British annexation of Northern Zambezia, 1884-1924 : anatomy of a conquest
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The history of the Northern Rhodesia Protectorate, as Zambia was known before 1964, has been depicted as a relatively benevolent process. The region 'had been subjugated', says Mulford, 'not by war but by treaties concluded between white men and the Territory's unsophisticated chiefs'. The struggle of 'Christianity, commerce and civilization versus the slave trade' had, according to A.J. Hanna, distinguished the earlier years. In Gann's view, the establishment of administration, undertaken by 'government officials', coming 'in the missionary's footsteps' promoted the 'birth of a new economy'. Such accounts have implied that the 'protection' of 'northern Zambezia' compared favourably with the situation south of the river, where military subjugation followed the Ndebele and Shona 'risings', and was indeed qualitatively different. Moreover, this view could draw support from the statements of some Zambian nationalists. As late as 1959, Kenneth Kaunda, while under political restriction, described the Protectorate as based on 'treaties freely entered into' between local rulers and Queen Victoria's 'representatives'. This thesis is concerned to modify this assessment radically in the light of extensive research into British South Africa Company records, Colonial Office correspondence, the private papers of some B.S.A.C. agents, the letters and diaries of missionaries and others, coupled with extensive tape-recording of the testimonies of senior Zambians. After outlining the theme of the research (Chapter I), this 'anatomy' of the B.S.A. Company's 'conquest' proceeds to review the relation of 'the rules of the great game of scramble' to Rhodes's action in Central Africa (Chapter II), and to examine 'treaty-making' in 'northern Zambezia' in detail (Chapter III). Chapter IV is devoted to the B.S.A. Company's strategy of military conquest, with special reference to the defeat of the stronger kingdoms. The main body of the thesis (Chapter V) is concerned with what are seen as the major instruments by which the conquered territory was controlled and exploited. This includes an examination of the revenue, drawn from 'hut tax' in relation to the Company's real objectives. In the final chapter (VI) brief surveys are provided of three major consequences of this conquest: the degradation of traditional rulers; the fostering of a comprehensive 'colour bar'; and the awakening of African nationalism. It is submitted that the swift and relatively early triumph of Zambian nationalism cannot be accurately understood without the fuller 'anatomy' of the British 'conquest' which this thesis offers.