The key issue is an assessment of the reasons for Samori’s prolonged resistance of the French and his final defeat. This is a two part question and candidates have to address both parts adequately. The long resistance by Samori against the French can be explained, first and foremost in military terms. Samori fought his first war against France from 1882 to 1886. The result was an indecisive four a year war. The second and final war was fought between 1891 and 1898, and resulted in the defeat of the Mandinka Empire. Although Samori was finally defeated, he had held out for a considerable length of time. This was because this army was unusually strong for one in a pre “ industrial society.
The army was advanced in organization, weapons and in tactics. Wooden weapons were bought from European traders, especially rifles. He employed highly skilled Mandinka smiths in government workshops to make ammunition and replacement ports for rifles. In military organization, he reorganized his sofa or infantry along European lines in small units of riflemen trained to shoot accurately. Samori, a successful trader, used this experience and reasons to build an excellent supply organization of the army. He established state control of agriculture and markets to ensure a regular food supply for the army. He also employed effective fighting methods. He used an effective espionage system, where he sent some of his soldiers as spies to enlist in the French army, to learn French drill and tactics. He abandoned militarily cavalry charges, and degence of walled fortresses. He used horses as transport to move soldiers quickly. He employed with devastating effect the guerrilla or commando tactics of ambushes and night raids by small and highly mobile forces. Samori also had the support of many elements of the Mandinka People. He was able to mobilize the masses against the invaders in supplying food to the army in manufacturing ammunition and mass evacuations.
Samori was finally defeated because of superior French weaponry and artillery tactics. The collapse of Tokolor resistance against the French enabled them to focus and concentrate on the Mandinka, leading to the latter defeat. The French support of the Great Revolt of 1888 “ 1890 finally weakened him. The failure to secure British help against the French also contributed to defeat. Famine led to starvation, and consequently to troop defections to the French for food.