Indirect rule and policy of assimilation were the systems of administration adopted by Britain and French during colonization. This two systems differs a lot in terms of their mode of administration, structure and even financial requirements. Generally, the British system of indirect rule was more successful than the French policy of assimilation because of its lower cost. It also made use of the ruler of the people, native police and prisons. On the other hand French policy of assimilation was largely not successful because it tried to impose the French system on her colonies.
As we continue, i will be pointing out more differences between this two systems. But before we move to the crux of this article, it is imperative to understand their meaning and features.
Meaning of policy of assimilation
Policy of assimilation was a system introduced by French at the time of colonization in west Africa. The system tried to impose the customs and tradition of the French government in Africa and that was one of the reasons for its failure. Unlike direct rule, the French policy of assimilation did not respect the traditional leaders and pre-colonial political systems of her colonies. It saw African culture as inferior to their, thus, tried to make Africans conform to the system.
Features of policy of assimilation
1. The French policy of assimilation was a direct rule method of administration.
2. The existence of political parties or any political associations were forbidden.
3. French policy of assimilation imposed the French religion, law, mode of dressing etc, on her colonies (West Africa).
4. Education was limited/restricted as only the French authority could establish schools.
5. Policy of assimilation divided the people into citizens and subjects. It made the colonies subjects whereas every member of the French system was seen as citizens.
Kindly watch the video below for comprehensive explanation of French policy of assimilation:
Meaning of Indirect rule
In a layman’s language, indirect rule was a political system introduced by Britain in Africa whereby the people are ruled indirectly by the colonial masters through their traditional leaders. The system emanated as a way of reducing the cost of leading the colonies of Britain. Since indirect rule was cheap and easier to maintain, the colonial masters decided to adopt the system to achieve their aim of colonialism.
Indirect rule was first introduced by Sir Lord Lugard, who is now known as the father of indirect rule. He made use of the local heads of the colonies and reduced their direct influence on the people.
Also see: Causes of the Aba women riot of 1929
Features of indirect rule
1. The system introduced a tax system in her colonies.
2. The system made use of the local chiefs and leaders to control every other member of the society.
3. It made use of the native police, laws and customs.
4. Indirect rule if a cheaper system of administration.
5. Appointment of Warrant chiefs and officers.
I enjoin you to watch the video below for an explanation of the British Indirect rule system:
Differences between policy of assimilation and indirect rule
1. Indirect rule made use of the traditional chiefs to rule the people, but the French assimilation policy did not make use of African traditional chiefs.
2. In indirect rule, traditional rulers served as the pivot of the system but this was not so in policy of assimilation.
3. Indirect rule made use of traditional laws and customs in the administration whereas in policy of assimilation this was not used.
4. In indirect rule, the British officials did not extert their influence directly to tbe people but through local chiefs, whereas in policy of assimilation, French officials exerted their influence directly to the people not through the local chiefs.
5. Indirect rule was meant to assist in the development of the traditional political institutions for effective administration, whereas the French assimilation policy was not meant to do that.
6. Indirect rule did not disrupt the existing traditional system of administrations and political order whereas policy of assimilation disrupted the existing traditional system of administrations and political order.
7. Indirect rule system was a cheap system of administration whereas, the French assimilation system was expensive in nature.
8. Indirect rule was not based on the arrogant belief in the superiority of British civilization but this was the case in policy of assimilation.
9. Indirect rule system was not meant to substitute the culture, language, religion and law mode of dressing of the people, but the French assimilation system was meant to substitute the culture, religion and language of the people.
So far, we have discussed the meaning, features and differences between the French assimilation policy and indirect administration system. Hope this was helpful? Well, i would like you to drop a comment below if you enjoyed this article.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ACMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.