June 1915. Bussa, Borgu in Nigeria. The British ruled Nigeria and other colonies in Africa through the tribal rulers already in place. The approach was supported by Frederick Lugard as a means to bolster native support for indirect rule. However, British rule and aggressive taxing would lead to the Bussa Rebellion.
THE BUSSA REBELLION
Bussa’s emir, Kitoro Gani wasn’t viewed favorably by the British and he was replaced by an installed administration. The emir’s governing area was split up into districts and ran by administrators. Their job was to gather taxes–recently implemented–from Bussa’s subjects. With a new governing proxy, the British made more and more financial demands of the Borgu capital city. As a result, the Bussa rebellion kicked off and panic ensued.
Firs, the rebels killed members of the installed administration. Those who fled were able to inform the British what happened. Since rebellion and war of any kind undermines and weakens colonial power—see the Mexican War for Independence or Haiti—Britain would have to respond.
The problem was that Britain had just entered World War I and dealing with conflicts on multiple fronts is a terrible idea. Regardless, a makeshift force of Nigerian law enforcement and soldiers from the West African Frontier Force was established and moved to quell the Bussa rebellion. The British forces had no causalities during the situation.
This wouldn’t be last incident of anti-rule rebellion in the Africa-based colonies nor would it be the worst with the short Adubi War in Nigeria occurring three years later. This war was a result of the British taxing the native populace.