Baylor College Medical School

89a. Basil; Davidson (1978)

There were those who welcomed the coming of European rule: usually, this was after the invasions were over. Few who were present at the time seem to have enjoyed it. "I hear your countryman done spoil West Indies," said a Niger Delta ruler to some British visitors in 1841, long before the invasions had begun: "I think he want come spoil we country too." With few exceptions the existing state of Africa found it well to defend themselves. They did this by diplomacy wherever they could, by warfare whenever they must: there were many wars of resistance to invasion.

The Ethiopian emperor Tewodros II spoke for a whole generation of African rulers as early as the 1860s, not long before his suicide after defeat in 1868 by an invading British force. "I know their game," he affirmed. "First the traders and the missionaries: then the ambassadors: then the canon. It's better to go straight to cannon."

Question: How did Tewodros II describe the Europeans who came to Africa? How did he respond?

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He describes the Europeans as invaders with a predictable pattern. They first come under the guise of trade and religion. Once they have made inroads into society, they bring out the guns. He responds by resisting them through diplomacy or even force.