Home HISTORY CHARTERED COMPANY ADMINISTRATION

CHARTERED COMPANY ADMINISTRATION

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Refers to an association formed by investors or stake holders for the purpose of doing trade, exploration and colonizing colonies.
Historically chartered companies were  formed  by  investors  who  gave  this task  to  the  traders  and  explorers  in  Africa  to  operate  trade  and  commerce  for  profit  maximization.
After being formed, they were granted/ given charter/ legal identification by their mother countries that identified them as official companies which were to represent the interests of the metropolitan. This is why they became known as Chartered Companies.
Before establishing colonial government, European powers  gave  chartered  companies  the  task  of  establishing  an  administration  with  the  purpose  of  seizing, colonizing  and  administering  the  virgin  African  territories.
Also  they  were  to  safeguard  the  interests  of  the  metropolitan. These  companies operated  in  those  areas  where  their  mother  nations  had  economic  interest.
COMPANIES IN EAST AFRICA
After the Berlin conference, East Africa came under control of two European powers, these were Germany and Britain. Therefore, the companies, which were operating in those colonies, come from those countries, involved: –
(a) Germany East Africa Company (G.E.A.CO)
(b) The imperial British East African Company (I.B.E.A.CO)
THE GERMANY EAST AFRICAN COMPANY (GEACO) 1884 – 1891
This was  an  organization  established  at  the  start  of  the  Germany  colonization  of East  Africa. The company  in short, was  responsible for  the  activities  in  the  new colony (German East Africa) such as setting  up  leadership (administration), future  explorations, development  of the  region etc.
Foundation
It  was  founded  in  1885  after  presentation  of  a  treaty  by  Karl  Peters  in  Berlin  in Feb  1885. It  was  official  identified  in  1887.It  was succeeded  by  the  German  government  in  1891. It  established  Bagamoyo  as  their  colony’s  capital  but  soon  moved  it  to  Dar  es  Salaam.
Founder
The founder  was  Karl  Peters  who  was  the  most  significant  figure  in  the  establishment  of  the  company.
The  company  generally, played  a  big  role  in  signing  treaties  with  African  chiefs  in  East Africa. The  company  was  also  involved  in  the  partition  of  East  Africa  where  two  treaties  were  involved  i.e. Delimitation  Treaty ( 1886) and Helgoland Treaty ( 1890). Karl  Peters  also  signed  treaties  with  chiefs  like Chief  of  Usagara, Chief  of  Uzigua, Chief  of  Ukamietc
THE IMPERIAL BRITISH EAST AFRICAN COMPANY (IBEACO)
It was a Commercial association formed so as  to  develop  African  trade  in  the  areas  controlled  by  the  British  Colonial  power  in  East  Africa.
The origin  of  I.B.E.A.CO  can  be  traced  back  to 1856  when  William  Mackinnon  formed  a  steam  ship  service  in Indian  Ocean. In  1862, it was  renamed  as  the  British  Indian  Steam  Navigation  where  in  1886, it  was  given  an  imperial  charter, and  thus  it  became  known  as  I.B.E.A.CO
In  1888, Sir  William  Mackinnon  and  I.B.E.A.CO  were  authorized  to  serve  as  administrator  of  East  Africa  Protectorate ( Kenya) which  was  the  area of  influence  of  British  East  Africa. Generally the  company  represented  and  defended  the  British  interest  in  East  Africa.
COMPANIES IN WEST AFRICA
In West Africa  there  were  various  chartered  companies  that were  operating  for the  interests  of  their  mother  countries  in  Europe.
These companies were as follows:-
i.            THE ROYAL NIGER COMPANY (RNC)
This  was  a  British  Mercantile  Company  that  involved  in  Commercial  activities  in  West  Africa  in  the  19th  c  for  the  interest  of  Britain. It  was  formed  by  George  Goldie  in  1879  as  the  United  African  Company  and  it  was  renamed  as  the  National  African  Company ( NAC) in  1881.
The  company  became  known  as  Royal  Niger  Company (RNC)  in  1886  July  when  the  British  government  granted  it  a  charter  and  Lord  Aberdare  became  governor  while  George  Goldie  became  Vice – governor.
The  Company  dealt  with  trade, negotiating  treaties  with  African  Chiefs  and  defending  the  British  interests  which  were  in  jeopardy  from  the  Germans  and  French. The  Company  existed  for  a  comparatively  short  time (1879 – 1900) but  was  instrumental  in  the  formation  of  Colonial  Nigeria.
ii.           GERMAN WEST AFRICAN COMPANY (GWAC)
This was  a  German  Chartered  Company  formed  so  as to  safeguard the  interests  of  German  and  represents  the  interests  of  German  in  West  Africa. The company was established in 1885 and given a charter to represent Germany interest in West Africa.
The company operated in Cameroon and Togoland and it influenced Germany to colonize the two countries in West Africa.
COMPANIES IN SOUTH AFRICA
The companies that were operating in this region were as follows:
i.            BRITISH SOUTH AFRICAN COMPANY
This was the British chartered company formed by Cecil Rhodes in order to represent Britain in Southern Africa. The company was formed in 1884 and given a charter to operate in Southern Africa.
The company operated in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi and Zambia and generally influenced Britain to colonize those areas.
THE ROLES OF CHARTERD COMPANIES
 
Qn. Discuss the roles played by chartered companies towards total colonization in Africa.
Qn. In which ways the chartered companies influenced colonialism in Africa.
Qn. Why European colonial powers transferred the task of establishing colonial administration to their chartered companies?
i.            Signing of treaties. The company had a task to sign different treaties that would enable their nations to colonize areas in Africa. For examples, a treaty between BSACO and King Lobengula of Matebelele and on 3rd October 1888. Also a treaty between GEACO and Chief Magungo of Msovero in 1884.
ii.           Suppressing African Resistances. It was a duty of the companies to suppress all resistances in Africa which were against colonial rule. For examples, GEACO suppressed Hehe Resistance in Tanganyika, IBEACO suppressed Nandi Resistance in Kenya etc.
iii.         Abolition of Slave Trade. The Chartered Companies also  involved  much  in  the  abolition  of  Slave  trade  in  Africa. They  abolished  Slave  trade  in order  to establish  a  new  trade  called  Legitimate  trade  which  emphasized  an  exchange  of  goods  and  not  slaves.
iv.         Exploitation of African Resources. The companies  carried  out  import  and  export  activities  in order  to  exploit  the  African  resources  particularly  minerals  for  the  industries  in  the  metro  poles. For  example  the  B.S.A.CO  ensured  the  exploitation  of  minerals  in  South Africa, Botswana  and  Zimbabwe
v.           Establishment of   Infrastructures. Chartered  Companies  also  played  a  big  role  in  establishing  and developing  economic  infrastructures  such  as  roads  , railways  and  ports  so  as  to  ensure  inports  and  export. For  example, G.E.A.CO  established  the  Central  Railway  Line  in  Tanganyika  which  was  constructed  from  1893 to 1905 – 1914, I.B.E.A.CO started  the  construction  of  a  railway  line  from Uganda   to  Kisumu in 1896.
vi.         Protecting the Boundaries of Colonies. Chartered  Companies  also  protected  the  boundaries  of  their  colonies  by  preventing  other  rival  powers  from  occupying  them. For  example: In  East  Africa  G.E.A.CO ( Germany)  signed  the  agreement  of  1886  to  resolve  boundaries  conflict  between  the  two powers.
vii.       Exploring the Hinterland of Africa. The  companies  were  responsible  for  exploring  the  interior  of Africa  and  the  resources  available. The information  brought  by  those  companies  fueled  the  process of  colonization  of  Africa. For example the Royal Niger Company (RNC) explored Nigeria, Niger and Ghana for the future colonization by the British.
viii.     Generating Funds. Chartered  Companies  also  were  responsible  in  generating  fund  through  commercial  activities  so  as  to  finance  their  administrative  activities  and  expenses. For  example, the  Mozambique  Company  by  the  Portuguese  in  Mozambique  formed  a  private  bank ( Banco  de  Beira) in  Beira  in  order  to run  different  colonial  projects.
FAILURE OF COMPANY RULE
(THE COLLAPSE OF CHARTERED COMPANY ADMINISTRATION)
Qn. Examine the factors behind the decline of Chartered Company rule in Africa.
Qn. Why Chartered Company administration in Africa did not live longer.
Company rule did not meet their responsibilities, they achieved very few objectives contrary to what was expected by their mother countries. In 1900’s many Companies did not  continue  with  their  administration  and  therefore  they  transferred  all  their  political  administrative  rights  to  the  governments  in their  mother  countries.
REASONS FOR THE FAILURE OF CHARTERED COMPANIES
There  were  several  reasons  which  led  to  the  failure  of  the  Chartered Companies  in  Africa as follows:
a)  Financial problems. Many of the Chartered Companies later on ran bankrupt. The bankrupt  was  due  to  the  fact  that home  government  did not  support  much  the  /company  operations. Also  the  Companies  had  many  responsibilities  to  fulfill, for  example  Suppressing  resistances  and  construction  of  infrastructures. Generally, this led to failure of these Companies.
b)  African resistances. The Companies also faced many resistances from the natives. This  was  due  to  the fact  that, Africans  were  not  happy  with  the  presence  of  the  foreigners. For  example  G.E.A.CO  faced  a Stiff resistance  from  the  Coastal  people  led  by  Abushiri  and  Bwana Heri  in  1888 – 1889. Also  I.B.E.A.CO  faced  stiff resistance  from  the  Nandi  in  Kenya. This contributed to the failure of the companies.
c)  Lack of Experienced and skilled administrators. The companies recruited most of the staff outside  East  Africa  without  much  regard  of  their  experience  and  qualification. Also,  much of  the  Company  officials  and  traders  were  less  competent  in  their  responsibilities  hence  failure  of  Company  rule.
d)  Presence of tropical diseases. This limited the penetration of the company officials to reach the interior. For example Malaria  killed  many  G.E.A.CO  and  I.B.E.CO  officials  something  which  resulted  into shortage  of  officials  hence failure  of  the  companies.
e)  Language problem (barrier). There was language barrier between Africans and the Company Officials. It was  difficult  to  communicate  between  the  two  groups( Africans  and  Europeans) as  each  group  found  the  language  of  other  being  difficult. Hence, decline of Company rule.
f)   Lack of transport and communication facilities. This  was  another  problem  that  faced  Chartered  Company  administration  to  the  interior  was  not  easy  as  some  area  lacked  good  and  variable  transport  networks. This made  the exploitation  of  resources  and  administration  in  general  to  become  difficult. Hence, decline of Company rule.
g)  Harsh Climatic Condition (Bad climatic condition). The  climatic  condition  of  various  parts  of  Africa  was  not conductive  to  Europeans. For example in  East  Africa  the  climate  was  not  friendly and favarable to  Company Officials  hence  failure  of  Company’s  activities.
h)  Insufficient knowledge about Africa. Most  of  the  Company  Officials  lacked  sufficient  knowledge  about  the  areas  where  the  companies  were  operating. For instance, the  I.B.E.A.CO  Officials  were  not  sure  on  the  navigability  of  some  rivers  such  as  River  Tana  and  Juba
Maltreatment of the natives. In some areas, the company rule over exploited and harassed badly the indigenous. The  maltreatment of  the  companies  created  hostility  with  Africans, something  which  led  to  stiff  resistance. For  example Karl Peters (G.E.A.CO)  was  nicknamed  as “Mikono ya Damu” by  the  natives  in  East  Africa  due  to  his  brutality. He  therefore  faced  a lot  of  resistances  and  dislike  until  his  dismissal.

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