How did Africans resist European Imperialism?

  • The British wanted the Zulus to provide labour in the diamond fields of Southern Africa as they created a South Africa federation. The Zulu King did not want to give up his land to the British and assembled an army. Then the British high commissioner for South Africa ordered that the Zulus dismantled their military and paid reparations to Britain.

  • The British invaded and as a result of not taking normal precautions, they lost 800 soldiers and 1,000 rifles and ammunition at Isandlwana.

  • This severely hit British pride and to save face, they launched a full-scale military campaign. In the end, Britain had defeated the Zulus and the British took control. Overall, 1,902 British were killed with 256 wounded. Meanwhile, 6,930 Zulu soldiers were killed while over 3,500 were wounded.

The Anglo-Zulu Wars

(January 11th, 1879 – July 4th, 1879)

First Italo-Ethiopian War

(15 December 1894–23 October 1896)

  • In 1868, 5,000 British and Indian troops went to Ethiopia to punish the emperor who had detained some European envoys and missionaries. The Emperor shot himself and the British left. There was a four-year power vacuum as many people tried to gain power. Negus Yohannes IV won with British rifles.

  • In the 1870s, Egypt repeatedly attacked Ethiopia and occupied the Red Sea port of Massawa, Ethiopia’s only access to the sea.

  • In 1885, Italy occupied Massawa with the consent of the British government and the Ethiopians disliked this and encouraged Tigreans to harass Italian forces who attempted to take over Eritrea. Italy tried to invade, and the Ethiopians resisted.

  • After a clash, Yohannes was killed and overtaken by Menelik II who was supported by the Italians.

  • Menelik began to oppose the Italians as he did not wish for Ethiopia to be ruled by Italy. They battled with the most decisive battle of Adwa on March 1, which was won by Menelik. For Italy, about 7,000 were killed and 1,500 wounded. For Ethiopia, around 4,000 were killed with 8,000 wounded, while around 2,000 local soldiers (or Askaris) were killed or captured.

The Herero Wars

(1904 to 1908)

  • German South-West Africa was colonised by Germans from 1884-1890. By 1903, around 3,000 Germans had settled in the Central High grounds. This disrupted the social and economic balance of the community and caused conflict from the natives.

  • It is unknown who fired the first shot, but the Herero had caused many German casualties. This was an embarrassment for Germany, so politicians in Berlin ordered military action. After two months of no major conflict, 40,000 Herero had fled to avoid the German troops. The Germans were able to surprise the Hereros.

  • Many Herero soldiers were defeated by machine guns and those who escaped to British Bechuanaland eventually died of thirst. Overall, around 75% of the Herero nation died during/as a result of this conflict. Many historians consider the event to be one of the largest cases of genocide in history.