federation “¦’stem as the alternative for disintegration.
    • Azikiwe’s leadership of the nationalist movement had its problems

i.e. His central legislative in the western house of assembly because of the Yoruba dominated action group.

  • But at the end Azikuwe triumphed over his trials and lived to see a united and free Nigeria.
    • Nandi became the first governor general of the federation of Nigeria from 1960- 63 and first president of the republic of Nigeria (1963-66)


  • Houphouet- Boigny was a son of a Baoule planter.
    • He was born in 1905 at Yamousokono in Ivory Coast.
    • Boigny was educated at Bigerville and the Baker medical school where he qualified as a medical assistant in 1940.
    • In opposition to the humiliation and suffering with forced labour and racial discrimination by the European settlers, Boigny founded the Sydicate Agricole Africa” (S.A.A) which was a sort of farmers union in 1944.
    • The S.A.A became an effective instrument against forced labour and racial segregation by the Europeans in Ivory Coast.
    • As if that was not enough, Boiny formed the “Parti democratic e de cote d’ivoire
  • But the story of houphouet’s real political life began in November 1945 and June 1946 when he was elected to represent the ivory coast and upper volta in the post war French constitute which drafted the Ivory coast and Upper Volta in the post war French constitute which drafted by their referendum, the second came out with less liberal proposals for the colonies.
    • Dissatisfied, the African deputies met in October at Bamako to form a political party to press for more progress proposals. The Bamako meeting gave birth to the R.D.A with the Boigny as its first President, a post constantly won until the achievement of independence by the Freed West African territories.
    • But the draft constitute which drafted the constitution for the fourth republic. With less liberal proposals for the colonies.
    • In November 1946, Boigny was elected representative of Ivory Cost to the French National Assembly.
    • His anti- colonial turn of mind drove him ally the R.D.A with the French communist party. But this earned the party the strong wrath” of the colonial administration, which was determined to suppress it.
    • Finding the alliance difficult and R.D.A military rather self-de structive in the face of the colonial government, Houphouet changed a strategy.
    • In 1951, he divorced the communist party and began collaboration with the colonial administration, by 1956; he had succeeded to rebuild the shattered R.D.A which won nine seats in the French national assembly that year.
    • In November 1956 he became Mayor of Adidjan. In recognition of his party the R.D.A and of his own personal influences, he was made a minister in the French cabinet, office he held up to 1959.
  • Also houphouet played a leading role in the framing of the loicadre which marked the first major step towards decolonization of French West Africa.
    • He was a strong believer in the autonomy for separate French territories. This policy caused a split between him and the supporters of federation i.e. Sakou toure of Guinea and Modibo Keita of Mali.
    • But in the end his policy also facilitated the winning of independence on august 7th 1960. He became the first President.


  • Leopold Sedar Senghor was born of a rich Sierer family at Joal outside the communes in October 1906.
    • Senghor was born in a family which remained strongly catholic in a predominantly modern community.
    • Leophold received his primary education in a catholic school. . Later he attended the Lycee in Dakar and then in Paris where he won such a distinction as a scholar that he became the first African professor in Lycee.
    • Songhor taught in several Lycee in Frence until the outbreak of World War IJ
    • His career as a nationalist leader in French West Africa began in 1945 when together with lamine Gaeye enamor Senegalese were elected deputies for Senegal in the first and second constituent assemblies which framed the constitution of the fourth republic.
    • Under that capacity, he influenced greatly the constitutional reforms which resulted.
    • For instance, born outside the communes, in a place where people suffered from the disabilities of subjects’ status, he fought very hard for the extension of French citizenship to all people.
  • Senghor also was very vocal against forced labour and advocated for its abolition.
    • These objectives were achieved in 1946.
    • Declining to team up with the communist allied R.D.A, he formed his own. The territorial party, the Bloc Democratique Senegalais (B.D.S) in October 1948.
    • Again rejecting affiliation to any metropolitan party, he with most of the non R.D.A deputies in Paris formed the “independents d’Qutre- mar (I.O.M) which was a move towards independence.
    • Senghor, with I.O.M leaders opposed the Loi cadre which tended to balkanize the region by granting limited self-government on territorial basis.
    • When the R.D.A led by Houphouet-Bigny refused to compromise its stand on selfrule on territorial basic, Senghor in 1958 formed in part de Re-groupment African (P.R.A) as an alliance of all parties supporting an independent federation of states.
    • When he realized that France was inclined to territory rather than federal selfgovernment, he modified his former stand by leading Senegal to vote “yes” in De Gaulle’ referendum of 1958.
    • With such strategy he believed that the new dispesion could eventually result in independence for unified federation.
    • But when his hope appeared to be frustrated, he with the leaders of Sudan launched the Mali federation of Senegal and Sudan in March 1959.
  • In 1960, the Mali federation demanded full independence with the French community with complete autonomy for each republic and in June the federation achieved independence.