British West Africa / Liberia
A collection of 10 English illustrated pages on the wars in Nigeria against the Aros, the Emir of Kano, the Emir of Lapaie, Onitcha-Ugbo and Ja-Ja King of Opobo, 1888-1904. T
Note: There were major internal changes in Nigeria in the 19th century. In 1804, Usuman dan Fodio (1754-1817), a Fulani and a pious Muslim, began a holy war to reform the practice of Islam in the north. He soon conquered the Hausa city-states, but Bornu, led by Muhammad al-Kanemi (also a Muslim reformer) until 1835, maintained its independence. In 1817, Usuman dan Fodio’s son, Muhammad Bello established a state centered at Sokoto, which controlled most of Northern Nigeria until the coming of the British (1900-1906). Under both Usuman dan Fodio and Muhammad Bello, Muslim culture, and also trade, flourished in the Fulani empire. In Bornu, Muhammad al-Kanemi was succeeded by Uma (reigned 1835-1880), under whom the empire disintegrated.
Britain entered the region initially to stamp out the slave trade. In 1817 a long series of civil wars began in the Oyo Empire which lasted until 1893 when Britain intervened. To stop the slave trade, Britain annexed Lagos in 1861. Sir George Goldie gained control of all the British firms trading on the Niger, and in the 1880’s he took over two French companies active there and signed treaties with numerous African leaders. Largely because of Goldie’s efforts, Great Britain was able to claim Southern Nigeria at the Conference of Berlin held in 1884-1885.
In the following years, the British established their rule in SW Nigeria, partly by signing treaties (as in the Lagos hinterland) and partly by using force (as at Benin in 1897). Jaja, a leading African trader based at Opobo in the Niger delta and strongly opposed to European competition, was captured in 1897 and deported. Goldie’s firm was given a royal charter in 1886 and established the Royal Niger Company, to administer the Niger River and Northern Nigeria. It antagonized Europeans and Africans alike by it monopoly of trade on the Niger, although it was not sufficiently powerful enough to gain effective control over Northern Nigeria, which was also sought by the French.
In 1900 the Royal Niger Company’s charter was revoked and British forces under Frederick Lugard began to conquer the north, taking Sokoto in 1903. By 1906, Britain controlled Nigeria, which was divided into the Colony (ie. Lagos) and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria and the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria. In 1914 the two regions were amalgamated and the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria was established.
Collection of 7 illustrations from French and English periodicals of the 1873-1874 Ashanti War. T
Note: The Asantehene (King of the Ashanti) Kofi Karikari attempted to preserve his empire’s last trade outlet to the sea at the old coastal fort of Elmina, which had come into British possession sometime between 1869 and 1872. In early 1873, an Ashanti army, a force of somewhere between 12,000 and 60,000 warriors, crossed the Prah River. After attacking the Fante, a tribe under British protection, they headed for the coast. The Royal Navy was called in and sent marines and sailors to man the old slave forts. Elmina was held against a furious Ashanti assault. A river reconnaissance up the Prah was ambushed at Chamah and forced to retreat. A number of landings and naval bombardments were able to slow the Ashanti but not stop them. London realized that an army would have to be sent out to deal with the situation.
Major General Garnet Wolseley was appointed administrator and commander in chief and was ordered to drive the Ashanti from the coastal region. In December, 1873, Wolseley’s African levies were reinforced by the arrival of several British units, as well as the 2nd West Indies regiment. One month later, Wolseley sent an advance party across the Prah, warning the asantehene that he intended to begin hostilities. Wolseley , however, also offered an armistice. When negotiations failed, both sides prepared for war. The British assembled an expeditionary force numbering about 4000 men, including two units comprised of coastal tribesmen. They headed for the Ashanti capital Kumasi.
The most significant battle of the Second Ashanti War occurred at Amoafo, near the village of Bekwai. Although the Ashanti performed admirably, superior weapons allowed the British to carry the day. Ashanti losses were unknown; the British lost 4 men and 194 wounded. In the following days, Wolseley captured Bekwai and then, after another battle outside of Ordahsu, the British entered Kumasi, where there was evidence of human sacrifice, and burned it. Though Wolseley managed to occupy the Ashanti capital for only one day, the Ashanti were shocked to realize the inferiority of their military and communications systems.