Sub-Saharan Africa 1897: Batetela Rebellion
Intent on securing the southern Sudan, the Congo Free State mounted a two-pronged invasion of the Mahdist State in late 1896. Although the first prong successfully conquered the Lado Enclave in February, the second, more ambitious, effort to march down the Nile and take Fashoda collapsed when the native troops involved—mostly Batetela—revolted and instead seized large parts of the eastern Congo. The rebellion took over two years to suppress, encouraging the Germans in East Africa to use the crisis as an excuse to seize Congolese territory around Lake Kivu.
10–21 Feb 1897 Benin Expedition▲
In late 1896 a British column entered the Kingdom of Benin in an attempt to reopen trade with King Ovonramwen Asoro N’ lyokuo, but was ambushed and destroyed by anti-British elements within the state in January 1897. In response, the British Niger Coast Protectorate sent in a punitive expedition under Admiral Sir Harry Rawson the next month. Rawson’s force captured Edo (Benin City) on 18 February, looting and destroying the city over the following days, and bringing an end to one of the oldest kingdoms in West Africa.
14 Feb 1897–18 Nov 1899 Second Batetela Rebellion▲
In late 1896 the Congo Free State (CFS) dispatched a military expedition under Baron Dhanis to occupy Fashoda in the Upper Nile, only for the largely Tetela column to revolt in February 1897 in the face of ongoing deprivations. Returning south, the Batetela (plural of Tetela) seized control of much of the mountainous area near the African Great Lakes, where they remained at large until finally suppressed by the CFS in November 1899. Meanwhile, in October 1898, German East Africa had used the crisis to justify the occupation of vacated CFS territory around Lake Kivu and along the Ruzizi River, eventually pushing through a border revision on that basis.
17 Feb 1897 Battle of Rejaf▲
In December 1896 Louis Napoléon Chaltin led a Congo Free State column from Dungu to conquer the Lado Enclave—a territory in Sudan which had been reserved for Congolese occupation by treaty with Britain. Although an agreement to meet with a second column under Dhanis on the border at Ndirfi fell through when that column revolted, Chaltin nonetheless enter the enclave and occupied the old Egyptian outpost of Bedden on 14 February. The Mahdists, who controlled Rejaf, attacked on the 17th, but were repulsed and driven from Rejaf later that day, cementing the Congolese hold over the enclave.
14 May 1897 Anglo-Ethiopian Treaty of 1897▲
In 1897 Sir Rennell Rodd of Britain and Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia signed the Anglo-Ethiopian Treaty (a.k.a. Rodd Treaty), strengthening relations between the two nations. Aside from extending trade and military ties, the treaty defined the border between Ethiopia and British Somaliland—although the boundary itself would not be demarcated until 1932.