Examples of Resistance: 

Chimurenga Resistance (Zimbabwe)

Chimurenga Resistance (Zimbabwe) Zimbabwe was colonized in the early 1890s by the British South African Company. The Company used a combination of deceit and violence to gain control of Zimbabwe and to take away the best land from the Shona and Ndebele peoples. In 1896/1897 in separate acts, both of these groups staged armed uprising against the European colonialists. Traditional religious leaders played an important part in leading these resistance movements. Chimurenga is the Shona word for uprising. The BSAC used brutal force to put down the Chimurenga.

Battle of Isandhlawana

Battle of Isandhlawana. South Africa was colonized by the Dutch and the British much earlier than other parts of Africa were colonized. From the beginning of Dutch colonialism in the 17th century, African peoples resisted European penetration and control. However, there were parts of South Africa that resisted European control until the end of the 19th century. In spite of colonial efforts, Zululand remained free of colonial control until 1880. In 1879 in a strong show of resistance, a Zulu army under the leadership of King Cetshwayo at Isandhlawana defeated a force of 8,000 European soldiers, killing 1,600. This was the single greatest defeat suffered by the British in their colonial endeavors in Africa and Asia!

Maji-Maji Uprising (Tanganyika)

Maji-Maji Uprising (Tanganyika). The Maji-Maji uprising of 1905 took place in south-eastern Tanganyika and was the most serious challenge to early colonial rule in East Africa. The uprising was led by a religious prophet, Kinjikitile Ngwale, who called upon the people to resist the oppressive forced labor and tax policies imposed by the German colonists. He promised his followers that if they applied holy water (maji in the local language) that he provided to their bodies, they would be able to resist bullets from German guns. The uprising gained considerable local support before it was brutally put down by German soldiers.

Battle of Adowa (Ethiopia)

Battle of Adowa (Ethiopia) As you have already learned, Ethiopia along with Liberia, were the only African countries that were not colonized by Europeans. It was not that European powers were not interested in colonizing Ethiopia-they were! Ethiopia was able to resist attempts of colonization by the British and particularly by the Italians. Indeed, Italy was able to colonize a part of ancient Ethiopia, the area along the Red Sea. This was the colony, and now independent country, of Eritrea. Under the leadership of Emperor Menelik, Ethiopia resisted European attempts to colonize all of Ethiopia. Ethiopia won a decisive victory over Italy at the Battle of Adowa, December 1895. During the battle, approximately 4,000 Italian soldiers were killed.

Asante Resistance (Ghana)

Asante Resistance (Ghana) Nowhere in West Africa was there a longer tradition of confrontation between African and European powers than in the Gold Coast (present day Ghana) between the Asante kingdom and the British. From before the end of the slave trade in 1807, the British were interested in extending their economic and political influence into the interior of the Gold Coast. These efforts were met with stiff resistance on the part of the Asante kingdom. The Asante were able to defend their interests and freedom through a series of victories in battles with the British. However, in 1874 after a half century of defeats, the British defeated the Asante at the Battle of Amoafo. This victory paved the way for British colonial rule in the Gold Coast.

Samori Ture

Samori Ture. In their attempt to colonize the vast interior of the West African Soudan, the French attempted to make treaties with powerful leaders of African kingdoms. Some leaders were willing to negotiate with the French. Others were not. Samori Ture, who governed an area almost as large of France in what is today Guinea, Mali, and Cote D’Ivoire strongly resisted French colonial expansion. Samori’s first contact with the French was in 1882. Over the next two decades, Samori battled against the French, at times defeating French forces, at times moving his people, government, and army in order to evade French control. It was not until 1900 that the French finally captured Samori. The French exiled Samori to Gabon in Central Africa.

Libyan Resistance

Libyan Resistance. Probably nowhere was the African-European confrontation so long and bloody as it was in Libya. In 1911 without warning, Italy invaded the Libyan coastal cities of Tripoli, Benghazi, Homs, and Tubruk. While the Italians captured these cities, they were unable to capture the areas surrounding them. Italy’s attempt to conquer and colonize Libya was interrupted by World War I (1914-1918). After the war in a series of brutal military attacks, Italy tried to bring Libya under its control. However, Libyans successfully defended themselves for many years. It was not until 1932, twenty-one years after Italy’s first invasions, that Libya was fully colonized.

websites for assignment: 

One of the most comprehensive web-resources on individual countries can be found on The Library of Congress Country Studies site:


Another good web-resource for the history of Africa, including the history of independence movements, has been produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation. Their website The Story of Africa can be found at:


Once you have identified your country, you should also do a web-search for historical information on your country. Use a one of the standard search engines and type in your topic, for example “history of Ghana.” It is almost certain that you will find one or more sites that have information on the struggle for independence in the country that you have selected.

Linsey Rose,
Jun 1, 2018, 7:04 AM