Главная The Rise of Nationalism in Central Africa: The Making of Malawi and Zambia 1873-1964

The Rise of Nationalism in Central Africa: The Making of Malawi and Zambia 1873-1964

This first comprehensive and thoroughly documented study of the political development of two of the newly formed nations of Central Africa presents the full story of the successful efforts of the people of Malawi and Zambia to achieve self-government. Following a detailed examination of the impact of British colonial rule, the author provides a new interpretation of the earliest demonstrations of native discontent and he explains how the forces of protest found expression through proto-political parties and the formation of religious sects and millennial movements. He also interprets the objectives and tactics of the ruling white settlers in their abortive effort to establish the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

Basing his analysis on archival and other primary sources, including interviews with leading figures, Robert Rotberg traces the origins of the full-fledged political parties in both countries and describes the early congresses which were to become the dominant movements during the struggle for independence in Central Africa. He ends with an analysis of that struggle, bringing the story to its successful conclusion in late 1964. A postscript discusses the important changes of 1965.
Год: 1972
Издание: fourth printing, paperback
Издательство: Harvard University Press
Язык: english
Страниц: 391
ISBN 10: 0674771915
ISBN 13: 9780674771918
Series: Harvard Paperbacks 39
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THE RISE OF NATIONALISM IN
CENTRAL AFRICA THE MAKING OF
MALAWI AND ZAMBIA, 1873-1964

ROBERT

I.

ROTBERG

-

HARVARD PAPERBACK

$6.95

The
in

Rise of Nationalism

Central Africa

Written under the auspices of

The Center for International Affairs

Harvard University

The
in

Rise of

Nationalism

Central Africa

THE MAKING OF

MALAWI AND ZAMBIA
1873-1964

ROBERT

I.

ROTBERG
//

HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS
Cambridge, Massachusetts

©

Copyright 1965 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College
All rights reserved

Fourth Printing, 1972
Distributed

in

Great

Britain

by Oxford University

Library of Congress Catalog Card

Press,

Number 65-19829

SBN 674-77191-5
Printed

in

London

the United States of America

Cikumbutsa ca Dunduzu
1

930-1 962

Kaluli Chisiza

PREFACE
While the tinder of racial antagonism everywhere in Central Africa
was bursting into flame, white officials, businessmen, missionaries,
and settlers assured me that the animosities so apparent in 1959 reflected recent conditions and particular political mistakes only. They
blamed ambitious African agitators and a few irresponsible white
"communists" for fueling and setting alight the conflagration that
then appeared to have spread south from Ghana and Kenya to enflame Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. They said that "the natives" had always been happy under British rule. Never had the
Africans protested or complained. Indeed, in their eyes the ambitious agitators and white malefactors managed to exert an influence over events only after successive British governments had
demonstrated that they had lost their will to rule the subject peoples
of their far-flung empire, and had begun to submit to the pressure of
Indians, Palestinians, and Ghanaians.
True? I wondered. What had been the realities of colonial rule
and the nature of the African response thereto? Did the then current
expressions of African nationalism have deep or shallow roots? Did
they indicate the existence of widespread grievances or simply manifest the aspirations of

among

a few, clever, educated Africans? These were

the questions to which answers seemed to be needed, and to

is addressed. Clements
end of World War I founded the radiIndustrial and Commercial Workers' Union in South Africa,

the partial explication of which this book
Kadalie, a Nyasa
cal

who

at the

once wrote, with particular reference to his

man

own

country: "I believe

genuine history of the
black man." 1 Nevertheless, this book also is intended to portray the
modern political history of the peoples of Malawi ( formerly Nyasa-

that the white

will not preserve [the]

land) and Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia) and to place the
achievement of independence within its immediate historical con1

Clements Kadalie to Isa Macdonald Lawrence, 4 April 1925, Zomba

chives.

ar-

—

)

PREFACE

viii

text.

The

(

Malawi and Zambia, although not
consciously excluded from the discussion that

pre-colonial history of

entirely irrelevant,

is

follows. It receives a fuller exposition elsewhere.

"A healthy
"is

George Bernard Shaw about Ireland,

nation," wrote

as unconscious of

its

nationality as a healthy

man

of his bones.

But if you break a nations nationality it will think of nothing else
but getting it set again. It will listen to no reformer, to no philosopher, to no preacher, until the demand of the Nationalist is granted.
It will attend to no business, however vital, except the business of
unification and liberation.
Conquered nations lose their place
in the world's march because they can do nothing but strive to get
.

rid of their nationalist
erty."

2

.

.

movements by recovering

their national lib-

Before the colonial partition of Africa, neither Malawi nor

Zambia were nations in the sense of Shaw's Ireland. The accidents of
white settlement, the presence of minerals, and, ultimately, the
whims of diplomats in Europe, gave them the shapes that they now
hold.

These shapes

arbitrarily contained peoples

who spoke

differ-

ent languages and professed various ethnic loyalties. Yet, under

many of these peoples came to consider themNyasas or Northern Rhodesians; they were "British Pro-

colonial influence
selves

tected

Persons"

remember
in the

and,

foremost,

Africans.

that usage has broadened

process stripping the

Irish connotations

word

Providing

of

its

—Shaw's analysis of nationalism

scribe the emotions of the Africans

that

we

meaning
narrowly Balkan and

and popularized

who wanted

its

still

serves to de-

to reclaim their

heritage. In that sense, Shaw's statement also affirms the conceptually loose

way

in

which the words "nation" and "nationalism" are

used herein, and in almost every discussion of the phenomenon of
nationalism in Africa.

My
while

quest for explanations and documentation began in 1959/60,
I was primarily engaged in other research, and occasioned

subsequent

visits to

Africa in 1961, 1962/63 and, briefly and for

ceremonious reasons as well, 1964. From the very

first,

the leaders

and followers of several political movements willingly shared their
thoughts and their memories on an endless variety of occasions. On
a Sunday in February 1959, Mr. Simon Katilungu, then the senior
2

George Bernard Shaw, John

Bull's

Other Island

(New

York, 1908), xxxvi-

PREFACE

ix

research assistant at the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute for Social Re-

now

High Commissioner for the Republic of Zambia
guided me into the heart of Chilenje, an African
suburb of Lusaka, to meet Mr. Kenneth Kaunda, then the president
of the militant Zambia African National Congress and now the
President of the Republic of Zambia. Our conversation took place
in a tiny hut that served as the headquarters of the political organization that was soon to be banned by the governor. In later
years, we talked together in Accra, Dar es Salaam, Salisbury, and
Lusaka. Throughout, his courtesy and patience proved unfailing; he
endured endless importunities, answered interminable questions,
and permitted my wife and me to observe at close hand the transformation of Northern Rhodesia into Zambia. We remain much in
search and

the

in Great Britain,

his debt.

from our

meeting in the United States until the
Kamuzu Banda,
now the prime minister of Malawi, welcomed my inquiries and
investigations, granted a number of interviews, and encouraged
wide-ranging research in the various districts of Malawi. He also read
and commented upon my typescript. Mr. Aleke Banda, now inter
alia the secretary-general of the Malawi Congress Party, proved remarkably responsive and sympathetic to our needs.
The present Zambian Minister of Local Government, Mr. Sikota
Wina, with whom a dialogue began during his restriction at Luwingu, has continued to enrich my understanding of African life.
The late Dunduzu Kaluli Chisiza, at his death Malawi's prospective
Similarly,

first

celebration of his country's independence, Dr. H.

Minister of Finance,

was himself

lent

me

the records that he

had

interested in writing a history of

He

the Nyasaland African Congress.

shared his opinions and ideas,

collected,

and went out

of his

way

to make my own task easier. Messrs. Augustine Bwanausi, Willie
Chokani, and John Msonthi, all members of the Nyasaland cabinet
in 1962, spoke freely on a number of formal and informal occasions.
In addition, Messrs. Bwanausi and Msonthi materially facilitated
one aspect of my research at a time of peculiar awkwardness for
themselves. In Northern Rhodesia, Messrs. Simon Kapwepwe and
Arthur Wina, both of whom subsequently became members of the

Zambia

cabinet, assisted

my own

efforts to reconstruct the past

and

appreciate the nuances of the present.

With

characteristic generosity, Sir Stewart

Gore-Browne, Zambia's

PREFACE

x

foremost settler and long-time politician, permitted my wife and me
to peruse and to quote from his vast collection of private papers.

He

submitted at irregular intervals to rounds of questions, read

six

of the following chapters in draft, and, despite a variety of im-

welcome our visits to his manor
house at Shiwa Ngandu. Mr. G. G. S. J. Hadlow, a sometime member of the Nyasaland Legislative Council, and Mr. Archibald H.
Elwell, a sometime welfare officer in Northern Rhodesia, lent me
their private papers and amplified the contents of those papers in
conversation. The Rev. Mr. Charles C. Chinula allowed me to read
the minutes of the meetings of the Mombera Native Association and
spoke at length of separatism. Messrs. Harry Nkumbula and Job
Michello, then the president-general and the secretary-general respectively of the African National Congress of Northern Rhodesia,
permitted me to read the extant files of their organization and to
discuss its history with them. Mr. Harry Langworthy brought a
valuable unedited manuscript by Mr. Wittington K. Sikalumbi to
positions, continued cheerfully to

my attention.
In 1962, the then governments of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland allowed me to examine a variety of closed files and materials in
their respective archives
particular, I

am

and

to read district records as well. In

grateful for the assistance of Mr.

James Moore, the

then acting archivist in Lusaka. Mr. B. Cheeseman, librarian of the
Colonial Office, provided valuable help in London. I am also indebted to Mr. Patrick Mumba, who permitted me to read the
papers that he had collected in 1959; Mr. Rankin Sikasula,
Simon ber Zukas, who
spoke at length of his own experiences in Northern Rhodesia and
later constructively criticized a relevant chapter of this book; Chief
political

for long Dr. Kaunda's private secretary; Mr.

Mwase Kasungu, who

could not have been more hospitable; Mr.
Donald Siwale, an early member of welfare associations and the
Representative Council of Northern Rhodesia, who spoke and wrote

and the campaign against
Mr. Iain Macleod, M. P., sometime British
Secretary of State for the Colonies, with whom I discussed the final
chapter of this book; Sir Glyn Jones, now the governor-general of
Malawi; Sir Richard Luyt, then the Chief Secretary of Northern
Rhodesia and now the governor of British Guiana; Dr. George
Brooks, for research in Indiana; Miss Anthea Hall, who helped me

feelingly of early political intrigues
"closer association";

PREFACE

xi

answer questions about Dr. Banda's sojourn in northern England;
Mr. Arthur Westrop, who lent us a cottage atop Zomba Mountain;
Mr. Edward Mulcahy, who contributed over the course of many
years to my own attempts to understand diverse aspects of Africa,
and others who would no doubt prefer to remain nameless.
The guidance of Professors Rupert Emerson and George Shepperson, who read the final draft of this book with great care and
understanding, helped me to avoid a number of substantive and
to

analytical pitfalls. I

am

grateful for perceptive readings

tremely useful comments, and for

many

and

ex-

other kindnesses as well, to

David Rubadiri, now the Malawi ambassador to the United
Mr. Ian Nance, for many years an administrative officer in
Malawi; Mr. George Loft; Mr. Trevor Coombe; and Dr. Prosser
Mr.

J.

States;

Gifford.

Without the encouragement and support of Dr. Jo W. Saxe this
book might never have been written. For a willingness to be content with the promise of deferred gratification, I remain deeply
indebted to Professor Robert R. Bowie, the director of the Harvard
Center for International
Africa in 1961

visits to

Affairs.

The Center

and 1962/63 and

specifically financed

to Britain in 1963.

The

Harvard Department of History granted me a leave of absence in
order to complete the research in Central Africa on which this
study

is

based.

In Africa, other friends provided a rich hospitality and that insight into local conditions that cannot be equaled by the activities
of transients. In this connection,

and

for

myriad kindnesses,

not refrain from mentioning Mr. Dennis Acheson,

me

who

first

I

can-

intro-

to Copperbelt politics; Mr. and Mrs. Richard Hall, whose
Lusaka has always been the center of political and journalistic ferment; the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Hamish Hepburn, then of
Zomba; Mr. and Mrs. Sean Kelly, then of Lusaka; Mr. and Mrs. Ian
Nance, then of Zomba; Mr. Ian Robertson, of the Malawi forests;
Mr. Derek Rowe, of Kisumu and Nairobi; Mr. and Mrs. Clyde
Sanger, of The Guardian, Salisbury, and Karen, who allowed us to
benefit from their unrivaled knowledge of matters African, and
Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Wilson, who introduced us to the politicians
of Mzuzu and Nkata Bay.
Mrs. Mary Hodgdon and Mrs. Lillian Christmas speedily typed
the final drafts of the present book and, together with Mrs. Jane

duced

home

in

PREFACE

xii

Tatlock, improved its preparation in innumerable other ways. Miss
Yen-Tsai Feng and Miss Nancy Barber provided invaluable biblio-

graphical assistance.

My

wife Joanna deserves more than the usual end-of-preface
She drew the maps. She participated in almost every

citation.

aspect of the research on which this book
in the

Zomba

archives, joined

me

is

based, read with

in a succession of interviews,

shared the joys and occasional discomforts of our

mote

districts

of

visits to

me
and

the re-

Malawi and Zambia. With great acumen, and

while in the midst of maternal responsibilities, she also suggested

important improvements to original and later drafts of the chapters
that follow. This,

more than any

other, equally

is

her book.
R.

I.

R.

Harvard University
24 October 1964

In accord with accepted usage, 1 spell most Bantu proper names withmodern orthographical forms wherever

out pronominal concords, and use
possible^

Contents
I-

THE

COMING OF THE EUROPEANS

THE EXPLORERS

2

THE MISSIONARIES
THE CONQUEST

6

11

GOVERNING THE PEOPLE
II-

22

THE CHARACTER OF WHITE RULE
THE PROBLEM OF LAND RIGHTS
THE IMPOSITION OF HUT

AND

39

THE FIRST STIRRINGS OF DISCONTENT
THE VISION OF

RESISTANCE

A BLACK JERUSALEM

AND

55
55

64

REBELLION IN EARLY RHODESIAN SOCIETY

THE NYASALAND RISING OF 1915

THE SEARCH FOR SECURITY

73

76

THE ATTEMPT TO ACHIEVE
MINORITY RULE
THE SETTLER CHALLENGE

V-

47

THE BEGINNINGS OF

INDIGENOUS PROTEST

IV-

27

29

POLL TAXES

COLONIAL GOVERNMENT, JUSTICE, AND DISCRIMINATION
III-

1

93

94

101

AFRICAN VOLUNTARY
ASSOCIATIONS AND THE
EXPRESSION OF INCIPIENT
NATIONALISM

115

NYASALAND: THE PROLIFERATION OF "NATIVE
ASSOCIATIONS'

7

116

WELFARE ASSOCIATIONS: THE RHODESIAN PATTERN

124

CONTENTS

xiv

VI-

THE RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION
OF DISSATISFACTION
THE

WATCH TOWER MOVEMENT

MWANA

LESA

VII-

136

AND THE FINDING OF WITCHES

THE SCHISMATIC SECTS

WILFRED

GOOD AND

142

146

THE

ANA A MULUNGU

151

INDUSTRIALIZATION AND THE
EXPRESSION OF URBAN
DISCONTENT
THE FIRST MASS PROTEST: 1935

A SECOND ROUND OF

VIII-

135

156

161

HOSTILITY: 1940

168

DISCOVERING THEIR VOICE:
THE FORMATION OF NATIONAL
POLITICAL

MOVEMENTS

179

THE CREATION OF THE NYASALAND AFRICAN CONGRESS

181

THE REPRESENTATION OF AFRICAN INTERESTS IN NORTHERN

RHODESIA

IX-

199

PARAMOUNTCY VERSUS
PARTNERSHIP: THE BATTLE
OVER FEDERATION
FROM THE VICTORIA

FALLS

TO BRONDESBURY PARK

BACK TO THE VICTORIA FALLS

THE FEDERAL DREAM
AND AFRICAN REALITY
THE BITTERNESS

"TOILING
THE

NEW

258

AND GOING TO PRISON"
MILITANCY

282

THE STRUGGLE FOR POWER

220

227

THE ROAD TO CARLTON HOUSE TERRACE

X-

214

292

268

236

253

CONTENTS
XI-

xv

THE TRIUMPH OF NATIONALISM
THE

NEW

PARTIES

305

THE STAGES OF VICTORY

310

POSTSCRIPT
A NOTE

317

ON THE SOURCES

325

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
OF PRINTED MATERIALS
NEWSPAPERS AND PERIODICALS

329

338

SELECT LIST OF PUBLISHED OFFICIAL REPORTS

INDEX

303

338

341

Illustrations
(Unless otherwise credited,

all

photographs were taken by the author.)

Following page 172
1.

John Chilembwe and family, c. 1905. (George Shepperson and
Thomas Price, Independent African, Edinburgh, 1958)

Charles C. Chinula in his ministerial robes, Edingeni, 1962.
Dauti Yamba, 1951. (Zambia Information Services)
4. Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula, 1958. (Robert C. Keith, Africa Report)
5. Dr. H. Kamuzu Banda addressing a rally at Liwonde, 1962.
6. H. Masauko Chipembere, Washington, D.C., 1963. (H. D. Weaver, Jr.)
7. John Msonthi, Zomba, 1962. (Nyasaland Information Department,
Africa Report)
8. W. Kanyama Chiume, Accra, 1958. (Robert C. Keith, Africa Report)
9. Yatuta Chisiza, Washington, D.C., 1962 (Gaffney News Photos)
10. Chief Mwase Kasnngu and Native Authority messenger, at Kasungu,
2.
3.

1962.
11.
12.
13.

14.
15.

16.
17.
18.

19.

20.

Augustine Bwanausi (1.) and Aleke Banda (r.), with Colin Cameron
obscured in the upper left, at Liwonde, 1962.
Knitting class at Lumezi mission, near Lundazi, 1959.
Contrasting African high-density housing near Ndola, 1959.
Kenneth David Kaunda, Chilenje, 1960. (The African Mail, Pix Inc.)
Orton Chirwa, Dr. Banda, and Dunduzu Chisiza (1. to r.) at a conference in London, 1960. (Pix Inc.)
Malawi Youth League marching near Chinteche, 1962.
Political rally of the United National Independence Party, Lusaka,
October 1962.
Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe speaking to the October 1962 rally.
Sikota Wina, after addressing the October 1962 rally.
Kenneth Kaunda leaving the October 1962 meeting; behind him is
Justin Chimba.

Maps
(

Maps drawn by Joanna H.

The Peoples

Rotberg. )

of Central Africa before the

European conquest.

Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland during the colonial period,
showing important towns, administrative centers, rivers, railways, and roads.
Southern Nyasaland with principal places, rivers, and roads
(inset shows area of the Chilembwe rising).
Central Northern Rhodesia, showing major urban areas, railways,
rivers,

and roads.

xviii

28
57
157

The Rise of Nationalism
in

Central Africa

.

Chapter

I

COMING OF THE EUROPEANS

THE

in mind that the negro is a man, with a
above all, that he was the owner of the country
before we came, and deserves, nay, is entitled to, a share in
the land, commensurate with his needs and numbers; that in
numbers he will always exceed the white man, while he may
some day come to rival him in intelligence; and that finally if
we do not use our power to govern him with absolute justice the
time will come sooner or later when he will rise against us and

Yet

must be borne

it

man's

rights;

expel us ...

—Sir Harry Johnston,
British

Central Africa

(London, 1897), 183-184

Without the irruption of Europe, the course of tropical African
history would have been very different. There would have been no
scramble or partition. There would have been no struggle for selfexpression in the form loosely called nationalism. But Europeans did

come

to Africa.

They came

to explore, to proselytize, to trade, and,

in the final analysis, to carve out colonies. In the trans-Zambezi areas

that

known as Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, the
Europe was a phenomenon of the late nineteenth cenBritain gave the region the unity of colonial rule and the

were

later

intrusion of
tury.

integrity of artificial borders. It offered a focus for the loyalties of

disparate peoples. It channeled the aspirations of the subject population along

new

paths and provided a framework within which

nationalism could eventually transform

itself into

African self-gov-

ernment.

The
soil

roots of nationalism in Central Africa are found in the rocky

of British colonial rule. Although negatively expressed, the

history of nationalism
stages.

there

is

Thus, after the

as

much European

first

wave

as African in

came a period during which Africans attempted

themselves to the West

—to accept

its

early

of resistance to white control

its

demands,

to adapt

to internalize those

.

The Rise of Nationalism

2

demands, and,
fits

in time, to realize

a redress of grievances

into the

Central Africa

what they construed

of the acculturation process.

as the bene-

Colonialism, however, did not

accept the ultimate logic of this process.

—of

in

—therefore

minds of latter-day African

The concept

agitators.

colonial history in a sense favored the

of nationalism

did not spring full-blown

The

entire course of

development of nationalism.

THE EXPLORERS

Throughout the nineteenth century a collection of hardy romanand adventurers crisscrossed Africa and disclosed
the existence of peoples and geographical features of which the
Western world had been previously unaware. Their "discoveries"
stimulated a new European interest in the affairs of tropical Africa
and led, ultimately, to partition. In central Africa, David Livingstone,
about whom so much has been written, was the first European to
travel extensively. 1 He personally encouraged the subsequent immigration of missionaries, traders, and administrators into central
Africa, while providing a towering example of devotion to truth
and scientific thoroughness that others strove vainly to equal.
Livingstone's travels there were, however, anticipated by a number
of Portuguese whose efforts had unfortunately failed to contribute
measurably to the Western world's knowledge. In the early fifteenth
century, Antonio Fernandes visited what is now Southern Rhodesia;
he did not venture significantly into the areas of modern Nyasaland
2
or Northern Rhodesia, however, and left few records of importance.
lake,
on
In 1616, Gaspar Bocarro traversed Nyasaland, south of the
his way from Tete to Kilwa as an emissary of the acting captain
general of the Portuguese military expedition to the silver mines of
tics, visionaries,

Chicoa. 3 In the late eighteenth century, a Lusitanian physician,

Francisco Jose de Lacerda e Almeida, reached the important town

on the Luapula River of the Lunda chief Mwata Kazembe. There
1 The best full-length biographies are William Garden Blaikie, The Personal
Life of David Livingstone (New York, 1881); George Seaver, David Livingstone: His Life and Letters ( London, 1957 )

2 Hugh Tracey (trans. Gaetano Montez), Antdnio Fernandes, Descobridor do
Monomotapa, 1514—15 (Lourenco Marques, 1940).
3 R. A. Hamilton, "The Route of Gaspar Bocarro from Tete to Kilwa in 1616,"
W. H. J. Rangeley, "Bocarro's Journey," The Nyasaland Journal, vii, 2 (1954),
7-23; John Milner Gray, "A Journey by Land from Tete to Kilwa in 1616,"
Tanganyika Notes and Records, 25 ( 1948), 37-^47.

—
COMING OF THE EUROPEANS

THE

3

he died of fever. Two half-caste slave traders, Amaro Jose and
Pedro Joao Baptista, traversed the African continent from Angola
to Mocambique between 1806 and 1814, and were detained for
three years by the reigning Kazembe. In 1831/32, two majors in the
Portuguese army, Jose Correia Monteiro and Antonio Pedroso
Gamitto, sought an easy route that would link Angola to Mocambique, but they were unable to proceed beyond Lake Mweru. 4
For Livingstone, "the end of the geographical feat [was] the beginning of the missionary enterprise." 5
as restlessly driven

heart of Africa.

None was

as indomitable

by a passion for discovering the secrets of the

None unfolded
went to work

its

mysteries so dramatically or so

age
medicine at Andersons College, Glasgow.
He joined the London Missionary Society, hoping to be sent to
China, but the "Opium War" intervened and he was persuaded to
go to Bechuanaland. In 1849, he guided the first successful European crossing of the Kalahari "thirstland" to Lake Ngami. Later, in
order to provide a new outlet for evangelical enterprise, he trekked
across the "thirstland toward the Chobe and Zambezi rivers. Upon
reaching the banks of the latter in 1851, he realized for the first
time that the Zambezi might prove to be an accessible avenue into
the unevangelized heart of Africa. No longer, he hoped, would
missionaries and explorers be forced to travel overland across the
waterless wastes of the Kalahari. At the same time, Livingstone
obtained his initial glimpses of the trade in slaves that he spent the
remainder of his life seeking to eradicate. "Providence," he wrote,
"seems to call me to the regions beyond. You will see
what an
immense region God in His Providence has opened up. If we can

well. Livingstone

of ten,

and

in a Scottish cotton mill at the

later studied

,,

.

enter in

and form a settlement we

shall

.

.

be able in the course of a

." 6
very few years to put a stop to the slave trade in that quarter.
Livingstone became obsessed with a desire to open up the heart of
.

Africa to

new forms

of

commerce and

religion in order to

slave trade, foster the Christian endeavor,

obstacles of ignorance, poverty,

and

.

end the

and destroy the several
he be-

isolation that blocked,

4 Richard F. Burton
(trans, and ed.), The Lands of Cazembe (London,
1873); Ian Cunnison, "Kazembe and the Portuguese, 1798-1832," The Journal
of African History, ii ( 1961 ), 65-76.
5 Seaver, Livingstone,
267.
6 Ibid.,

144.

4

The Rise of Nationalism

in

Central Africa

growth of "civilization" in Africa. Between 1853 and
he
therefore
investigated the "unknown" regions of central
1856,
Africa. From Linyanti on the Chobe River, he traveled up the
Zambezi River at the head of a small company of Lozi- and Kolololieved, the

speaking Africans. This, his

way

first visit

to Barotseland, prepared the

for the later settlement there of British

missionaries.

He

entered

Lunda

country, in

and French Protestant
what became North-

Rhodesia, and thence crossed Portuguese territory to
Luanda. After a much needed respite, he returned with his African
companions to Barotseland, which he again reached in late 1855.
A few months later, having embarked down the Zambezi toward
Quelimane, Livingstone espied the waterfalls that he named after
Queen Victoria. Then, avoiding the country of the warlike Ila, he

western

trekked across the Tonga plateau and eventually followed the
course of the Zambezi River through

Mocambique

to the Indian

Ocean, where he arrived in 1856. In twenty months, he had negotiated the "dark continent" from west to east. Six months later, after
the news of his travels had preceded him home, Livingstone arrived
in London to receive the honors of Britain and to set in motion
a series of events that in time resulted in the introduction of commercial and missionary enterprises into the regions that he had ex-

plored and, ultimately, in the partition of Central Africa.

Livingstone completely captured the public sympathy. When he
appealed for religious reinforcements and for a full-scale attack
upon the slave trade, all Britain listened. A famous speech at
Cambridge epitomized his sentiments: "I know that in a few years
I shall be cut off in that country which is now open; do not let it be
shut again. I go back to Africa to try to make an open path for
Christianity. Do you carry out the work which I have begun. I
leave

it

The

to you." 7

explorer returned to central Africa at the head of an expedi-

by the British government. On this occasion, he
sought ways whereby Christianity and commerce could
most expeditiously be introduced into the heart of Africa. An attempt to ascend the Zambezi River by ship proved impossible, and

tion sponsored
specifically

Livingstone therefore concentrated his efforts upon what became
Nyasaland. In 1859, he became the first Briton to describe lakes
7

William

1860), 168.

Monk

(ed.),

Dr.

Livingstone's

Cambridge Lectures

(London,

)

THE

COMING OF THE EUROPEANS

5

Chilwa and Nyasa. During the course of the next four years, he and
white companions came intimately to know much of what is
now the Shire Highlands and the environs of Lake Nyasa. They
assisted an abortive expedition to establish a station of the ( Anglican
Universities' Mission to Central Africa in the Shire Highlands, and
contributed to a growing British interest in this area before the exhis

pedition's recall in 1863/64. 8

In 1866, Livingstone again reached Zanzibar on his

way

to trans-

Zambezia. This time, he was even more determined than before to
seek information about the slave trade and to obtain a thorough
understanding of the configuration of the major watersheds of eastern and central Africa. Although John Hanning Speke and Samuel

White Baker had viewed the "main" sources of the Nile River,
Livingstone was not yet persuaded that its "true" origins had been
found. He thought that Lake Nyasa might flow north into Lake
Tanganyika, which again might be linked to Lake Albert, and the
Nile. Livingstone

furthermore sought the source of the Congo River

and desired to trace its course to the sea. While growing steadily
weaker in body and more obsessed in mind, he engaged in these
pursuits from 1866 until 1873. 9 Livingstone's wanderings took him
from Zanzibar to Lake Nyasa and on to Lake Tanganyika. Turning
to the west, he "discovered" Lake Mweru
Lacerda had reached it
in 1798
and Lake Bangweulu in 1867/68. Leaving the future Northern Rhodesia, Livingstone spent the next two years investigating the
river system that flowed north from Mweru and, in 1871, he was
"found" by Henry Morton Stanley in Ujiji. Together they learned
that rivers flowed into the north end of Lake Tanganyika, not away
from it toward Lake Albert. This information strengthened Livingstone's belief that Lake Mweru and branches of the Congo River
system fed the Nile. Stanley urged the great explorer to return
to Britain, but Livingstone, for the last time, plunged southwest
toward Bangweulu and Katanga, where Africans said that he would

—

—

8 David and Charles Livingstone, Narrative
of an Expedition to the Zambesi
and Its Tributaries (London, 1865); Owen Chadwick, Mackenzie's Grave
(London, 1959); Reginald Coupland, Kirk on the Zambesi (Oxford, 1928).
Lake Nyasa has since resumed its pre-Livingstone name and is now called
Lake Malawi.
9 See Horace Waller (ed.), The Last Journals
of David Livingstone in Central Africa (London, 1874); Reginald Coupland, Livingstone's Last Journey
(London, 1945).

The Rise of Nationalism

6
find the "fountains" that

would prove

to

home

Central Africa

be the source of the Congo

and, as Herodotus had foretold, of the Nile
fountains, he planned to go

in

itself.

for good.

10

After finding the

But Livingstone was

and

his last year in trans-Zambezia was painfully undied near Chief Chitambo's village in Lala country,
southeast of Lake Bangweulu, during the first week of May 1873.

again

sick,

rewarding.

He

THE MISSIONARIES

Livingstone opened

up the

heart of Africa to white missionaries,

and colonial governments. The circumstances of his death
and the example of his life inspired those in Britain who had already

settlers,

demonstrated their concern with the evangelization of distant parts
of the globe to turn their attentions to central Africa. In 1874, but
a few short weeks after Livingstone's ceremonious burial in Westminster Abbey, the influential Dr. James Stewart, of Lovedale, proposed that the Free Church of Scotland should establish a mission
in Africa that would carry the great explorer's name and be a living
memorial to his ideals. Stewart suggested that a "Livings toma"
should be established "in a carefully selected and commanding spot
in Central Africa, and that it should be "an institution at once industrial and educational, to teach the truths of the Gospel and the
11
By the end of
arts of civilised life to the natives of the country."
1874, both the Free Church and the Established Church of Scotland
had committed themselves to memorial missions; Stewart and Sir
John Kirk, who had both traveled extensively in what was to become
Nyasaland, recommended that the two Scottish churches should
send their missionaries to "the slave-hunting region around Lake
,,

Nyasa." 12
In late 1875, a mission party reached the southern end of the
on an uncomfortably hot,
first "Livingstonia

lake and built the
isolated

,,

promontory near Cape Maclear. 13

A

year later the Estab-

10

Herodotus,

11

James Wells, Stewart of Lovedale: The Life of James Stewart

ii,

28.
(

London,

1908), 125.
12 Quoted in Alexander John Hanna, The Beginnings of Nyasaland and
North-Eastern Rhodesia, 1859-95 (Oxford, 1956), 13.
13 See Edward D. Young ( ed. Horace Waller ) Nyassa: A Journal of Adventures (London, 1877); Robert Laws, Reminiscences of Livingstonia (Edinburgh, 1934), 15-23; William P. Livingstone, Laws of Livingstonia (London,
1923), 72-104ff; Jailos Chingota, "An Autobiography," The Nyasaland Journal,

xiv (1961), 14.

THE
lished

COMING OF THE EUROPEANS

Church

7

—whose emissary had disliked of
—dispatched a new group of men
all

lakeshore sites

to

the possible
establish a

Highlands to which they gave the
name Blantyre, after the Scottish town of Livingstone's birth. At
Cape Maclear the Free Church opened a school where the rudiments of reading and writing were taught and parts of the New
Testament committed to memory. Dr. Robert Laws, the moving
spirit of the mission, also began a medical practice that was to draw
Africans to Livingstonia from distant centers of population.
At Blantyre, however, the missionaries of the Established Church
were slow to teach or to minister to the medical needs of the predominantly Muslim Yao among whom they had settled. During
1879, they instead took the law into their own hands; they charged,
tried, and imprisoned Africans accused of murder or theft, flogged
many of the accused unmercifully and, in at least one instance,
ordered the execution of an African without a thorough investigastation at a place in the Shire

When these incidents were
Committee of the Established
Church ordered its Blantyre staff to abandon the exercise of all civil
jurisdiction and, later, to concentrate upon the education of Africans
for useful trades
a function that the mission performed admirably.
Dr. Laws and the Free Church meanwhile had decided that the
original site at Cape Maclear was too remote from the main concentrations of the country's population to serve as an evangelical
center. In 1881, the mission moved to Bandawe, on the western
shore of Lake Nyasa. Here, and at yet another "Livingstonia,"
farther north along the western shore, Dr. Laws and his devoted
colleagues established educational and medical outposts and the
beginnings of a truly indigenous church. Their activity, and that of
the Established Church at Blantyre, provided the foundation upon
which subsequent Westernization and nationalism was based. The
existence of Livingstonia and Blantyre, and the joint agitation of
the Free Church and the Established Church, also influenced
Britain's formal extension of "protection" and colonial rule to the
Nyasa region in the last years of the nineteenth century.
To the west, the vast woodland areas of what was to become
Northern Rhodesia also attracted mission societies intent upon

tion into the circumstances of his guilt. 14

disclosed in 1880, the Foreign Mission

—

14

Hanna, Beginnings, 29-32.

The Rise of Nationalism

8

in

Central Africa

carrying forward the evangelical task that Livingstone had begun.
In 1882, pioneers of the explorer's own London Missionary Society
opened the first of several stations at the southern end of Lake
its outposts in time were established among Kazembe's
Lunda, on the Luapula, and among the Bemba of Mporokoso.

Tanganyika;
distant

Roman

Catholic White Fathers soon joined the

and, before the end of the 1890's,

London

missionaries

Mambwe

and Bemba peoples
the Free Church of Scotland's

in a competition for the souls of the

Livingstonia mission also opened branches nearby.

Barotseland,

along the upper reaches of the Zambezi River, had meanwhile been
subjected to the evangelical efforts of Frederick Stanley Arnot, a

Plymouth Brother who had followed Livingstone's footsteps to transZambezia, and members of the Paris Missionary Society. Arnot,
unsuccessful in Barotseland, left the Lozi capital in 1884 and later
founded stations in Katanga. But the Paris Mission, which began its
work among the Lozi a year later, stayed to provide Northwestern
Rhodesia with a number of influential stations, schools, and dispensaries. 15

A

welter of denominations, each bent upon capturing souls for

a Christ of

its

particular persuasion, followed these earliest mis-

sionary bodies into Northern Rhodesia.

The

Primitive Methodist

Missionary Society, a group estranged from the orthodox branch of
Wesleyanism, started work among the Ila near the Kafue River

The Dutch Reformed Church

which
began the first of
many missions in Northeastern Rhodesia at the very end of the
nineteenth century. The Plymouth Brethren moved from Angola
into Northwestern Rhodesia, and from Katanga into Northeastern
Rhodesia, early in the twentieth century. Along the central line
in the 1890's.

of South Africa,

in 1889

opened

of

the Society of Jesus, the Seventh-day Adventists

rail,

stations in central Nyasaland,

(active

near Cholo in Nyasaland from 1902), and the Zambezi Industrial
Mission (active from 1892 in the Shire Highlands) all opened stations before 1910. The Universities' Mission to Central Africa, with
its

many

scattered outposts, the Montfort Marist Mission in Nyasa-

and the South African General Mission, which spread the
Gospel in the sparsely populated districts of Northwestern Rhodesia,

land,

15 For a fuller account, see Robert I. Rotberg, Christian Missionaries and the
Creation of Northern Rhodesia, 1880-1924 (Princeton, 1965), chs. 1-4.

THE

COMING OF THE EUROPEANS

9

completed the roster of missionary bodies that sought converts in
trans-Zambezia before World

The

War I.

had demonstrated the main ways in which they
had hoped to transform African life. They regarded many aspects
of indigenous behavior as evil and naturally sought an eradication
of what they termed "heathen" customs. Polygyny, beer-drinking,
and drumming were clear indications of "paganism." For example, at
Chitokoloki, a remote outpost of the Plymouth Brethren in Northwestern Rhodesia, the missionaries were asked if they objected to
missionaries

Africans dancing in order to propitiate the ancestors of a sick

"We

woman.

we did not object to the dancing on our own account, but because we knew that in so doing they
[the Africans] were not putting their trust in one who could help
They wrote

of their reply:

said

them, and spurning the real Lord and Giver of Life/' 18 At Mporokoso, a London Missionary Society center, alcoholism appeared to be
the main problem. "It

is

these public beer drinks that form one of

the evil customs of these people.

They drink and dance

themselves with excitement and intoxication, while

until beside

all restraint is

and unnameable wickedness is the result." 17
The missionaries urged Africans to copy the white mans ways to
put on clothes, to purge themselves of sin and corruption, and to
accept the truths of the Gospel as a complete code of conduct. Many
methods of coercion were used by the missionaries to obtain compliance with their modernizing demands; they denied a place upon
the ladders of material advancement to those who refused to comply
lost

—

with missionary dictates. They reserved the educational experience
nominal Christians. More significantly, they provided employ-

to

ment only

for those

who

professed some seemingly sincere interest

in the Christian message. In general, the missions

and the

over-all

impact of European experience contributed profoundly to the outward and inward Westernization of the peoples of trans-Zambezia.
And in this process of giving Africans the means to acquire a
national rather than a parochial outlook, the missions unwittingly

played a catalytic role in the struggle for home rule.
Their educational programs varied along a lengthy continuum
according to the theological liberality of the denomination, the
16
17

George Suckling, Echoes of Service (September 1923), 205-206.
William Freshwater, diary entry, 26 December 1905, privately held.

)

The

1

Rise of Nationalism in Central Africa

character of the missionary in charge, the availability of teaching

equipment, and the ability of the pupils. Some were no more than
some big tree," wrote
one missionary. "A few poles laid across short forked sticks [served]
for seats [upon which sat] a mass of wriggling, chocolate brown,
"a fence of grass, six feet high, surrounding

youthful humanity." 18 Others, like the famous Overtoun Training

were a complex of brick buildings where
produced the clerks, evangelists, and indigenous

Institution at Livingstonia,

gifted instructors

leaders of early trans-Zambezia.

limited fare: students

The

up a
and
and mouthed the

village schools served

memorized selected portions

of Scripture

hymnal, learned to make their letters in the sand,
phonetic sounds. But at Overtoun and in many of the senior primary
schools ( there were no real secondary schools until World War II
students were taught to read in the vernacular, to do arithmetic
through simple division, to draw, to memorize the features of world
geography, and to know the Bible thoroughly.
Schools were very important to the process of Westernization, but
the missionary's contribution was also evident in innumerable other
ways. His tours of the villages and an entrepreneurial role that has
generally been underestimated played a large part in opening up
the country to Western influence. The missionary was a trader; he
stimulated African desires for Western products and supplied those
wants by a complicated transport, sales, and service network. The
missionary was compelled to protect his trade routes and to preserve
order on the stations. He therefore became a lawgiver, a policeman,

and a judge. As one missionary later wrote:
Pope in the lonely bush is forced by his
self-imposed isolation to be prophet, priest, and king rolled into
one really a very big duck he, in his own private pond." 19 Excesses,
like those attributed to the Blantyre missionaries in 1879, were not
uncommon, and the London Missionary Society, in particular, was
20
scandalized by the temporal powers that its missionaries exercised.
The missionary, whether trained or untrained, was also called upon
a prosecuting attorney,

"Many

a

little

Protestant

—

18 William Lammond, letter dated 22 April 1920, Echoes of Service (August
1920), 185-186.
19 Daniel Crawford, Thinking Black: Twenty-two Years without a Break in
the Long Grass of Central Africa ( London, 1913 ) 324-325.
20 See Robert I. Rotberg, "Missionaries as Chiefs and Entrepreneurs: Northern Rhodesia, 1882-1924/' Boston University Papers in African History
(Boston, 1964), i, 204-209.
,

THE

COMING OF THE EUROPEANS

11

and comfort the dying. In general, missionary assistance gradually drew Africans into the Western orbit. They came to
appreciate some of its advantages and, at the same time, to underto heal the sick

stand that the tenets of Christianity and Western civilization were

ones that prescribed equality between

men and

of opportunity.

By

denying Africans such equality, by assisting in the conquest of
Central Africa, and by generally condoning the discriminatory
policies of government officials and settlers, the missionaries set in
motion a rethinking of this ambivalence between precept and practice that, in time, contributed to the growth of indigenous discontent

and the

rise of nationalism.

THE CONQUEST

and the presence of English-speaking
and an important political
diplomatic and military conquest of what be-

Livingstone's explorations

missionaries provided an historical excuse
pretext for the British

came Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia. The

acquisition of these

areas must, however, be viewed in the over-all context of the late

nineteenth-century scramble for Africa and in the more specific
rivalry

of

its

between

Britain, Portugal,

and the Transvaal

for the control

riches.

Portugal had always asserted its sovereignty over Nyasaland and
wide swath of territory that theoretically tied Angola to Moeambique. But Portugal's interests, even in the late nineteenth century,
were predominantly coastal; to the dismay of the British consuls
stationed after 1857 at the port of Mocambique, it was primarily
a

concerned with continuing the profitable slave trade. The consuls
sought unsuccessfully to persuade the various Portuguese governors
to accept British cooperation in the suppression of the trade in

slaves and, after the Scottish missions

were established near Lake

Nyasa, attempted to work with them for the abolition of slave
caravans at their source. In 1883, Captain C. E. Foot was appointed
Her Majesty's Consul "in territories of the African Kings and Chiefs

Lake Nyasa." 21 He was enjoined to seek
the suppression of the slave trade by persuasion and the encouragement of legitimate commerce. In reality, he had been sent partially
at the behest of the missions
who had asked for a "kind of British
in the districts adjacent to

—

21

FO

Office.

84/1634: Foreign Office to Foot,

1

October 1883, Public Record

1

2

The Rise of Nationalism

in

Central Africa

—and partially as a maneuver whereby signs of Portu-

Protectorate"

guese interest in the interior might be observed and, if necessary,
forestalled. A note exchanged between London and Lisbon in 1877
had already denied Portuguese sovereignty in the interior wherever

bona

occupation and de facto jurisdiction "of a continuous and
non-intermittent kind" did not exist. But Portugal continued to assert
22
its claims to Nyasaland.
fide

Foot's appointment only increased Portugal's concern. After 1884,
it

tried persistently to

impose

authority over Nyasaland

its

and

the Zambezi River, to the detriment of British commercial and evangelical freedom in the interior. In 1887, Portugal claimed all of the
Zambezi basin, including Nyasaland and what is now Southern
Rhodesia, and proceeded to obtain treaties with African chiefs with
which to support its position. During the next two years, Portuguese
officials in Mocambique interfered with the passage of vessels and
equipment to Nyasaland, hindered the successful completion of a
war against Arab slavers in which the African Lakes Company ( later
Corporation), a Scottish evangelical trading concern, was engaged,
and sent expeditions inland to seize the contested lands. 23
The Kirk and the Glasgow-based company grew alarmed. Lord
Granville had already refused the Company's application for Imperial protection. Lord Rosebery and his successors at the Foreign
Office had evinced a similar lack of concern for British territorial
claims north of the Zambezi River. When he became prime minister,
Lord Salisbury was willing to permit the local British consul to exercise influence only on behalf of the missions. In his view, the declaration of a "protectorate" was financially out of the question. Salisbury
was then uninterested in the evangelical needs of the region. He
wrote: "It is not our duty to do it. We should be risking tremendous
We must leave the dispersal
sacrifices for a very doubtful gain.
of this terrible army of wickedness to the gradual advancement of
24
Nonetheless, in about 1887, the agicivilization and Christianity."
tation of the missions and their influential British supporters coin.

22

Quoted

.

.

in Hanna, Beginnings, 111.
For details on the war with the Arab slavers, see FO 84/1883; FO 84/1942;
L. Monteith Fotheringham, Adventures in Nyassaland (London, 1891).
24 Lord Salisbury, quoted in Ronald Robinson and John Gallagher, Africa
and the Victorians: The Climax of Imperialism in the Dark Continent (New
23

York, 1961), 224.

THE

COMING OF THE EUROPEANS

13

cided with an imperial attempt to prevent either Portugal or
the Transvaal from occupying Matabeleland and

Mashonaland.
John Rhodes and Henry Hamilton (later
Sir Harry) Johnston finally persuaded Lord Salisbury to act decisively in Central Africa. In 1889, Rhodes, a 36-year-old imperialist
who ruled a gold and diamond empire worth more than £20,000,000,
came to London from South Africa. He requested the support
and sanction of Her Majesty's Government for the annexation of
Matabeleland. In return, he offered to pay for the colonization and
administration of Matabeleland and the Bechuanaland Protectorate,
to extend the existing rail and telegraph lines to the Zambezi River,
and to obtain for the Crown all of trans-Zambezia. With that
abundant resolution of which Livingstone would have approved,
Rhodes proposed to paint the heart of Africa British red without
cost to the Imperial exchequer. He promised to outdo Sir George
Goldie of Nigeria and Sir William Mackinnon of East Africa and to
gamble one fortune to protect others. In exchange for a few
swift strokes of Salisbury's pen, Rhodes promised to forestall the
Transvaal and Portugal in Central Africa, to obviate any disastrous
entanglements with African warriors, to discharge all of the responsibilities of a government and, in short, to help himself by helping
the Crown. How could the British government refuse? Humanitarian

The

alliance of Cecil

concerned to prevent exploitation of Africans, sought to
persuade the Government to do so, but, by the autumn, Rhodes's
attractive proposal had been accepted. When a charter was granted
in late 1889, it gave Rhodes's British South Africa Company full

interests,

and administrative responsibility for much of Central Africa
and authorized the Company to allocate lands and mining rights
and to settle whites within its new domain. 25 The future Northern
Rhodesia, in which Salisbury remained uninterested, and which he
purposely excluded from the first draft of the charter, was in addition declared a part of the British sphere, probably because Rhodes
correctly suspected the existence of copper there. In concert with
Johnston, Rhodes also made possible the inclusion of Nyasaland,
paying at once for treaty-making expeditions and promising to abfinancial

25 For texts, see Edward S. Hertslet (ed.), The
(London, 1896), 1,174-182.

Map

of Africa

by Treaty

1

4

The Rise of Nationalism

in

sorb other expensive activities in the future. 26 For

Central Africa

more than three

decades, practical sovereignty in most of Central Africa thus passed

which remained effecbeyond the control of the British government.
Johnston had meanwhile accepted appointment as Her Majesty's
Consul to Mocambique. During a dramatic May morning encounter,
Rhodes and Johnston had reinforced each other's conception of what

to a chartered undertaking, the activities of
tively

Britain's imperial role

should be:

"We

settled as

we

thought the

immediate line of action in South and Central Africa."27 The
financier gave the diplomatist a £2000 check to defray treatymaking costs; Johnston later in the day persuaded Salisbury to add
official

sanction to the arrangements.

on the lower Zambezi,

at the

beginning of a definite British

The diminutive

consul's arrival

end of July 1889, thus signified the
forward policy in the Nyasa regions.

Johnston quickly forestalled the forceful assertion of Portuguese
sovereignty over

much

of trans-Zambezia

by authorizing the

uni-

Highlands (announced in September 1889) that was secured by an official British
ultimatum. In January 1890, Salisbury rose from his sickbed to
order the Portuguese to withdraw from the Shire Highlands Protectorate; if they refused, he promised to send gunboats to shell the
lateral declaration of a protectorate over the Shire

Mocambique. Portugal submitted, and to all intents and
purposes Britain became the mistress of Central Africa.
Even before Britain's contest with Portugal had reached a successful conclusion, Johnston had met Alfred Sharpe, a London
solicitor turned big-game hunter, had appointed him vice-consul,
and, with his assistance, had negotiated the end of the hostilities
with the Arabs. Together, Johnston and Sharpe thereafter concluded
capital of

a series of agreements with indigenous chiefs throughout a vast unpartitioned region from the Ruo River west to Lake Mweru and north

toward Lake Tanganyika. These treaties bound the chiefs in question not to cede territory or sovereignty to any other European

power without Her Majesty's approval. They testified to the existence of "peace" between a tribe and the Queen of England,
promised to admit British subjects freely, and to accord Her Majesty consular jurisdiction over all disputes that arose between the
26 FO 2/55: H. H. Johnston to C.
J. Rhodes, 8 October 1893. But see
Lockhart and C. M. Woodhouse, Rhodes (London, 1963), 137, 142, 164.
27 Harry H. Johnston, The Story of My Life (Indianapolis, 1923), 219.

J.

G.

g

[

[

[

[

{

j

t

[

COMING OF THE EUROPEANS

THE

15

indigenous inhabitants and Britons. These treaties did not confer or
promise protection, however, and, when Johnston announced a
further protectorate over the environs of Lake Nyasa, his action
bore no juridical relation to the original understandings between the
Queen's consuls and the chiefs. Nevertheless, in May 1891, after
agreement had been reached with Rhodes over the extent of his
financial support, and the geographical limits of Johnston's jurisdiction, the British Foreign Office formally declared that "under and by

Agreements with the native Chiefs, and by other lawful

virtue of

means, the territories in Africa, hereinafter referred to as the
Nyasaland Districts, are under the Protectorate of Her Majesty the
Queen/'28

As in the east, where Johnston had been successful in an area
devoid of important chiefs, so it was in the west, where Rhodes
sought rights to territory and minerals. There along the Upper
Zambezi

—
— Mwanawina Lewanika, the paramount chief of the Lozi,

what became Northwestern Rhodesia and a part
and the
Alone, of the missionaries who had been permitted to

ruled over most of
of

what

is

now

Caprivi Strip.

eastern Angola, northern Bechuanaland,

preach in his kingdom, Francois Coillard, the Paris Society leader,
had achieved a measure of influence with the chief. Thus, when

Rhodes wanted Barotseland, he found an
Coillard,

who

ally in the pro-British

German

feared Portuguese or

interference from the

west and consequently desired British protection in order to further
his missionary endeavor. Coillard in turn induced Lewanika, who
feared the Nclebele, to request British protection and, in 1890,

Frank Lochner arrived in Barotseland to treat with Lewanika on
The negotiations proved a tedious affair. The
Lozi were in no hurry to sign away their prerogatives to the white
man and Lochner, who sought to avoid the elaborate protocol of
Rhodes's behalf. 29

Lealui, the Lozi capital,
emissaries. Yet, with

Lewanika

least tactful of

Coillard's active assistance,

to assent to

Map

was the

what the

28 Hertslet,
( 1909), i,
29 Francois Coillard to Sir

chief

and

he

many

finally

possible

persuaded

his councilors believed to

286.

Sidney Shippard, 8 January 1889, in Africa South,
17 July 1889,
372, no. 120 (end.); Chief Kgama to Coillard and Lewanika,
in Coillard Papers, Salisbury archives. See also Francois Coillard (trans, and
ed. Catherine W. Mackintosh), On the Threshold of Central Africa (London,
1902), 141-373.

.

1

6

The

Rise of Nationalism in Central Africa

be a treaty with Queen Victoria. 30 When they later learned that a
commercial company had in fact practically obtained control of
their lands and subsoil rights, their alarm was understandable. Nonetheless, the Lochner treaty, however unscrupulously obtained, subsequently proved the basis for the British South Africa Company's
assumption of direct rule in Northwestern Rhodesia and, wrongly,
for its rights to the lucrative ores that later allowed Northern
Rhodesia to become the world's second largest producer of copper.
In 1891, it and the treaties obtained by Johnston and his representatives in Northeastern Rhodesia,

Company

permitted the Chartered

formally to include these regions within

its

sphere.

For the next three years, Johnston governed Northeastern Rhomoney and, at the same time, attempted to make
Nyasaland (from 1893 to 1907, officially called the British Central
desia with Rhodes's

He established a
rudimentary government and attempted to advance his own ideal
program for tropical Africa. It should, he thought, "be ruled by
whites, developed by Indians, and worked by blacks."31 To further
his scheme, Johnston sought to cooperate with missionaries, to
encourage the immigration of additional whites as officials and
coffee planters, and to import Sikhs and other Asians to serve as
policemen and traders. Unfortunately for him, Johnston's ideas
Africa Protectorate) a tidy part of the empire.

were greeted inhospitably by Africans. Although many of the

less

powerful chiefs cooperated with his government,
leaders resisted the European take-over. As a contemporary wrote
the

stronger

approvingly, "the history of Sir Harry Johnston's Administration

while

it

records

many

notable

civil

achievements,

is

yet in

salient features a history of successive military expeditions"

its

.

.

.

more

32

In 1891, a small army, commanded by Captain Cecil Montgomery
Maguire and containing Sikhs and Muslim Lancers from Hyderabad,
readied

itself for

result was one

the military conquest of British Central Africa. The
little war of resistance after another. In July,

Chikumbu, a Yao

chief

who had attempted

to prevent the successful

settlement of coffee planters near Mlanje, found that his own
weapons were no match for those of Maguire's troops. In September,
Johnston, Maguire, and the Indian
30
31

32

army went north from Zomba,

A copy is printed in Africa South, 414, no. 245 encl.
FO 2/55: H. H. Johnston to Percy Anderson, 10 October
(

)

1893.

Hector L. Duff, Nyasaland under the Foreign Office (London, 1906), 17.

THE

COMING OF THE EUROPEANS

the Protectorate's capital, to deal with several other powerful
chiefs. After the

17
Yao

beginnings of Fort Johnston had been constructed

near Lake Nyasa's outlet to the Shire River, the Commissioner resolved to crush Makandanji, a chief who had tied up and im-

The chiefs town was seven miles from
Maguire, wrote Johnston, "resolved on the true Napoleonic
policy of crushing our enemies singly.
He suddenly fell on
prisoned Johnston's envoys.
the

fort.

.

.

.

Makandanji and drove him out of his village
scattering Makandanji's forces, which were never again able to take the field against
.

.

.

Mponda, a stronger chief who resided closer to the fort, thereupon enslaved the Africans scattered by Maguire. Johnston explained: "Over seventy of the captives he had the insolence to drive
us."

camp at Fort Johnston, at a time when Captain
Maguire was absent and I was left with only ten men. As soon
as Captain Maguire was back and the little fort was completed, I
through our

summoned Mponda to set all these slaves at liberty. He declined
do so, and commenced warlike proceedings against us." 33
The British contingent resolved to attack at night. "Accordingly

to

at nine o'clock, on the evening of the 19th of October, 1891, one
hour after the expiration of the term given for the restoration of the
slaves, we fired a shell across the river into Mponda's town, perhaps
a quarter of a mile distant. ... A few more shells soon set much of
Mponda's town on fire, and he called for a truce." 34 Fighting continued throughout the night until Mponda capitulated early the
following morning. "Encouraged by this success," Johnston and
Maguire borrowed a steamer from the African Lakes Corporation,
sailed up the lake, and soon destroyed the villages of Makanjira, a

"notorious" slave-raiding chief of the east coast.

Johnston could congratulate himself upon the

By November 1891,
of a number of

first

were to make "our protectorate a reality."
Winning Central Africa for the empire was not always accomplished so easily. In December 1891, Kawinga, a Yao chief who
lived northeast of Zomba, took up arms against the administration.
Maguire and the Indians therefore marched to Kawinga's stockade
and opened hostilities. But they met heavy fire. Maguire was
wounded and several of the troops lost their lives before Kawinga
treated for peace. He was told that he must accept the sovereignty
successful battles that

33

Harry H. Johnston, British Central Africa

34 lbid. 101.
t

(New

York, 1897), 100.

1

The Rise of Nationalism

8

of the

Queen and advise

his

in

Central Africa

people to pay taxes and buy gun

Maguire and two other Britons
an abortive attempt to capture Makanjira, whose

licenses. Shortly thereafter,

lost their

lives in

men had

command of the southeastern section of the lake. At
about the same time, Zarafi, a Yao chief who had initially agreed to
cooperate with the new administration, successfully attacked Fort
Johnston. He turned back a punitive expedition and even captured
the seven-pound gun upon which the British forces so often relied.
And, to make matters worse for the Johnstonian cause, the peoples
of Chiradzulu and Ndirande raided the main road between Blantyre
and Zomba with impunity while Makanjira emerged from victory
to fame and extended his sway farther along the eastern shores of
Lake Nyasa and to sections of the west coast as well. African resistance had seemingly stemmed the tide of the white advance. "This
time," wrote Johnston, "may be taken as the nadir of our fortunes."35
The antagonistic Yao maintained their independence throughout
1892 and, except for chief Liwonde's capitulation in early 1893,
until the last months of that year. By then, however, Johnston had
obtained a pacification subsidy from Rhodes, a new detachment of
one hundred Sikhs from India, and three small gunboats with which
regained their

to patrol the lake.

Nyaserera and Mkanda, "troublesome" chiefs who lived near
Mlanje mountain, were the first to taste the bitterness of Johnston's
new strength. Chiwaura, a Yao ally of Makanjira who had constructed a fortified town about five miles inland from Kota Kota,
next faced the gunboats and the Sikhs. The British forces bombarded and, after severe hut-to-hut combat, occupied the town.
Across the lake, Makanjira meanwhile had continued to proclaim his
resistance to the British occupation. But at this junction Makanjira's
men proved no match for the Sikhs, who stormed and fired thentown under the cover of another bombardment from the gunboats.

Although the chief himself again escaped, the expeditionary force
razed his various villages, and constructed a new fort, named after
Maguire, as a center from which Johnston effected the occupation
of Makanjira's country.

Many
final.

of the Yao leaders still refused to accept their defeat as
In 1894, the chiefs Makanjira, Makandanji, and Zarafi raided

35 ibid., 107.

THE

COMING OF THE EUROPEANS

19

the settlement that surrounded Fort Maguire, fired a section of the

stockade and murdered the chief

whom

Johnston had appointed to

replace Makanjira. During the remainder of that year, Makanjira

gained followers and
Zarafi,

fortified a

new

capital

town and,

Kawinga, and Matapwiri led the Yao in a

in early 1895,

series of incon-

clusive sorties against the British settlements in the Shire Highlands.

Johnston believed that they had conspired to oust the British completely. His Sikh troops consequently proceeded to sweep the coun-

from the southern slopes of Mount Mlanje to Fort Johnston. They
defeated Kawinga, disarmed Matapwiri, and, after heavy fighting,
try

forced Zarafi to

was

flee

out, the Sikhs

permanently into Mocambique. Before the year
had even ended Makanjira's vaunted indepen-

dence. Only then, as Johnston later wrote, did "a sense of security

spread over the Southern portion of the Protectorate which was
quite pleasantly unfamiliar."36

The north

still

remained largely outside of the

official

British

sphere of influence. Mlozi, an Arab slave trader and the most power-

personage along the lake, ruled the Karonga

district from a fortown on the Rukuru River. After some years during which he
had endured British attempts to end the transport of slaves to the
Indian Ocean littoral and had generally seemed content to coexist
with the few Britons who had resided in his district, Mlozi attempted to reassert his economic and political freedom from British

ful

tified

constraint. In Johnston's calculations, his elimination thereby be-

came essential. In late 1895, after the final victory over Makanjira,
Johnston assembled a strong force of four hundred soldiers, transported them by water to Karonga, and laid siege to Mlozi's stockaded town. Cannon shelled it, but Mlozi's Nyamwezi mercenaries
fought tenaciously for two days until the town lay in ruins. The
opposing forces then engaged in fierce fighting at close quarters before the British-led

detachment emerged

victorious.

Mlozi was cap-

tured and hanged, and British expeditions subsequently destroyed
the remaining stockades in northern Nyasaland.

Meanwhile, to the southwest, the Cewa chief Mwase Kasungu
had also demonstrated a determination to resist European rule. After
a short battle, the British troops took his village, and Mwase
Kasungu committed suicide to avoid arrest. In the following year,
36 Ibid., 132.

)

.

The Rise of Nationalism

2

Central Africa

in

Nkosi Gomani, the chief of a section of the Ngoni, had led
people in raids on mission stations and had promised to prevent
Britons from occupying or administering his part of Nyasaland, a
after

his

troop of British-officered Sikhs routed the Ngoni on a high plateau

what became the Ncheu district. Gomani himself remained at
however, until he succumbed to a ruse prepared by one of the
British officers. Before his death, which virtually ended African
efforts to resist the British occupation, he apparendy voiced the
question that must for many years have been implicit on the lips of
fellow Africans and to which no completely satisfactory answer
was ever forthcoming: "I come to ask why the white man brings war
to my country, kills my people, and burns my villages?"37
in

large,

—

Britons conquered Northeastern Rhodesia (the financier's

was

officially

name

applied to this portion of trans-Zambezia only in 1897

with greater ease. As early as 1891, Johnston established a government station near Lake Mweru in order to forestall Belgian encroachments across the Luapula River. Abercorn, near the southern

end of Lake Tanganyika, and Fife, on the road between Lake Nyasa
and Abercorn, became British outposts in 1894 and were, for a time,
the sole manifestations of Imperial control in that region. The Imperial presence was therefore exiguous, but missionaries and planters
had started to settle in its outlying regions and, by 1896, they had
come into conflict with the traditional prerogatives of some of the
more important tribal rulers. The western Ngoni had begun to resent
the demands for labor made upon them by white recruiting agents
and farmers. They rightly sensed a clear and present danger to
their position as the leading Africans of eastern Rhodesia. Sharpe
wrote to the Foreign Office: "Matters in Mpeseni's [Ngoni] country are far from satisfactory: These expeditions organized by the
British South Africa Company or their sub-concessionaires keep
warriors
dropping into the [Ngoni] district, and Mpeseni and his
,>38
are evidently beginning to get a little uneasy
In early 1898, a convenient pretext was arranged and a force of
100 Sikhs and 350 Tonga and Yao, led by Colonel William Manning,
invaded Mpeseni's country and compelled the Ngoni to submit to
.

37

Quoted

in R. C. F.

Maugham,

Africa as I

Have Known

It

176.
38

FO 2/106:

Alfred Sharpe to Clement Hill, 26

May

1896.

.

.

(London, 1929),

THE

COMING OF THE EUROPEANS

Company and

21

British rule. 39

During the next year, an equally large
machine guns, brought an end to
the independence of the Lunda Chief Kazembe. According to Codrington, Kazembe had "received European traders in a hostile
manner." Despite a telegraphed plea from the Foreign Office to
avoid military action, Sharpe prepared to strike "the final blow for
force of troops, reinforced with

He

order in Northeast Rhodesia/'
[the army]

actions

.

.

.

and that

Kazembe

[and] informed
I

later explained:

.

.

.

He

replied that he

Further negotiations were useless/'40

Kazembe

on the Luapula River and permitted the

assembled

of the foolishness of his

did not want to use force.

destroy his stockade.

"I

.

He was told to
was ready for war
.

.

fled

British

from

army

his capital

to enter his

village unmolested. Finally, with the diplomatic help of the

Company

White

occupied Bembaland, despite a minor
skirmish with a relatively unimportant chief. 41
In Northwestern Rhodesia, the British "Resident" appointed to

Fathers, the

easily

Barotseland in 1897 was

forbidden to exercise, or even to
powers for the British South Africa
Company from Lewanika. Lord Salisbury envisaged a far simpler
officially

try to obtain, administrative

arrangement.

The

British

Barotseland.

He instructed the Resident:

South Africa
.

.

.

The

Company

has no rights of government in

relations of the

.

.

Company

.

regulated [solely] by the agreement of 1890.

You

.

.

.

to

Lewanika are

You should not

try to

redeem a longstanding promise made for Her Majesty's Government by the British
South Africa. Company, and to assist him in maintaining order amongst
persons who are subject to H.M.G. jurisdiction. You will do your utmost
to remain on the most friendly footing with the King. 42
obtain any administrative power.

.

.

.

are sent to

In 1899, Joseph Chamberlain, the then British Colonial Secretary,
proposed to Lord Milner, the British High Commissioner in South
Africa, that Colin Harding should relieve Robert Coryndon as the
Accounts of the war will be found in: LO 5/4/7, LO 5/4/8, Salisbury
FO 2/147, FO 2/148, FO 2/149, Public Record Office; T. William
Baxter, "The Angoni Rebellion and Mpeseni," The Northern Rhodesia Journal,
ii (1950), 14-24.
40 FO 2/210: Sharpe to the Foreign Office, 29 December 1899.
41 Details in FO 2/248; FO 2/388; LO 5/4/13; Rotberg, Missionaries, 33-36.
42 FO 2/131: Salisbury to Coryndon, 8 April 1897.
39

archives;

The Rise of Nationalism

2 2

in

Central Africa

Resident in Barotseland. "I presume," he wrote, that "Harding

do not want any trouble in

is

Lewanika objects. We
Central Africa on our hands." Milner

not likely to go too fast or to force matters

if

assured him that he had issued the 'most explicit" instructions.

Harding was

"to

do nothing without

King."43 Nonetheless, the
influence in

all

[the]

Company soon

full

approval of the

exercised an overweening

of Northwestern Rhodesia

and,

specifically,

in

Barotseland, as a result of the Northwestern Rhodesia-Barotseland

new treaty concluded with Lewanika
Lewanika conceded administrative rights

Order-in-Council of 1899 and a
in 1900. In that treaty
to the

Company and

"all

such things as are incidental or conducive

any of the [mining
and commercial] rights powers and [other] concessions hereby
to the exercise, attainment or protection of all or

granted."44

By 1901 all of trans-Zambezia had become subject to the Crown.
By the use of the expedients of treaty and warfare, Britons had
induced a number of recalcitrant tribal monarchs to end their
resistance to

the imposition of foreign rule.

During the same

men had begun to force people into the labor
make and enforce new laws, alienate African-owned land to
period, white

and introduce

market,
settlers,

taxes.

GOVERNING THE PEOPLE

Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland were protectorates. In practice,
however, Her Majesty's Government and its local representatives
tended to ignore the legal limitations presumably inherent in a

and treated the Central African territories as conWhile his power was secured by force of arms,
Johnston derived legal authority to rule Africans from the British
African Order-in-Council, 1889, as amended. It empowered him to
make so-called Queen's Regulations in order to promote "peace,
order, and good government" and to establish courts wherein Africans could be tried and sentenced for transgressing the Queen's
"protectorate"

quered

colonies.

Regulations.

FO

Armed with

a unilateral British declaration, a

number

2/248: Chamberlain to Milner, 14 November 1899; Milner to Chamber16 December 1899.
44 Copy printed in Lewis H. Gann, The Birth of a Plural Society ( Manchester,

43

lain,

1958), 216.

COMING OF THE EUROPEANS

THE

of treaties of friendship,
of Indian

and African

some

23

cessions of sovereignty, a small troop

soldiers,

and the force of

his

own

personality,

Johnston thus began, in 1891, to govern Nyasaland and a part of
Northeastern Rhodesia. At first he confined himself to the Shire
Highlands, only gradually extending the influence of his govern-

ment northward along Lake Nyasa to lakes Tanganyika and
Mweru. By 1896, he had established a pattern of administration that
by and large proved the basis for all later British rule north of the
Zambezi River.
In order to establish and to maintain law and order throughout
the protectorates, Johnston in 1892 divided his administrative area
into districts

and employed Britons

Resident Magistrates. As their

titles

as Collectors of

Revenue and

imply, these individual imperial

employed in 1896) were responrevenue and the over-all supervision of their

pro-consuls (twenty-seven were
sible for the raising of
districts.

They became

super-chiefs and, as agents of the

Commis-

Governor), their word constituted local law. They
settled disputes between chiefs, decided where roads should be
built, conscripted labor for public and private employment, organized a postal service, and acted as a combination overseer of,
sioner

(later

and handyman

the public weal.

for,

Under such a system, the authority of the chiefs in Nyasaland became nominal. By 1904, they played "no real part in the affairs of
their country ." The Protectorate Annual Report recognized the
problem but proposed no remedy: "A somewhat difficult question
for consideration is the extent of power which should be allowed
to native chiefs. Before British influence was established a chief had
unlimited powers
[Now]
the tendency is for the old large
.

.

.

.

.

.

communities to be broken up."45 Eight years later, the government
once again congratulated itself upon the success of its policy of
direct rule: "The decay of the power of native chiefs and the
tendency all over the Protectorate to the splitting up of villages into
small family groups continues: this tendency is to some extent gratifying in that it originates in the native's sense of his complete
security
45

under the existing Government."46

Quoted

in S. S.

126, 128.
4 « Ibid.,

128.

Murray

(ed.),

A Handbook

of Nyasaland (London, 1932),

The Rise of Nationalism

2 4

in

Central Africa

In Nyasaland, the growth of a central government was rapid.

An

accountant joined Johnston in 1892; by 1896 a small secretariat had

been established

Zomba, the Protectorate's capital that Johnston
An embryo judicial department was begun
in the same year. A Principal Medical Officer was appointed; a
Superintendent of Public Works, a Superintendent of Roadmaking,
and a First Surveyor all had their own departments. Each had a
part to play in the British development of Nyasaland as slow and
as superficial as that development was at first to be.
Johnston and his successors believed strongly in positive government. His policies were honestly imperial:

had

in

artificially created.

—

Firstly, to protect the rights of the natives, to see that their villages

plantations are not disturbed,

and that

sufficient

space

expansion; secondly, to discourage land speculation;
secure the rights of the

Crown

in

such a

way

that the

is

and

left for their

and, thirdly, to

Crown

shall profit

by the development of this country, and find in its landed property a
source of revenue which may enable it to further develop the resources of
British Central Africa. 47

At the same time, he wanted to encourage white settlement, and he
was never loath to approve the transfer of large grants of land if
the European purchaser demonstrated bona fide, non-speculative,
intentions. Furthermore, Johnston equated "the rights of the natives"
with the interests of the Crown and, by a variety of means, reserved
as much land as he could to the Protectorate.
He encouraged coffee planters to enter the Shire Highlands during
this early period. They opened up a number of profitable estates
and turned to the administration for assistance in obtaining a steady
supply of labor. In 1895, Johnston made regulations for the employment of Africans. He also began to tax Africans in order to induce them to offer their labor to the settlers, and in order to defray
the cost of administering the country. As European control gradually asserted itself in the highlands to the south of Lake Nyasa
and, eventually, north and west of the lake, he compelled Africans
throughout the Protectorate to pay three or more shillings a hut.
Foreign Office officials feared that Africans would rebel if the tax
was imposed too harshly; Johnston and Sharpe, who followed him
47

Quoted

in

Hanna, Beginnings, 231.

THE

COMING OF THE EUROPEANS

25

Commissioner, therefore enforced the tax regulations throughout
the entire Protectorate only after 1904, when the northern Ngoni
began to pay. By that date it seemed clear to Central Africans that
as

the British government

had come

to rule

them permanently.

Across the territorial boundary, the two separately governed
protectorates of Northeastern
actually subjected to regular

A

few scattered

and Northwestern Rhodesia were

Company

administration only after

attempted to govern isolated districts
of Northeastern Rhodesia in the 1890's; Abercorn, Fife, and "Rhodesia" near Lake Mweru early were fortified outposts and, only after
1901.

officials

the humbling of Mpeseni

and Kazembe and the

Bembaland, could the Company create administrative

acquisition of
centers.

Robert

Codrington, the Deputy (later full) Administrator of Northeastern

new Fort
Jameson, near Mpesems town, only in 1899. 48 In Northwestern
Rhodesia, the Administrator did not establish a secretariat until
Rhodesia, transferred his residence from Blantyre to the

1901. But,

by

that date, Africans

British presence throughout all of

had reluctantly accepted the
what was to become Northern

Rhodesia. Thereafter, the agents of the ruling British South Africa

Company governed
They imposed

the Protectorate largely on Nyasaland

lines.

and regulated land holdings. Administrators,
variously called Collectors, Residents, Native Commissioners, and
District Commissioners, supervised African life, made laws and
dispensed justice, and generally attempted to develop and to modernize the large districts for which they were individually respontaxes

sible.

Northern Rhodesia was created

officially

only in 1911,

when

the

and Northeastern Rhodesia, first divided by the Kafue River and later by the railway, were
amalgamated by the British South Africa Company in order to
economize. The town of Livingstone, near Victoria Falls, became
the country's trading center and administrative capital. Most of the
few thousand settlers who had been attracted to the territory after
the conclusion of the South African War lived on either side of what
became the single railway, which reached Broken Hill in 1906 and
Ndola, on the way to Katanga, in 1909. Along the rail line, Kalomo,
Choma, and Mazabuka served the most important farming districts.

separate administrations of Northwestern

48 For Codrington, see Lewis H. Gann,
Early Days to 1953 (London, 1964), 94-96.

A

History of Northern Rhodesia:

The Rise of Nationalism

26

in

Central Africa

economic activity was carried on at the Broken
and zinc mine, at the Bwana Mkubwa copper mine near
Ndola and, far to the east and northeast, in small, scattered farming

Other

significant

Hill lead

communities.

These

number

settlers

exerted an influence out of

all

proportion to their

(in 1921 only 4000 whites resided in Northern Rhodesia)

and the Chartered Company, which ruled

until 1917 without

any

formal concession to white representative government, listened care-

Although a Legislative Council, on which
were represented, was granted to Nyasaland in 1907, the
white farmers and miners of Northern Rhodesia grew increasingly
more powerful than their counterparts in the neighboring protectorate. As a result, the government of Northern Rhodesia never really attempted to safeguard African rights to the same extent as the
government in Nyasaland. Northern Rhodesia, as its name implied,
was ideologically no more than an extension of the commercially
fully to their grievances.
settlers

controlled colonial system of Southern Rhodesia. In such circum-

one than
worse in Northern

stances, settlers naturally received greater privileges in the
in the other and, in the long run, Africans fared

Rhodesia than in Nyasaland. Even

which whites ruled Africans were

so,

almost identical anti-colonial response.

was

fertilized in practically the

the discriminatory ways in

sufficiently similar to

The seedbed

same, rich way.

provoke an

of nationalism

1

Chapter

1

THE CHARACTER OF WHITE RULE
We

have governed the native and over-governed him.

We

have

taken from him the power of self-determination and have hedged
him in with a network of rules and permits, a monotonous, highly
regulated and very drab existence.

enslavement but
for
in

we do

very

little

We

save him from war and

else for him

[and]

in

what we have taken away we have given him very

return
little

exchange.

—Mr.

Justice Philip Macdonnell, in
a letter to the Administrator of
Northern Rhodesia, 5 May 1919

Central Africans received their

first

European

Portuguese were reasonably well treated;

visitors

warmly. The

Mwata Kazembe

pro-

and succored the expedition of Francisco Jose de Lacerda
when it reached his village. David Livingstone was a man of peaceful and honorable intentions. Generally, therefore, Africans assisted
his travels, and remembered his visits with pleasure. 1 Subsequently,
when the initial mission parties came to Nyasaland and Northern
Rhodesia, they too were welcomed. Africans saw them as potential
allies in the inter-tribal conflicts of the time. They fancied the
missionaries' new Western skills and Western products, many of
which came to be desired even by the more isolated indigenous
peoples. Missionaries thus were allotted plots of land and encouraged to open new stations. Indeed, during the later years of
tected

the nineteenth century, Africans accepted foreigners of

all

persua-

At the same time, those who attempted to
were
interfere with established practice
like the slave trade
anathema, and were dealt with as such. Thus, the Yao attacked the
first Universities' Mission at Magomero and battled with Harry
Johnston. The Cewa, Ngoni, and Lunda similarly fought an unequal
sions rather uncritically.

—

struggle against white

men who

—

threatened to upset established

ways of life.
1 David
Livingstone, Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa
(London, 1857), 169.

THE CHARACTER OF WHITE RULE
That was

29

really the point of African objection. Strangers

were

traditionally accepted into the African social system. Provided that

they faithfully observed local customs, they usually went unmolested.

when British laws and administrative regulations were introduced into Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia in the 1890's, Africans
began to think that the white explorers and missionaries had disguised their intentions. They became disillusioned and rued the
day when they had allowed first a few, and later more, of these
white strangers to settle in their country. As a Northern Rhodesian
chief wrote long after it had become impossible to oust the whites
without bloodshed: "When a white man came in this country he
treated us as people but we have found out that he is leaving his
But,

first

duty

"2

Why did white rule serve to disillusion Africans?

THE PROBLEM OF LAND RIGHTS

An

and pastoral people regarded access to arable
way of life. Before the coming of the
Europeans, the inhabitants of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia
grew millet, sorghum, maize, and a little tobacco and cotton, and
grazed cattle in order to satisfy their own requirements. Throughout the middle years of the nineteenth century their land had
changed hands; tribe fought tribe, African battled Arab, and newly
arrived immigrant Africans squatted wherever they could find room.
agricultural

land as essential to their

Then, in the years after Livingstone's

visit,

white missionaries,

and concession-seekers began to arrive
in trans-Zambezia. They either purchased land, often from "chiefs"
who had no right to alienate tribal holdings, or persuaded African

traders, planters, hunters,

leaders to permit their unhindered settlement. Equally often, whites

contentedly took land by force.

Johnston understood the importance of land to Africans. He also
to encourage the settlement of Europeans genuinely inter-

wanted

ested in the development of British Central Africa. After returning
to

Nyasaland in 1891 as

its

Commissioner, he attempted, with

characteristic industry, to reconcile the needs of whites

and

and Africans

to provide a rational basis for the future alienation of African-

owned

land. His task

was

hindered by the chaotic melange
and counterclaims that purported to

initially

of conflicting white land claims

2 Chief Musokotwani, Minutes of the Livingstone Native Welfare Association,
9 June 1930, Lusaka archives.

—

The Rise of Nationalism

3

in

Central Africa

more fertile parts of the Shire Highlands among a fairly
number of white owners. By taking advantage of African ingenuousness and inexperience, these individuals and companies had
divide the

small

obtained ownership of land on which large numbers of Nyasas lived
and tilled the soil. At Blantyre, Chief Kapeni, who sought protection

from Ngoni

raids,

granted to the missionaries the right to

settle

and, in time, to purchase a site between the Likabula and Nasolo
streams. Before long, most of

what became the

city of Blantyre-

Limbe had been sold to eight persons for trifling amounts. The
premier coffee planter John Buchanan, for example, purchased 3,065
acres of the future city for a gun, 32 yards of calico, two red caps,
"and several other things/' A British evangelist obtained 26,537 acres
for "seven trusses of calico measuring 1,750 yards."3 As Johnston
reported to Lord Rosebery in 1892, after beginning his survey of
land claims:
There are claimants whose demands
satisfy to the full unless I

handed over

it

to

would be impossible for me to
them thirty, forty or fifty square

all the native inhabitants as their serfs, with exroad-making rights, and in some cases a "right to
exclude all other Europeans from the land." Men who make claims like
these have in most cases come up to Nyasaland rich only in their aspirations, have started with a few pounds' worth of inferior trade goods
flint-lock guns, gunpowder and cloth
and with these have induced some
heedless young Chief or silly old savage to put his mark on a paper conferring vast territories and sovereign rights on the needy pioneer. 4

miles of territory, with
clusive

mining

rights,

—

Judge John Joseph Nunan, the British Central Africa Protectorate's
chief legal officer, dilated upon these original claims in two judgments
handed down by him in 1901 and 1903. He ruled that chiefs were
not "landlords of the lands over which they rule," and that they
could not, even with the consent of their people, dispose of freehold rights or easements. Furthermore, the chiefs, headmen, and
other interested parties appeared to have surrendered the fee simple
3

W.

H.

J.

Rangeley, "Early Blantyre," The Nyasaland Journal,

vii,

1 (1954),

37-42.

*FO

84/2197: H. H. Johnston to Lord Rosebery, 13 October 1892. Quoted
Roland Oliver, Sir Harry Johnston and the Scramble for Africa (London,
1957), 220-221.

in

THE CHARACTER OF WHITE RULE
of their lands with "a gaitS

them

3!

de coeur which must have endeared

to the traders in question/'

The 60,000

acres

... a quantity of

which are the subject of

Judgment were sold for
powder, brass wire, beads,

this

cloth, coloured stuff, guns,

and other things, being at the rate of one-fifth of a penny per acre. With
equal cheerfulness and simplicity, the natives refrained from specifying
any conditions on which they themselves might be allowed to remain on
the transferred land. 5

The 1903 Land Commission later estimated that the Shire Highhad been alienated for about one-tenth of a penny per acre.
Johnston set himself three tasks to establish Crown ownership of
lands

—

land in order that he might be in a position to lease plots to
to extinguish or to regulate private claims that conflicted

aim; and to provide land sufficient for African villages and
the Commissioner were satisfied that Africans

settlers;

with

this

fields. If

had received a

fair

value for their lost lands, that there were no privileges or monopolies

claimed that were inconsistent with the idea of British sovereignty,
and "that the rights of the natives [were] sufficiently secured," he
issued a Certificate of Claim to the European party concerned. Into
these certificates he often introduced a section designed to protect

Africans in the future. It read: "... no native village or plantation
existing at the date of this certificate

on the said

estate shall

be

consent in writing of Her
and Consul-General." At the same time, the
European proprietor was permitted to prevent the establishment of
any new villages or plantations upon his property. 6
By the end of 1893, Africans realized that Johnston had, despite
his professedly good intentions, confirmed most of the important
white-owned holdings and had acquired the remainder of the best
land for the Crown. In his adjudication of the various claims, Johnston had in practice been unwilling to deny even the most unscrupulous private promoter some land to call his own. He dealt harshly
disturbed or removed without the
Majesty's Commissioner

5 Supervisor of Native Affairs v. Blantyre and East Africa Company, Blantyre,
28 April 1903, Zomba archives.
6 Enclosure #2 in Acting Commissioner Pearce to the Marquess of Lansdowne, 7 July 1903; a slightly different version may be found in Sl/411 u /33:
"Land Tenure and Tenancy," Zomba archives.

The Rise of Nationalism

32

in

Central Africa

with absentee speculators but, by whatever standards Johnston used
to divide up the densely populated Shire Highlands, more than half
of the most suitable land was allowed to remain in white ownership.
In North Nyasa, he was further constrained to approve the British

South Africa Company's claim to 20,000 square miles of land near
Karonga. This freehold was derived from treaties made on behalf

Company and the Crown by Joseph Thomson, Alfred Sharpe,
and other early emissaries. But, as the District Commissioner for
Karonga later wrote, Africans who signed treaties with the early
consuls and explorers could not any more than Lewanika and
Kapeni have known what they were doing.
of the

—

—

They were prepared

to place themselves entirely under [European] proand entered into an agreement to that effect, thinking these Europeans were the direct representatives of a greater power beyond the seas.

tection

They could not

possibly have understood the

meaning or functions

of

a commercial firm and they could not have realized that the agreement

made was a sale, and that by
and deprived posterity of the right
they

tantamount

this act

they disinherited their tribe

to their lands. I submit that this

is

to false pretence. 7

Even

so, in the final analysis Johnston permitted whites to control
about 15 percent of the total land and water area of the Protectorate.
This very control provided much of the basis for the subsequent
growth of African unrest.
Johnston assumed, as he later did in Uganda, that he could arbitrarily design a permanent solution to the land problem. In Nyasaland, he thought that the inclusion of the non-disturbance clause in
Certificates of Claim would prove sufficient protection for Africans.
But the clause was enforced on neither side; little let or hindrance
was placed in the way of African migration from place to place.
Indeed, the European proprietors generally encouraged immigration

onto their estates in order to obtain as large a supply of labor as

For the most part, they utilized only a small part of their
and were content to allow Africans to cultivate and to
reside anywhere on the undeveloped portion. By 1900, however,
coffee prices had reached a comparatively high level and a number
of the planters were only with extreme difficulty obtaining suffipossible.

holdings,

7

S1/1519V28:

sioner, 7

May

J.

1930,

J.

O'Brien to the Northern Province Provincial Commis-

Zomba

archives.

THE CHARACTER OF WHITE RULE
cient labor during the planting period.

33

They had,

at that time, to

compete with African devotion to the preparation of their own gardens. Planters thus began to charge Africans a rent for the privilege
of residing upon and cultivating land owned by Europeans. The
rental fee was not, however, expected to be paid in cash or kind.

would
work upon the white-owned plantations for two months
during the critical wet season. If so, their rent would be remitted
and, in addition, they would receive the normal rate of pay with
which they could defray their tax obligations to the administration.
By 1903, the ad hoc efforts of the planters had largely extinguished African land rights in the Shire Highlands. Whether he was
an old or a new resident, and whether or not he was theoretically
protected by a Certificate of Claim, the individual African had become a tenant at will. However, "he tends/' said Judge Nunan, "to
Instead, the planters hoped, indeed assumed, that Africans

choose to

one respect from the [unfree] mediaeval villein. If the
were bound to the soil he had at least a fixity of tenure. The
native, apparently, is to have eventually no tenure at all." The
judge summarized eloquently:
differ in

latter

The

—the

natives, in return for a past consideration

fact that they

have

—

some date not mentioned surrender a freehold, or claim of freehold, and receive a tenancy at will,
with the s[u]peradded condition that if they do not work for the landowner ... for two months
during the rainy season (a period at which
their labour is particularly valuable to themselves, as it includes two out
of the three months of their own hoeing time), they are bound to pay 6s.
annual rent ... an annual payment equivalent to 120 per cent of the fee
simple. The native has no security of tenure, must move without compensation when called upon
and can take up no fresh ground for his
been allowed

to

change

their gardens at

.

.

.

.

.

.

garden [without] permission. It is to
brought the Central African native. 8

this

that British protection has

Other abuses followed. Africans were paid only nominally for
induced labor. They received the equivalent of 3/- a month in
calico, but the actual market value of the calico was apparently little
more than 2/- a month. Africans were not allowed to sell the produce
of their own gardens except to the proprietor of the estate. They
could sell their labor only to the estate owner. And planters fretheir

8

Judgment

of

28 April 1903.

3 4

The Rise of Nationalism

owed by

quently paid the taxes

in

Central Africa

their tenants directly to the Col-

lector without the personal

appearance of the Africans concerned.
This early, informal, "check-off" system assisted the administrative
collection of the tax and, at the same time, permitted planters to
exert an unfortunate influence over their tenants. It appears that
proprietors were not above retaining the tax receipt as an "inducement/' to encourage their tenants to comply with their demands for
labor whenever called upon. Moreover, despite the claims advanced

by the local Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce, Africans had
no option. Cultivable acreage for gardens was available for the
most part only on the vast, European-owned estates. Near Blantyre,
the government earmarked all of the available Crown land for railway or official construction. Then too, Africans saw that the more
important landholding companies refused to develop the bulk of
their extensive holdings.

By

1903,

Europeans had

utilized less than 1

percent of the total alienated acreage of the country during a peaceful

period of relatively high world prices for tropical products.

the British Central Africa

Company

estate, for

On

example, the owners

had cultivated only 5,000 of its 367,000 acres. On the Bruce estates,
against which John Chilembwe later directed his ire, all but 500
of

its

160,000 acres lay fallow. In terms perhaps inappropriate for

Central
ness to

the Commission held that this inability or unwillingdevelop alienated lands virtually constituted mortmain,

.Africa,

which deserved

to

be taxed. 9

Despite the criticisms and recommendations of the 1903 Land
Commission, the rights or lack of rights of Africans on alienated estates remained a source of indigenous grievance and national controversy for fifty years. Settlers successfully opposed administrative
attempts to alleviate some of the main causes of African distress.
According to Deputy Governor Francis Barrow Pearce, the Euro-

pean planter simply wanted cheap labor and disliked policies that
tended to raise the natives above the level "at which they would be
10
content to work for him at a pittance." Pearce, when he acted as
the governor, attempted to deny further white encroachments, but
his successors were iinwilling or unable to prevent renewed white
9

6

British Central Africa

May

1903,

Zomba

Land Commission

to Acting

Commissioner Pearce,

archives.

10 CO 525/49: Pearce to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, 14 June
1913, Public Record Office. Pearce had earlier been styled Acting Commissioner.

THE CHARACTER OF WHITE RULE
alienation of African-occupied land

35

and the perpetuation of the

tenancy system.
In 1920, Claude Algernon Cardew, a district officer with

many

years experience in the Protectorate, sought to forestall white settle-

ment

in Central Angoniland.

He

explained at some length the rea-

sons for Ngoni opposition to whites. "The Angoni are strongly

opposed to Europeans residing in their midst, continually overlookthem and watching what they do, stopping their dancing and
drumming on account of the noise, making trouble if their livestock
wander on the estate, continually demanding labour, carriers, etc.
from the neighbouring villages. ... If the Europeans come the
Angoni will be forced to move off." 11 But these protests, and those
of Africans, were to no avail. By 1921, a large new influx of Europeans had leased large acreages throughout the Protectorate,
thereby increasing the already aggravated problem of land ownership and tenant obligation.
In Judge Nunan's words, Africans who resided on white-owned
estates remained little more than serfs throughout the period between the two world wars. By 1928, custom had even become enshrined in ordinance. Thereafter, the government officially excused
African tenants on tea and coffee estates from the payment of rent
so long as they worked for their respective proprietor whenever he
requested them to do so. If Africans, whether original residents or
not and the distinction had become hopelessly blurred refused
to work, they either paid rent in cash or subjected themselves to
eviction. Landlords told their tenants what and when they should
plant, and purchased the resultant crops from them, in lieu of
ing

—

—

rental obligations, at contrived prices. 12

From

the

point of

settler's

by hard-earned
on the other hand, claimed that they had been

view, the estates were private property, paid for

money. Africans,
arbitrarily deprived of their lands and, in the process, unconscionably abused: Although their soils became exhausted, the estate
owners refused them new lands for gardens. If they moved onto
fallow land, the owner uprooted their crops. African tenants were
not allowed to grow maize and other foodstuffs for personal profit.
11

Sl/378/20: Claude Algernon Cardew

Zomba
12

to the Chief Secretary, 6

May

1920,

archives.

See Sl/411 ii /33:

Governor Harold Kittermaster

Philip Cunliffe-Lister, 15

December 1934, Zomba

to

archives.

Secretary

of

State

3 6

The Rise of Nationalism

They could not

cut

down

in

Central Africa

trees in order to build huts in the tradi-

manner. In an area where the customary pattern of settlement was matrilocal, Europeans forbade young men to settle on
tional

Men who

lived

their fields elsewhere,

were

the lands of the family of their prospective spouse.

on an

estate,

but

who worked and had

forced to pay rent for the land on which their hut was sited. Proprietors often compelled youths to leave the estates when they
came of age. 13 In short, if Africans distrusted white rule, they need

upon a European-owned plantation for all
be confirmed.
The moderate white reaction to this problem was expressed in an
early missionary publication: "On the face of it, it is an anomaly that
the native should
have to buy back land which was once his
own. Where once he had fixity of tenure he now has to pay for it
at the rate of four shillings per annum. It is an anomaly but one
of those anomalies which must be allowed for/' 14
In Northern Rhodesia, meanwhile, there was far less pressure
upon the land. Although individual settlers immigrated there in
numbers greater than to Nyasaland, there was ample land for all.
only to have resided
their worst fears to

.

The

soil

.

.

was, overall, less

fertile

than that of the Shire Highlands,

were relatively fewer Africans, and the parts of Northern
Rhodesia most thickly populated by Africans were for the