Whereas some African societies collaborated with the colonialists, some others resisted. Resistance was either by a particular personality or by united community. These societies include Bunyoro, Nandi, and Hehe in East Africa. In West Africa there was Mandika empire and Asante while in the Central Africa was the Ndebele under chief Lobengula.
The personalaies which resisted include Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda, Jaja of Opobo in the Niger Delta states, Menelike II of Ethiopia, Urabi Pasha of Egypt (Urabist rebellion). Mohammad Ahmed of Sudan (Mahdist revolt), chief Lobengula of Ndebele, Koitaleh of Nandi, Mkwawa of Hehe and Kabalega of Bunyoro. It should be noted that some of the t,;esistance wars had very few followers and nearly all of them were defeated by colonialists txcept in Ethiopia Menelik against Italians in 1896.
REASONS FOR THE RESISTANCE.
1. Need for preservation of self independence:-
The major reasons for resistance against colonial rule was a desire to maintain political independence and such societies which resisted thought that the colonialists had come to erode their independence.
It should be noted that they also wanted to preserve their integrity e.g. in 1870s Kabalega had just become a king and had formed a formidable army called "Abarusura' which he wanted to put on test by challenging the interests of the British in his kingdom.
Kabalega had just grabbed power after crushing his brother Kabigumire in a fierce succession war. This instilled confidence in him and hoped to defeat colonialists as well.
Samoure Toure had just formed his empire through wars of conquests He had proved his military might by staging a long resistance (7 years) against the French which gained him a lot of prestige worldwide. This, therefore, makes it difficult to distinguish between resistors and collaborators since they both acted to a specific response or due to circumstances prevailing in their territories.
2. Desire to preserve social and traditional values:-
Africans resisted in order to preserve their social and traditional cultures. It should be recalled that this was the time when missionaries were engaged in the spread of Christianity and western civilisation and therefore they had a lot to do with the destruction of African cultures and yet Africans were not prepared to see their culture being eroded.
This resistance became more difficult especially in areas where Islam was already adopted as the main kind of belief and culture. in West Africa, northern Nigeria regarded European Christian as infidels. This is why Britain had to militarily occupy West African states e.g. Hausa state, Sokoto caliphate, etc. some African societies resisted because the whites advocated for monogamous marriages against polygamy and even discouraged the drinking of alcohol.
3. Need to preserve their economies.
At the time of colonisation, most African countries had been participating in the long distance trade and had accumulated a lot of wealth from the lucrative trade. Some chiefs had formed huge empires out of such trade. Such chiefs were not ready to lose their wealth to colonalists moreover the colonialists intended to abolish slave trade which was a blood stream of African v. ealih.
Africans were unwilling to lose such kmd of trade c.g. Jaja of Opobo ill West Africa told the whiteman who first contacted rum that,
"My word is that the country belongs to me, slave trade must be carried out because our ancestors lived by it and I don't want domrnance of any foreigners".
Therefore some societies resisted because they wanted to preserve their economy.
4. Traditional interstate rivals:-
Apart from the desire to protect African social, political and economic independence some societies resisted simply because of their existing poor relationships with each other. Long standing conflicts would compel one state to resist or collaborate In case the rival state had done the reverse e.g. the Banyoro resisted partly because the Baganda had collaborated, the Fante collaborated because the Asame had resisted.
5. The pre-colonial interstate friendship
This would force some African societies to react in a similar way. In case of resistance by one of its friends the other would join hands to mount formidable resistance against colonial rule e.g. Jaja of Opobo allied with hrs old friends namely Alobo and Onaba to resist the British colonialists in the Niger Delta states. Indeed these good neighbours assisted him very much although he lost the struggle In the process.
The fnendly Shona and Ndebele (target friends) did put up the dramatic resistance against the imposinon of colonial rule in centraJ Africa in the famous Shona-Ndebele (Chnnureng) rebellion of 1896-97.
6. Adventurism in war against whites'
Some SOCIeties resisted because they were adventurous warmongers and often-hostile societies which had just formed formidable armies and wanted to put them to test e.g. Bunyoro of East Africa that had formed its "Abarusura" army and Samoure.Tourc of West A frica. Such societies felt so proud of the status they bad acquired and they were ready to defend it at any cost.
7. Others resisted because they were ignorant about the European military might. Actually leaders like Kabalega did not recognise tbat there existed stronger forces than his Abarusura. Chief Machembe of the Yao in central Africa also believed that his forces could defeat 'host of the Germans in Southern Tanganyika e.g. Governor Wissman asked him to surrender his power and he replied that;
"I have listened to all your words but I see no reason why I should obey you. You are the Sultan there in your land and I'm the Sultan here in my
land. If you feel you are strong enough, come and fetch me".
This represents a strong example of gross underestimation of European power as Wissman fetched him without any resistance.
8. Many African chiefs who resisted didn't have any opportunity to collaborate. They found themselves in hostilities with Europeans because of pre-conceived poor reports by imperialists that created a sharp bias against specific African societies e.g. KabaJega of Bunvoro had no problem with the British except that the defeat of Samuel Baker by king KabaJega created a bad impression about Bunyoro by the British government. Samoure Toure also attempted to ally with the British against the French but he was let down by the British.
9. Closely connected to the above is that Africans were scared into submission of therr leaders by fear that their traditional gods would kill them if they didn't resist the white man. Natural calamities like drought, famine etc were blamed on the cornmg of Europeans. Afncans were promised victory and an end to the natural calamities if they resisted. This is why with the promises of their traditional gods many African societies chose to resist against the colonial rule e.g. religion played a very big role in both the Shona-Ndebele and Maji-Maji uprisings.
10. Some wars of resistance were inspired by other wars e.g. the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71 which led to the defeat of France in Europe inspired the rising up of Algerian revolution in
1872 led by Ali Ibn Ghadahim, similarly the failure of Jameson raid of 1895 inspired the rising up of the Shona-Ndebele rebellion of 1896 basically because the Ndebele people felt they would defeat the British the same way the Boers had done to the Bntish in the Jameson raid.
The following are important observations one can draw from the above types of resistances.
Most societies which militarily resisted colonial rule received a forceful reaction from the white men e.g Banyoro, Hebe and Ndebele.
Economies of such resisting countries were greatly disrupted by war and hence their economy remained backward the infrastructural development differences between Buganda and Bunyoro can be explained by the nature of response in colonial rule.
It is against this background that some societies who chose to resist the whites are referred to as "Backward looking" and collaborators as "traitors" without considering the circumstances which made them to collaborate while others have named resisters as heroes and yet they had lost these wars.
Whether they lost in material terms, the resisters certainly had reasons for such a response at least they managed to preserve their independence much longer than collaborators and they expressed the spirit of nationalism to Africans, which still exists to date.
However, it must be noted that both collaborators and resistors had similar objectives basically to preserve their independence. Unfortunately. neither of them became successful because by 1914 almost the whole of Africa with the exception of Liberia and Ethiopia had