From Colonialism to the First World War (1880-1914)

Grapes garden.

Colonialism is the situation where by a strong country dominate  weak country. For example, Germany dominated Tanganyika. In this article we are going to look at what happened during the colonial period until the first world war. For Tanganyika, this was the period where it was under German rule.

The colonial state

Colonial state was an imperialistic administration established in the colonies to ensure smooth occupation and exploitation. This administration consisted of Africans and whites, Africans were working in the lower rank position and upper rank occupied by whites.

Objective of colonial state

1. To maintain law and order
Colonial state focused on ensuring that colonial laws and order were followed. Offenders severely punished and other publicly hanged.
2. Linking the colonies to metropolitan states
The colonial state served as a link between the colonial master and their colony. The colonial state was used to report what was happening but also received various instructions from their mother country.
3. To defend the colonies from outside attack
The colonial state worked to protect the colony from being attacked by other colonial powers. For example the German colonial state fought Britain against the invasion of Tanganyika during the first world war.
4. Ensuring the colony was self sufficient
The colony was supposed to meet its own administration costs so as to relieve metropolitan state from that financial burden.
5. To foster Western culture
The colonial state worked to spread white cultures including religion, food and education. African cultures were not prioritized and were considered barbaric in the eyes of Europeans.
6. Implementation of colonial policies and laws
The colonial state drafted various policies that supported their exploitation. For example the 1900 and 1904 land ordinance in Kenya legalized the appropriation of land for white settlers in central Kenya.


Nature of colonial state
Nature means the basic or inherent features, character, or qualities of something. By nature colonial state was:
1. Coercive and violent
Colonial state was violent as it was implanted using forceful measures.
Establishment of colonial economy involved application of forceful taxation, and forcing people to cultivate cash crops.
Force were used to destroy pre colonial African economies, traditional industries were banned and victims punished, in the Belgian Congo, African Aritisans who were caught engaging tool making,had their hands chopped off.
Africans were forced to abandon their culuture and to be assimilated into European ways.
Africans were forced to construct infrastructures, they were forced to construct transport lines, BOMAS, prisons, schools and hospitals.
Force were used to suppress nationalists struggle such as MAUMAU in Kenya.
2. Exploitative in nature
The colonial state exploited Africans through:
Forced labour, Africans were forced to provide free labour. For example in Kenya Master Servant Act of 1902 in Kenya directed Africans to offer labour to colonial economies for at least 90 days a year.
Low wages, Africans worked hard but received low wages. For example in Tanganyika the wage of cotton planters were only 3 rupees per month.
Land alienation, Europeans grabbed African fertile land. The 1915 Crown land ordinance in Kenya that leased land to settlers for 999 years is an example to that explanation.
Taxation, Africans payed many taxes like: hut tax, gun tax, poll tax and many others. Tax were collected directly from them or were cut from their wages.
Long hours of work, labour in plantation and those in mining worked for at least 12 hours a day.
3. Segregation
All top posts like commissioners and army commanders were held by the Europeans, followed by Asians. At the bottom were the Africans who served as junior clerks, messengers and manual labourers. Moreover, there were separate services like education and health for Europeans, Asians and Africans. Whites received best services provided by qualified personnel from Europe while Africans received poor services provided by lowly trained personnel.
4. Export import oriented economy
The colonial state specialized in the production of raw materials for export to feed industries in Europe and also served as a steady market for manufactured goods imported from the metropolitan Europe.
5. Monoculture
Colonies were made to depend on agriculture and specialized in few cash crops like sisal in Tanganyika, cocoa in Ghana, cotton in Sudan, and sugar in Mauritius.
6. Weak industrial sector
Industrial sector mainly comprised processing industries like cotton ginneries, sisal decortications and mineral processors established purposely to reduce the bulkiness of raw materials to ease transportation to Europe.
Also the manufacturing industrial sector was very small with a few import substitution industries to make consumer goods like cigarettes, sugar, salt and drinks that were scarce in Europe or less profitable when imported from Europe.

Significance of agriculture in the colonial economy

When the colonists arrived, they invested in agriculture. Agriculture benefited them as described.
1. Production of raw materials
Cotton, sisal, coffee, tea and cocoa, were produced in Africa and exported to Europe for industrial use.
2. Food production
Agriculture produced food to be eaten by the colonialist. Also, agriculture reduced the cost of importing food from Europe.
3. Source of employment
Agriculture provided employment to its citizens and helped the colonists to solve unemployment problems in their countries. For example, most of Europeans came as settlers to participate in commercial farming but others as estate managers, supervisor and other related jobs. Africans were employed as cheap labor.
4. Boosted other sector of colonial economy
Other economies like trade, industry and transport were designed to boost agriculture. European trading companies came to Africa to deal in agricultural commodities. Processing industries like ginneries and sisal decortications were established and transport lines were extended to agricultural areas to carry agricultural goods.
5. Raised income to the colonial state
Agriculture increased the income of the colonial government especially when crops were sold. These products were obtained for a small price and sold at a great price thus making them profitable and the profit were taken by the colonialist.
6. Market for European manufactured goods
Settlers, African peasants and migrant labour, spent large part of their incomes on manufactured goods such as cloth and bicycles imported from Europe.

Factors which determined the introduction of different systems of agriculture in the colonies

When the colonists came, they used different types of agriculture. For example, in Tanganyika, they used plantation agriculture, in Uganda they used peasant agriculture and in Kenya they used settler agriculture. The reasons for preferring to use certain types of agriculture are explained.

Peasant agriculture

Peasant agriculture involved the small scale production of cash crops by individuals for purposes of earning cash and providing food for survival during colonial rule. Peasant agriculture was practiced in Uganda, Ghana and northern Nigeria, Zambia and Malawi by the British.

Factors that favored peasant agriculture

1. Dense population
Dense population made it difficult for land alienation to be practiced, hence settler and plantation agriculture was impossible to develop; thus peasant agriculture was reinforced.
2. Different governors preferred peasant agriculture
For example, Governor Harrry Johnstone of Uganda and governors Horrance Byatt and Sir Donald Cameroon of Tanganyika.
3. Peasant agriculture was cheaper
Peasant agriculture was cheaper in the production of raw materials. With peasant agriculture, farmer needed simple equipment.
4. Climatic condition
Peasant agriculture was encouraged to some areas which were thought to be unfit for the white settlements as climatic condition were concerned. For example, Nigeria and Uganda climatic condition were unfit for European settlement.
5. To avoid resistance
Peasant agriculture avoided resistance because it did not call for land alienation and forceful labour. Resistance like Nama - Herero in Namibia was caused by land alienation and forced labour.
6. Readiness to grow cash crops
Societies which were willing to grow cash crops on their own were favoured for peasant farming. For example, Buganda adopted peasant agriculture because they were willing to produce cash crops.

Settler agriculture

Settler agriculture involved production by foreigners. The promotion of agricultural production was to go hand in hand with white settlements in Africa especially in those areas that were fertile.
Settlers settled in big numbers in, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and South Africa.

Factors that favored the introduction of settler agriculture

1. Natural factor
Kenya was preferred by the settlers due to its temperate like climate and fertile soil in the Kenyan highlands. In 1901, there were 506 settlers, but from 1906 to 1,914, the number of settlers increased to 5,438.
2. Dense population
For example, the population of Kenya was dense and so it became easy to remove the Africans from their areas.
3. Presence of cheap labour 
Labour could work in settler farms. So labour supply was not a problem in areas like Kenya.
4. Unwillingness of the Africans to produce cash crops
In colonies where Africans were not ready to participate in cash crop production, settler farming was the solution. For example in Southern Rhodesia where the Ndebele resisted colonial systems. In such society it was hard to persuade the colonized people to grow cash crops.
5. Support of the colonial government
Settler agriculture was dominant in the colonies where the colonial governments supported the system and laid ground for its success like in the Southern Rhodesia where settlers were given more political rights in control of the country.
6. Presence of white settlers
In some Africans societies like in Algeria and South Africa, white settler had settled for a long time before colonial rule and were already participating in agriculture.

Plantation agriculture

Plantation agriculture was type of agriculture practiced during colonialism where farms of cash crops were owned by European companies. The owners of those big estates stayed in the metropolitan states but they sent managers to attend their plantation.
Plantation agriculture dominated in Tanganyika for sisal, Congo DRC for rubber, Liberia for rubber, Zanzibar for cloves and coconut and Mauritius for Sugar. Others were Senegal, Gabon, Central Africa Republic and Cameroon.

Factors for plantation agriculture

1. Low population density
2. Africans unwillingness to grow cash crops
3. Availability of enough cheap labour
4. Preference of colonial government
5. Soil fertility
6. Climatic condition
Plantation agriculture was practiced in climatic conditions that supported production of cash crops needed. It was practiced in climatic conditions that were not conducive to the settlement of European settlers.

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