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Back to Africa: A.D. 1701 to 1800

Northeast africa

Ethiopia, a land of priests and monasteries, was the only Christian state in this area. It had an emperor without power as the country was - rent by rivalries among the provincial warlords and was subjected to repeated attacks by Galla nomads from the south. Actually, the latter, along with Amhara warlords, wielded the real power. In 1855 an ex-bandit, Ras Kassa, seized power making himself Emperor Theodorus and soon became a tyrant. In 1864 he imprisoned three members of a British mission and they were rescued only three years later by a British military expedition coming in from the Red Sea. Theodorus killed himself and civil war followed. A powerful, local leader, Menelik, supported by Italy finally won out, becoming Menelik II. He soon broke with Italy, however, and captured some 3,000 Italians in a battle at Aduwa in 1896. He did build railways and schools and a new capital at Addis Ababa. (Ref. 68 , 175 , 83 )

The horn of Africa came under the control of the Sultan of Oman and Zanzibar in the 1820s. Throughout most of the century the Sudan was controlled by British-Egyptian administrations, but there were many changes from decade to decade. Some of these are discussed in the paragraphs about Egypt, to follow. In 1885 Major General Charles George "Chinese" Gordon was killed in Khartoum by Mahdi followers, ending Egyptian suzerainty. The religious leader Mahdi then established the f irst Sudanese government in Omdurman. Some 13 years later, however, Lord Kitchener defeated the Sudanese forces (1898) and started the era of the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium, which ruled Sudan for over 50 years. Just at the end of the century a highly developed Zandes military empire of the Congo basin swept up into the Sudan, under King Gbudwe, but were repulsed. (Ref. 254 )

Napoleon Bonaparte had penetrated Egypt in 1798, but the British navy helped the Turks to drive the French out in 1801, allowing Muhammad (also Mehemet) Ali, an Albanian Turk with Albanian soldiers, to invade. In 1803 the Ottoman Sultan appointed him Pasha (viceroy) of Egypt. There was still a Mamluk garrison present, but in 1811 Muhammad massacred every man in it and emerged as absolute ruler of the country. He then Europeanized the army, reformed the administration and built up the commercial economy, employing many Europeans, especially Frenchmen. The cultivation of cotton helped to awaken the somewhat somnolent Islam and Ali was able to extend his control to Sennar, Arabia, Sudan, Crete and Greece (1825-28) Europeans were considerably upset about all this and a combined British, French and Russian naval force took Greece away from Ali, ensuring the success of a Greek revolution, which had been in progress. Later the Europeans made Ali relinquish a portion of Syria that he had annexed and forced him to settle for hereditary rule over Egypt and the Sudan, only. As a side light of this Near Eastern crisis of 1839-41, a British squadron compelled the French Navy to withdraw support from Ali and this stimulated the French admiralty to find new technological means to challenge the British at sea. In turn, this resulted in the development of steam-powered ships of war. (Ref. 279 )

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Source:  OpenStax, A comprehensive outline of world history (organized by region). OpenStax CNX. Nov 23, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10597/1.2
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