African Resistance to 1914

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Map Code: Ax02209

In the ‘Scramble for Africa’, the native populations were largely seen as irrelevant; the real opposition was the rival colonial powers. Bristling with the armaments of the second Industrial Revolution, notably the Maxim machine gun, set-piece battles hugely favoured the colonialists, as at Omdurman (1898), when Kitchener crushed the Mahdist revolt in Sudan. Nevertheless, the more effete colonial powers found themselves under pressure from indigenous unrest: the under-resourced Portuguese struggled to quell simmering rebellions in Mozambique and Angola; while the Italians took two decades to pacify the Senussi in Libya, and were humiliatingly defeated in, and expelled from, Ethiopia (1896). The French were more business-like, but were confounded by the guerrilla tactics of Abd al-Kadir in Algeria, and Ahmadou Sekou in Senegal. The British were defeated by the Zulus before asserting control, and used inter-tribal rivalry to subdue first the Mashona, then the Matabele (1896). Late into the game, the Germans were also the most industrially brutal, supressing a Herero revolt (1904–07) with overwhelming force and wiping out some 80 per cent of the Herero population in southern Africa.

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