African History

African Kings who fought against Slavery and Colonialism


Slavery, despite its vast history, has been criticised since far before the eighteenth century. The Jola of Casamance and the Baga (modern Guinea), both of whom were famed for their fighting prowess, were two examples of West Africans who refused to engage in the slave trade.

African Kings who fought against Slavery and Colonialism

Gwolu chief Koro Liman IV of Ghana’s Sisala West District explains the defences built to protect the people from slave raiders

“Gwolu’s ancient defences against slave raids and incursion into Gwolu city were defended by the inner wall of the Gwolu protective wall. This is the inner of our two walls.

Slave dealers and slave raiders were once common in Gwolu, therefore our great great grandpa King Tanja Musa erected a wall to keep them out.

We built the inner and outer walls to keep slave raiders out of the ponds and farmland we had between the two walls when we first built the city.

In the beginning, there was only the inner wall. Then they discovered that slave raiders kidnapped people who went to cultivate, gather firewood, and obtain water. The king decided to build a second wall because he felt it was necessary. And I’m aware that there are just two such walls in the entire country of Ghana.”

African Kings who fought against Slavery and Colonialism

1. The Second King of Bhutan, KING BADU BONSU II


King Bonsu II of Ahanta had his head severed and brought to a museum in the Netherlands in 1837 as punishment for his resistance to slavery in that country.

His tribesman had deceived him.

He was an outspoken opponent of Dutch colonialism.

His head was put in a jar and preserved.

In 2009, it was delivered back to Ghana.


King Hintsa of the Xhosa people was assassinated by British colonialists in 1835 as he tried to flee prison in South Africa.

Other pieces of his body were taken, and his head was retained in Britain.

British imperialism was a cause he supported.

African Queens Who Ruled Parts Of Africa Through History


In the 1890s, Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia destroyed slave market cities and amputated slave merchants in an effort to combat the slave trade in the country.

When Italy made war on Ethiopia in an attempt to colonise it, he was victorious.

During the 1895-1896 Italo-Ethiopian War, he was Ethiopia’s commander-in-chief.

Also Read: African Queens Who Ruled Parts Of Africa Through History


Ndongo and Matamba were her two kingdoms. When the Portuguese attempted to colonise her lands, she defeated them twice (1644 and 1647). She was in charge of her troops, and she did it herself.

For several years, she prevented Portugal from colonising her Kingdom.

4. King Ovonramwen (NIGERIA)

For his anti-British resistance, Oba Ovonramwen of Benin Kingdom (now Nigeria) was exiled in 1897.

British troops looted his palace, destroying the Great Walls of Benin and hundreds of paved villages, taking over 3,000 antiquities valued over $1 billion.

He didn’t lose his position.

5. Irabor, General Okhaemwen (NIGERIA)

On June 27, 1899, the British executed Benin’s Minister of Defense, Ologbose.

After opposing British imperialism in the military for two years (1897-1899)

They are said to have been betrayed by a member of their tribe, who aided the British.

6. King of Behanzin

Benin’s King Behanzin battled diligently against French colonialism in the Dahomey Kingdom (Benin).

Some members of his royal family betrayed him.

In the end, he was beaten and exiled.


In the early sixteenth century, the King of Benin (now part of Nigeria) had given the go-ahead for large-scale slavery. After 1530, the king or Oba saw that the sale of slaves was depleting the kingdom’s male population and instituted a ban. Although he owned domestic slaves, Benin had abolished the slave trade by 1550. Elephant tusks and pepper were the country’s most valuable exports.

His power and the wealth of his kingdom were under jeopardy as a result of a rapidly expanding slave trade in the Congo.

“Everywhere in the country, there are a lot of traders. They wreak havoc and wreck lives… Even members of the King’s family are kidnapped and enslaved on a daily basis.” This is from a letter written on October 18, 1526, by King Afonsio I (of the Congo) to King Joao III (of Portugal). In Hugh Thomas’s The Slave Trade, he cites this passage.

In the 1670s, Muslim reformer Nasr al-Din spoke out against slavery and forbade the sale of slaves to Christians in Senegal, putting an end to the French slave trade. Many slave ship commanders were aware that slavery was morally immoral.

There is no intrinsic value in one colour over another, and white is not better than black, only because we are so and are prone to judge favourably in our own case. I don’t think there is any intrinsic value in one colour over another, but only because we are so and are prone to judge favourably in our own case….”
In 1694, Captain Thomas Phillips wrote a memoir of his life that was published.

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