. 2
( 12)


were restored by Muhammad Ali to the authority of his overlord.
The Opening up of Africa: (1) From the North-East 37

The Ottoman garrison ports of Suakin and Massawa, on the African
side of the Red Sea, remained under Ottoman control until the end
of the viceroy™s reign when, in 1846, they were leased by the sultan
to Egypt. Only in 1865 were the towns permanently annexed to the
Egyptian Sudan.
Nevertheless, Muhammad Ali™s early operations in the Red Sea
area brought about a complete revival of the pilgrimage and an even
more striking revival of trade. The Red Sea route began to be used by
the British for rapid communications with India; Jidda, the Ottoman
port in the Hijaz, became temporarily the most important commer-
cial town between Bombay and Cairo. This, in turn, revived all the
local trade routes running inland on the African side of the Red Sea,
especially those to the Ethiopian highlands. From this region, the
most highly valued female slaves were sent to the Hijaz, where they
were bought as concubines by the more prosperous class of pilgrims.
Also in great demand in the Hijaz and elsewhere in the Muslim world
was the musk obtained from the glands of the civet-cat, which was
the speciality of the Sidama kingdoms. There was a similar revival
in the gold trade from Innarya in the south-western highlands, and
also in the splendid coffee grown all over the highlands region. The
political recovery of the Ethiopian state (in the northern provinces
of Tigre and Amhara) and of its powerful daughter state of Shoa “
which began in earnest in the 1830s and 1840s “ was made possible
largely through the revenue from this commercial revival. The in-
creased trade enabled the rulers of these states to start re-equipping
their soldiers with ¬rearms in place of spears.

The Egyptian Conquest of the Sudan
From the Red Sea, Muhammad Ali turned his eyes in 1820 towards
the Sudan. The Arabian campaigns had been costly in troops, and
he hoped to secure an inexhaustible supply of Negro slave recruits
for his armies in the southern Sudan. The Funj sultanate was inca-
pable of offering any resistance. It had already lost control of all the
northern part of the Sudan; Dongola was in the hands of a group of
Mamluk refugees who had escaped from Muhammad Ali™s clutches
in Egypt. With only 4,000 well-armed men, Muhammad Ali™s son
Ismail was able to make steady progress up the Nile, overcoming the
38 Africa since 1800

5. North-East Africa: Egyptian expansion.
The Opening up of Africa: (1) From the North-East 39

Mamluks at Dongola and entering the Funj capital at Sennar unop-
posed in June 1821. The Funj sultan was deposed, and he and his
family received an Egyptian pension. There was one brief uprising
in 1822, in which Ismail lost his life. After this had been suppressed,
the Egyptian colonial capital was founded in 1824 at Khartoum, at
the junction of the White and Blue Niles, and the Sudan remained
under Egyptian rule until the Mahdi™s rebellion of 1881“4.
The economic bene¬ts which Muhammad Ali™s reign conferred
upon Egypt and the Red Sea coasts did not generally extend to the
Sudan. Attempts made by the Egyptian administration to widen the
range of agricultural production, such as the settlement of Egyptian
peasants in the Gezira around Sennar, were not very successful. The
Arabic-speaking groups living in the Nile valley in the north were
regularly taxed by the government, and some of them became quite
prosperous through their involvement in the considerable shipping
traf¬c that developed on the river; others became even more wealthy
by partaking in the slave and ivory trades in the southern Sudan.
The nomadic tribes in the deserts to the east and west of the river
supplied the large numbers of camels and other domestic animals
which, after slaves and ivory, formed the main exports of the Sudan.
All the serious efforts of the Egyptian government were concentrated,
however, on the region to the south of Khartoum. ˜You are aware™,
Muhammad Ali wrote to his treasurer in 1825, ˜that the end of all
our effort and of this expense is to procure negroes. Please show
zeal in carrying out our wishes in this capital matter.™ Every year, the
Khartoum government dispatched military expeditions southwards
to Dar Fung and westwards to Kordofan and the Nuba mountains
on of¬cial slave raids, which returned with as many as 5,000 cap-
tives each. For a time, the Shilluk with their centralised kingdom on
the White Nile above Fashoda made an effective limit to the Egyp-
tians™ southward penetration. But Muhammad Ali, hoping for the
discovery of gold, was always urging his governors to press farther
south. In 1838, he even visited the Sudan himself to encourage these
efforts. From 1839 to 1841, one of his Turkish sea captains, called
Salim, broke through the opposition of the Shilluk in a series of ex-
peditions up the White Nile. He proved the river to be navigable for
1,600 km (900 miles) south of Khartoum, as far as Gondokoro in the
land of the Bari near the modern Sudan“Uganda frontier. The dream
40 Africa since 1800

of gold did not come true. In its place appeared the reality of nearly
a million square miles of elephant country, the human inhabitants
of which were still ignorant of the value of ivory. From then on, the
penetration of the traders developed quickly, with European ¬rms
based on Khartoum in the forefront. Through their consuls, these
¬rms resisted the attempt by the Egyptian government to set up a
monopoly over the ivory trade.
At ¬rst, the forces at the disposal of the traders and of the lo-
cal inhabitants were fairly evenly balanced. The traders with their
armed sailing-boats were superior so long as they kept to the river,
but on land the local people had the advantage. While these condi-
tions lasted, the exchange of goods, though unequal in value, was
peaceful enough. There came a time, however, when few elephants
could be shot near the riverbanks and when the local demand for
beads and cheap trinkets was satis¬ed. To obtain ivory, it now be-
came necessary to leave the riverbanks and to try to ¬nd trade goods
which would arouse the interest of the peoples of the backcoun-
try, who were even less sophisticated than the groups alongside the
rivers. The traders responded to the new conditions by bringing up
bands of armed Arab followers, recruited mainly from the Nile valley
north of Khartoum. They placed these men in forti¬ed encampments
called zeribas spread over the whole backcountry of the White Nile
and the Bahr al-Ghazal. There was little surplus food available for
them, and they were often forced to raid the villages in order to
feed themselves. The local people “ mostly Nilotic pastoralists with
the simplest material needs “ wanted only cattle and more cattle.
Armed raiding parties as a result scoured the countryside for cattle,
and exchanged them (often with the people from whom they had
been captured) for ivory and slaves. Petherick, the British Consul in
Khartoum, described the situation in 1863:

Instead of the introduction of more valuable and civilising merchandise, such
as cutlery, or cloth for wearing apparel, as articles for barter “ when the value of
glass and copper ornaments began to decline and lose their charm “ the traders
disgraced themselves by descending to enrich themselves by the plunder and
destruction of tribe after tribe.1

J. Petherick, Travels in Central Africa, and Explorations of the White Nile Tributaries, 1869 (Lon-
don, 1869), vol. I, p. 229.
The Opening up of Africa: (1) From the North-East 41

By the late 1860s, the zeriba system had spread all over the vast terri-
tory of the Nile“Congo watershed, embracing not only the south-west
of the modern Sudan Republic, but also the southern half of Chad
and most of the Central African Republic. One single warlord trader,
al-Zubeir Rahman Mansur, who set out from Khartoum in 1856, was
by a decade later employing 1,000 armed men, and exporting some
1,800 slaves each year as well as an unmeasured quantity of ivory, us-
ing a route through Kordofan which bypassed all the control points
in the upper Nile valley. In 1873, the Egyptian government recog-
nised his position by appointing him governor of the Bahr-el-Ghazal
province, and supplying him with a small garrison of regular troops
in return for a tribute in ivory worth about £15,000 a year. In 1874,
Zubeir invaded the kingdom of Darfur, killing the sultan and gaining
control of the caravan routes across the desert to both Egypt and

Muhammad Ali and the European Powers

By the 1820s, Muhammad Ali had made himself far stronger than
his overlord, the Ottoman sultan. He realised the importance of sea
power in the military forces of the European states and, at great ex-
pense built an Egyptian navy in the Mediterranean. In 1821, the ¬rst
major revolt broke out in the Ottoman empire, when the Greeks rose
to claim their independence. The sultan was not strong enough to
suppress the revolt, and called upon Muhammad Ali to help him.
Egyptian forces rapidly overwhelmed the rebels on the island of
Crete and, in 1824, a great military expedition under the viceroy™s
eldest son, Ibrahim Pasha, set out for Greece from Alexandria. So
successful was Ibrahim in the Morea (the southern part of Greece)
that it seemed that the Greek revolt was doomed. At this point, Russia
threatened to intervene on the side of the Greek Christians. To pre-
vent this, a joint French and British naval force was sent to Greece in
an attempt to enforce an armistice between the rebels and the Egyp-
tian army. Almost by accident, hostilities broke out and, at the battle
of Navarino Bay in 1827, the Egyptian ¬‚eet was destroyed. The fol-
lowing year, Ibrahim Pasha had to evacuate his troops from the
Morea, and Greece became independent.
42 Africa since 1800

This was the ¬rst serious reverse suffered by Muhammad Ali, and
he naturally wanted recompense from the sultan for the costly Greek
campaigns. The sultan went back on a promise to make him pasha
(governor) of Palestine and Syria; so, in 1831, Ibrahim™s army took
over these provinces from direct Ottoman control. By now, the sultan
was thoroughly alarmed at the power of his overmighty subject but
could do nothing to curb it. In 1833, Muhammad Ali was of¬cially
recognised as governor of Syria and Palestine. A further attempt by
the Ottomans in 1839 to drive him out of these provinces ended in the
defeat of the sultan™s forces by Ibrahim Pasha; the Egyptian forces
seemed ready to march to Istanbul and dictate terms to a new sultan,
who was only a young boy. Again, the European powers intervened.
Britain was committed to uphold the ramshackle Ottoman empire
and, in 1840, in concert with other European countries and in spite
of French support for Muhammad Ali, forced him to withdraw from
Syria. Yet, he obtained one solid gain “ the viceroyalty of Egypt was
made hereditary in his family and, with this his authority over the
Sudan was tacitly recognised by the sultan.
To meet the shortage of recruits for the army after his Arabian and
Sudanese campaigns, and because of the failure of his plan to ob-
tain Negro slave soldiers, Muhammad Ali took in 1822 the new step
of forcing into his army as conscripts the Egyptian fellahin (Arabic:
peasants). Since the Arab conquests of the seventh century, all sol-
diers in Egypt had been foreigners. Now, native Egyptians began to
be recruited into the ranks and, later in the century, they were even
trained as of¬cers. This was to have a potent effect on the growth
of nationalism in Egypt. Muhammad Ali also imported European “
mostly French “ military advisers and instructors to establish army
medical, artillery, and engineering schools. One result of this was
that European textbooks were translated into Turkish and Arabic,
and some of the cleverest young Egyptian of¬cers learned French
and became familiar with western political as well as military ideas.
In this period, when European countries had a near monopoly of
the manufacture of modern weapons, Muhammad Ali was depen-
dent on Europe for arms and military equipment. These were very
expensive, and one factor in the tremendous drive toward economic
and administrative reforms in Egypt, which characterised much of
his reign and for which he is above all remembered, was the need to
The Opening up of Africa: (1) From the North-East 43

obtain money to pay for armaments. Muhammad Ali and his min-
isters were seriously concerned to modernise Egypt for the bene¬t
of its people, who had long been living under oppressive conditions.
The amount of land under irrigation was greatly increased. Cotton
and sugar were introduced as economic crops, and grain cultivation
was expanded. The old Mamluk land-owning aristocracy was largely
replaced by the family and favourites of the viceroy. This did not put
an end to corruption and exploitation, but it helped to spread new
ideas. Muhammad Ali is justly considered by Egyptians and many
other historians to be the founder of modern Egypt. The main fail-
ing of Muhammad Ali™s government was that all power remained
so closely concentrated in his own hands. Weaker and less capable
successors were unable to control the machine he had created.

The Khedive Ismail (1863“1879)

Muhammad Ali died in 1849 and was followed as viceroy by undis-
tinguished successors “ the brilliant Ibrahim Pasha had died the year
before. Abbas I (1849“54), Muhammad Ali™s conservative grandson,
was hostile to European ideas, and his son Muhammad Said (1854“
63), the uncle of Abbas, a rather weak man, was by contrast too
much under the in¬‚uence of European favourites. During his reign,
in 1859, the construction of the Suez Canal was begun. A new chap-
ter, however, opened both for Egypt and for North-East Africa as a
whole with the accession of another of Muhammad Ali™s grandsons,
Ismail. Ismail had grand ideas that were enlightened, but were not
backed by good judgement or by any sense of ¬nancial prudence. At
home, Ismail lived the luxurious life of a mighty sovereign, and he
was given the old Persian title of khedive by the Ottoman sultan. His
public policies were undertaken in the same spirit, and were no doubt
modelled upon the reforming drive of his grandfather. Egypt should
be projected at one bound into the world of railways, telegraphs, fac-
tories, schools, and town-planning. The Suez Canal, which Muham-
mad Ali had consistently refused to sanction “ rightly foreseeing that
it would place Egypt at the mercy of the much more powerful navies
of the nations of Europe “ was completed by Ismail (in 1869). A ¬‚eet
of steamships was ordered, which were to ply between the Mediter-
ranean and the Red Sea ports. In the year of Ismail™s accession, the
44 Africa since 1800

British explorers Speke and Grant passed through Cairo with the tale
of the rich interlacustrine kingdoms at the head of the White Nile,
and at once Ismail™s imagination responded. He would pass round
the Nile cataracts with a railway, and he would place steamers on the
White Nile and the equatorial lakes. All the ivory ¬‚owing eastwards
to Zanzibar would be diverted northwards to Cairo. In 1869, he com-
missioned Baker, the explorer of Lake Albert, at the huge salary of
£10,000 a year, to put this immense scheme into effect. In four years,
Baker achieved little in a practical way other than the assembling of
some steamers on the White Nile, but the record of his travels in
the southern Sudan and northern Uganda showed that the penetra-
tion of this whole region by the traders from Khartoum was proving
as destructive as the activities of Zubeir and his colleagues in the
Bahr el-Ghazal. By the 1870s, the ˜Khartoumers™ had reached as far
south as Bunyoro and Buganda, becoming deeply involved in the
succession struggles of Bunyoro, where rival traders supported rival
candidates in exchange for handsome gifts of ivory. In 1873, Baker
was succeeded by Charles Gordon, who insisted that the grand de-
sign could only work if Ismail occupied a base on the east coast of
Africa. He noted in his diary on 21 January 1875:

I have proposed to the Khedive to send 150 men in a steamer to Mombaz Bay,
250 miles north of Zanzibar, and there to establish a station, and then to push
towards M™tesa. If I can do that, I shall make my base at Mombaz, and give up
Khartum and the bother of steamers, etc. The centre of Africa would be much
more effectually opened out, as the only valuable parts of the country are the
highlands near M™tesa, while south of Khartum is wretched marsh. I hope the
Khedive will do it.2

Ismail agreed, and later the same year sent another expensive expe-
dition, this time to Kismayu at the mouth of the Juba River. This
expedition, however, was recalled as the result of British pressure
exercised on behalf of the sultan of Zanzibar. At the same time,
Ismail™s forces occupied Zeila in the Gulf of Aden and Harar inland,
but attacks on Tigre from Massawa resulted in heavy defeats at the
hands of the Ethiopian emperor, John.
Although Ismail™s scheme for making Egypt the head of a great
African empire collapsed, in many respects Egypt greatly bene¬ted

General Gordon in Central Africa, 1874“79, ed. G. B. Hill (London, 1881), pp. 65“6.
The Opening up of Africa: (1) From the North-East 45

from the reign of the magni¬cent khedive. A considerable network
of communications “ railways, telegraphs, urban amenities “ was
built up, including of course the Suez Canal. Muhammad Ali had
done much to modernise Egypt, but it was only in Ismail™s time that
the urban centres at least “ Cairo, Alexandria, and the Canal towns “
achieved a distinctively modern aspect. But because Egypt was so
dependent on European capital for the implementation of these de-
velopment policies, the khedive was forced to borrow money at ex-
orbitant rates of interest. Already in 1875, he was forced to sell his
own shares in the Suez Canal in order to meet his most pressing
debts. By 1879, the Egyptian treasury was bankrupt, and later the
same year Ismail himself was deposed by the sultan at the sugges-
tion of the European powers. A committee representing the Euro-
pean countries to whom Egypt owed money took over the direction
of the Egyptian ¬nances. European ¬nancial experts took seats in
the cabinet of Ismail™s son and successor, Taw¬q.
The economy measures introduced by Taw¬q™s European advisers
hit the army of¬cers hard, amongst other classes of Egyptians. Many
were put on half-pay, and a group of them, led by Colonel Urabi
Pasha, rebelled in 1881 and set up military control over the khe-
dive™s government. They threatened to repudiate the national debt.
This military revolution led at last to the direct intervention of the
European powers. Britain and France planned to act together to re-
store the weak authority of Taw¬q and to protect European ¬nancial
interests. In the end, France was prevented from taking part by an in-
ternal political crisis and by events in Tunisia and Indo“China. Thus,
Britain invaded Egypt alone in 1882, and defeated the forces of Urabi
Pasha at the battle of Tell al-Kabir. Britain™s occupation of Egypt was
to be a major factor in the partition of Africa that followed.

The Sudan and the Mahdiyya (1881“1898)
Only a year before the British occupation of Egypt, the Sudan re-
volted against its Egyptian government. This was not a movement
originating in the Negro south of the Sudan, where Egyptian rule had
been most oppressive. The core of the rebels came rather from the
nomadic groups to the west of the Nile, especially the Baqqara “
Arabic-speaking cattle-owning people of Kordofan and the Nuba
46 Africa since 1800

mountains. The nomads were the ¬rst to rally to the standard of
revolt. They resented the Egyptian government™s attempts to tax and
to control them more than did the settled agriculturists of the Nile
valley north and south of Khartoum. These riverain Arabs, descen-
dants of the old population of the Funj kingdom, tended to sit on the
fence, waiting until it was clear that the Mahdi was successful be-
fore joining him. Economically, their grievance was that the Egyptian
government in the early days had conscripted many of their slaves
on whose labour they had depended for their livelihood. More re-
cently, since the reign of Ismail, the government had prevented the
importation of more slaves from the south, and had kept even the
ivory trade in its own hands. Religious grievances were also impor-
tant. The Egyptians had increasingly brought into the Sudan their
own Muslim teachers and religious dignitaries, whereas Sudanese
Islam had its own strongly established shaikhs (holy men) and reli-
gious brotherhoods, who resented the newcomers and their different
ways. Ismail™s appointment of Gordon, a Christian deeply commit-
ted to the antislavery campaign, as governor“general of the whole
Sudan, upset the local Muslims still further. The nomads, at least,
were ready to follow a religious leader who promised to overthrow
Egyptian rule, which in their eyes was impious and heretical as well
as being at times harsh.
Such a religious leader appeared in the person of Muhammad
Ahmad, who was born in 1844, the son of a boat-builder near Khar-
toum. After an intensely religious upbringing, he became a teacher
and was granted the title of shaikh. In 1881, he proclaimed himself
the mahdi, the Saviour of the Muslims, who would reestablish Islam
in its primitive purity. At ¬rst, the British authorities in Egypt took
little notice of what seemed to be a local religious movement. When,
after the capture of El Obeid by the Mahdi™s Baqqara horsemen in
1883, they realised its seriousness, it was already too late to restrain
it except by a major military expedition far beyond the means of
the bankrupt Egyptian state. The British government had at this
time no wish to extend its responsibilities in Egypt and, therefore,
decided that the reconquest must wait until Egypt™s own ¬nances
were suf¬ciently restored to undertake it. Meanwhile, it was clear
that the Mahdi had the enthusiastic support of most sections of the
Muslim Sudanese. Khartoum fell to him in 1885, and Gordon, who
The Opening up of Africa: (1) From the North-East 47

had been sent to evacuate the garrison, was killed in the ¬ghting. The
Mahdi himself died shortly after the capture of Khartoum and was
succeeded by his general, Abdallahi, who was known as the khalifa
(Arabic: successor). Abdallahi established a strong secular admin-
istration in place of the Mahdi™s dream of a society that would be
organised on a religious basis similar to the Muslim state in the ear-
liest days of Islam.
The Khalifa™s rule lasted for thirteen years. It might have lasted
longer if the European powers had not by then been partitioning
Africa among themselves. As it was, the government of the Mahdiyya
in the Sudan continued until almost the end of the nineteenth cen-
tury. The reconquest of the Sudan by Anglo“Egyptian forces was
almost the closing episode of the partition. It was one of the few
cases in which a government that was still carrying out most of its
functions had to be defeated and overthrown by an invading army
in order to make way for colonial rule.

The Reuni¬cation of Ethiopia (1855“1889)
Perhaps the most remarkable development in the whole of Africa
during the later nineteenth century was the reuni¬cation and devel-
opment of Ethiopia into a state which could not merely survive the
partition of Africa but even in a sense take part in it. As we have seen,
the opportunity for this revival had been created by the reopening
of the Ethiopian region to external trade during the second quar-
ter of the century. This enabled the more enterprising local rulers
to build up their power by buying ¬rearms. So far, there was noth-
ing essentially different from what was happening in all the more
powerful native states of tropical Africa. In Ethiopia, however, there
was, in addition, the memory of a great state which had existed in
the past. The ancient Christian Church still existed as a single na-
tional organisation in Tigre, Amhara, and Shoa and the other almost
completely independent provinces of the old empire. It acted as a
unifying in¬‚uence. It marked off the Christian core of the country
in the highlands from the Muslim states to the north and east and
from the Oromo homelands and Oromo-ruled states to the south
and south-west, which were rapidly becoming Islamised during the
early nineteenth century. Because of the education provided by the
48 Africa since 1800

6. North-East Africa: Ethiopian expansion and the Mahdiyya.
The Opening up of Africa: (1) From the North-East 49

Church, there was still a small class of literate and sophisticated peo-
ple. This educated class had some idea of how to enter into diplo-
matic relations with the outside world and how to give foreigners the
impression of a civilised power. All these factors were waiting to be
used by a national leader as soon as one arose. The ¬rst to do so was
Ras Kassa, a successful robber chief from the north-western frontier,
who in 1855 managed to have himself crowned as emperor by the
leaders of the Church at the ancient capital of Axum in Tigre. Ras
Kassa took the name of Theodore. Two consuls from the British For-
eign Of¬ce visited Theodore soon after his coronation and captured
their impressions of him in their of¬cial report:

King Theodorus is of a striking countenance, peculiarly polite and engaging
when pleased, and mostly displaying great tact and delicacy. He is persuaded
that he is destined to restore the glories of the Ethiopian Empire, and to achieve
great conquests. Indefatigable in business, he takes little repose night or day; his
ideas and language are clear and precise; hesitation is not known to him, and he
has neither counsellors nor go-betweens. He is fond of splendour and receives
in state even on a campaign. He regards nothing with pleasure and desires but
munitions of war for his soldiers.3

Though fanatically pious and utterly ruthless, Theodore undoubtedly
believed that it was his mission to revive the Ethiopian nation, and
in the twelve years after 1855, he did much to achieve this ambition.
He was, however, already subject to ¬ts of madness when his career
was cut short by a British military expedition, sent in 1867 to protest
against the maltreatment by him of two British envoys. Surrounded
by the British forces in his fortress at Magdala, he eventually shot
His successor as emperor, John IV, fought his way to the throne
with arms obtained from the British, who had encouraged him
as a rival to Theodore. In the 1870s, the main external enemy of
the empire of Ethiopia, which was still more a collection of semi-
independent provinces than a uni¬ed kingdom, was Egypt. The ex-
pansionist policies of the Khedive Ismail, directed towards the Red
Sea and Somali coasts, threatened to revive the previous long iso-
lation of the Christian lands in the interior mountains. As we have
seen, Egypt took over control of Suakin and Massawa in 1865 from

Walter C. Plowden, Travels in Abyssinia and the Galla Country (London, 1868), pp. 455“6.
50 Africa since 1800

the Ottoman sultan, and occupied much of Eritrea. In 1875, Ismail
extended an Egyptian protection over the Muslim rulers of Zeila
and Harar and launched an Egyptian attack upon Ethiopia from
both the north and the east. The Emperor John was successful in
halting the Egyptian invasion, but the continued Egyptian occupa-
tion of the more important Red Sea and Somali ports severely cur-
tailed the supply of arms and other goods to Ethiopia. This weakened
John in his con¬‚icts with Menelik, the powerful young ruler of Shoa,
with whom he had to contend for the title of emperor. Shoa, which
lies to the south of Tigre and Amhara, had suffered greatly from
the Oromo encroachments of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries.
The two rulers of Shoa before Menelik had been engaged during
the previous ¬fty years on a course of rearmament and expansion
similar to that undertaken by Theodore. In 1878, John had to make
terms by which Menelik married his daughter and was recognised as
his successor. Even so, concealed hostility and competition contin-
ued between the two until John™s death in battle against the Khalifa
Abdallahi in 1889, when Menelik at last became emperor. In the early
years of his rule over the state established by the Mahdi, Abdallahi
had attempted to extend his control over all the Sudanese lands for-
merly occupied by the Egyptians. This inevitably brought him into
con¬‚ict with Ethiopia, which resulted in the ful¬lment of Menelik™s
In a long reign which lasted until 1913, Menelik completed the
process begun by Theodore. He united the provinces of Tigre and
Amhara with Shoa, and extended Ethiopian rule over the Muslim
and animist states to the south. He fully understood the importance
of modern weapons; long before he became emperor, he bought arms
and ammunition from every available source, especially from the
Italians. They were replaced by the French (who operated from their
Somali coast possession of Obok) in the 1880s as the principal ex-
ternal in¬‚uence in Ethiopia. Italian consuls from Aden had made
arrangements with Menelik in 1878“9 and, after the establishment
of a colony at the port of Assab in 1882, Italian envoys were in regu-
lar attendance at Menelik™s court. As we shall see (Chapter 10), this
Italian presence in Ethiopia led to the Wichale Treaty of 1889. Yet, it
was the Italians whom Menelik defeated in their attempted invasion
of Ethiopia from their possessions in Eritrea, at the decisive battle
The Opening up of Africa: (1) From the North-East 51

of Adowa in 1896. To obtain money for his weapons, Menelik, like
all his contemporary rulers in North-East Africa and in the inter-
lacustrine lands, relied mainly on the pro¬ts of ivory, for which he
raided deep into the lands of the animist peoples to the south-west
and south-east of Shoa. He extended his political control behind the
raiding armies. Ethiopian expansion at the expense of the Somali of
Harar and the Ogaden was a factor in the last great southward mi-
gration of the Somali peoples. By the turn of the century, they were
spilling over into the dry northern province of Kenya.
Long before direct European intervention in East and North-East
Africa, the Muslim and Christian rulers of the more powerful and
wealthy states in Africa itself were using ¬rearms obtained from
Europe to extend their trade with the peoples of the interior. They
followed up these commercial activities with an extension of their
political control. Egyptian expansion in the Sudan and Shoan expan-
sion in the lands to the south and east of the Ethiopian highlands
are examples of this process in North-East Africa. The Swahili Arab
penetration of East Africa, based on the sultanate of Zanzibar, offers
another example (see Chapter 8). Only the Ethiopian rulers, how-
ever, were skillful enough to use the advantages of contact with the
outside world while avoiding the ¬nancial and diplomatic entangle-
ments which could lead to European intervention.
FOUR. The Opening up of Africa:
(2) From the Maghrib

North-West Africa and the European Powers (1800“1830)

We have seen that at the beginning of the nineteenth century, North
Africa west of Egypt consisted of four Muslim states. Three of them “
Tripoli, Tunis, and Algiers “ were nominally dependencies of the
Ottoman empire. The fourth “ Morocco “ was an independent king-
dom. Although all of them traded extensively with western Europe,
their religious and cultural connections “ as well as a great part of
their trade “ lay with the eastern Mediterranean on the one hand and
with the Muslim states of the western Sudan on the other. All four
Maghrib countries regularly imported Sudanese slaves for their own
use as soldiers and servants, wives and concubines. In addition, all
of them, but especially Tripoli, acted as entrepots for the re-export of
slaves to Egypt and Syria, Turkey and the Balkans. During the ¬rst
third of the nineteenth century, this basic pattern changed very lit-
tle. Thereafter, the growing power of western Europe made itself felt
in a variety of ways which, in the long term, introduced important
changes in the lives of the people of North-West Africa. First, there
was the British campaign against the slave trade, waged both in the
Mediterranean and in the Atlantic. Next, there was the Greek war
of independence (1820“9), fought with the support of the Christian
powers. The success of the Greeks drove Muslim rule, and with it the
institution of slavery, from a Christian country and provided an ex-
ample later to be followed by the other Balkan states. Finally, with the
invention of the steamship and the consequent growth in the power

The Opening up of Africa: (2) From the Maghrib 53

and mobility of European navies, there came the concentration of
the nations of western Europe on the Mediterranean Sea. For Britain
and France, the Mediterranean was a route to the rich lands of India
and the East Indies. It was also the outlet (through the narrow strait
of Istanbul) for the Russian ¬‚eet in the Black Sea. It was to prevent
the establishment of Russia as a Mediterranean power that Britain
intervened against Muhammad Ali, in Greece in 1827 and in Syria in
1840. As was to be expected from its geographical position, France™s
interest in the Mediterranean was more regional and less global than
that of Britain. France was concerned with its commercial activities
in the Levant and North Africa and, indeed, welcomed the growth of
a strong, friendly North African power based upon Egypt. In 1829,
not long before the French attack on Algiers, the French government
encouraged Muhammad Ali to think of including the Maghrib in his
sphere of in¬‚uence. Thus, governments in France, in Spain, and later
in Italy were interested in North Africa both for its value as a counter
in the Great Power game played by the European states and for its
economic and commercial possibilities.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, however, there was lit-
tle awareness in the Maghrib countries that Christian Europe would
prove the main threat to their continued independent existence. Cer-
tainly, there was no idea among them of presenting a united front
to European advances. In Tripoli, for example, the hereditary pasha,
Yusuf Karamanli, who ruled the country from 1795 until 1830, had
begun his reign by aiding the British against the French in Egypt, and
thereafter enjoyed British support in maintaining his freedom from
Ottoman control. This freedom he used to extend his authority over
the Fezzan, the semi-desert country to the south of Tripoli, through
which ran the caravan routes to the central Sudan. By 1811, Yusuf
was master of the Fezzan and, by 1818, he had established treaty re-
lations with the rulers of Bornu and Sokoto, the two most important
states of northern Nigeria. Tripoli supplied Bornu with arms and am-
munition for its annual campaigns against the peoples of Mandara
and Bagirmi on its southern borders, and received a greatly increased
supply of slaves in exchange. Despite friendly relations with Britain,
the city of Tripoli became at this time the largest slave-market of the
Mediterranean. Of the 10,000 slaves brought annually across the
Sahara, more than half passed through Tripoli or else through
7. North-West Africa, 1800“1881.
The Opening up of Africa: (2) From the Maghrib 55

Bengazi, the port of Cyrenaica. Naturally enough, all the main jour-
neys of exploration to the central Sudan by European travellers, in-
cluding those of Clapperton, Barth, and Nachtigal, used this line of
approach, and owed most of their security to the pashas of Tripoli,
who provided them with escorts and introductions to the rulers of
lands to the south.
The rulers of Tunis, like those of Tripoli, based their country™s
almost complete independence from the Ottoman sultan on their
friendship with Britain. Algiers, in contrast, was linked more closely
with France. During the wars which the Revolutionary government
of France and the French emperor Napoleon fought with most of
the other European powers between 1792 and 1815, Algiers had
supplied grain to the French forces, including those which had at-
tacked Egypt. A large war-debt to the government of the dey of Algiers
had been incurred by France during these years. After the defeat of
Napoleon in 1815, the new French government refused to pay this
debt. This poisoned relations between the two countries and led to
the French invasion of Algeria in 1830.
Alone among the North African countries, Morocco did not have
the Ottoman sultan as a nominal master against whom it was nec-
essary to seek an ally. Morocco, therefore, reacted to the increased
European activity in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic by seek-
ing to cut itself off from the outside world. Sultan Mawlai Sulaiman
(1792“1832) forbade his subjects to leave the country and restricted
their dealings with Christians to a minimum. The European consuls
and merchants were con¬ned to the ports of Tangier and Mogador.
The efforts of the British consuls to interest the sultans in antislav-
ery measures met with blank refusals even to consider the matter. In
1841, Sulaiman™s successor, Abd ar-Rahman, declared ¬rmly that he
would not forbid a practice which had been sanctioned by the laws
of every sect and nation ˜from the times of the sons of Adam up to
this day™.
The vital element in the lives of the great majority of the people
of the Maghrib, however, was not that of their relations with distant
European powers, but rather the vibrant social and religious commu-
nity provided by Islam. It was Islam, in its many forms, which linked
the Maghrib to sub-Saharan Africa, as well as to the Arab lands to
56 Africa since 1800

the east. The Tijaniyya brotherhood, which had been founded on the
northern edge of the Sahara (see Chapter 1), was highly successful in
propagating its ideas and institutions throughout the Sudanic region
of West Africa, and this was only the largest of several orders. The
saintly marabouts were often key ¬gures in the social structures of
the Maghrib, and the fame of the most saintly extended over vast ar-
eas. Moroccan marabouts, for example, were venerated as far a¬eld
as the Nilotic Sudan. Muslim education was a further bond between
Mediterranean and sub-Saharan Africa, with the celebrated and an-
cient universities of Cairo, Kairouan, and Fez drawing students from
African lands to the south of the desert as well as from the Middle
East. Although marabouts, brotherhoods, and university mosques
transcended the vague frontiers of states, they played a key role in
political affairs, both local and national. Drawing all these strands
together was the pilgrimage to Mecca, which gathered people from
all over the Muslim lands of northern Africa to share the arduous
journey and the religious experience. It was into one corner of this
in many ways self-contained world that the French rudely thrust
when they invaded Algeria.

The French in Algeria (1830“1879)
The French invasion of Algeria was one of the most unprincipled and
ill-considered acts of policy in the whole of the nineteenth century.
It was undertaken for no positive reason at all, but for the purely
negative one of diverting the attention of the French people, by a
spectacular military success abroad, from their resentment of the
misgovernment of the kings Louis XVIII and Charles X. It did not
even succeed in this objective, for within a few months of the attack
on Algiers, Charles X had been overthrown by a popular revolution.
But the French stayed in Algiers.
The excuse for the attack was a ¬t of anger by the dey of Algiers,
Husain, who in 1827, in the course of one of the endless discussions
about the war-debt, struck the French consul in the face with his ¬‚y-
whisk. Three years later, the French government, announcing that it
would put an end to the piracy of the Algerian corsairs, landed troops
and defeated Husain™s forces. Algiers and Oran fell almost at once,
and Bone, the port of eastern Algeria, fell in 1832. There remained
The Opening up of Africa: (2) From the Maghrib 57

for the French the far more dif¬cult task of ruling what they had
Like all previous conquerors of Algeria, the French imagined that
they would be able to con¬ne their occupation to the coastal plain.
Indeed, the inhabitants of the coastal towns and those social group-
ings which had traditionally made up the makhzan (Arabic: allies)
of the dey proved friendly to the French and anxious to accept their
protection. The reason was simply that the French were able to ex-
ploit the age-old rivalry between the townsfolk and the peasants of
the coastal region on the one hand and the men of the hills and
mountains on the other. The leader of the hill-folk was Abd al-Qadir,
the son of a famous marabout of the Atlas region, who in 1832 de-
clared a great jihad against the French (and against the makhzan),

We have assumed this important charge [the of¬ce of amir, commander] hoping
that it may be the means of uniting the great body of Muslims and preventing
dissensions among them, of affording general security to all dwellers in the land
and of driving back the enemy who had invaded our country with a view to
placing his yoke upon our necks.1

With great skill and tact, Abd al-Qadir held together the quarrel-
some tribes of western and central Algeria, organised an adminis-
tration similar to that of the old Ottoman government, and built up
a standing army with which he in¬‚icted a number of defeats upon
the French. His jihad made it impossible for the French to limit
their occupation to the coastal plain: like all other conquerors of
North Africa, they were drawn, whether they liked it or not, into the
In 1841, General Bugeaud began the systematic conquest of Abd
al-Qadir™s territory. District after district was occupied by French mil-
itary posts and patrolled by ¬‚ying columns of mounted soldiers. This
was no longer a war of armies which, while ¬ghting one another,
could spare the civilian population. These small campaigns were
brutal. One of the sons of the French king, serving with the French
army, wrote, ˜Our soldiers returning from the expedition were them-
selves ashamed. About 18,000 trees had been cut down; houses had

Cited in Col. Churchill, The Life of Abd el Kader (London, 1867), p. 28.
58 Africa since 1800

been burnt; women, children and old men had been killed.™ Similar
ferocity was shown by the Arabs toward French soldiers and civilians
whenever the chance occurred. Resistance continued long after the
capture of Abd al-Qadir himself in 1847, and great bitterness seeped
into the relations between conquerors and conquered.
In these circumstances, the settlement of French colonists, of
whom there were by 1847 about 100,000, could not be a peaceful
process. Bugeaud saw that the newcomers would have to be set-
tled in concentrated areas, where they could be protected by the
army. This meant the clearance (French: refoulement) of the more
fertile regions in the coastal plains and movement of the former in-
habitants into remoter, less fertile, and already inhabited districts.
This policy was carried out by force, and the ¬ghting in Algeria
continued until the 1870s. Once conquered, the Muslim areas were
administered by a form of indirect rule. French of¬cials governed
the people through their territorial chiefs and councils. The sys-
tem had much in common with the old Ottoman administration.
While the deys had maintained their government with a force of
15,000 men, the French required 100,000, and in the interior re-
gions military government gave way to civil administration only in
1879. Even then, Kabylia and other mountain districts remained un-
The colonists, who in 1880 numbered some 350,000, did little to
bring prosperity to Algeria. Nearly all of them were poor people. Most
of those who settled on the land were small wine-growers from the
south of France whose vineyards had been attacked by disease. In
the towns, most of the settlers were not even French, but Spaniards,
Italians, and Maltese from overcrowded homelands, who came to
seek paid employment and to engage in petty trade. As time went on,
even the French agricultural settlers tended to drift into the towns,
leaving the land which had been so expensively cleared for them to
fall into the hands of a few wealthy individuals and companies who
built up great estates. Unlike colonists in other parts of the world,
the French settlers in Algeria, especially the wealthy ones, were able
to keep close touch with their homeland across the Mediterranean.
They came to have an in¬‚uence on French politics out of all propor-
tion to their numbers or real importance.
The Opening up of Africa: (2) From the Maghrib 59

Morocco (1830“1894)
Morocco was much affected by the French occupation of Algeria.
Abd al-Qadir™s resistance was conducted mainly from western Alge-
ria, and Sultan Abd ar-Rahman (1822“59) supported him with arms
and, on occasion, provided him with refuge in Morocco. This brought
French action against him in 1845, when Moroccan forces, ¬ghting
a European enemy for the ¬rst time since the sixteenth century, were
badly defeated at the battle on the river Isly. Fortunately for Morocco,
the French were too busy with Algerian affairs to follow up their
victory. In 1859, Morocco also became involved with Spain, which
claimed that the ports of Ceuta and Melilla on the northern coast,
which it had held since the sixteenth century, were being constantly
raided by the sultan™s subjects. A Spanish army invaded Morocco and
in¬‚icted a series of defeats on the sultan™s forces. The war was ended
in 1860 by the Treaty of Tetuan, under which Morocco promised to
pay Spain a huge indemnity. This indemnity opened Morocco to fur-
ther European interference. To pay it, the sultan had to raise a loan
in London on the security of the Moroccan customs and to accept
control over them by foreign commissioners.
Within Morocco, the government had the dif¬cult task of uphold-
ing the sultan™s authority against the religious movements of the
marabouts and the hostility of the nomadic groups. Traditionally,
the country was divided into the bilad al-makhzan (the friendly coun-
try), which paid taxes into the sultan™s treasury, and the bilad as-siba
(the unfriendly country), where the government could exert its in¬‚u-
ence only by threats and bribes. The relative size of these two areas
depended very much on the personality of each particular sultan.
Mawlai al-Hasan (1873“94), the last great sultan before the French
occupation, was continually on campaign reducing the area of the
unfriendly country. For the ¬rst time since the seventeenth century,
the sultan™s authority was carried into the High Atlas region and
also deep into the Sahara in northern Mauritania. Mawlai al-Hasan
was thus trying to make certain that no ungoverned groups existed
which could cause frontier incidents of the kind which had led to
the Spanish war. The fact that Morocco was able to keep its inde-
pendence until 1912 is a tribute to Mawlai al-Hasan™s enterprise and
60 Africa since 1800

Tripoli under Ottoman Rule (1835“1911): The Sanusiyya

After the death of Yusuf Karamanli in 1830, two parties contended
for the of¬ce of pasha, one supported by the British, the other by the
French. After several years of confusion, during which the bedouin
of the Fezzan broke away from the control of any authority in
Tripoli, the Ottoman government decided to reassert its authority
over Tripoli, to counter Muhammad Ali™s power in Egypt and the
French presence in Algeria. In 1835, an Ottoman governor arrived
in Tripoli and declared the Karamanli dynasty deposed. By 1842, this
government had subdued most of the coastal tribes, but it could not
control the Fezzan. The trans-Saharan trade suffered gravely, both
from these events and from the wars which broke out around the
frontiers of Bornu after the death of the ruler in 1837. During the
1830s and 1840s, the central Sahara was so disturbed that traf¬c on
the routes from Bornu and Wadai was restricted to a single annual
caravan on each main route.
Peace returned to the central Sahara with the rise of another
Muslim brotherhood, that of the Sanusi. The founder of the order,
Muhammad al-Sanusi, was born in Algeria about 1790 and studied in
religious schools in Morocco before making the pilgrimage to Mecca.
He established his ¬rst zawiya (Arabic: religious centre) among the
bedouin of Cyrenaica in 1843. His simple teaching of a return to the
original practices of Islam, and his considerable tact and diplomacy,
appealed to the feuding tribesmen and held them together in a way in
which neither the Karamanlis nor the Ottomans had been able to do.
The order spread rapidly into the Sahara and the western Sudan, and
its popularity was still increasing when Muhammad al-Mahdi (not
to be confused with the Mahdi of the Egyptian Sudan) succeeded his
father as shaikh in 1859. Zawiyas of the Sanusi order were set up all
over Cyrenaica, the Fezzan, Wadai, Kanem-Bornu, and as far west
as Timbuktu. The followers of al-Sanusi were closely connected with
trade, and paid regular dues out of their trading pro¬ts which went
to enrich the zawiyas. These became the centres not only of religious
propaganda, but also of agricultural and commercial development.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the route from Benghazi
to Wadai had been the least busy of the trans-Saharan routes.
After the establishment of the Sanusi movement in Cyrenaica and
The Opening up of Africa: (2) From the Maghrib 61

in Wadai, at both ends of it, it became the most important. The
Ottoman governors of Tripoli were forced to acknowledge the au-
thority of the leaders (ikhwan) of the order over the desert peoples
and to keep on good terms with them, since they controlled the trade
on which the prosperity of Tripoli and Benghazi depended. As a re-
sult of British pressure at Istanbul, the Ottoman government abol-
ished the trade in slaves throughout the empire (except the Hijaz) in
1857. In Tripoli and Cyrenaica, this law could not be enforced against
the determination of the Sanusi traders to continue their opera-
tions. In this region, the trans-Saharan slave trade survived until the
French occupation of Niger and Chad and the Italian occupation of
Cyrenaica, at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The Regency of Tunis (1830“1881)
All through the nineteenth century, the beylikat (regency) of Tunis
was the most progressive and westernised of the Maghrib states.
As early as 1819, the bey outlawed piracy. The beys were also the
¬rst Muslim rulers to abolish slavery and the ¬rst to adopt a con-
stitutional form of government. The economy of Tunisia was var-
ied enough to withstand the effects of the abolition of privateering
and slavery. The plains of northern Tunisia provided rich harvests
of grain and fruit, while Tunis and the other coastal cities produced
many manufactured goods, such as cloth, leather goods, and metal-
ware. The political situation, however, was by no means so secure,
especially after the French invasion of Algeria and the restoration
of Ottoman authority in Tripoli. The Tunisian government felt itself
in a trap between two sources of likely attack and turned to Britain
for protection. In 1837, after the French occupation of Constantine,
the Algerian fortress city near the Tunisian border, the British gov-
ernment promised to support the beys not only against France but
also against the Ottoman sultan. It was this reliance on Britain that
led Ahmad Bey to abolish slavery in a series of decrees issued be-
tween 1841 and 1846. The bey™s government had suf¬cient authority
to enforce these laws throughout the country.
The constitutional decrees of 1857 and 1861 were passed, at the
suggestion of the French and British consuls, in order to satisfy the
ambitions of the wealthy, well-educated Tunisian middle class and
62 Africa since 1800

of the in¬‚uential French and Italian trading communities. The con-
stitution granted equality of all men before the law and guaranteed
freedom of trade. It also set up nominated councils to advise the
bey. In practice, the common people were not much helped by this
constitution, which gave political power to the wealthy few. The gov-
ernment largely ignored the constitution, and it soon fell into disuse.
However, the memory of it survived, and when nationalist political
parties emerged in Tunisia during the twentieth century, they took
the name Destour (Arabic: constitution).
During the 1860s and 1870s, British in¬‚uence in Tunisia declined
in relation to that of France, which was determined that no other
European country should occupy a position of strength on the bor-
ders of Algeria. After a prolonged diplomatic and commercial strug-
gle with Italy, which was by the 1870s united and was beginning to
show interest in North Africa, France decided to take strong action.
A dispute between the bey™s government and a French trading com-
pany, and the incursions of Tunisian hill-tribes across the Algerian
frontier, provided the necessary excuse. In 1881, French forces cap-
tured Bizerta and Tunis. The bey was forced to sign a treaty allowing
France to occupy Tunisia and to take charge of its ¬nances and for-
eign affairs. Unlike the dey of Algiers ¬fty years earlier, the bey and
his government continued to function under French supervision.
The French occupation of Tunis, as much as the British occupation
of Egypt which occurred in the following year, was one of the open-
ing moves in the partition of Africa among the European powers. It
was in fact the result of an informal agreement made in 1877 among
Britain, France, and Russia, by which each of these powers was to
˜take one bite at the Ottoman cherry™ with the tacit support of the
others. Britain™s bite was Cyprus, which was ceded to it under pres-
sure by the Ottoman government in 1878. Russia™s bite consisted
of three formerly Ottoman provinces in the Caucasus mountains.
Though viewed by Britain and Russia as a Mediterranean and Mid-
dle Eastern agreement, the French were conscious of its African im-
plications. In occupying Tunis, they were not merely protecting the
borders of Algeria, but were extending a French North Africa which
was ultimately to connect with the area of French conquests on the
Senegal and the Niger.
FIVE. West Africa before the Colonial
Period, 1800--1875

The Fulbe Jihads

Although the nineteenth century was to see great changes in sub-
Saharan West Africa resulting from the gradual abolition of the At-
lantic slave trade and its replacement by other forms of commerce,
such changes came about only very slowly and, for a long time,
affected only a small part of the region. In general, the ¬rst half
of the nineteenth century witnessed mainly a continuation of the
eighteenth-century pattern, with the slave trade actually increasing
in volume, and with events in the interior being moulded more by
in¬‚uences emanating from the Islamic world to the north than by
seaborne contacts with Europe and America. At the beginning of
the century, the most signi¬cant events in the region were the holy
wars or jihads of the Fulbe people scattered across the savanna belt
from the Senegal River to the Cameroun highlands. These events
had nothing to do with direct European intervention in the region,
yet they affected the whole of the western and central Sudan.
As we mentioned in Chapter 1, these jihads had their origin in the
revival of Islam in the western Sudan, which was brought about by
the Arabic-speaking Moors who came into Mauritania from across
the Sahara in the ¬fteenth and sixteenth centuries. This was not a
once-for-all impact, but rather a continuing impulse toward religious
reform, which renewed itself in every generation. The leaders of such
revivals retired from the hustle and bustle of politics and trade, and
went to live in remote places. They trained small bands of devoted

64 Africa since 1800

disciples in the study of both the Islamic scriptures and legal tradi-
tions and in their own methods of prayer and devotion. The disciples
were formed into brotherhoods (tariqa) called after the name of the
founding teacher (for example, the Tijaniyya brotherhood named af-
ter Ahmad Tijani, who lived in southern Algeria at the end of the eigh-
teenth century). The eighteenth-century jihads waged in Futa Toro
and Futa Jallon were organised by Fulbe teachers, most of whom
belonged to the ancient brotherhood called the Qadiriyya. Usuman
dan Fodio, the leader of the nineteenth-century jihad in northern
Nigeria and Niger, was a member of this brotherhood.
Usuman dan Fodio was born into the Torodbe clan in 1754, in
Gobir, the northernmost of the Hausa states. He studied under a fa-
mous teacher at Agades, the capital of the Tuareg state of A¨r in the
Sahara north of his home. Here, he came in touch with the reformist
ideas then stirring throughout the Muslim world. These were a part
of the reaction of Islam as a whole to the advance of the Christian
West. It had begun in Arabia with the Wahhabi movement in the
eighteenth century, and led to the reform of old brotherhoods like
the Qadiriyya and to the foundation of new ones. Typical of these
new brotherhoods were the Tijaniyya, which became particularly
powerful in the western Sudan, and the Sanusiyya in Cyrenaica and
the eastern Sahara. There was, of course, no European menace on
the spot to react to in West Africa at this time. However, it does
seem that, along with the desire to reform the practice of Islam in
the Sudan, the religious leaders did have the sense of a threat to
the Islamic world in general from expanding European Christen-
dom. Early European explorers of the Sahara region, for example,
encountered Muslim teachers who asked them why the British had
conquered India (which had a large number of Muslims amongst its
This, then, was dan Fodio™s background when he returned from
Agades to become tutor to the son and heir of the Hausa sarki (ruler)
of Gobir. In this position, he gained a considerable in¬‚uence in the
councils of the state, which he used to spread his zeal for religious
reform. In 1802, dan Fodio™s pupil Yunfa became sarki on the death
of his father. Yunfa proved a bitter disappointment to his former tu-
tor, who now retreated from the court to his native village, where he
was soon joined by members of the reforming party. These became
West Africa before the Colonial Period, 1800--1875 65

so numerous that Yunfa threatened him with military action. Dan
Fodio, pointing to the historical parallel of the Prophet Muhammad™s
¬‚ight (hijra) from Mecca, then retired to the remote district of Gudu
(21 February 1804). At Gudu, his supporters rallied round him in
such numbers that he found himself at the head of a formidable
army of warriors (Arabic: mujahidun, from ˜jihad™), all burning with
religious fervour and intent on jihad. Dan Fodio was unanimously
proclaimed Amir al-Mu™minin (in Hausa Sarkin Musulmi, Comman-
der of the Faithful), which was the traditional title of the caliphs, or
successors, of the Prophet. (The caliphs were the rulers of the Arab
empire in the early, glorious days of the Muslim era.) After being
proclaimed Commander of the Faithful, dan Fodio swore to the dis-
interestedness of his intentions, saying, ˜If I ¬ght this battle that I
may become greater than my fellow, or that my son may become
greater than his son, or that my slave may lord it over his slave, may
the Kaf¬r [in¬del] wipe us from the land™.
After the declaration of jihad, dissatis¬ed men came from all the
Hausa states to swear allegiance to the Amir al-Mu™minin and to
receive in exchange the green banner of the True Believers. The pu-
ritanical motives of the leaders of the jihad are well described by
Muhammad al-Tunisi (see Chapter 1), who was in Wadai in 1810
and heard news of its success:

The Falata [Fulbe] accuse all other Sudanese of impiety and of heresy, maintain-
ing that only by force of arms can they be brought to repentance. They assert
that the other Sudanese have altered and adulterated the principles of Islam,
that they have broken the criminal code by allowing compensations of money
for criminals, which is illegal and proscribed by the Holy Book. They claim that
they have undermined the foundations of religion by proclaiming illegal and
criminal innovations to be legitimate, by shameful customs such as adultery,
the use of fermented drinks, passion for amusement, song and dance, neglect
of the daily prayers, and refusal to offer alms for the poor. Each of these crimes
and shameful deeds deserves vengeance and calls for a jihad. These ideas kin-
dled the minds of the Fula for years, until suddenly there arose amongst them
one renowned for his piety and godliness; the Zaki [Hausa: lion] who became a
reformer and proclaimed the holy war.1

Not all the mujahidun were animated by such purely religious enthu-
siasm. The leaders were drawn for the most part from the educated

1 ˆ
Voyage au Oudday, tr. Dr Perron (Paris, 1851), p. 163.
66 Africa since 1800

Muslim Fulbe of the towns (Hausa: Fulanin gidda), who had come to
despise, as al-Tunisi shows, the corrupt, half-pagan conduct of the
old Hausa ruling families, known collectively as Habe. They were
supported by many of the town Hausa, who treated the movement
as an opportunity to free themselves from the Habe rulers and to
¬ght among themselves. The jihad was also supported by virtually
all of the pastoral Fulbe (Hausa: boroje) of the countryside. These
were mostly still pagan, but they felt a racial af¬nity with the town
Fulbe and even belonged to the same clans. The main motive of most
boroje was doubtless the hope of being able to loot the wealth of the
Hausa towns.
The revolt swept all over Hausaland, the leading towns of Katsina
and Kano yielding to dan Fodio™s mujahidun in 1807 and 1809, re-
spectively. The Habe dynasties were replaced by Fulbe amirs, most of
whom had been appointed by dan Fodio in 1804 and 1805. Beyond
Hausaland to the east, Adamawa, which had long been penetrated
by pastoral Fulbe, became part of the new empire after a struggle
lasting nearly thirty years. The political intrigues of the Fulbe reli-
gious teachers paved the way for the penetration of the mujahidun
into Nupe and Yorubaland. They occupied the northern provinces
of the old Oyo empire (see p. 73) which, as the emirate of Ilorin,
became a base for the spread of Islam among the Yoruba. To the
north-east, the jihad was halted only in Bornu, where Muhammed
al-Kanemi, a warrior and cleric from east of Lake Chad, successfully
drove out the invaders. Al-Kanemi took over control of the affairs of
Bornu, but the mai of the ancient dynasty was allowed to retain his
court ceremonial although deprived of all real power. The Scottish
traveller Clapperton, who visited Bornu in 1821, remarked on the
position of the mai:

The Sultanship of Bornu is but a name; the court still keeps up considerable
state, and adheres strictly to its ancient customs, and this is the only privilege
left them. When the sultan gives audience to strangers, he sits in a kind of cage,
made of bamboo, through the bars of which he looks on his visitors who are not
allowed to approach within seventy or eighty yards of his person.2

D. Denham, H. Clapperton, and W. Oudney, Narrative of Travels and Discoveries in Northern
and Central Africa, in the Years 1822, 1823, and 1824 (London, 1826), cited in Thomas Hodgkin,
Nigerian Perspectives: An Historical Anthology (London, 1973), p. 205.
West Africa before the Colonial Period, 1800--1875 67

The conquest period over, Usuman dan Fodio, always more of a
scholar than a ruler, returned to his books. His empire was divided
into two: his son Muhammad Bello ruling the eastern part from the
newly founded city of Sokoto, and his brother Abdallah the western
part from Gwandu. After Usuman™s death in 1817, Bello was recog-
nised by Abdallah as sultan of Sokoto, and he ruled there until his
death in 1837. By this time, the religious fervour of the movement
was largely spent. The Fulbe had turned from religious reformers
into a ruling class. Moreover, although an enormous area now paid
theoretical allegiance to a central dynasty, in practice the Sokoto ˜em-
pire™ was nothing more than a loose association of like-minded ruling
groups, which had sprung into existence by responding to Usuman™s
invitation to join the jihad. There was no central bureaucracy and no
imperial army. The Fulbe emirates were no better able to organise
collective defence against outside aggression than the Habe states
which they succeeded. Nevertheless, it was under Fulbe rule that
Islam ¬rst spread outside the towns into the country districts. Their
rule was, in general, more progressive and more effective than that
of their Habe predecessors, and their importance was by no means
ended when Britain and France began to impose their power.

The Jihad in the Western Sudan
The successes of the Fulbe in Hausaland had important effects far-
ther to the west. In 1810, Hamadu Bari (also known as Ahmadu
Lobo), one of Usuman™s early followers, led an army westwards
across the Niger bend and drove out the Bambara overlords from his
homeland, the Fulbe state of Masina. Here, as in Futa Toro and in
Futa Jallon, the ground for reform had been prepared by the jihads
of the previous century. The whole of this area was now undergo-
ing a further period of revival as a result of the spread of the new
and powerful brotherhood of the Tijaniyya. In 1826, a young cleric
called Umar from Futa Toro made the pilgrimage to Mecca. He was
initiated into the Tijaniyya in the holy city and then returned slowly
homewards through the Bornu of al-Kanemi, the Sokoto of Muham-
mad Bello (whose sister he married), and the Masina of Hamadu
Bari. Known now as al-Hajj Umar (the pilgrim), he settled in Futa
Jallon and began to prepare the ¬ercest of the West African jihads.
68 Africa since 1800

He equipped his force with ¬rearms obtained from the Europeans
at the coast, and at last in 1850 he launched them on the Bambara
kingdoms of Segu and Kaarta and then on Masina. Had he not been
checked by the French (see pp. 76“7), he would have made for Futa
Toro as well. As it was, when he captured Timbuktu in 1863, his em-
pire, based now at Hamdillahi near the old Bambara capital of Segu,
stretched over the whole of the country from the Niger bend to the
upper Senegal.
The empire of al-Hajj Umar did not last as long as that of Usuman
dan Fodio. Umar himself was killed in 1864, and it took his son
Ahmadu Sefu nearly ten years to establish his right to rule through-
out his father™s dominions. Even then, his rule lasted only until 1884.
Nevertheless, the active survival of Islam under French colonisation
throughout most of the region occupied by the Mande-speaking peo-
ples was largely due to the revivalist movements carried forcefully
into the whole of this region by al-Hajj Umar.

The Forest States and the Outside World
Unlike the situation in the Sudanic region, the changes in the wood-
land and forest belt of West Africa came about only slowly and spo-
radically during the ¬rst sixty years or so of the nineteenth century.
It is true that the whole attitude of the main trading nations toward
West Africa underwent a sea change during the last years of the eigh-
teenth century and the earliest years of the nineteenth. Denmark
made the slave trade illegal for its own nationals in 1805, Britain in
1807, Holland in 1814, and France in 1818. In 1815 and 1817, Spain
and Portugal restricted their slave traders to the seas south of the
equator (as far as Portugal was concerned, this meant the trade be-
tween Angola and Brazil). Britain even carried this new anti-slavery
policy so far as to establish a naval patrol in West African waters and
to declare the freed-slave settlements on the Sierra Leone peninsula
a Crown Colony (1808).
If they intended to continue trading in West Africa, all these na-
tions had to seek a new basis for their commerce. This search for
trade was one of the main reasons why so many European explorers
undertook dangerous and arduous expeditions in West Africa during
the ¬rst half of the nineteenth century. The ¬rst were the journeys
West Africa before the Colonial Period, 1800--1875 69

of Mungo Park to the upper Niger in 1795 and 1805. The greatest
was the journey of the German, Heinrich Barth, made between 1850
and 1856, as a result of which he wrote a magni¬cent description of
the central and western Sudanic region. Here, as an example of his
penetrating eye for detail, is a little of his description of the Tasawa
region of northern Hausaland (not far from Usuman dan Fodio™s
Gobir), which he entered by the desert route from Agades:

Tasawa was the ¬rst large place of Negroland proper which I had seen, and it
made the most cheerful impression upon me, as manifesting everywhere the
unmistakable marks of the comfortable, pleasant sort of life led by the natives:
the courtyard fenced with a ˜derne™ of tall reeds, excluding to a certain degree the
eyes of the passer-by; then near the entrance the cool shady place of the ˜runfa™
for ordinary business and for the reception of strangers . . . the whole dwelling
shaded with spreading trees, and enlivened with groups of children, goats, fowls,
pigeons and a horse or a pack-ox. With this character of the dwellings, that of
the inhabitants themselves is in entire harmony, its most constant element being
a cheerful temperament, bent upon enjoying life, rather given to women, dance,
and song, but without any disgusting excess. Drinking fermented liquor cannot
be strictly reckoned a sin in a place where a great many of the inhabitants are
pagans; but a drunken person, nevertheless, is scarcely ever seen; those who are
not Mohammedans only indulge in their ˜giya™, made of sorghum, just enough
to make them merry and enjoy life with more light-heartedness.3

This was a state of affairs very similar to that about which the Fulbe
reformers had complained some ¬fty years previously, apparently to
little effect.
Side by side with the search by Europeans for trade routes and
for objects of a new and legitimate commerce, there was the be-
ginning of the ¬rst genuinely unsel¬sh Christian activity in Africa.
Some Christians in Europe were deeply concerned for Africans as
people with a right to share in the bene¬ts of Christianity as well as
the useful skills and knowledge built up by Christian civilisation in
western Europe. Earlier Roman Catholic missionary efforts had only
touched West Africa brie¬‚y and at one or two scattered points. The
beginning of the nineteenth century, however, saw the establishment
of ¬‚ourishing Church of England (Anglican) and Methodist missions
in Sierra Leone. Their converts were to play a most important part

Travels in Africa (Centenary edn., London, 1965), vol. I, pp. 439“40.
70 Africa since 1800

8. West Africa, 1800“1875.

in the later history of the whole of the southern part of West Africa.
The 1820s saw the coming of the Presbyterian Basel missionaries to
the Gold Coast and, by the 1840s, all the main Protestant denomina-
tions were represented in the Gold Coast, Dahomey, and in western
and eastern Nigeria. Roman Catholic missions followed between the
1840s and 1880s.
Still, all these exploring and missionary activities were only the
¬rst stages in the development of European in¬‚uence. The ¬rst half
of the nineteenth century, from the point of view of African history
West Africa before the Colonial Period, 1800--1875 71

as opposed to colonial, saw little more than a continuation “ and
even a strengthening “ of the eighteenth-century pattern amongst
the woodland and forest peoples of West Africa. Despite the anti-
slavery legislation in European countries, and despite the constant
patrolling of the British navy, the slave trade not only continued, but
actually increased in scale. Whereas most authorities have estimated
the export of slaves from the whole of West Africa at about 100,000 a
72 Africa since 1800

year at the end of the eighteenth century, by the 1830s it had risen to
about 135,000. Slavery, as distinct from the slave trade, continued to
be legal in the southern states of America until 1863 and, through-
out this period, the illicit trade yielded great pro¬ts. The trade to
Brazil and Cuba continued, though on a decreasing scale, until the
1880s, and as European and American merchants dropped out of the
trade for fear of the punishments involved, their places were taken by
Brazilian Negroes (Afro“Brazilians), whose operations were much
more dif¬cult to detect and prevent.
It would be misleading, however, to draw from these ¬gures the
simple conclusion that all the states of the Guinea forest were ir-
retrievably committed to a continuation of the slave trade. Asante,
at least, had long outgrown its period of active expansion, during
which the disposal of war captives had temporarily eclipsed the ex-
port of gold dust and ivory. By the nineteenth century it was con-
cerned mainly to hold its wide dominions. It was the sheer military
power of Asante, fed by regular exchange of gold dust for ¬rearms
with the Dutch at Elmina, which kept the British and their Fante al-
lies along the central stretch of the Gold Coast in a state of constant
alarm. The forts were expensive to maintain. They could pay their
way only by the levying of customs duties on legitimate trade. Yet, the
trade routes were constantly subject to closure through the military
operations of the Asante against their tributary states in the interior.
Even the Fante were discouraged from agricultural production for
export by threats of Asante invasion. Of¬cially, British jurisdiction,
whether vested in an unof¬cial Council of Merchants, as it was for
most of the time until 1842, or in a Colonial Of¬ce governor, as it
was thereafter, was limited until 1874 to the coastal forts. Such in-
formal in¬‚uence as was exercised upon the coastal states was largely
concerned with resistance to Asante pressure.
If a militaristic and still partially slave-trading Asante continued
to dominate the affairs of the Gold Coast, the situation on the Slave
Coast to the east of it was even more similar to what it had been in
the eighteenth century. Here, as the modern air traveller so clearly
sees, the coast is nothing but a narrow surf-hammered beach, behind
which a vast system of interconnected lagoons provides secure access
for canoes to all the rivers of Togo, Dahomey (B´ nin), and western
West Africa before the Colonial Period, 1800--1875 73

Nigeria. The methods of the slave traders of the 1830s along this
stretch of coast were described by Richard Lander:

As soon as a vessel arrives at her place of destination, the crew discharge her
light cargoe, with the manacles intended for the slaves, and land the captain at
the same time. The vessel then cruises along the coast to take in country cloth,
ivory, a little gold dust, etc., and if a British man-of-war be near, the crew having
nothing on board to excite suspicion, in most cases contrive to get their vessel
searched whilst trading with the natives. They return to the place where the
cargoe had been loaded, and communicate with the captain on shore who then
takes the opportunity of acquainting his crew with the exact time in which he
will be in readiness to embark. The vessel then cruises a second time up and
down the coast, till the appointed day approaches, when she proceeds to take in
her living cargoe.4

Dahomey, like Asante, had by the nineteenth century reached its
full territorial extent. Unlike Asante, however, it had no export with
which to procure the guns which it needed to maintain its military
power. So long as the demand for slaves continued, therefore, the
kings of Dahomey continued, however unwillingly, to supply it.
The bulk of Slave Coast slaves did not, however, in the nineteenth
century at least, come from Dahomey. They came from Yorubaland
and were exported through Porto Novo, Badagry, and Lagos. All these
ports were to the east of Whydah on the same lagoon system. Al-
though there was a thriving Afro“Brazilian stronghold at Lagos, the
main reason for this was the decline and disintegration of the an-
cient Oyo empire. This was the result of tensions from both north
and south. On the one hand, the southern Yoruba states “ Egba, Ijebu,
and Ondo “ had been growing steadily in power through access to the
coastal trade. On the other hand, Ilorin and other northern districts
of the empire had been penetrated, as had the Hausa states, by the
Fulbe and were, therefore, involved in the jihad. The beginning of
the end came in 1817, when the great chiefs of Oyo, led by Afonja of
Ilorin, sent an empty calabash to the ala¬n (king), Aole, thus signi-
fying that they no longer acknowledged his authority. Aole accepted
the hint in the traditional fashion by committing suicide, but not
before he had uttered his famous curse. From the palace forecourt

Records of Captain Clapperton™s Last Expedition to Africa (London, 1830), vol. 2, p. 238.
74 Africa since 1800

he shot three arrows, one to the north, one to the south, and one to
the west, saying,

˜My curse be on you for your disloyalty and disobedience, so let your children
disobey you. If you send them on an errand, let them never return to bring you
word again. To all the points I shot my arrows will you be carried as slaves. My
curse will carry you to the sea and beyond the seas, slaves will rule over you, and
you, their masters, will become slaves™. Then, smashing an earthenware dish,
he shouted, ˜Broken calabash can be mended, but not a broken dish; so let my
words be irrevocable™.5

The curse seemed to take immediate effect, for shortly afterwards
Oyo was abandoned by its inhabitants, and those who stayed in that
area became subjects of the Muslim emirate of Ilorin. The majority
of the people moved away, however, some founding a new town of
Oyo about 150 km (90 miles) to the south on the edge of the forest,
while others settled at Ibadan, which grew to be the greatest Yoruba
city within the forest belt. The states and provinces of the Oyo empire
became independent of central control and started to ¬ght each other
both for extended frontiers and for control of the trade routes. The
principal gainers from these wars were the Egba, who founded a new
capital city at Abeokuta in 1830, controlling the routes to Porto Novo
and Badagry, and the Ijebu, whose territory controlled the main route
from Ibadan to Lagos. One result of these destructive, internecine
struggles among the Yoruba was that vast numbers of captives
were taken as slaves, so that by the 1840s Lagos and Badagry had
become the biggest slaving ports in West Africa.
The Yoruba wars were a tragedy, for much of southern Yorubaland
lies within that part of the forest belt where the oil-palm grows wild
and, where, therefore, there was an easily marketable alternative
to the slave-trade. Because of these wars, the oil-palm in southern
Yorubaland was not commercially exploited. It is, indeed, one of
the curious facts of West African history that the one region where
a peaceful changeover to legitimate commerce took place was the
region where in the past the slave trade had been most active. This
was the region roughly corresponding to the east of the Niger delta,
which at the end of the eighteenth century had supplied 20,000 slaves
a year. Here, the E¬k and Ijaw villagers of the lagoon area used to

Samuel Johnson, History of the Yorubas (Lagos, 1921), p. 192.
West Africa before the Colonial Period, 1800--1875 75

take their great war canoes up the rivers to the Igbo slave markets,
and now they showed an equal enterprise in converting the Igbo to
the collection of palm-nuts which were taken down the rivers to be
sold to the Europeans. By the 1820s, the region was beginning to be
known as the Oil Rivers.
The European traders realised that if they could take steam-driven
ships (which were starting to be available in the 1820s, though it was
not until much later that they replaced sailing ships on the open seas)
up the larger rivers into the forest region where the oil-palms grew,
they could buy the produce more cheaply and eliminate the coastal
middlemen. This was the real signi¬cance of the discovery of the
Niger mouth by John and Richard Lander in 1830, as the result of
a journey down the river by canoe from Bussa to the delta. Eleven
years later, the British government was persuaded by philanthropists
and traders alike to send an ambitious expedition to penetrate the
interior using the new water route. But the west coast was extremely
unhealthy for Europeans “ it was known as ˜the white man™s grave™.
The reign of the malarial mosquito had still another ¬fteen years
to run before the use of quinine helped Europeans to overcome the
fever that was so deadly for them. The Niger expedition of 1841“2
was a failure, more than one-sixth of its European members dying
in the space of two months. The commercial navigation of the Niger
was delayed until the 1860s.

The Beginnings of European Intervention

Halfway through the century, therefore, the main characteristics
of the societies of the southern, forested part of West Africa had
changed very little except in the Oil Rivers district. This was in spite
of the legal abolition of the slave trade by the European powers, in
spite of the British navy, and in spite of the small and scattered pos-
sessions of the French and the British, the Danes, and the Dutch.
In general, the slave trade was still ¬‚ourishing, and the strength of
the main military states, Asante and Dahomey, was still increasing.
The only signi¬cant increase in European power, even during the
third quarter of the century, was along the coast itself. Here, on the
eastern sector of the Gold Coast, Britain in 1850 bought the Danish
forts in order to be able to impose customs duties along a suf¬cient
76 Africa since 1800

stretch of coast to pay the expenses of its occupation. In 1872, the
Dutch, ¬nding their forts along the western sector of the coast no
longer pro¬table, ceded them freely to the British. Another factor
was Britain™s intervention in the affairs of Lagos. The British sup-
ported the claims of Akitoye to the title of Ologun (the ruler of Lagos,
at one time appointed by the Oba of Benin), and in 1851 helped him
drive out his nephew and rival Kosoko. In return for British help,
Akitoye promised to end the slave trade from Lagos, but he could
not keep his hold over the island city without further British sup-
port. When, in 1861, Dahomey again threatened to attack Abeokuta,
Britain rid itself of the Akitoye“Kosoko dispute by annexing Lagos
as a colony. From this point, an almost inevitable path led forward
to further intervention “ on the one hand, the punitive expedition
against Asante in 1873 and the incorporation of the coastal states
into the Gold Coast colony in 1874; on the other hand, the gradual
expansion of Lagos along the coast to the east and the west and the
increasing interference of the British consuls in the affairs of the Oil
Rivers states.
In the French colony on the Senegal, a new phase of active inter-
vention began with the appointment as governor of Louis Faidherbe
in 1854. Since its reoccupation by the French in 1817 (it had been
in British hands during the Napoleonic wars), the colony had con-
sisted of little more than a circle of agricultural villages around the
port of St Louis. The only active trade was that in gum arabic with
the Moorish tribes living in the desert to the north of the river. Trade
with the interior, which the French so much wanted to develop, was
prevented by the powerful Fulbe state of Futa Toro higher up the
river on the southern side. Convinced that the Senegal would prove
the commercial highway for the trade of the whole of the western
Sudan, the French had a clearer motive for interior conquests than
the British at any of their coastal bases. Conquest of the lower Sene-
gal valley was, therefore, Faidherbe™s declared policy, and in ten
years he had carried it out, encouraging economic crops “ especially
ground-nuts “ in the conquered lands, and establishing schools as
well as administrative centres in each newly acquired district.
Any kind of European intervention on African soil was likely to
lead to more. Britain™s creeping protectorates along the Lagos and
Gold Coast stretches of the West African shore were one example.
West Africa before the Colonial Period, 1800--1875 77

Faidherbe™s policy of military conquest inland was another. It was,
however, more dif¬cult to call a halt to this inland conquest than to
the growth of Britain™s coastal possessions. The farther the French
advance went inland, the more sharply it came into con¬‚ict with the
Muslim states of the interior of the western Sudan. Already by 1857,
Faidherbe was involved with the forces of al-Hajj Umar. The Muslim
leader of the jihad temporarily checked the French advance south-
east up the Senegal, but was unable to prevent their attacking Futa
Toro to the south of the river. The French conquest of Futa Toro was
a blow to the prestige of al-Hajj Umar. Most of his mujahidun were
emigrants from Futa Toro, which had been the original Fulbe jihad
state. Clearly, this was a situation which could end only in the defeat
of the French and their retreat to St Louis, or else in the defeat of
the Muslims and the French advance to Timbuktu and beyond.
In West Africa, therefore, events were tending by the third quarter
of the nineteenth century to increasing intervention by both France
and Britain. There was still in 1875 nothing that could suggest the
speed of events that were to follow in the next twenty-¬ve years,
however. Had France and Britain not been pushed by other Euro-
pean powers into a scramble for outright partition, their intervention
would undoubtedly have proceeded much more slowly than in fact it
did. Still, military forces armed and trained by professional soldiers
from Europe had already been in action against the indigenous sol-
diery of African states before 1875 and had proved their superiority
in weapons, discipline, and tactics over the numerically very much
larger forces brought against them. In West Africa, at least, the broad
pattern that the partition was to follow had been laid down and could
lead only to an ever-growing area of colonial occupation.
SIX. Western Central Africa,

T he region we call ˜Western Central Africa™ encompasses the re-
gion of the Congo forest and the light woodland country to the
south of it. Today this area is occupied by Angola and the states of
Congo (DR), Gabon, the People™s Republic of Congo, and the Central
African Republic. In terms of the older African states, it includes the
area of the Luba“Lunda and the lower Congo kingdoms. The Por-
tuguese were the most active external in¬‚uence in this region, but
not the only one. During the ¬rst three-quarters of the nineteenth
century, the northernmost frontier of Angola was at the Loge River,
and from here northwards to Mount Cameroun and up both sides of
the Congo estuary, there was a kind of commercial no-man™s land, the
shore dotted with the trading factories of English, Dutch, American,
French, and Spanish as well as Portuguese ¬rms. During the sec-
ond half of the nineteenth century, an even more important source
of external in¬‚uence was that of the Swahili Arabs and Nyamwezi
from East Africa. Only during the colonial period was the region as a
whole reconnected with its natural ports of exit on the Atlantic coast.

The Pombeiros and the Mwata Kazembe
During the early part of the century, Portuguese in¬‚uence reached
the interior by two main routes, one of which started in Luanda, the
other in Benguela. The Luanda route was the older and, by the begin-


. 2
( 12)