The most important and difficult phase was establishing colonial rule and making it acceptable to the African.

Toi establish and maintain their rule, they had to recruit indigenous people as soldiers, chiefs, clerks and messengers.

Different colonial powers used different methods to admister their colonies.

Like British used both direct and indirect rule in Nigeria and Kenya and in Zimbabwe they used direct rule only. The French practiced assimilation and association in their colonies.

They all focused in the effective colonization through the Whiteman dominance. The Africans were useful as long as they encouraged and supported colonial interests.


It refers to a method of colonial administration using local people. It was based on the use of pre-colonial existing socio-Political structures. In places where communities had elaborated administrative structures and in Nigeria, the local chiefs were use.

The application of indirect rule was seen as the maximum utilization of the local traditional systems under the


Kenya was administered by a central government under a governer. The British found most Kenyan societies under no elaborate government, save for the coastal Arab settlement and the wanga of western Kenya.

The establishment of colonial rule was therefore, faced with problem of deciding the most appropriate administrative system.

The British East Africa company which took control of the region, initially appointed administrators in these areas. The entry of the British government introduced and the company’s administration.                        


The British applied both direct and indreict rule in Kenya indirect rule in Central Kenya among the Agikuyu was supplied through the invention of the chieftaincies in the stateless society. They made use of the African customary land and created chiefs among the Agikuyu who were allowed to judge local dipute and try minor cases involving Africans.

In white highlands the British applied through the invention of the chieftaincies in the stateless society. They made use of the Agikuyu who were allowed to judge local disputes and try minor cases involving Africans.

In white highlands the British applied indirect rule policy in all African reserves.

They created district African tribal units in which they encouraged the use of the different dialects. This redefined the societies into separate languages with distinct customary differences in dress and cultural traits.

In Western Kenya the British from the Wanga under an elaborate give thing recognized chief Muia as the overall rulers of the Abaluhya.

In Gusii land and Luo land they identified collaborating and cooperative African leaders as the chiefs of the area. The indirect rule was considered cheap and effective.

In administering the last territories with

Effects of indirect rule in Kenya

It made the African communities to remain divided. The appointed  chiefs and their allies greatly supported colonial administration.

The appointed administrators who assumed the titles of chiefs facilitated the implementation of colonial nations irrespective of their effect in Africans.

It led to the creatioin of district isolated tribal reserves in the interest of the British.

The creation of chiefs in former stateless societies made them mediator between he rulers and the ruled. This colonized into colonial made rule whereby Africans suffered the blunt of unpopular colonial laws.


It was associated with Fredrick Lugard according to him a single government in which the native chiefs have clearly defined duties and an acknowledge status, equal with British officials.

The chief had a lot of power and the British administrator old only interfere when it became necessary.

It was the task of the British officials to conserve what was good in indigenous institutions and assist them to develop on their own lines.

Reasons for using indirect rule.

  • Due to existence of an elaborate local administrative system even before the coming of the British.
  • The rest distances and lack of sufficient administrative officers and funds to cover the the least and densely populated territory.
  • It was also found suitable for avoiding resistance from the colonized people.
  • The British had prior experience in  for they had successfully used it

Indirect rule in the Northern Nigeria

When the British occupied northern Nigeria, they left the Emirs and their official to rule the people with the supervision of British resistant who were attached to each of Emir courts.

Slavery was abolished and the people of northern Nigeria continues to be subject to Muslim law administered by the Emirate courts.

In the application of indirect rule some complicated and liable system e.g taxation was replaced by a single tax levied on each village.

A fixed proportion of the Emir’s resistance as was transferred to the central British administration and used to finance specialized services such as health, agriculture and railways, which old best be provided by the British experts.

The British believed that African authorities old succeeded if they acquired responsibility for the collection and use of large sums of money.

The British were more concerned to rule through chiefs whom the people considered to be their own.

The chiefs headed local government organizations responsible for ushc things as markets and administration of justice. The British didn’t limit the crimes which they did try as want as the penalties they could impose. Cases of murder, for example, were tried by chiefs like the Emir of Kano.

The local leaders were also charged with the responsibility of recruiting labour for public works as a system enabled the British to have effective control and administration of the north part of Nigeria.


Nigeria had been divided into three administrative unites, thus lagos, the protectorate of south Nigeria and the protectorate of north Nigeria. 

In Nothern Nigeria, the assistance of local authorities and made it possible, however it was not easy in other area like Southern Nigeria, particularly among the Yoruba which had no centralized government.

Indirect rule was appropriate to be the niger delta state where traditional authorities were strong, but impractical among the Ibus and other societies which had no traditional chiefs.

The Ibus had evolved a system of village gave equivalent to the council of elders which was far were suited to British democratic institutions than the conservancy system that Lugard was championing.

The Chiefs were given a warrant to rule on behalf of the colonial government hence known as warrant chiefs. They were to collect tax and labour recruitment.

In 1931, Donald Cameroon was appointed Governor of Nigeria during his tenure; he tried to modify the system of indirect rule by:

  1. Checking the growing independence of the Emirs in the North.
  2. Attempting to elevate the declining power of the Alafin in badland.
  3. Stressing the development of institutions instead of preserving them.

Shortcomings of the indirect Role in Nigeria

The system had been devised to suit regions which already had well established indigenous administrative structures where such system didn’t exist, it needed a great deal of adaptation.

There was language barrier.

The chiefs and their council took mere interest in matters they understood than in those which were new and unfamiliar, such as forced labour and Christianity.

Lugard’s idea of education for chiefs and councilors in modern ideas needed long, patient and skilful efforts.

Some aspects of the system were resented such as taxation.

The educated elite resented the rule by uneducated traditional chiefs.


The colonial power ruled directly thro its appointed personnel. It duregarded the traditional political leadership and appointed directly their own administrators.

The policy was successfully applied in these areas where the traditional leaders were un co-operative to colonial authority.

The British in Zimbabwe Southern Rhodesia. Zimbabwe used to be known as Southern Rhodesia, one of the three colonial that made up the British central African others were Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi).

The colonial rule was introduced by British South Africa Company of Cecil Rhodes in 1899. Cecil Rhodes used his colossal financial resources to organize the settlement of 200 Europeans in Mashonaland in 1890.

When the company rule gradually became firmly established, this new colony was named Rhodesia after Cecil Rhodes.

They took over gold workings   demanded that chiefs supply them with labour. The metabele   order – in council of July 1894 empowered the Companies impose a hut tax and establish a native department control the whole colony.

By the end of 1895, the companies had estimated an African administration, imposed a hut tax, created reserves and pass for livestock and minerals as well as forced African labour.

There was an establishment of legislative council, it consisted of five elected and for nominated members. The white settlers, elected the five members. By an council of 1898, the British government appointed a resident   and a commandant general for Rhodes which march served to establish the British imperial presence.

The settlers demanded more political power, using their growing influence in the legislative council, especially where land and labour issues were concerned.

In 1898, the company established a labour board for Rhodesia which supplied more than 6000 workers to be settles in Matabeleland.

The continuation of company rule is opposed by the candidates who returned from the mining province of Matabeleland in the legislative council election of 1902. Rhodes death in 1902 cut the link between the settler and the company, thus heightening speculation about Rhodesia’s political future.

The consolation of the BSACS charter, to be undertaken made the settlers raise the slogan ‘Rhodesia belongs to Rhodesians” but by Rhodesians they meant the white settlers only.

Finally in 1922, they were asked to choose in a refereed whether Rhodesia should join the union of South Africa or become a crown colony with internal safe government and central over its own police force and army. They chose the latter.

In 1923, company rule was terminated and Rhodesia declared a crown land or crown     the same year saw the establishment of a new constitution which set up a legislative council and a cabinet for ministers.

The 1923 constitution gave the small white population of Rhodesia the freedom to govern zambabwe as they saw it if the relationship between Britain and any by the self –governing dominons in the British Commonwealth.

After 1923, the settlers strove to create a white- dominated society based on the South African model. Voting for African followed strict qualifications, which allowed only a           small section of them to vote.

Whenever the number of and the African voters increased, the qualifications were raised higher. The land question became a sensitive issue after 1923, before then, the law defined areas of white and black occupations but there was a substantial part of the country not get assigned to either party.

Reserves set aside for Africa proved inadequate became of the high African Population.

The situation prompted the passing of the land appointment act 1930 by which Africans were denied more land and some of the best if what they already had was taken away. The result was a disruption of life and poverty for the Africans.

It was the missionaries who tool the heavy responsibility of educating Africans, while the government concentrated on providing education for white children. Further, pass laws, taxation and labour laws were passed which affected Africans negatively.

In 1953, Rhodesia was brought together with Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia in a judication which the whites felt would be economical advantageous to them.

Garfield Fodd who became the prime minister of Rhodesia in 1953, intended to introduce measures that would considerably consulate the Africans under his leaderships some    the whole community begat to question the that their competing with an in economic life.

A bill was even introduced to give recognition to African trade unions government expenditure in African agriculture was increased more attention was paid to be provision and an education.

Some thought was given to require the declorate system in such a way as to give more Africans the rights   .

The spirit of liberalism was short lived; the whites became more determined to defend their supremacy.

In 1958, Todd’s cabinet colleagues forced him out of office. He was succeeded by Sir Edgar Witched whose government abandoned Todd’s reform programmes and immediately started an era of repression.

The structure of direct rule in Zimbabwe.

The administration was Kerg authoritative and managed by the white minorities. It was characterized by the use of executive oders, decrees and emergency laws to control African activities. Racial segregation was the main guiding principle in administration.

Its structure was as follows.

The governor appointed by British government to represent the Monarch.

The Legislative council which was the most powerful aim of government.

The Prime Minister controlled both the legislative and the executive his cabinet was made up of only.

Elections were held as per scedule. The voters and candidates were largely Europeans only a small part of Africans amplified.

Racial segregation was the main government policy in socially, politically and economically.

There was a native’s affairs department. It was under a white officer who was assisted by African chiefs and sub-chiefs, all appointed by government.

Chiefs had no power but were supplied to empowerment order from the native department office.

Duties of the native department were collection of the allocation of land to Africans recruitment of African labour for European farms and solving cases involving Africans.

In 1965, Ian South, Edger Whitehead’s successors, proclaimed unilateral delectation of independence this made Zimbabwe Independent of Britain.

In 1969, a new constitution was introduced which further narrowed the rights of the Africans and gave dictatorial powers to powers to the white minority government.

In 1970, Ian smiths, government declared Rhodesian a republic, thus breaking links with Britain completely.

It was stated that as more and more African majority qualified, black rule would be achieved in Rhodesia. Britain was to grant Rhodesia loyal independence as soon as the new arrangements came into force.

Effects of Direct rule in Zimbabwe

  • Africans were displaced from their ancestral land to land alienation schemes to create room for white settlers.
  • African were subjected to poverty and suffering.
  • African traditional chiefs lost their authority and power over their subjects.
  • The administration of the colony was in the hands of the British who never referred to Africans, even where African interest were concerned.
  • Africans were subjected to heavy
  • Britain delegated the administration of the colony to the British with Africa Company and later a minority government declared unilaterial independence over Zimbabwe.
  • Arican traditional economy was undermined, as the Africans were required to work on the white man’s farms the mines.
  • The introduction of Christianity and Western education undermined African culture.
  • Africans were subjected to forced labour which increased their mines and settler farms.
  • African freedom of movement was cartailed by being confined in resource and carry Id.
  • There was racial segretation and oppression.


Its derived from the French verb assimle which means to cause to resemble this was an assumption by French that their civilization and culture had attained the highest possible standard.

The policy was based on the principles of on cultivalisation of the colonized people into the colonial power. The colonies regarded their culture and civilization as superior to the colonized.

It was thus the responsibility of the impartial power to indicate their influence on the colonized people to have them change and live like them.


The French revolution of the year 1789, had in its declaration of the human rights, guaranteed the liberty of all men regardless of race or colour.

The people of West Africa were to be transformed into Frenchmen, speaking, living, behaving and thinking like Frenchmen.

The territories in which they lived were to be identical to the provinces in France, administratively economically and politically. This policy was aimed at influencing every aspect of the likes of the colonized people and also to the colours and its society in the things of African.


  1. It began in earliest days of French administration to the middle of the 19th century. These city urban areas include St. Louis, Gorce, Darkar and Rufisque. Their inhabitants, long detribalized, had long contacts with the French. They were therefore able to assimilate the French culture.
  2. The second phase corresponds roughly for the governship of Fandherbe (1884 – 1865) whereby the French subdued the interior territories of Senegal and brought them under their control.
  3. The third phase starts from 1880 onwards, whereby the French conquered the vast interior of West Africa and portions of the coast of Guinea and brought them under their control under a federal pattern.

In 1895 the post of a governor general was created to cover the whole of French West Africa.

A separate headquarter was established at Darkar and Dahomey; upper Volta and Niger. With the creation of Mauritania as a separate colony which was added to the federation, French West Africa was then made of eight colonies each with its own Governor.


There was a minister of colonies based in Paris who was responsible to all French colonies under the minister were governor each incharge of a colony.

The governor of Senegal whose headquarters was at Darkar became the governor – general of all West African colonies.

All appointments in the civil service were handed by the governor – general. He was in charge of the army and technical matters such as poster and telegraphic territories governor – in charge of each colony carried out duties transmitted from Paris through the governor general on Darkar.

French set up a local government which lyforced traditional boundaries each day was divided into province required for             which was administered by a commandant

It was this subdivided into sub boundaries the equivalent of a district under the chief subdivision.

It was then divided into canters or locations ruled by a chief de canton. The canton were divided into villages or sub-location.

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Political assimilation, where the nations were considered to be Frenchmen. They were allowed to elect representatives to the French chamber of Deputies.

There was personal cultural assimilation where the French made attempts to transform the people in Senegal into Frenchmen in black skins.

In the “civilizing mission” the former educational facilities were extended to Senegal. The Ian government f instruction was French. Senegalese who had received education and expressed themselves in French qualified for assimilation as they met other relevant conditions.

In economic matters, Senegal integrated into French economic network. The infrastrural established in Senegal resembled that of France.

Benefits enjoyed by Assimilated Africans.

  • Allowed to send representatives to the African chamber of Deputies.
  • Could vote like Frenchmen.
  • Provided with educational opportunities like the from other.
  • Examples from forced labour, taxation and arbitrary arrest.
  • They also enjoyed trading rights.
  • They enjoyed French judicial system.
  • Employed in the civil service
  • Operated local authority structures like Frenchmen.

Why assimilation policy failed.

  • The policy was confined to the four coastal communities as the greater part of Senegalise interior remained unaffected.
  • The policy was expensive if strictly adhered like education.
  • There was cultural difference as Africans opposed the French cultural imperialism.
  • Afican chiefs who had lost their authority over their subjects strongly opposed the policy of assimilation and the French presence.
  • The French feared that if many Africans were being elected to join the French chamber of Deputies, they would soon out number the Frenchman and put laws that governed the blacks.
  • The disregard of African laws based on African culture and Islam caused a lot of African resentment.
  • The French hoped to acquire raw materials for their industries from the colonies. Assimilation policy threateaned this.
  • There was fear by some Frenchman that assimilated could be their economic rivals.
  • The French themselves who had used the policy were unable to agree to destroy the French   empire to prevent this and safeguard their economic and political domination in Senegal at the turn of the centuary, they began to agitate for abolition of the policy of assimilation and the civil rights they enjoyed as a consequence.


  • The traditional chief in the new arrangements lost his governor power.
  • The language taught in Sehl was French encouraging the formation of native elite.
  • The elite dsis later spearheaded nationalism in Senegal.
  • It also created divisions among Africans in Senegal. Africans in Senegal participated in political affairs of France as they look part in elections either as voters or candidates bung elected to the French chamber of Deputies.
  • Colonies were also to enjoy the freedom of developing independently following the cutting traditional institutions.

Comparison between the British and French systems of Administration.

  • The French used military officials while the British used professional administration.
  • British rule varied from one colony to another depending on whether direct or indirect rule was used. The French made use of a uniform policy of assimilation in their colonies.
  • British rule didn’t interfere much with the African culture while assimilation was aimed at replacing African culture with French culture.
  • Assimilated Africans in French colonies were granted French citizenship with full rights.
  • The elite in British colonies were subjected to the same harsh rule as the rest of the colonized Africans.
  • The British granted African chiefs a lot of power while the French undermined traditional African rulers.
  • The laws in the French colonies were legislated in French while in the British colonies the laws were made by legislative colonies in each of the colonies.
  • Each British colony was ruled separately by a governor.
  • The French colonies were ruled together as a federation and were regarded as overseas provinces of France.
  • The French colonies elected their representatives to the chambers of Deputies in Paris while the British colonies were not represented in the British parliament.


  • Both the British and French appointed their own European officials into senior position of administration in their colonies.
  • Both British and French adopted excessive economic exploitation in their colonies.
  • Both the British and French appointed Africans chiefs in communities that didn’t have centralized system of administration.
  • Both the British and French abolished slave trade and establishment legitimate trade in the colonies.
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