European Rule In Africa
This paper will provide a critical examination of European Rule in Africa. It will provide a comparative study of the colonial rule in South Africa and in Kenya. Some of the aspects discussed are the impact of the rule on commercial transaction, the presence of settler population and the changes brought to the regions as a result of the rule. The paper will also provide information on how the Africans resisted to rule.
The British colonial rule in Kenya
The British employed various tactics of governance in controlling the African colonies. The main strategy used was the use of agencies such as direct rule, trading companies, they rule by the settlers and lastly a join form of government known as condominium. This form of a joint government was seen in the British colonial rule over the Sudan people and the Egyptians. In Kenya the Imperial British East Africa Company acted as an agency of Britain from the year 1888 up to 1893. Just like the British South Africa Company, the Imperial British Company ruled the African country in a very harsh way mainly because the companies used the system similar to apartheid.
The Africans were subjected to forced labor, various forms of brutalities, and even murder. The companies were mainly interested in making profits through depleting the natural resources in Africa.The European explorers first got interested in knowing what the interior of Africa was like during the 1800s after knowing of the flourishing trade of Africans and European at the costal region. The earliest explorers included the missionaries who aimed at spreading the Christian gospel to Africans thought to be pagans. The missionaries informed the British government about the native tribes and how they can be captured as slaves to meet the high demand of human labor in the Americas and in Asia.
The slavery trade however came to an end in 1834. After this, secular and Christian Europeans began to gain deeper interest in exploring Africa.Britain started its first explorations in South and East Africa then invaded Tunisia and various regions in West Africa. The seventy years of the British colonial rule in Kenya was characterized by punitive economical, political, and social policies. These policies were mainly based on racial discrimination. The policies supported and aimed at alienating large and fertile pieces of land to the white settlers and harsh laws of labor were enacted in order to force Africans to work in the white settler plantations at a very low wages.
These harsh rules began to be rejected by the Africans starting from the early 1920s. Associations such as the Young Kavirondo Association, Young Kikuyu Association, Taiga Hills Association, and many others were formed to articulate the grievances the Africans were undergoing such as racial discrimination, land alienation, low wages, and heavy taxation. Political pressures and activities intensified between 1944 and 1960. The first African national party- Kenya African Union was formed in 1944 and the first African to be elected in the legislative council dominated by the white settlers was appointed. In order to bring out equality and fairness in the country Africans rebelled. The Mau Mau movement was against racial discrimination, land alienation, and lack of political opportunities to the black people. The Governor Sir. Evelyn Barring responded by declaring a state of Emergency (Parker and Rathbone 2007, pp 67).
The French Rule in West Africa
The First Europeans to come into direct contact with Africans in West Africa were the Portuguese traders during the fifteenth centaury AD. By the later period of the Fifteenth century other Europeans like the Dutch, the Spanish, the French, and the British began to establish their existence in various regions of West Africa. The arrival of the various European groups was facilitated by the growth of maritime technologies and capabilities as well as the attractive and flouring trade activities. It was an also a time of great exploration and the desire of religious followers to spread the gospel. The main interest of European in West Africa was gold as a precious commodity and other valuable ones like wax, ivory , peppier, sugar, and man power. The French territories in West Africa include Ivory Coast, French Guinea, Senegal and Sudan, Ivory Coast, Upper Niger, Upper Senegal, and Mali.
The French in 1890 signed treaties with African leaders which gave the French the mandate to take up large tracts of lands which were communally owned by the Africans (Ajayi, and Crowder 1987, pp 56). This can mainly be seen in the case of Sudan and Mali. The French negotiated for the treaties from a position of a powerful military. The superiority of the French in terms of their campaigns and fire weapons enabled them, to expand further to the Niger Valley.The main form of colonial rule practiced by the French is the assimilation rule. This form of governance unlike the British forms of governance encouraged fraternity, freedom, and equality to all those who accepted to adopt French ways such as ways of dressing, language, mannerism and religion.
This is regardless of color or race. The citizens under the French Rule were provided with rights right from the social, economic, and political aspects. Despite of this equality, the African people especially those who were monarchists, catholic, and who were conservatives were not happy with this form of French governance. The people also rejected the assimilation form of governance on the basis that the French viewed their culture to be superior as compared to the African culture. The saw themselves to be civilized as well as their ways. With the mission of France known as the civilisatrice, it then became the mission of the French colonialists to civilize the barbarian people and to turn them into French men through civilizing them.The assimilation form of governance is much better compared to the rule over Africans employed by the British because it gave Africans a chance to becoming equal to the Frenchmen.
However the perception which both the French and the British people had concerning African culture is that their culture had no value and needed to be civilized. The aim of the French was to directly control the entire African population. In the British colonies however, the Britons preferred to use local power holders instead of coming up with a totally new form of administration. The African Chiefs and leaders were for example used to influence the local citizens. Both the assimilation and the direct rule of the European colonizers were aimed at benefiting them and not the local African tribes. In terms of administration, the British indirect rule can be said to be harsher in utilizing means such as imprisonment and forced labor in order for them to establish an economical foothold, to expand and maintain their interest.
Ajayi, J.and Crowder M (1987) History of West Africa. Vol. 2, Second Edition, 1987. Essex: Longman Group UK Limited
Parker J and Rathbone R (2007) African history: a very short introduction
Publisher Oxford University Press pp 67