Essay on Resistance to Imperialism and the Zulu War

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Although it is usually 19th century European imperialism that appears in Western literature, Africans have felt pressure from outside powers for over a thousand years. By the year 1200, most of Northern Africa had adopted Islam, and the population consisted mainly of a blend of Arab and Berber peoples. It was at this time that the enslavement of black Africans along the eastern coast of the continent by Arabian pirates began. This slave trade, however, met fierce resistance from the flourishing African kingdoms of Kush and the Somali king, Nagus Yeshaq, who was a Christian Becker). Because the strength of the Arabic incursions was based mainly on conversion, the Islamic armies never penetrated deeply into sub-Saharan Africa. …show more content…
The disparity between the power of the African tribes and the European colonists that is apparent in Heart of Darkness was only the case after the beginning of the 19th century, when tribal infighting had substantially weakened the organized African kingdoms (Becker). Europeans made capitalized on the superiority of their weaponry, and were able to defeat relatively large tribes of Africans with fairly small numbers of soldiers. Often, the only course of action for the tribes was to flee from their homeland and settle further into the jungle, as is described in Tarzan of the Apes.

Throughout the 19th century, however, various Africans attempted to recover their lost unity and overcome the inter-tribal differences that had weakened their resistance to imperialism thus far. The most celebrated example of this resistance was the war of the Zulu nation against the British Empire in what are now the nations of South Africa and Botswana. In 1879, the British Government embarked on a campaign to subdue the tribes north of Johannesburg. The Zulu rallied around their charismatic king, Cetshwayo kaMpande, and united every single tribe in the region. They were able to summon what is estimated to be seven thousand warriors to fight the three attacking British armies (Knight). British officials did not hold either the quality or the tactics of their spear-wielding opponents in high esteem. Their poor

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