Colonial Administrative System | History Form Three


Colonial administration were the ways which used by the colonial power to administer the colonies during the colonial rule in Africa.

The Concepts of Direct Rule, Indirect Rule, Assimilation and Association

Indirect Rule

Indirect rule was an administrative system which was used by the British to administer the colonial subjects and colonies through the use of traditional chiefs and kings.
British used this ruling system.
Indirect rule was pioneered by Sir Fredrick John Lugard who was the British High Commissioner to Nigeria in 1890.

Direct Rule

This was a colonial system of administration whereby the colonies were governed by Europeans officials at the top position.
In Tanganyika, the government ruled through the agents called Akida and Jumbes. Jumbe and Akidas, collected taxes, administered laws and prepared people for economic development.
Assimilation Policy
Assimilation policy was an administrative systems which absorbed the Africans into the citizenship of the colonizing powers. This policy was used by the French who turned Africans into black Frenchmen. They turned Africans to be French men by requiring them to speak French, practice their culture, religion and obey the law which governed France. They employed many of the assimilated Africans in French colonial government.
The assimilation policy was first used in Indo-China and Algeria and later introduced in the four communes of Senegal-Goree, St. Louis, Rufisque and Dakar-in 1854 and spread to other French colonies in Africa. The assimilation policy proved to be successful when it was applied in Morocco. In Senegal the assimilation policy was introduced by Lewis, a trench governor, between 1854 and 1865.

The Association Policy

This was the system of French colonial administration that prevailed in the colonies after the failure of the assimilation policy.
Unlike assimilation, association policy respected the culture of Africans and allowed them to develop independently, and did not force them to adapt French culture.
The association had to use the indigenous elites who were trained in France as administrators to mediate between fellow Africans and French colonial administrators.
African rulers were used by the colonial administration to fulfill their demands such as collection of tax, labor recruitment and maintaining peace and order in their areas. African chiefs who failed to perform such duties were replaced.
Africans had the right for maintaining their culture, Examples, of such cultural practices were polygamy and Islamic religion in West Africa.

Why French Shift From Assimilation Policy To Association

By 1905 French stopped the assimilation policy. They replaced the system by the new policy – Association policy. The following are the reasons for the French shift from assimilation to association.
i.             The policy was opposed by French scholars, politicians and businessmen. They bought their views that Africans could not be transformed into Frenchmen. According to them, there was a need to respect African culture.
ii.            To avoid challenge. France realized that the policy would deprive the country of its sources of raw materials and labour. If the Africans had to be treated equally with the whites and enjoy civil rights they could challenge oppressive policies and decisions which required them to produce cash crops.
iii.           The policy was very expensive.
iv.          The policy was not supported by the Africans. Africans criticised the policy because it was based on racial discrimination. All high rank jobs were given to the Europeans.
v.           The missionaries’ schools built by the Christian churches were opposed by the Muslims. So the policy failed because it failed to assimilate all people in the colony.

Weaknesses and impact of assimilation policy

1. The policy failed make an African a French citizen
It managed to change the person mentally and morally but the person remained inferior because he remained a black man who could not even be accepted by fellow Africans who were not assimilated and would neither be accepted in the European world.
2. It was too expensive
As the French kept on expanding their territory in Africa, it was a burden to assimilate more of the Africans inhabitants since the French government could incur more costs for building more social facilities such as schools, hospitals, churches and many more.
3. It arose fears among Frenchmen
In France that the assimilated Africans could bring economic challenge to them, since they would get equal rights as other Frenchmen, particularly in trade activities. Thus, they thought of discrediting the assimilation policy in order to safeguard their own interests.
4. There was a great gap among Africans 
Assimilates were exempted from tax paying and forced labor because they were considered French citizens, while the unassimilated were forced to pay tax and were subjected to forced labor.
5. The African colonies were regarded as part and parcel of France
The assimilation system of administration considered their colonies as their overseas provinces.
6. French became an official language in most of African countries that were colonized by French (Francophone countries). 
The reason behind such decision was the impact of assimilation whereby many Africans were influenced by the French language.

The Motive for the Application of Indirect Rule

Reasons which made Europeans to use indirect rule system of administration in Africa were:
1.   The Europeans did not want to interfere with the African traditional systems of administration
They felt that there was no need to intervene in the African traditional system as long as their needs were met.
2.   To reduce African resistance
The Europeans administrators wanted their instructions or orders to appear as if they were emanating directly from the African traditional rulers. This could minimize the number of people who were fighting against colonial rule because the Africans could think that they were not under foreign rule.
3.   Lack of enough British personnel
British had few European officials who could not administer the colonies effectively. The chiefs were highly needed to assist the British.
4.   Indirect rule was financially cheap
Traditional leaders were less expensive than the white’s officials; they only needed petty gifts like old clothes, chairs, old coats. 
5.   Language barrier
Local people could not be able to communicate with the Europeans because they did not know English. Chiefs were seen as officials who could be understood well by the local population.
6.   Physical difficulties of the colonies
Colonialist could not be employed in remote areas which had think forests, tropical disease, wild animals and lack of transport. They decided to leave the chiefs who were used to the areas.

The Motive for the Application of Direct Rule

1.   Intensive resistance
The colonies that had experienced with African resistance during the imposition of colonial rule forced the colonialist to use direct rule in attempts to suppress faster African resistance, for example, The Germans were compelled to use direct rule to imposition of the Hehe, in Swahili traders in Tanganyika, also, Nama and Herero in Namibia.
2.   Presence of large settler populations
The colonial state wanted to safeguards the interest of the settlers in setter colonies to enable them gain ultimate and control over the economies and exploit valuable African resources such as farms, land and minerals E.g British established direct rule in Zimbabwe and Kenya to safeguards settlers.
3.   Negligence of the traditional authorities by the colonial administration
The German, Belgium and Portuguese believed that Africans were inferior and their Administrative system was very poor.
4.   To provide employment to the Germans
In order to eliminate the problem of employment in their country, the Germans decided to use direct rule and bring in many juries who worked in the colonial government.

The Motive for the Application of Assimilation Policy

Some of the reasons for introducing the assimilation policy were:
1.   Higher percentage of the converted Christian
It was easy to accept the assimilation policy applied by the government in their country.
2.   French revolution of 1789
This revolution overthrew the dictatorship government of King Louis XVI. The revolution created France which respected the right of man on the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. The parliament in Paris made a decision that all people in the colonies had to be treated equally by the imposition of assimilation policy.
3.   To avoid resistance
Many Africans could consider themselves as equal with the Frenchmen in the colony without knowing that they were under the colonial rule.
4.   Frenchmen wanted to get a class of black Frenchmen who could be used to serve in different sectors
Example of those sectors are: education, business and administration.

Similarities of Direct Rule and Indirect Rule

1.           Both of them aimed at African exploitation.
2.           Both of them used police force, the prisons, the army and judiciary to suppress Africans people.
3.           Both of them had racial discrimination. Europeans were at the top and they got high ranking jobs in the government. Africans were at the bottom, and held lower post in local areas.

The Differences between Direct Rule and Indirect Rules

1.           The direct rule did not use the traditional Africans chiefs as their intermediaries while the indirect rule used the African chiefs. For example, in Kenya the British used some Kikuyu chiefs as paramount chiefs, like chief Koinange wa Mbiyu.
2.           The indirect rule system of administration had less costs of administration unlike the direct rule that required many Europeans to perform all tasks of administrations hence high costs of administration.
3.           Direct rule was characterized by the use of force and racial superiority. For instance, the Germans considered themselves to be superior to other races. Brutality was also characteristic of direct rule, whereby Africans were handled brutally by colonial administrators. On other hand the indirect rule system of administration used African local chiefs in handling their people and at the same time performing colonial duties.

The Similarities between the Direct Rule and the Assimilation Policy

1.           Both the colonial administration system used European officials at the higher administrative position in their colonies.
2.           Both colonial systems exploited Africans through tax payment, forced labor and land alienation also they exploited the African natural resources, such as minerals, forests and rivers.
3.           Both colonial administrative system underrated and ignored the traditional African chiefs.

The Differences between the Direct Rule and the Assimilation Policy

1.           The assimilation policy made the Africans who were in French colonies to be French citizens and enjoy all republican rights. This was opposed by the British colonies, whereby no matter what position someone may hold in a colonial state, still he remained the subject of British colony.
2.           Indirect rule treated all the colonies as separate entities from metropolitan government while assimilation considered their colonies as overseas province of France.
3.           Indirect rule gave more powers to the Africans chiefs more than assimilation policy.
4.           Indirect rule law were passed by governors while assimilation policy law were passed in Paris and sent to overseas province for application.

The Differences between the Assimilation and Association Policies

1.   The association policy was a colonial administrative system in which France had to respect the culture of her colonial people. Assimilation policy on other hand was the system of administration used by French in which the Africans were taught how to think and act as French citizens, aiming at colonizing Africans by transforming them into French citizens.
2.   Assimilation policy was expensive as compared to association.
3.   In the association policy, colonies were regarded as other colonies in Africa and thus they were not close to the colonial master, while the assimilation policy the colonies were regarded as their overseas provinces. Thus, the colonies were closely attached to the colonial master.
4.   The association policy made the Africans to be regarded as second-class citizens, while the assimilation policy Africans enjoyed the privilege and rights that governed any French citizen in the metropolis.

Weaknesses Of Indirect Rule

1. Turned Africans chiefs into puppet
It avoided African resistance by appointing traditional rulers to rule on their behalf. Hence, all complaints were directed to traditional African rulers.
2. It created imbalance of development among African states
Areas which had local chiefs assisting the colonial government had development on social services like schools, hospitals and roads while those which had no chiefs in their areas had no or inadequate social services. For example, in Tanzania, Dar es Salaam is developed than Njombe.
3. It created social differences among Africans
The chiefs’ families and loyal families got privilege of getting social services such as education, hospitals and many more while the rest of the community were not getting such facilities.
4. Tribalism
African chiefs who were entrusted to rule on behalf of colonialists considered their tribes superior than others. For example, Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda created disunity among Ugandan when he declared the Buganda kingdom independent in 1960.
5. There were no democratic process in making the law
As a result was difficult for Africans to modify unfavorable laws after they had been written up and declared law by the colonizers.
6. African chiefs accumulated wealth at the expense of people
Chiefs supported Europeans exploitation and they worked on their behalf to exploit their fellow Africans.

Strengths of Direct rule

1. solved the shortage of employment among the European population
Germany offered employment to her people in the colonies she occupied. Hence, she managed to reduce the rate of unemployment of her people.
2. The system managed to suppress resistance
Since it ensured that the colonies had enough white military officials to safeguard their interests. For instance, the Abushiri war of resistance of 1888 was suppressed by the German colonial administration.

Weakness of Direct rule

1. The use of harsh and brutal means
This were used to make Africans produce. Their approach led to many sufferings of the Africans that included death or imprisonment.
2. It removed the Africans traditional rulers
Chiefs were replaced with Arab Akidas and Liwalis from the coastal areas.

Colonial Military and Colonial Legal Institutions

Colonial military legal institution some time refers to colonial state apparatus that were responsible to protect colonial interests.
They include:
- The army force
- Police force
- Prison/judiciary

Major functions of the colonial military institutions

1. To defend of colonial boundaries
The colonial administration ordered their army to fight against their enemies. For instance in 1919, 6th KAR battalion of the British in Tanganyika fought in World War I in Kalito (Ethiopia) and another part of it fought in Burma and Sudan.
2. Implemented land alienation for colonial settlers
Alienated land were used to start plantation.
3. Suppression of African resistance
Some Africans reacted very strongly to colonial leadership so it was the duty of colonial military to suppress the opposition. This was used as the only way for colonialists to maintain their administration.
4. Maintaining peace and order
They prevented crimes in the colonies. Not only that but they also protected the colonial properties such as buildings, infrastructure etc.
5. Tax collection and information
They were responsible for collecting information and supervising the tax collected in the colony. The information collected was to be communicated to the colonial masters.
6. Supervision of public works
Public works included the construction of infrastructures such as railway, ports, prisons, hospitals, schools, churches etc. all these had to be supervised by the colonial military.

Colonial legal institutions

The colonial legal institutions were the colonial organisations that dealt with legal issues.
The legal systems during the colonial period in many African colonies were led by European judges and magistrates. It sued and sentenced those who were not affecting the oppressive colonial laws.
The nature of punishment administered in the colonial judicial system ranged from fines, caning, imprisonment and execution. The colonial judiciary system was governed by the help of:
The Criminal Investigation Department: This department performed the task of investigating all criminal reports.
The motorised companies: Those performed the task of suppressing strikes formed by trade unionists. The motorised companies were established in 1947.
The militia: This took charge of collecting taxes and arrested Africans who failed to pay tax or evaded paying taxes.
The major duties of the legal institutions were vast. Some of them were to amend laws, acts and ordinances as they were amended time after time in order to suit the colonial situation.

Revision Questions

1. Who headed the central government of the colony?
a)   Queen b) Governor c) Secretary for colonies d) Secretary general e) Minister for colonies
2. How would you relate the French assimilation policy and destruction of African culture?
3. Which of the following functions was performed by African chiefs under indirect rule?
a) Collection of tax b) loading cash crops into ships c) advising the governor d) promoting internal capital export e) organizing election of the colonial officials
4. Compare and contrast British and French systems of administration as practiced in Africa during the colonial rule.
5. Indirect rule was predominant in the following regions.
A South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe B Uganda, Nigeria and Tanganyika C Uganda, Kenya and Zanzibar D Zimbabwe, Kenya and Zanzibar E Cameroon, Namibia and Tanganyika
6. Which of the following was true on French policy of administration in Africa?
A African colonies were to be independent. B African colonies were to remain with their local ruling institution and African culture had to be valued. C There were to be separate administrative laws for the African and Europeans. D The administration of communes was to be under African whose loyalty was to France. E African colonies were regarded as an overseas commune of France.
7. Explain six difference between direct rule and indirect rule.