The complexity of Africans’ political relationships among others influenced the nature of their resistance to colonial rule. As they resisted European invasions, they confronted both European and African soldiers. … The power was European, but the face of it on the local level was often African.
It also neglects the colonial-era power dynamic of which African societies and institutions were essential components.
After the Berlin Conference of 1884– 85, at which the most capable European nations settled upon rules for making a case for specific African domains, the British, French, Germans, Italians, Spanish, Belgians, and Portuguese set about formally actualizing procedures for the long haul occupation and control of Africa. The success had started decades sooner—and on account of Angola and South Africa, hundreds of years sooner. Be that as it may, after the Berlin Conference it turned out to be more methodical and unmistakable.
The success of the European conquest and the nature of African resistance must be seen in light of Western Europe’s long history of colonial rule and economic exploitation around the world. In fact, by 1885 Western Europeans had mastered the art of divide, conquer, and rule, honing their skills over four hundred years of imperialism and exploitation in the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific. In addition, the centuries of extremely violent, protracted warfare among themselves, combined with the technological advances of the Industrial Revolution, produced unmatched military might. When, rather late in the period of European colonial expansion, Europeans turned to Africa to satisfy their greed for resources, prestige, and empire, they quickly worked their way into African societies to gain allies and proxies, and to co-opt the conquered kings and chiefs, all to further their exploits. Consequently, the African responses to this process, particularly the ways in which they resisted it, were complex.
Adding to the complexity was the fact that rapid European imperial expansion in Africa did not necessarily change relationships among African communities. Those in conflict with one another tended to remain in conflict, despite the impending threat from the French, British, Germans, and other powers. There was, moreover, no broadly accepted African identity to unite around during this period. The strongest identities were communal and, to a lesser extent, religious, which begins to explain the presence of African participants in European conquests of other African societies. During the second half of the nineteenth century, for example, in what is now Ghana, conflict between the Fante and Asante, which predated British designs on the kingdom of Asante, motivated the Fante to join the British against the Asante, who at the time seemed to be their greatest threat.
It was possible to resist colonial rule through collaboration with the colonizers in one instance and in the next to resist European authority. It was also possible to limit European political control through some form of collaboration with European generals or colonial administrators. This is all to suggest that Africans evaluated their circumstances, assessed possible actions and consequences, to make rational responses. Some form of resistance, moreover, remained constant during the period of formal European political dominance. Ethiopia stands alone, however, as the one African society to successfully defend itself against an invading European army and remain free of direct European political domination.
Menelik II, emperor of Ethiopia, led his army to accomplish this unique feat in March 1896, defeating General Oreste Baratieri’s Italian army and its Eritrean allies at the Battle of Adwa. Like Menelik II, Samory Touré, who created a large Mandinka empire in West Africa between the 1860s and the 1890s, was an inspiring political and military leader, but in the French he faced a far more capable, tenacious, and experienced adversary than Menelik had in the Italians. Samory’s legacy remains controversial, yet he is a significant example of pragmatic resistance for the ways in which he contended with French aggression. He manufactured firearms, relocated his kingdom, and engaged in diplomacy with both the French and the British.
Yet as he conquered African territory and engaged in conflicts with African competitors, the French pushed deeper into the West African interior from Senegal, under the direction of Louis Faidherbe and his Senegalese Tirailleurs—a corps of African soldiers—and the British pushed northward through Sierra Leone and the Gold Coast with a large contingent of Hausa soldiers.
Each time the French assaulted his domain or the exchange courses and goldfields at the core of his economy, he mounted a progression of effective counterattacks, until the point when he was caught by the French, biting the dust in a state of banishment in 1900.Ethiopia’s history and political structure encouraged an expansive based, brought together military reaction to the Italian attack.
Ethiopians revived around Menelik II and took pride in the kingdom’s brilliant history. In the vicinity of 1832 and 1842 in Algeria, Islam turned into another wellspring of solidarity, as Abd al-Qadir drove his protection against the French.