Resistance to Colonial Rule in Africa

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By the start of the 20th century, Colonial rule by both the French and the British in Southern Africa had rising expenditure costs. The British method of indirect rule in their colonies, created by Frederick Lugard to leave existing government as it is, had far lower costs than the French method of direct rule. Nonetheless taxation stood as the universal method of keeping all colonies cheap and straightforwardly ran. African’s disgust with a white man telling them to pay for the white man’s endeavors had taken a toll. Protest of colonial rule threatened to endanger British indirect rule. The British would take steps to prevent this from happening. Methods Africans used to protest Colonial rule during the first decades of the 20th century included a religious opposition, a radical confrontation, and a political resistance.

The religious opposition to colonial regulation was focused around the Watchtower Movement in Central Africa. At the turn of the 20th century, a hut tax was being imposed in Zambia by the British which increased Africans’ feeling of animosity towards the colonists. Missionaries were also now requiring fees for hospitals and schools in order to maintain an inexpensive and modest colony. Most Africans sought to be baptized in hope of going to heaven. The problem with being baptized now was that a person had to be able to read scriptures to be able to be baptized. However since Africans couldn’t afford to pay for school to learn how to read scriptures, they were being denied a peaceful afterlife. Opposition to the main stream religion started in Malawi in 1908 when Elliot Kenan Kamwana started to take a very literal view of the Bible. In rebellion, Kamwana openly preached about the removal of restrictions on polygamy and drinking in which mainstream religion denied. In addition, there was a gaining majority of people who listened to Kamwana’s message against taxation, paying for education, and the refusal to baptize people who couldn’t read...
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