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.
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.
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.