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Connexions between ‘Primary Resistance’ Movements and Modern Mass Nationalism In East and Central Africa. Part I


A recent authoritative review of developments in African historiography pointed to one 'kind of synthesis which has always seemed worthwhile undertaking’, the attempt to trace ‘an historic connexion between the last-ditch resisters, the earliest organisers of armed risings, the messianic prophets and preachers, the first strike-leaders, the promoters of the first cautious and respectful associations of the intelligentsia, and the modern political parties which (initially at least) have been the inheritors of European power’.

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1 ‘African syntheses’, The Times Literary Supplement, 28 07 1966.

2 Robinson R. E. and Gallagher J., ‘The partition of Africa’, in The New Cambridge Modern History, xi (Cambridge, 1962), chap. 23, p. 640;Coleman J. S., Nigeria: Background to Nationalism (Berkeley, 1963), 172.

3 Oliver R. and Fage J. D., A Short History of Africa (London, 1962), p. 203.

4 Leys N., Kenya, 1924.

5 Davidson A. B., ‘African resistance and rebellion against the imposition of colonial rule’, in Emerging Themes in African History, ed. Ranger T. O. (Nairobi, 1968).

6 J. F. Ajayi, ‘The continuity of African institutions under colonialism’, ibid.; Hodgkin T. and Schachter R., French-Speaking West Africa in Transition (New York, 1960).

7 Matson A. T., ‘The pacification of Kenya’, Kenya Weekly News, 14 09 1962;Low D. A., ‘British East Africa: The establishment of British rule, 1895–1912’, in History of East Africa, II, ed. Harlow V. and Chilver E. M. (Oxford, 1965), 31, 32;Namu D., ‘Primary resistance amongst the Embu’ and ‘Background to Mau Mau amongst the Embu’, Research Seminar Papers (Dar es Salaam, 10 1965 and 11 1966).

8 Nyerere J. K., Freedom and Unity (Dar es Salaam, 1966), 23.

9 These themes and others in this paper are treated at greater length in Ranger T. O., ‘African reaction to the imposition of colonial rule in East and Central Africa’, in History and Politics of Modern Imperialism in Africa, ed. Gann L. H. and Duignan P. (Stanford, forthcoming). Although the two papers are distinct in theme, some parts of the argument are necessarily the same, and there is some repetition in this paper of passages also included in the Stanford chapter.

10 Halpern J., South Africa's Hostages (London, 1965), chap. 3; I am also indebted to Mr A. E. Atmore for my understanding of the significance of the Gun War.

11 Ranger T. O., Revolt in Southern Rhodesia, 1896–1897 (London, 1967), chaps. 7 and 10.

12 Redmayne A. H., ‘The Wahehe people of Tanganyika’. Oxford University D. Phil. thesis, 1964. See also her article in this number of J. Afr. Hist.

13 Iliffe J., ‘The effects of the Maji-Maji rebellion on German occupation policy in East Africa’, British and German Colonialism in Africa, ed. Gifford P. and Louis W. R. (Yale, 1968); Ranger, Revolt in Southern Rhodesia.

14 Ranger, ‘African reaction to the imposition of colonial rule’, loc. cit.; Shepperson G. and Price T., Independent African (Edinburgh, 1958), 70, 71, 76.

15 Geiss I., ‘The development of Pan-Africanism in the twentieth century’, Lauterbach conference paper, 06 1966.

16 John Mphamba's speech, 29 06 1929, C.I.D. report, National Archives, Salisbury, S 84/A/300.

17 Mandela N., No Easy Walk to Freedom (London, 1965),147.

18 Ranger, ‘African reaction to the imposition of colonial rule’, loc. cit.

19 Iliffe J., ‘The German administration of Tanganyika, 1906–1911’, Cambridge University Ph.D. thesis, 1965.

20 Ranger T. O., ‘Towards a historical study of traditional religion in East and Central Africa’, East African Academy Symposium paper, Kampala, 1966;Lewis I. M., ‘Spirit possession and deprivation cults’, Man, I, no. 3, 09. 1966.

21 Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger (London, 1966), chap. 10.

22 Doutreloux M. A., ‘Prophétisme et culture’, in African Systems of Thought, ed. Fortes and Dieterlin (London, 1965).

23 Ranger T. O., ‘The role of the Ndebele and Shona religious authorities in the rebellions of 1896 and 1897’, in The Zambesian Past, ed. Stokes E. T. and Brown R. (Manchester, 1966)Gann L. H., A History of Southern Rhodesia (London, 1965).

24 Iliffe J., ‘The organization of the Maji-Maji Rebellion’, J. Afr. Hist. VIII, no. 3 (1967).

25 Iliffe, op. cit.; Ranger T. O, ‘Witchcraft eradication movements in Central and Southern Tanzania and their connection with the Maji-Maji rising’, Research Seminar Paper, Dar es Salaam, 09 1966.

26 Ngeny S. Arap', ‘Nandi Resistance to the establishment of British administration, 1893–1965’, Research Seminar Paper, Dar es Salaam, 09 1965.

27 Report by Captain Phillips J. E. T., A.D.C., Kigezi, 31 07 1919, National Archives, Dar es Salaam, Secretariat 0910. See also Bessell M. J., ‘Nyabingi’, Uganda Journal, 6, no. 2 (10 1938);Baxter P. W. T., ‘The Kiga, in East African Chiefs, ed. Richards A. (London, 1959);Edel M. M., The Chiga of Western Uganda (Oxford 1957), Since this article was written I have been able to read a detailed appraisal of the political implications of the Nyabingi cult by Mr F. S. Brazier of Makerere University College, ‘The Nyabingi cult: religion and political scale in Kigezi, 1900–1930’. Mr Brazier finds that in Kigezi Nyabingi was, indeed, ‘a cult of resistance’ and suggests that ‘it attained its near-monopoly status among the cults which had a Kiga following just because it answered best to the political needs of the time—a rallying point against the incursions of the Ruanda and Twa’, and later of the British and their Ganda agents. He notes that Nyabingi priests were involved in a series of incidents of resistance widely scattered in time and place. But he also remarks that at any single time the Nyabingi priesthood was not able to bring about widespread and co-ordinated resistance. The cult was an important focus of resistance and covered a wide area but was itself too individualistic and loosely structured to succeed in any very extensive enlargement of scale.

28 For specific examples of religious leaders urging wider unity see Ranger, ‘African reaction to the imposition of colonial rule’, loc. cit.

29 Iliffe, op. cit.

30 Ranger T. O., ‘Revolt in Portuguese East Africa: the Makombe rising of 1917’, St Antony's Papers, no. 15, ed. Kirkwood K. (London, 1963).

31 The Daily Chronicle, 13 07 and 10 09 1896; intelligence reports, Inyanga, 32 Mar. 1904, National Archives, Salisbury, A/11/2/12/12: Ranger, Revolt in Southern Rhodesia, chap. 10.

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