Virtual Kollage: The control of traditional rulers under British Colonial Rule

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The control of traditional rulers under British Colonial Rule



CONTROL OF TRADITIONAL RULERS UNDER BRITISH COLONIAL RULE
Control through treaties
One of the ways in which the were controlled was that they were made to sign treaties and conventions with the British authorities. The chiefs were therefore bound by the agreements entailed in the treaties. Also through the concept of Indirect Rule, the Chiefs administered their localities, but only under the guidance of resident British officials like the Regional, Provincial and District Commissioners.

Settlement of inter-tribal conflicts
Another way in which the traditional rulers were controlled was that according to standards established by the British, the chiefs were barred from using war to settle differences with their neighbours as hitherto pertained in the pre-colonial era. Inter-state or inter-tribal disputes were now expected to be settled in the courts of law. This put a break on the excesses of warfare.

Chiefs barred from forming an army
The traditional leaders were not allowed to raise armed forces as was the case before the coming of the colonial masters. However, for security reasons, the chiefs were allowed to keep a small police contingent.

No power to impose taxes
The traditional rulers had no authority to impose taxes. Until the coming of the white man, taxes were imposed by the chiefs to raise revenue, but this was stopped. Only the Governor, could impose taxes. Though the chiefs were involved in tax collection, they only collected taxes that were approved by the Governor.

No power of legislation
The traditional rulers had no power to make laws even though this was the case before colonization. The legislative powers of the chiefs were taken away by Governor and the Legislative Council. They made the laws that were used in administering the colony. The traditional rulers were only allowed to pass bye-laws and customary laws.

Governor to sanction the enstoolment of chiefs
The traditional rulers were also controlled in the sense that only the Governor could approve the enstoolment or otherwise of a chief. If the Governor's approval was not given, any chief that was enstooled was not gazetted and therefore not recognized as a chief. The chiefs were also controlled by the powers of the colonial authorities to send them into exile if they were stubborn.

SAMPLE QUESTION
1. Highlight six ways in which traditional leaders were controlled under the British colonial administration.
2. How were the traditional leaders controlled under the colonial administration of the British?

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