African History: 19th Century

State consolidation and confrontation with European powers in the 19th century

In the 19th century, processes of political concentration began in many regions of Africa. At the same time, the invasion of the continent by European powers began. In West Africa, social and political conflicts condensed into Islamic revolutions and led to the establishment of Islamic states such as Masina under Hamadou Sékou or Sokoto under Osman dan Fodio. The rise of the Sokoto Caliphate initiated a reorganization of the Sahel zone: through the creation of a large political and economic area with uniform legislation and connecting cultural-religious factors, the establishment of centers for textile and leather manufacture and international trade (in Kano or Katsina) and through the expansion of religious claims in holy wars (against Bornu in the east or against the great Yoruba empire Oyo in the south). Oyo was destroyed and rebuilt further south as New Oyo. A new city-state of the Yoruba arose in Ibadan, which saw itself as a republic in which it was not ancestry that should confer power, but rather personal bravery and achievement. The establishment of the Tukulor Empire under Omar Saidou Tall (* 1797, † 1864), later also called El-Hadj Omar, and the empire of Samory Touré in western Sudan also pursued the goal of controlling the major trade routes and thus the slave and arms trade and stopping the advance of the French from Senegal. In the rainforest zone, the empires Ashanti and Dahome were initially able to extend their power to the coast, but came into conflict with the European powers who wanted to enforce the slave trade ban and their commercial interests militarily. Slaves returned from the southern states of the USA were settled on the coasts in 1822, displaced existing communities and in 1847 proclaimed the Republic of Liberia.

In north-east Africa, Sudan rose against the Egyptian administration around 1880 under the charismatic Islamic leader Mohammed Ahmed Ibn Saijid Abdallah. In Egypt, Mehmed Ali had shaken off Turkish sovereignty, initiated extensive modernization and, in the south, after the subjugation of Kordofan and Sennar, made Sudan as Nubia a province of Egypt. Because of the growing indebtedness of the country, among other things. by building the Suez Canal, Egypt had to accept financial control from Great Britain and France. A revolt by Urabi Pasha against the British in 1881 was initially bloodily suppressed. But the uprising in Sudan was successful: Mohammed Ahmed Ibn Saijid Abdallahproclaimed himself a Mahdi with the aim of liberating his country from British rule and establishing an empire of justice. He inspired the masses and was able to take the capital of Kordofans, El Obeid, in 1883, and in 1885 also the capital of Sudan, Khartoum, against the bitter resistance of the English under General C. G. Gordon. He introduced an Islamic administration and an Islamic tax system, had gold and silver coins minted and raised a professional army. Omdurman became the new capital. As a result, the Mahdi caused a sensation and unrest among the colonial powers in Central and East Africa.

In Ethiopia, Menelik II managed to buy modern weapons, found a new capital, Addis Ababa, in the center of the country, and mobilized all of Ethiopia to fight the Italians advancing from the Red Sea coast. The victory over the Italians in Adua (1896) marked the birth of modern Ethiopia.

On the east coast, the Sultan of Oman was able to overcome the rival dynasties of the coastal cities and, after moving his capital from Muscat to Zanzibar (1845), achieve undisputed supremacy that reached far into the interior of the mainland. Its power was based on the export of slaves, ivory, and later cloves. Indian capital financed the expeditions inland, as far as the Congo in the west and Uganda in the north. Tippu Tip (* around 1840, † 1905) became the most famous slave and ivory trader. But Nyamwezi traders from the interior also expanded their long-distance trade network to the coast and participated in the foreign trade of their region. Zanzibar became the gateway to East Africa. The USA, Great Britain, France and Germany set up consulates and concluded trade agreements with the Sultan.

In South Africa, Chaka subjugated, King of the Zulu, from 1816 under the pressure of a growing population and the advance of white settlers other peoples and established a powerful and expanding military dictatorship into which the subjugated peoples were integrated. Other Nguni peoples fled, founded new empires and unsettled large areas in the south and east of the continent. At the same time South Africa experienced the British takeover of power in the Cape region (1806), the subjugation of the peoples in the coastal areas in the “Kaffir Wars”, the escape of numerous Boers from the British Cape Colony in the “Great Trek” (from 1835) and the establishment of the Boer Republics of Orange Free State and Transvaal.

South Africa (area)

South Africa, southern Africa, in the narrower sense the area south of the Kunene-Zambezi Line. In a broader sense, Africa south of the highest parts of the Lunda wave; thus also includes Angola, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique south of the Zambezi. See countryaah.

African History - 19th Century