Sub-Saharan Africa 1899: Voulet–Chanoine and Rabih
Following the Fashoda Crisis (1898), France sought to unite its colonies in western Africa by sending a two-pronged offensive from Senegal and the French Congo to conquer the Chad Basin. In a disastrous start, the Senegalese column mutinied under captains Voulet and Chanoine, embarking on a six-month killing spree across the Sahel before it was finally stopped in July 1899. Compounding French failure, the Chad-based warlord Rabih attacked and destroyed the Congolese column at the same time. Together, these setbacks delayed French expansion in the region by almost a year.
8 Jan–17 Jul 1899 Voulet–Chanoine Mission▲
In 1898 a French military expedition under captains Paul Voulet and Julien Chanoine was sent from Senegal to conquer the Chad Basin, but soon turned rogue, sacking villages even within French-controlled territory before embarking on an invasion of the Hausa kingdoms to the north of Sokoto. Alarmed by reports of murder, rape, and pillage—and concerned that the expedition had crossed into British territory—the French authorities sent Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-François Klobb to relieve the two captains of their command, only for him to be shot dead on Voulet’s orders when he reached them at Dankori in July 1899. Voulet and Chanoine then proclaimed their desire to found a new empire; this proved too much for the Senegalese troops, who, pledging loyalty to France, killed the two a few days later.
19 Jan 1899 Anglo-Egyptian Sudan▲
In the wake of their victory at Omdurman, the British, whose rule in Egypt was nominally at the behest of the Ottoman Empire, wanted to formalize their role in Sudan. At the January 1899 Anglo-Egyptian convention it was agreed that Egyptian rule would be restored in Sudan, but as part of a condominium with Britain. Accordingly Sudan was to be administered by a governor-general appointed by Egypt with British consent, effectively placing it under British rule.
21 Mar 1899 Anglo-French Convention on Sudan▲
In March 1899 representatives of the British and French governments met to conclude the Anglo-French Convention of 1899 on West Africa and the Niger, completing it with Article IV on Central Africa and the Sudan to account for the recent Fashoda Crisis. Accordingly the two powers agreed to a line of delimitation running north from the Congo region, past Darfur, and then northwest to the Tropic of Cancer in the hinterland of Tripoli. The western border of Darfur was left undefined, remaining so until 1919.
31 May–5 Jun 1899 Bloemfontein Conference▲
In the late 19th century the discovery of gold and diamonds in the Boer republics—the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State—led to a massive influx of mostly-British foreigners (‘uitlanders’). In mid-1899 Orange Free State president Martinus Theunis Steyn called a conference in Bloemfontein in order to settle the differences between Transvaal president Paul Kruger and the British High Commissioner for Southern Africa, Alfred Milner, over uitlander rights. Milner demanded that Transvaal immediately grant uitlanders enfranchisement and the right to vote, use English in the Volksraad (Transvaal parliament), and subject all Volksraad laws to British approval. When Kruger rejected these demands but offered a compromise, Milner walked out of the talks.
17 Jul 1899 Battle of Togbao▲
In October 1898 a French military expedition under lieutenants Henri Bretonnet and Solomon Braun left France to invade the Chad Basin—at the time dominated by the warlord Rabih az-Zubayr—via the French Congo. By the time they arrived in the French-allied Sultanate of Baguirmi in June 1899, it was already being invaded by Rabih’s forces, and they were soon compelled to evacuate the capital Kouno. Retreating to the nearby hills of Togbao, the Franco-Baguirmian force of some 450 men was overwhelmed and destroyed almost to a man by Rabih’s over 12,000 followers in mid-July.