During the late 19th century, the scramble for Africa had become very intense. European colonies were not only interested in the slave trade but realized the availability of natural resources that could make their countries richer and bring world dominance.
The conquest of Africa took place between the 1820s t0 1911 in the 19th and early 20th century. The Berlin Conference of 1884 that regulated European trade in Africa led to the thirst for absolute control over Africa. By 1914, Liberia and Ethiopia were the only African counties that were not ruled by any European state.
Among all the European countries, the British had the most African states under their rule. They fought several African kingdoms, killing their rulers and weakening their armies in order to take control.
Despite the existence of several weaker kingdoms that gave in to the British Empire easily, other African states gave them a hard time. These African states were ruled by strong and courageous kings who protected their kingdoms for as long as they could. This led the British to exile many of them into Seychelles where they were left to die or live for several years by which time they had successfully taken control over their states.
Here are some African kings who were exiled by the British for refusing to allow their kingdoms to be colonised.
Danieri Basammula-Ekkere Mwanga II Mukasa – King of Buganda, Uganda
Mwanga II Mukasa was king of the Buganda Kingdom and ally of King Chwa II Kabelega of Bunyoro Kingdom. He was the 31st king of the small but strong Kingdom and was King from 1884 until 1897. He became king at the age of 16 in 1884 after the untimely death of his father.
During his reign, he resisted Christian missionaries and British rule and teamed up with his friend, Chwa II Kabalega of Bunyoro. Due to the weakening of his Kingdom, he was forced to sign a treaty with Lord Lugard which gave the British Empire control over trade, administration, justice and revenue.
The British Empire gained absolute control in 1893 after which Mwanga II declared war on the British Empire in 1897 to take back control, but was defeated and fled to German East Africa. From there he planned several attacks on the British.
The first Attack was in 1897 when he was defeated and he fled again. He returned to Buganda in 1898 with an army but was defeated again and finally captured in 1899 by the British.
He was exiled to Seychelles and died in 1903 after a short illness. In 1910, his body was repatriated and he was buried in Uganda.
Sheikh Khalid bin Barghash Al-Busaid of Zanzibar, Tanzania
Sheikh Khalid bin Barghash Al-Busaid was the sixth ruler of Zanzibar known as the Sultan. He was a very influential and powerful ruler of his time and was greatly feared after it was suspected that he killed his only cousin to expand his kingdom.
The British had settled on the island of Zanzibar by the late 19th century and had started to take full control of the lands refusing to acknowledge the kingdom and its ruler. By 1866, the British Empire had created a treaty that stated that the Sultan could not be on the throne without the British permission. Sheik Khalid was greatly insulted by this and it resulted in the Anglo-Zanzibar War of 1886.
During the invasion of his palace by the British, he escaped into German East African and was given political asylum. In 1916 he was captured and sent to Seychelles where he lived for seven years in exile. After he was let out of Seychelles, he was not allowed to return to his home. He lived and died in Mombasa, Kenya in 1927.
King Chwa II – Kabelega of Bunyoro Kingdom, Uganda
Chwa II Kabalega ruled the Bunyoro kingdom from 1870 to 1899. He was a strong and optimistic King who believed that economic and infrastructural development of his Kingdom would benefit generations to come. During his rule, he developed the trading sector which brought in more wealth for the better of the Kingdom. He also resisted colonization, westernization and the attempts of the British to take over his Kingdom.
The British declared war on Bunyoro in 1894 which made Kabalega Chwa II go into hiding in order to plan several attacks on the British. Known as the Nyangire Rebellion, Chwa II successfully defeated the British for five years securing help and protection from Somalia and Nubia.
In 1899, Kabalega Chwa II was found and shot by the British and was captured and exiled into Seychelles where he stayed for 24 years until in 1923 that he was granted freedom to return to his Kingdom. Unfortunately, Kabalega Chwa II died just before reaching the borders of his Kingdom on his return from Seychelles.
King Prempeh I – Asantehene of the Ashanti Kingdom, Ghana
As the thirteenth ruler of the strong Ashanti Kingdom, King Prempeh I was only 16 years old when he took over the throne in 1888 but he’s remembered as one of the fiercest and strong-willed rulers of the Ashanti Empire. He is also the last ruler of the independent Ashanti Kingdom before it went under the rule of the British.
By the 19th century, the British Empire had officially taken over control of Ghana naming it the Gold Coast Colony. Led by Nana Prempeh I, the Ashanti fought the British in order to protect their Kingdom. Nana Prempeh declared that the Ashanti Empire will never be ruled by the British despite it having a good trading system with them. He believed that the British and Ashanti could work together without one being the controller of the other.
For his campaign against British sovereignty, Nana Prempeh I was labelled as a notorious leader. Unfortunately, the Ashanti were defeated by the British in the fourth Anglo–Ashanti war that happened between 1894-1896. The British looted the Ashanti Kingdom and Nana Prempeh together with his mother and other relatives and chiefs were captured and forcefully taken out of their kingdom to live in exile in Seychelles.
In 1901 other leaders including the great Yaa Asantewaa joined him in exile. By 1924, Nana Prempeh, who was one of the few exiled kings to survive was allowed to return to his kingdom and reign until he died in 1931.