Tax and trade wars
The competence of a French colonial official might often be measured by how much tax he was able to collect. This could be in the form of a poll tax or a tax on homes. For the ordinary people, especially those who were not earning money through labour or selling goods, taxation was an intolerable burden. Resentment turned to anger in many parts of Africa.
Angola's first rebellion
Sierra Leone hut tax
The Hut Tax resulted in the death of some British officials and anyone suspected of collaborating.
Cardew, the British Governor of Sierra Leone noted 'the growing political consciousness of the African, and his increasing sense of his worth and autonomy.'
"The Herero nation must leave the country. If it does not do so I shall compel them by force...Inside German territory every Herero tribesman, armed or unarmed, with or without cattle, will be shot. No women and children will be allowed in the territory: they will be driven back to their people or fired on.
These are the last words to the great Herero nation from me, the great General of the mighty German Emperor." - General von Trotha's extermination proclamation quoted by H. Bley's South West Africa under German Rule.
The Germans drove the Herero into the Omaheke desert, sealing the last water holes off before erecting a fence to keep them out. Around 50,000 Herero died.
From slaves to new trade
The anti-slave trading crusade, although inspired by moral righteousness, became a way for Britain to assert itself both commercially and territorially in Africa.
However, stopping the slave trade was not easy. On the East coast the British met with considerable resistance from Arab merchants and the Sultan of Zanzibar himself.
Meanwhile, in South Africa the Afrikaners were beginning to formulate a way of life not only profoundly religious but also one in which the role assigned to Africans was essentially static and subservient with no vision of change or movement.
The story of Jaja, king of the Opoba
"...the Queen does not want to take your country or your markets, but at the same time she is anxious that no other nations should take them. She undertakes to extend her gracious power and protection, which will leave your country still under your government: she has no wish to disturb your rule." - Letter 8th January 1884, quoted by Michael Crowder in The Story of Nigeria.
British Protection was usually offered on condition that all local trade monopolies were dropped. In the case of Jaja he successfully retained his monopoly. He was determined not to lose his position as middleman and that none of his neighbours should deal with European merchants. But within two years, in 1886, the Royal Niger Company had succeeded in taking the monopoly of all trade in the region. Jaja was eventually deported to the West Indies with a pension of £800 a year.
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