‘A’ Level Tropical History Questions


  1. Assess the relative importance of the various motives for the European partition of Africa. (1992)
  2. Explain why the sea-borne slave trade from either west or East Africa survived into the second half of the 19th century and how it was eventually stamped out. (1991)

3              .Compare and contrast the contributions of Tewodros II and Johannes IV to the revival of Ethiopia after 1855.

  1. Account for and illustrate the emergence of new states in the Niger Delta in the second half of the 19th century. Explain why these were short-lived.
  2. Describe and explain the political and social results of the presence of Christian missions in Buganda between 1879 and 1900.
  3. “British Intervention in Egypt in 1822 was the most important influence in the acceleration of the scramble for Africa” How far do you agree with this claim?
  4. With reference to Malawi or to West Africa, explain why and with what results African Christians developed independent churches in the last 20 years of this period.
  5. Explain the reactions of any two of the following African rulers to European pressure encroachment on their territory and sovereignty: Bai Bureh in Sierra Leone, Behanzin in Dahomey, Mkwawa of the Hehe, Mumia of the Wanga, Lewanika of Barotseland, and Lobengula of Matabeleland. What were the results of the policies of the chosen rulers?
  6. For what reasons did some African rulers welcome Christian missionaries to their territories and others ban them? Illustrate these different attitudes with specific examples from any part of tropical Africa.
  7. Why did direct rule “work” in northern Nigeria but not in Southern Nigeria?
  8. Describe and assess the effects of how the French administered their colonies in West Africa up to 1946.
  9. When and why did the French replace their policy of ‘assimilation’ by that of ‘association’ and how did the latter differ from the former.
  10. Compare and contrast methods used by Europeans to exploit or develop economically two different regions of Africa (East and Central Africa).
  11. How did some groups of Africans take advantage of the economic changes that occurred after the partition?
  12. Why was the transition from Slave Trade to Legitimate Trade achieved relatively quickly and

Successfully in Dahomey and the Niger Delta states (Dahomey, Brass, Opobo, Bonny, Itsekiri,

and Kalabari?)

  1. How did the pattern of Trade and its control change in the second half of the 19th century in

Dahomey and the Niger Delta states.

Colonial methods used by the British and the French in their colonies with special reference to West Africa.

Definition: Association-spend time or have dealings with a special group of people, Assimilation-take and absorb, indirect rule-the Europeans were ruling but using the African chiefs to implement their rule and direct rule Europeans were actually ruling African territories.

According to Adu Boahen: assimilation meant a “colonial policy of transferring to the colonies the institutions, culture and economic organization of the imperial country, of moulding the colony in the image of the imperial country and turning its people into Europeans in all aspects  except colour.”


QUESTION: Why did the French abandon assimilation for association?
Define: Association and assimilation

Explain how this method was implemented (i) who was in power, (ii) how did he rule the ordinary people, (iii) how did the Africans react, (iv) examples of areas where it was applied

Problems with assimilation

Assimilated people were expected to spread French education; a number of subjects would become citizens and enjoy rights of French political and judicial institutions.  The French carried assimilation further than the British.

Fell into two groups: Those who advocated personal assimilation of administered peoples and those who advocated for administrative, political or economic identity between mother country and the colony. Take and absorb, equality before the law, and accept Africans.



A level history Tropical Africa 2001 9021/13

  1. Why did the slave trade and domestic slavery persist in both East and West Africa well into second half of the 19th century?
  2. Assess the achievements of the Creoles in West Africa and explain the changed British attitude towards them after 1890.
  3. Analyze the reasons for, and the results of, the Ngoni invasions of Central and East Africa.
  4. Explain the warfare and unstable conditions in Yorubaland in this period with specific reference to the role of Ibadan.
  5. Why was the Berlin West Africa Conference called in 1884? What were the results of its decisions for the colonial powers and for Africa?
  6. Account for the growth of independent African Churches in this period and assess their achievements.
  7. Why did Africans generally respond more favourably and more readily to Islam than to Christian missionaries in many colonial territories in tropical Africa?
  8. Explain why the British invaded Asante in 1896 and why the Asante did not resist.
  9. Why, and with what results before 1914, did the colonial powers build railways in either East Africa or Central Africa?
  10. When and why did the French replace their policy of ‘assimilation’ by that of ‘association’? How did the latter differ from the former?

A level history Tropical Africa 9021/13 1998

  1. Why was the transition from the slave trade to legitimate trade achieved successfully in Dahomey and the Niger Delta states?
  2. Outline the careers and explain the importance in African History of two of the following: Jaja of Opobo; Lewanika, King of the Lozi; Mirambo of the Nyamwezi; Mwanga I of Buganda.
  3. Explain Samouri Toure’s long resistance against the French and his final defeat in 1898.
  4. What were the results for east Africa and its peoples of the establishment of the capital of the Omani sultanate in Zanzibar?
  5. What do you understand by the term ‘informal empire’? When, how and why was this replaced by ‘formal empire’?
  6. Analyze the factors which account for the spread of Islam and Christianity in either East or West Africa between 1885 and 1914.
  7. With reference to the Ndebele-shona Rising and the Maji Maji Rising identify the main features of post-pacification primary resistance movements. Compare and contrast the results of the two risings, both for Africans and the colonial powers.
  8. “Tewodros II, emperor of Ethiopia, was a ruler with a vision.” What was his vision and why did he fail to turn it into reality?
  9. Explain the emergence, and assess the achievements, of nationalist organizations and activities amongst the educated elite in British and French colonies in West Africa before 1914.
  10. When and why did the British adopt the system of Indirect Rule to administer most of their African colonies? What were the strengths and weaknesses of this system?

A level history Tropical Africa 1999 9021/13


  1. Show how and why developments in trade brought political, economic and social changes to the Niger Delta and the Lower Niger regions between 1855 and 1900.
  2. Assess the importance of two of the following in the history of Africa in this period:    Sultan Seyyid Said of Zanzibar, Sir Georgie Goldie; Mkwawa of the Hehe; William Wade Harris.
  3. Why did Dahomey become ‘perhaps the most efficient state in Black Africa’ under the rule of Kings Gezo and Glele?
  4. What were Prempeh I’s aims when he became Asantehene in 1888? Why, and to what extent, did he fail to achieve them?
  5. “He was largely successful in preserving Buganda’s position as East Africa’s strongest state’ How far do you agree with this comment on Kabaka Mutesa II?
  6. Explain, with examples, the growth of independent African churches in either Malawi or West Africa and assess the importance of this development.
  7. With reference to their causes and results, compare and contrast the Ndebele-Shona Rising (1896 -1897) and the Maji Maji Rising (1905 -1907).
  8. How, why and with what results did the British system of colonial administration change between 1890 and 1914?
  9. Describe and explain the achievements of Menelik II of Ethiopia.
  10. ‘Britain achieved greater success than Germany as a colonial power in East Africa between 1885 and 1914.’ How far do you agree with this claim?

What were the similarities and differences between the French systems of assimilation and association?


French colonial policy in Africa was bedeviled by an intrinsic contradiction. Philosophically the motivation was guided by the time honoured slogan of liberty, Equality and Fraternity. This created the policy of assimilation, with the inherent assumption that all men are equal and that civilization can be taught and learned. However, following this policy to it logical conclusion would negate the economic point of colonization, so under the influence of ‘social Darwinism’, or racism, and pressure of various interest groups, assimilation was restricted to the Quatre Communes of Senegal. The rest of French West Africa was governed through the system of ‘association’, a form of separate development for each community aimed at creating the same level of civilization in time.



Argument Evidence Argument Evidence
1.very different philosophies of rule




-assimilation aimed at civilizing Africans into being French and governing selves based on the view that Africans were normal humans who could be civilized.

-association did not aim at self rule so there was little point in educating Africans. Based on racist view that Africans could not be civilized.

5.In reality both methods by 1900 had racist basis. -French government avoiding any expansion in assimilated Africans so they were rarely able to get positions of power.

-it was possible for the new African ruling class of associationist French West Africa to gain education and become ‘French’ with some power in their area.

2. Different modes of implementation -assimilation involved considerable effort to develop services, e.g. schools.

-association involved removing traditional ruling class and creating French controlled governing structure.

6.Both systems involved exploitation of local resources. -as in associationist areas the assimilated zones were expected to show profit and produce exports for France’s benefit, e.g. groundnuts.
3.Cost varied greatly -assimilation in Senegal was expensive and involved full community development.


-association in the interior of West Africa involved as limited expense as possible.

7.Both systems ultimately due to financial and manpower constraints came to look like ‘indirect rule’ by direct methods. -assimilated and associated areas saw local elites controlling much of government process.

-while the French interfered more than the British and tried to transform the government and economic system in fact lack of finance and manpower forced the French into indirect methods

4.The economic aims were very different. -assimilation aimed in theory at real development in the colony.

-association aimed at exploitation of resources using local labour






The reality of constraints of French control and financing as well as racism and paternalism in France’s attitude to Africans turned two different ruling philosophies into policies that looked increasingly like Britain’s ‘indirect rule’ but with more interventionist methods. French rule was always couched in justification based on the principles of the French Revolution, but the reality was very different. Ultimately the economic purpose of colonization – profit making –negated good intentions and showed colonization for what it really was, pure exploitation of Africans.

French colonial policies in Africa :Assimilation and Association


When and why did the French replace assimilation with association

In the early years of 20th century, has never been completed in the sense that assimilation has never been completely abandoned. The reasons for the abandonment of assimilation arose from its disadvantages:

1.Expensive to educate the Africans while association was cheaper to implement.

2.In the long run it could mean that Africans who had become French Citizens could take over French Parliament and government by outnumbering them(French Europeans)

3.Social Darwinism

4.Discovery of malaria combating drug( Quinine) meant that Europeans could live in Africa without fearing for their lives.

5.Needed forced labour

6.Economically it could mean that African businessmen would face French businessmen in equal competition

For Africans there were disadvantages

7.Abandon their own culture

8.Was so difficult to met the requirements for French Citizenship, the very few Africans succeeded in qualifying

9.Only in the 4 communes of Senegal, where birth alone was the qualification, had significant numbers of Africans become French citizens.




How  association differ from assimilation

1.Assimilation aimed at absorbing Africans,

2.very expensive,

3.the Africans could become businessmen,

4.in the communes

5.Association used the Black elite, introduced taxes and forced labour


Causes of the French colonial administration policies

1.Political instability

2.Strategic factors



5.Raw materials






Longterm and shortterm results of the French policies


2.Education – no bottle necks, not supposed to pay

3.More priests were ordained

4.Africans could continue with their culture

5.Health facilities were improved



Reasons why the British adopted the policy of Indirect Rule in Northen Nigeria and parts of their colonies during the colonial era


Britain found the use of Indirect Rule in west Africa, and most classically in Northern Nigeria, expedient given the local situation, the cost in money and manpower of a full invasion to transform the political, economic and religious relations of the era.

Defination of Indirect Rule:

According to M.Tidy it is the ruling of people through manipulating their aristocracy . Involving ruling through the traditional ruling class, and allowing that ruling class to exploit their people for the benefit of the colonial regime.


1.The existence of strongly centralized state structure was a pre-requisite for this method of rule


-the sokoto emirate –Islamic jihad state– strongly centralized political, economic and religious control

-Asante – old state, much respect for traditional ruling class in metropolitan region.

-ruling classes were generally prepared to cooperate in implementing European policies as long as they kept their exalted ruling function.

2.No basis existed for direct rule and direct rule posed various obvious dangers.

-lack of Europeanise/assimilated class ready to take on role of colonial agents as chiefs, e.t.c

-contempt for Christians

-lack of European knowledge of the area and peoples, lack of finance and European manpower.

-Fear of Islamic backlash – expressed by residents Burdon and Temple.



3.There was very real European fear of provoking jihad (holy war) against Christian colonial rule. This encouraged as little overt changes in Islamic areas as possible during the imposition of colonial rule.


-most West African states had some element of Islamic worship.

-many, particularly sokoto (N. Nigeria) were jihad states, created relatively recently by religious war.

-christian missionaries either kept out or severely restricted (N. Nigeria 1906-12)

-fear reinforced indirect rule principle –excused on basis of society already liberated and civilized.


4.European traders and officials already resident in West Africa while approving of colonization often opposed direct rule as being disruptive to trade and commercial development.

-certain residents, e.g. Burdon, Temple and traders feared effects of direct rule creating resistance –anti-white feeling –ruin trade.

-fear heavy new taxation to pay for direct rule would kill trade.

-trade already functioning well already, no reason for undermining/destroying it.

-fear of fanatical missionaries such as Miller in N. Nigeria provoking problems with no understanding of economic and political realities.


5.As there was no concerted, long-drawn out resistance to British rule, a war of revenge to destroy traditional evil stable structures was not justified.

-fall of strong Ilorin (1897) scared Sokoto.

-sokoto fell relatively and unexpectedly easily.

-muslim cavalry no match for machine guns.

-jihads had split muslims between brotherhoods. This helped prevent united resistance to Europeans.

-demonstrations of maxim gun capabilities by British.


6.Europeans did not see the area as an important source of mineral or agrarian development, so there was no intention to bring many Europeans in.

-Area of semi-desert, no history of mineral exploitation.

-far from the coast.

-area of subsistence farming mainly.


7.Indirect rule was cheaper and needed less manpower, so suited to British realities.

-Muslim Sokoto regime allowed itself to be ruled. Ruling class cooperated.



So given the strength of the state of Sokoto in Northern Nigeria and the fact it did not resist strongly, giving the Europeans no excuse to destroy it, indirect rule seemed most suitable. In addition, using the pre-existing administration, justice system, and tax system would be cheaper, create less problems and not lead to fear of a jihad. Indirect rule was a rational political decision on the part of the British colonial administrators which later became sanctified as policy based on theory.