Flora Louise Shaw Lugard.

A tropical dependency : an outline of the ancient history of the western Sudan with an account of the modern settlement of northern Nigeria online

. (page 35 of 41)
Online LibraryFlora Louise Shaw LugardA tropical dependency : an outline of the ancient history of the western Sudan with an account of the modern settlement of northern Nigeria → online text (page 35 of 41)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

British Residents had been accepted — though not
enthusiastically — by the governing power in Nassarawa,
the province bordering eastward upon Nupe, which was
a sub-emirate of the nominally friendly Zaria, and was
very largely occupied by pagan tribes. In Muri too, a
little farther along the Benue, where pagans were glad to
be protected, British stations had been formed. But the
Fulani Emirs of Bautchi and Yola in the east, believing
themselves strong enough to defy the power of Great
Britain, and rendered only more antagonistic by the fate of
Kontagora and Nupe, and by the effectual British protec-
tion given to the pagans of Muri and Nassarawa, were creat-
ing a situation which became every day more difficult.

The Emir of Yola, a well-educated Fulani and reli-
gious fanatic, ordered the representatives of the Niger
Company, notwithstanding treaty rights to the con-
trary, to haul down their flag and close their trading
station on the river. In Bautchi the important town of
Guarram was destroyed, and the population carried into


slavery by slave-raiders acting under the instructions of
the emir. Both emirs traded openly in slaves, which
they imported from German territory and sent through
the Haussa States, while trade routes for legitimate
commerce were closed. The pagans of the river looked
from its eastern to its western end, waiting to see
whether the protection of the British Government was
strong enough to be effective in these circumstances. It
was essential, if we were to retain the respect of the
pagan peoples, to check the wholesale depopulation of
their territory. It was also necessary to protect the
legitimate rights of British traders at Yola.

A military expedition was therefore decided upon,
and was sent against Yola in September of 1901, under
the command of Colonel Morland. It was successful,
and though some obstinate resistance was encountered,
the capital was taken. The emir, who preferred exile
to capitulation, took refuge in flight. The province was
brought under British administration, and an emir ap-
pointed on conditions similar to those of Nupe.

In the two provinces of Bornu the situation which
called for British intervention was of a wholly different
order, but the claims for attention which it put forward
were perhaps even more imperative than those of the
southern states, for they involved difficulties with a
European neighbour, which were, of all others, those
which it was desirable to avoid.

It has been mentioned that in Bornu the conqueror
Rabbeh was overthrown and killed by the French in 1900,
and a puppet sovereign of Bornu appointed. Rabbeh's
son and successor, Fad-el-Allah, appealed to the British
for redress and protection, and offered to obey the orders
of the British Government. The question arose whether
he, who was a usurper, should be recognised and supported
in Bornu, or whether the lawful sovereign overthrown by
his father should be restored.

While the question was under consideration in 1901,
the French took the matter into their own hands, and,


marching into British territory, defeated and killed
Fad-el-Allah at Gujba, 150 miles inside the British

Such a violation of territory accentuated the neces-
sity of asserting effective control of the border province,
and a small expedition was accordingly sent into Bornu at
the end of 1901 to make full inquiry into the events which
had taken place, and to ascertain whether there was truth
in the report that the French had carried natives of the
British Protectorate into captivity across the frontier, and
were levying tribute in British protected villages. On further
information received it was decided to occupy Bornu.

The route to Bornu lies through Bautchi, where the
massacre of Guarram by the emir was still unpunished.
Bautchi was at this time the centre of the slave trade,
and slaves were openly sold in the market of its prin-
cipal town. The emir had shown himself antagonistic to
British government, and it was considered probable that
he might oppose the troops of the Protectorate. The ex-
pedition destined ultimately for the occupation of Bornu
was sent in force under the personal command of Colonel
Morland in February of 1902. Preparations which had
been made in Bautchi to oppose its advance were aban-
doned when its strength was known.

The Emir?:of Bautchi proving quite intractable, was,
however, deposed. The council of notables, in whom,
according to native custom, the election of emirs is vested,
was summoned, and elected his heir. The emir took
the usual refuge in flight, and his heir was duly appointed
under the same conditions as the Emirs of Nupe, Yola,
and Kontagora, to which last-named emirate the British
Government had, on the continued refusal of Sokoto to
respond to the invitation to exercise his function as
suzerain, nominated a temporary chief.

Thus Bautchi also was brought under British adminis-
tration, and as, in every letter of appointment, the
sovereignty of the British Crown was asserted, and in
every installation oath was accepted by the appointed

2 E


emir, British sovereignty was accepted from Borgu to

A British Resident and a garrison were placed in the
capital of Bautchi, and it may be said here that the
newly appointed emir proving loyal to his engagements,
the Resident was able by June of 1902 to report that
the slave trade was practically abolished in Bautchi as
a recognised practice. Underhand slave dealing still
continues to some slight extent, and constitutes one of
the principal offences with which the provincial courts
have to deal.

As was usual after the suppression of the slave-raider,
the retaliation of the raided had to be dealt with, and
there was some fighting with turbulent pagan tribes who
rendered the road unsafe. They were successfully sub-
dued, and the expedition continued its march towards
Bornu. A little later the ex-Emir of Bautchi, becoming
a centre of intrigue and trouble, was caught and sent
into honourable exile in Ilorin, where he lived under the
charge of the Emir and Resident.

Between Bautchi and Gujba there lay the territory of
Gombe, which had been for some years in the possession
of a brave fanatic of the name of Jibrella, who declared
himself to be the Mahdi, and who had for some years
maintained himself victoriously against all neighbours.
On the news of the approach of the British expedition
he took the initiative and attacked. His troops charged
the British force most gallantly, but they were defeated
and pursued for two days, when Lieutenant Dyer effected
the capture of the Mahdi himself. Jibrella, who was a
white-haired old man already feeble with age, was sent
as a prisoner to Lokoja, where he was treated with
the consideration due to his distinction as a soldier and
a priest. The Gombe country, which had once formed
a portion of the Bautchi province, was, like Bautchi,
brought under British administration, and the expedition
pressed on to Gujba in Bornu, leaving the road all
British behind it.


No further opposition was encountered in Bornu. A

company was left at Gujba, and Colonel Morland, with the

rest of his force, proceeded to Maidugeri. Here it was

found that the report of a French expedition into British

territory was correct. On the death of Rabbeh in 1900

Fad-el-Allah, his son, had defied the French, who, after

some fighting, had retired across the boundary to their

headquarters at Dikwa, in what is now German territory.

They were again attacked by Fad-el-Allah, and they had

then pursued him as far as Gujba in British territory,

defeated, and killed him. They had raised levies and

caravans for this raid in British territory. A great

number of prisoners and much loot were taken at Gujba,

and the prisoners were made to carry the loot and

baggage. In return for delivering the lawful Sultan of

Bornu from Fad-el-Allah the French imposed upon the

Sultan a war indemnity of $71,000, in addition to $9000

already paid by his elder brother, who had been deported

to the east side of Chad. The sum was to be collected

by tribute from the villages, and till it could be collected

the Sultan was kept prisoner by the French at Dikwa.

The already impoverished country, desolated by war and

counter-war, was ground to the lowest depths by this


The Sultan of Bornu was informed in his internment
at Dikwa that the British Government would recognise
him as sovereign if he liked to return, and in the mean-
time the collection of French tribute was stopped. The
Sultan, or Shehu (as the Sultans of Bornu are called),
readily accepted British proposals, and returned to occupy
his throne under British protection, accepting the usual
conditions. A garrison was placed at Maidugeri, and
Residents appointed to Bornu. By this action an area
of some 60,000 square miles was brought under adminis-
trative control.

On the return of the expedition some unruly pagan
tribes of the Yola province were subdued, and prevented
from harassing peaceful traders upon the trade routes.


In the province of Nassarawa, which lies upon the
north bank of the Benue between Nupe and Bautchi, a
great deal of trouble had been caused by Fulani raiders,
of whom the headquarters were at a town called Abuja.
The trade routes in the western part of the province
were much interrupted by the lawless brigandage of
Abuja, and in the summer of 1902 an expedition was
sent which reduced Abuja to obedience. A new king was
placed upon the throne, who agreed to observe British
laws, and the expedition marched back through the dis-
turbed belt, reducing such lawlessness as it encountered.
But at Keffi, the headquarters of the province, where
a British Resident was already established, slave-raiding
was being openly carried on by the Magaji or native
commander-in-chief, who had been appointed by the
Emir of Zaria. This officer, much stronger than the
local emir, defied authority and refused to submit to the
representations of the British Resident. There came a
day when the Resident, Captain Maloney, called upon the
Magaji to appear and answer for his conduct before the
emir. The Magaji refused to come. The British Resi-
dent, after an unavailing attempt had been made by the
Assistant Resident to bring the Magaji to reason, issued
an order for the troops to be called out, and the Magaji,
rushing from his house, murdered the British Resident
with his own hand before troops could reach the spot.

The Magaji was, of course, the leader of a rebellious
party in Keffi. After the murder of Captain Maloney he
and his followers immediately fled. They were pursued
by British troops to the northern borders of the province,
where, taking refuge in Zaria, they were presently passed
on in safety to Kano, still outside the limit of British
administration. At Kano the Magaji was received with
much honour by the emir, who gave him presents and
assigned him a house, placing him always on his right
hand when he rode.

In March 1902 a Resident had been placed with Zaria,
which was nominally friendly. But the Emir of Zaria was


very unsatisfactory. Not only did he continue slave-
raiding and other lawless proceedings, but he continued
them in the name of the British Government, wishing at
the same time to profit by the strength of that Govern-
ment, and to make it detested. More than once, in his
armed forays, his people came into contact with Britisli
patrols. He was known to be intriguing with Kano.
It had even been debated between them whether he
should surprise and overpower the British garrison. He
was suspected of having attempted to poison the Resi-
dent. Under these circumstances the Resident deter-
mined to arrest him and bring him to Zungeru. It was
done, the council of chiefs willingly surrendering him,
for he was much detested in Zaria. He was kept in
nominal confinement at Wushishi, and one of his prin-
cipal officers administered the Government in his absence.
This man, the Galadima, worked loyally with the British



The situation was such that all eyes were now turned
to the north. Sokoto was the recognised religious and
political head of Haussaland. All the Fulani emirates
which were not subject to Gando took their investiture
from him. The British High Commissioner, anxious to
interfere, according to the terms of the British treaties,
as little as possible with Mussulman law and custom,
had done what he could in the circumstances to con-
ciliate Sokoto and Gando. But the British treaties did
not cover a position in which the leading emirates of
the south should initiate an attack upon the British
Administration, as in the case of Kontagora and Nupe,
or should repudiate their agreements, raid British pro-
tected natives for slaves, and drive British traders out
of their dominions, as in the case of Yola and Bautchi.
These acts on the part of the southern emirates had
created a new position. From the Niger to Bornu
British sovereignty had been imposed by right, not of
treaty, but of conquest, and in consequence of the
refusal of Sokoto to exercise the functions of imme-
diate suzerainty, in which Great Britain would willingly
have maintained him, by nominating successors to the
deposed emirs, all the emirs of the southern emirates
now held their investiture from Great Britain. But
the force of tradition dies hard, and so long as Sokoto
existed, and had not signified his assent to the appoint-
ment of the Fulani rulers, there was for them an un-
comfortable sense of irregularity in their position. The

more loyally they worked with the British Government



the less were they Hkely to please Sokoto, and in the
lower ranks the offence of working loyally with a
British-appointed emir was scarcely likely to be less
fatal, in the event of Sokoto ever regaining the upper
hand, than to have worked with the British themselves.

The question of the future turned upon whether
Great Britain or Sokoto were to be the permanent head
of Haussaland. The Haussas have a proverb, "Only by
fighting can the better man be found out " ; and the feel-
ing was universal that a trial of strength would have to
take place between the new power of the white man
and the old power of the Fulani. Until it was decided
which of the two was the stronger, no waverer knew
on which side to cast in his lot. The result of con-
ciliation on the part of the British had been vain. A
letter, couched in friendly terms, which was sent to
Sokoto in 1900 to announce the establishment of the
British Administration on the river, was not answered,
and the messenger who bore it was treated with in-
dignity. The request made in 1901 that Sokoto would
nominate the successor to the deposed Emir of Konta-
gora, was not complied with, and in May of 1902 a
letter was addressed by Sokoto to the British High
Commissioner, couched in the following terms : "I do
not consent that any one from you should ever dwell
with us. I will never agree with you ; I will have
nothing ever to do with you. Between us and you
there are no dealings, except as between Mussulmans
and Unbelievers — war as God Almighty has enjoined
upon us. There is no power or strength save in God
on high."

Kano, which was the strong place of Haussaland,
possessing an organised army and a well-fortified town,
gave evidence of its hearty support of the antagonistic
attitude of Sokoto. While it was known throughout
the Protectorate that the less important emirates of the
south had been wholly unable to stand before British
power, it was very generally believed by the natives


that Kano would prove impregnable, and that Fulani
rule would be victoriously maintained.

This being the condition of affairs, it became
evident that, the sooner the issue was decided, the
sooner would peace and progress become possible in
the Nigerian territories. It was not without a profound
sense of the responsibility attaching to British action at
a juncture when all eyes, pagan and Mohammedan alike,
through the vast congeries of native states, were turned
upon the little knot of white men, by this time per-
manently established in the British headquarters at
Zungeru, that the High Commissioner determined to
urge upon the authorities at home the necessity for
striking one clear and decided blow before the resist-
ance to British authority had had time to gain weight
and force by preparation and a sustained belief in its
own chances of conquest.

The highest authority of Haussaland had repudiated
the position nominally established by treaty. He had
declared that between him and Great Britain there
could be nothing but war. The alternative for the
British Administration was either to take up the chal-
lenge thrown, or to abandon the work of pacification
and civilisation upon which it had entered in Haussa-
land. The treaty ground of the British position having
been cut from under our feet, it was necessary either to
leave the country, to abandon those who had already
trusted to our protection, and to throw away in the
eyes of Europe all the ground taken by successive in-
ternational agreements, or to face the position frankly,
and base our future supremacy in the Protectorate upon
the indisputable argument of conquest.

In the case of the southern emirates this had
already been done. In Kontagora, Nupe, Bautchi,
Yola, and Nassawara, we had already been welcomed
by the subject populations as the conquerors of their
conqueror. In every emirate the new ruler had been
appointed by the British Government, and had accepted


office on British conditions. In the Empire of Bornu the
position was even more strongly emphasised. There,
in fulfilHng the obhgations of an international agree-
ment, British arms had restored the ancient dynasty of
the country, and the Sultan had accepted his throne as
a gift from the sovereign of Great Britain. The emirs
of the southern emirates were, in spite of their doubts
as to the future, working loyally with the British
Government. British Residents were established at their
courts, a British garrison in the capital of every emirate
acted as an efficient body of police, not to overawe
the local ruler, but to give effect to edicts issued by
him in the interests of civilisation. Slave-raiding, for-
bidden in the territories of every ruler placed on the
throne under British protection, was becoming a practice
of the past ; taxes were being peaceably and regularly
collected. Trade routes, as has been seen, were daily
opening. But the whole foundation of this progress
was the belief of the native in British strength. The
position remained uncertain till this was placed beyond
a doubt.

So fully was this situation appreciated that symptoms
of unrest and expectancy were making themselves gene-
rally felt when the incident occurred in the middle of 1902
of the murder of the British Resident at Keffi, and the
escape of his murderer to the court of Kano. Kano re-
presented the principal military power of the northern
states, and it was well understood that Kano was the
power with which the British strength would be first
seriously measured. The comment of the Emir of Kano
upon the murder of the British Resident represented a
very general feeling. "If the little town of Keffi could
do so much," he is reported to have said, " what could
not Kano do ? "

Towards the end of November 1902, the Emir of
Kano went so far as to march, without any declaration
of war, against the British garrison of Zaria. His armies
turned back on the news reaching them of the death of


the Sultan of Sokoto, and also, as was subsequently
ascertained, on the refusal of the Emir of Katsena to
join in the policy of war. It became necessary to
strengthen the garrison of Zaria, of which province the
emir remained a prisoner in British hands. From this
moment it was known that war between Kano and the
white men was inevitable.

In all these circumstances there was one consideration
which was of first importance in the minds of the British
authorities. It was that, in fighting the Fulani, we were
fighting not with the people of Haussaland, but with
rulers whose misconduct, notwithstanding certain splendid
aptitudes for rule, had rendered them hateful to the bulk
of the population. In imposing conditions upon their
administration, and in transferring to ourselves the suzer-
ainty which they had acquired only by right of compara-
tively recent conquest, we believed ourselves to carry with
us the wishes of the numerous Haussa and pagan peoples
who make up the body of the inhabitants of the Pro-
tectorate. The strength of the northern states was not
to be despised, for should their arms obtain a first success,
the surrounding populations would of necessity declare
in favour of those who appeared likely to affirm them-
selves in the position of supremacy. But it was a strength
which, notwithstanding its armed appearance, had none
of that permanent resisting power which is drawn from
the love of a people for its liberty, its territory, and its
institutions. What strength there was in such patriotic
sentiment was upon the British side.

The expeditionary force which was at the disposal
of the High Commissioner consisted of about looo rank
and file and 50 Europeans, including the garrison of
Zaria. It appeared to be sufficient for the purpose, and
after very careful preparation the bulk of it was concen-
trated at Zaria in January of 1903. On January 29th
the order to advance was given, and a force consisting
of 24 officers, 2 medical officers, 12 British non-com-
missioned officers, and 722 rank and file, with 4 guns


and 4 Maxims, left Zaria under the command of
Colonel Morland. Captain Abadie, the Resident of Zaria,
another of those members of the early staff whom, to
the sorrow of all his comrades, death has since claimed,
accompanied the force as Political Officer.

The first opposition was encountered at a walled
town eight miles within the Kano frontier, where the
inhabitants, after a parley with the Political Officer, said
that they were obliged to resist, under a threat of
death from the Emir of Kano to any one who should
open the gates. A British shell blew in the gate,
and the question of resistance was determined. The
town was not looted or injured, and non-combatants
were unharmed. A series of newly fortified towns, all
instructed by the emir to fight, were expected to hold
the approaches to Kano. After this first experience
the garrisons abandoned them, and fled without fighting to
Kano. The inhabitants remained quietly in the towns,
and brought ample supplies for the British troops, which
were paid for as in time of peace. The troops were
kept within strict discipline. No looting and no disorder
was allowed. The populace, knowing already by report
the practice of the British on similar occasions, showed
no alarm.

The force, therefore, reached Kano unopposed. The
wall of the town, of which the circumference was eleven
miles, was forty feet thick at the base, and from thirty to
fifty feet high. It was loopholed, and strengthened in
front by a double ditch. Its thirteen gates had been
lately rebuilt, and some of them were designed in a
re-entrant angle, so that access to them was enfiladed by
fire from the walls on either side, while the ditch was full
of live thorns, and very deep. The fortifications were
such that, had there been any determined resistance on
the part of the defenders, the town might have stood an
almost interminable siege.

The event justified the British belief that in fighting
the Fulani they had the wishes of the people of Haussa-


land on their side. The town made practically no
defence. There was some fairly well-directed firing
from behind the walls, but, a small breach having been
effected, an assault was ordered, and the defenders fled
as soon as the heads of the storming party appeared in
the gap. A considerable loss was inflicted upon the
enemy outside the walls when the British force en-
deavoured to cut off their retreat. As they fied they
suffered severely. The town itself, which occupied only
a small part of the great area enclosed by the walls,
was entered unopposed. The inhabitants exhibited no

Online LibraryFlora Louise Shaw LugardA tropical dependency : an outline of the ancient history of the western Sudan with an account of the modern settlement of northern Nigeria → online text (page 35 of 41)