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A List of Some African Leaders that Resisted European Colonization






Cetshwayo was a Zulu king and the nephew of the legendary Zulu ruler Shaka. Cetshwayo fought the British in 1879. Although the Zulus were defeated, during the Battle of Isandlwana the Zulus handed the British one of the worst defeats in the history of the British Empire.





Yaa Asantewaa


In 1900, the British took control of the Asante kingdom and exiled the Asante ruler Prempeh. Outraged by this, Yaa Asantewaa led the Asante people in their final confrontation against the British in 1900. This was the final in a series of wars between the British and Asante that last almost 10 years. Although the Asante lost the final confrontation, the efforts of the Asante stand out as one of the more successful attempts at resisting colonialism on the part of Africans.






Maqoma was a Xhosa chief and warrior who fought two wars against the European settlers in South Africa. As a result of his resistance, Maqoma was twice imprisoned at Robben Island. It was at Robben Island where Maqoma died in exile.




Samory Touré


Samory Touré was the founder of the Wassoulou Empire. Touré fought a series of battles with the French from 1882 until 1898 was when Touré was finally captured and exiled by the French.






Menelik II and Taitu


Emperor Menelik II and Empress Taitu of Ethiopia successfully fended off Italian colonization in 1896, at the Battle of Adwa. Ethiopia would be the only African nation to successfully defeat a European colonizing force.




Mohammed Abdullah Hassan


Mohammed Abdullah Hassan (known as the Mad Mullah by the British) was a Somali religious leader and warrior who fought a 20 year campaign against the Ethiopians, British, and Italian. Hassan’s resistance eventually came to an end in 1920 when he died of an illness.




Muhammadu Attahiru I


Muhammadu Attahiru I was the last independent sultan of Sokoto. Following being defeated militarily by the British, Attahiru fled for his safety. He was eventually hunted down the British and engaged Muhammadu Attahiru in a final battle that restated in Muhammadu Attahiru’s death.






Nana Olomu


Nana Olomu was an Itsekiri chief who fought the British. Although Nana Olomu lost, he put up a valiant effort. In fact, the British initially expected an easy conquest, but it ended up being one of the Britain’s most costly expeditions in West Africa.






Mkwawa was a Hehe chief who fought the German colonizers from 1891 until 1898. Mkwawa was eventually surrounded by the Germans, but he committed suicide rather than allowing himself to captured by his enemies.











The Amazons of Dahomey



Béhanzin was the last independent ruler of Dahomey. He was overthrown by the French in 1894. This conflict was notable for the fact that women warriors known Mino (known as Amazons to the Europeans) were the fiercest warriors fighting in defense of Dahomey. These women earned the respect of the French enemies.

African Fundamentalism By The Hon. Marcus Mosiah ...