The colonial powers used various methods or tactics in imposing their colonial rule in Africa. Those methods depended on nature of the Africans in a particular area and the response from the Africans. There were different factors which determined the method to be used in imposing colonial rule.
FACTORS THAT DETERMINED THE TYPE OF METHOD TO BE USED
There were different factors that determined the type of method which was to be used by colonialists in imposing their colonial rule in Africa. Some of these factors are as follows
i. Centralized states with strong leaders. Some areas in Africa had centralized political system with strong leaders who were not ready to accept colonial rule. In those areas, colonialists employed military force and conquest. For examples King Jaja of Opobo in Nigeria, Mkwawa of Uhehe Chiefdom, King Lobengula of Matebele land etc.
ii. Traditional conflicts between Africans. Some African societies had tribal conflicts with each others. This made colonialists to employ collaboration method where they sided with one of the societies in conflict in order to defeat the other society. For example: The Germans collaborated with the Bena and Sangu against the Hehe, The British collaborated with King Lenana of Maasai against his brother Sendeyo, Chief Lewanika of Rwozi Kingdom collaborated with the British against other parts of Central Africa which were a threat to him etc.
iii. Weaker societies. In areas with weaker societies, colonialists used treaties of protection and claimed to make friendship between them and African chiefs. A good example, By 1885, Kari Peters had already made twelve treaties with Chief of Usagara, Uzigua etc.
iv. Society problems. Some societies had various problems like diseases, drought and shortage of food. Colonialists decided to use diplomacy and collaboration as a method to impose their colonial rule.A good example was the Maasai under Lenana who collaborated with the colonialists due to rinder pests and drought.
v. The Nature of African Society. Some societies in Africa were very reluctant and did not easily want to be under colonialists. This made colonialists to apply the use of force and gun boat diplomacy to intimidate them. For example, The British applied gun – boat diplomacy against King Jaja of Opobo, The British also applied this method in Kenya to conquer the Nandi.
THE METHODS USED TO IMPOSE COLONIAL RULE
a) Treaty Making (Diplomacy). Through this method, African chiefs signed bogus treaties with Colonial agents deliberately. African chiefs did not understand the details of those treaties something which led to colonial rule.
b) Military force (Conquest). This method was used in those societies that attempted to oppose colonial rule. Many African societies were not ready to be under colonial rule therefore, they were conquered by the colonialists by using military methods. A good example were the Mandika, Hehe, Yao and the Nyamwezi
c) Divide and rule technique. It was a method used by colonialists to divide the Africans and weakening their unity. The colonialists used the existing conflicts between Africans so as to magnify the differences. The weak societies were supported by colonialists against their rivals, for example, The British instigated disunity between the Buganda and Bunyoro people, The French created and magnified disunity between Mandika people and Toklar people etc.
d) Gun boat diplomacy. It was a method aimed at creating a sense of fear ( intimidation) among Africans. Colonialists exposed their military weapons publically so as to create psychological fear among Africans and making them withdraw their intention of resisting colonial rule.This was used to conquer Jaja of Opobo and the Nandi by the British.
e) Collaboration. Through this method, European allied or collaborated with a group of Africans which could defend their interest against another group.In most case, they allied with weaker society so as to occupy the strong society. For example, this was applied by the British who collaborated with Semei Kakunguru so as to conquer Eastern Uganda.