Colonial military and legal institutions refer to the armed forces that operated during the colonial era in Africa. These institutions were much concerned with the maintenance of law, order and the security of the colonial state.
British established their military institutions in East Africa (East Africa Rifles) it had a duty of protecting Uganda and Kenya and Central Africa (Central African Rifles of Nyasaland (Malawi). These two military institutions joined in 1902 and formed King’s African Rifles (KAR). It was established in Tabora, Tanganyika in 1919.
It had a duty of protecting the British territory of both East Africa and Central Africa. The major reason for the establishment of the colonial military was to defend the colonial white administrators in the colonies and safeguard colonial interests against internal and external threats.
STRUCTURE OF THE COLONIAL MILITARY
The Top and the Middle positions of the army were dominated by European officials and the lowest levels consisted of Africans. The Africans were included in the colonial army in the period of World War I and II. KAR (King Africa Rifles) Soldiers offered their services in Burma, Egypt, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka and Somalia.
Major Functions of colonial military institutions
CHARACTERISTICS OF COLONIAL MILITARY
- To defend the colonial boundaries.
- To enforce the land alienation policy in the colonies.
- To suppress oppositions in places with resistances in order to maintain the colonial administration.
- Maintaining peace and order through maintaining colonial laws and orders.
- They protected the colonial properties such as buildings and infrastructures.
- They were also responsible for collecting information and supervising tax collection.
- Supervision of the public works such as constructions of infrastructures such as roads, railways, ports, bomas, prisons, hospitals, schools, churches and others.
- To penetrate to the interior to check if there may be any resistances and suppress it.
COLONIAL LEGAL INSTITUTION
- Exploitation of African soldiers through low payment of salaries, although they performed the tough work in the army.
- African soldiers were subjected to poor social services.
- African were restricted from interacting with white soldiers apart from official meetings.
These were the organizations that dealt with legal issues during the colonialism. They had the duty of advertising the colonial government, receiving people’s claims, educating the society and guiding on procedures to be followed and providing legal aid. Colonial legal institutions included the legislative council of elders, the prisons, and the Courts. The legal systems during the colonial period were led by European judges and they sued and sentenced those who were not affecting the oppressive colonial laws.
MAJOR DUTIES OF LEGAL INSTITUTIONS
*To amend laws, acts, and ordinances, they were amended time after time in order to suit the colonial situations. They had to do so in order to ensure that Africans performed various colonial activities.
*Handling of various claims of people which were done through a council of elders and the legislative council (LegCo).
Other colonial defense organs were Police and Prisons, These were new institutions in the eyes of Africans since they had their traditional ways of maintaining peace and order.
The police force
The colonial police force was created in order to ensure that Africans maintained peace and order in the colonies. Also, it made sure that Africans fulfilled colonial needs of paying taxes, producing raw materials such as cash crops productions in the colonial plantations and performing public services such as the building of railways and roads when required by the colonial government.
The prison was created in Africa colonies in order to discipline and guard African prisoners who were convicted and sentenced by the colonial judicial system. Many of the African prisoners during colonial rule were those who failed to pay taxes or resisted to work in the colonial plantations and public services.
IMPACTS OF COLONIAL MILITARY AND LEGAL SYSTEMS
- They undermined traditional defense and legal systems that prevailed during pre-colonial period.
- Africans were not willing to offer any information related to the crime to the colonial government.
- Increasing of harsh and brutality done by the colonial army and other defense force to the African people.
- African refused to offer their services in caring for the public property such as government buildings, equipment, and vehicles because they regarded them to be properties of the colony and not theirs.