Myth and Religion: A Comparative Analysis of the Ideologies of the Mahdist and Maji Maji Anti-Colonial Resistance Movements in Sudan and Tanganyika (1881-1907)

  • Asrat Araya
Keywords: Myth, Religion, Maji, Mahdist, Anti-Colonial, Prophetic cult, millenarian


The second half of the nineteenth century witnessed European massive expansion and colonization of Africa. Based on its nature, African reaction to European colonial expansion can broadly be divided into non-violent and violent armed resistance movements. Mahdist and Maji Maji movements were among the famous African armed responses against colonialism. They were inspired and guided by traditional ideologies of religion and myth. Comparative analysis on the traditional ideologies of African resistance movements is scant. This study aims at comparing the ideological attributes of the Mahdist and Maji Maji anti-colonial resistance movements in Sudan and Tanganyika. Its main purpose is to give insights into the underling features of the ideologies of the two African resistance movements. This work entirely depends on secondary sources. Qualitative approach is employed to collect data. An integrated qualitative data analysis approach (thematic and chronological) and exposition, complimented by narrative and descriptive, mode of historical data synthesis is used in this paper. An investigation of the available sources indicates that Africans had well developed traditional ideologies, mainly mixes of local and regional experiences and beliefs, whereby they efficiently reacted to colonial domination. The ideologies were strong enough to unite and mobilize the Sudanese and Tanganyikan diverse ethnic, tribal, religious, social, and economic disparities. The two movements share common features as manifested in motivations, methods of ideological reconstruction, and mobilization. However, they are quite different in their vision, level of implementation, and end results. The research work is expected to give new insights for further research works aiming at decolonizing European racist literature that depicts the African anti-colonial resistance movements as spontaneous, barbaric, uncivilized, and primitive troubles to European civilized mission towards Africa.


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print ISSN: 2518-4563