Why Were African Resistance Movements Usually Unsuccessful?

The primary reasons why African resistance movements failed were internal conflict, inability to organize effectively, lack of resources and the desire for economic profit. Large, imperialistic nations also had greater numbers of trained military troops to control the African populace.

When imperialistic nations reached Africa, it was a land of many tribes and kingdoms, which already had complex relationships with each other. The idea of dividing and conquering proved an effective theme for nations that wanted to stake a claim in Africa. For a resistance to be successful, the people had to first be united. However, unity was often defeated by internal disputes, different perceptions of the potential harm posed by outside forces, and the desire for wealth. Even if the tribes and kingdoms could have organized, they often faced large armies funded by nations with incredible wealth. Ironically, this wealth, and the prospects it presented for some African leaders, prompted some African heads of state to aid in suppressing resistance to outside nations that were attempting to establish a ruling presence.

In the United States, slaves faced similar problems when they attempted to rebel against their owners. Slave owners typically had a significant amount of entrenched power over the slaves, preventing resistance movements that could have a lasting impact. Even those slaves who were initially successful resisting oppression met with swift punishment meant to discourage others from attempting similar feats.