By Howard Whitehouse
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Additional info for Battle In Africa (1879-1914)
In societies where there were few established structures of power, or where authority was i mbued with religious significance, a dynamic leader was necessary to focus the éfforts of the people. Where leadership was aggressive and charismatic, the colonial advance could be slowed and even beaten back. Where weak or unpopular leaders were in charge, resistance was likely to be disorganised or disputed. The military power of the Zulus and Ndebele was hardly reflected in their indecisive leadership, and the Fulani states proved very brittle in face of the British approach.
Hendrik Witbooi (1838-1905) led a small Hottentot band into the Kalahari in 1904-5 to renew a guerrilla war against the Germans that had ended ten years earlier. Mkwawa, victor of Lugalo in 1891, held out determined leader could oppose the colonial advance to a degree far beyond his apparent military strength. Lat Dior, the Damel of Cayor in Senegal, was able to resist the French for no less than five years before he was killed in 1886. Successful African leaders tended to be flexible in their strategies, modernisers of their weaponry and methods, and - most important of ail - survivors.
In 1904 the Portuguese sent 2,000 men to avenge the loss of 300 at Cuamoto in Angola. ). Yet catastrophe did sometimes strike: forces were surprised, or blundered into trouble, or got lost. Supplies ran out, camps were overrun, units broke and fled. In this section we look at a few examples of what 'Horrible disaster' might mean. Lugalo ( August 1891), in the Tanganyika region, was a German defeat attributable to poor march security. Commander Emil von Zelewski, known as 'the hammer', was advancing towards a rocky hill amidst thick grass.