The African scramble
In what is now western Uganda the Bunyoro lost out in 18th and early 19th century to the aggressively expansionist Baganda. Later in the 19th century with new arms at their disposal, the Bunyoro reasserted themselves, while the Baganda fell into factions allied to different Arab and European groups.
The Ethiopian Empire had been in decline and fragmented in the 19th century, but Emperor Menelik changed its fortunes and by 1896 the Ethiopians were strong enough to inflict a crushing defeat on the Italians at Adowa. Kingless, stateless and nomadic, the Masai successfully exercised their territorial ambitions by moving into the Rift Valley and attacking the sedentary farmers. Later their victories came to nothing because of internal disputes.
Other rulers took advantage of trade with Europeans to become rich and powerful, for example, Jaja of Opoba, the palm oil trader in the Niger Delta, and the Swahili slave trader Tippu Tip.
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Changing South Africa
Commercial interest became underpinned by one man's vision of imperial rule in Africa - adventurer and diamond magnate, Cecil Rhodes dreamt of Britain controlling the continent from the Cape to Cairo.
As the century unfolded traditional rulers either learnt new strategies or fell from power. A king or chief stayed in power or was deposed depending on his ability to acquire new technology (and this meant modern guns), and by his ability to communicate efficiently and mobilise his army swiftly. These qualities became more important than ancient genealogy, ritual, inheritance and splendid isolation.
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