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Assess The Significance Of The Role Of Individuals In Bringing About The Expansion And The Dismantling Of The British Empire In Africa In The Peri...

1111 words - 5 pages

Militaristic factors were significant in bringing about the expansion and the dismantling of the British Empire in Africa. Though significant, the militaristic factor is only one of many. Other factors such as economic and strategic as well social, cultural, nationalist and the man on the spot theory are of equally and lesser significant importance in the expansion and the dismantling of Africa under the rule of the British Empire.
Britain’s military’s ‘naval bombardment’ of Egypt and their successful ‘defeat of the rebel Egyptian army’ in 1882 show the significance of the military in the expansion of the British Empire as they effectively ‘seized control of the country’. Britain took control of Egypt and made it a protectorate to keep the country safe from nationalists and to maintain its investments. Britain continued to expand its empire with the appointment of General Warren as special commissioner of Bechuanaland. Using military tactics as well as forces, Warren restored order in Bechuanaland by recapturing Stellaland and Goshen which meant defeat for the Boers. Though there was no mass bloodshed, it was clear that Britain did not want the Boers ‘to draw the rest of the region away from traditional British influence’ as stated by Goodland. Cecil Rhodes ‘did not lack personal courage’ and it is with this courage that he ‘arrange a settlement’ and saved ‘Mashonaland and Matebeland… for the empire’. It was not without difficulty that ‘the risings were put down’ but as the Ndebele generals ‘stuck to traditional frontal attacks’ as seen in the first Matabele war, their efforts were futile ‘against the company’s maxim guns’. Britain continued its expansion by colonizing the Sudan. Britain defeated ‘the dervish host’ in 1898 with its western technology, as the dervish host was ‘badly led and armed with primitive weapons’. Though Judd exaggerates this point, as Britain did not leave the war without its fair share of losses such as that of General Gordon, the victory served as a patriotic motivator to the military. The Empire’s militaristic strength was proven as Lord Kitchener, who led the Anglo-Egyptian army, ‘spent the rest of the year after the battle of Omdurman mopping up dervish resistance’. Similarly, Britain again proved its militaristic strength in their defeat of the extremist group Mau Mau. Britain only defeated the Mau Mau because of the military. Therefore, if Britain did not have an army they could not have upheld the empire. The dismantling of the empire after the termination of conscription proves this.
The military was even more significant in dismantling the British Empire in Africa than expanding it as ‘doubts about its merit increased, and critics began to make some headway with public opinion’. The public became increasingly aware ‘that the British were often quick to resort to force against those who challenged their authority’ as seen in the second Boer War. Although Britain won, this ‘seemed to have exhausted the imperial...

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