1888 is a leap year starting on a Sunday.
January 23, Ethio-Mahdist War: the Mahdists of Abu Anja sack and burn Gondar after their victory over Ras Adal du Godjam at the Battle of Sar Weha.
February 3 - July 16: expedition of Curt von François to the interior of Togo.
February 8: Franco-British agreement delimiting the spheres of influence of the two countries in Somalia; the French began to develop the port of Djibouti, which on May 20, 1896 became the capital of the French Somali Coast to the detriment of Obock.
February 11: Matabele King Lobengula signs a treaty of friendship brokered by British Resident in Bulawayo John Smith Moffat, which places Matabeleland and Mashonaland within the British sphere of influence.
March 8: founding of the Compagnie du Mozambique in Portugal (Companhia de Moçambique, charter in 1891).
March 12: Cecil Rhodes founds De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd in Kimberley, which will provide nearly 50% of the diamonds mined in Africa.
March 18: creation of the Duala Baptist Church in Cameroon.
beginning of the reign of Seyyid Khalifa ibn Said, Sultan of Zanzibar (died 1890).
coronation of Agyeman Prempeh I (Kwaku Dua III), asantehene of the Ashanti, elected on March 5 (end in 1931, exiled from 1896 to 1924). Regency of his mother Yaa Kyaa.
March: the Italians obtain the Chisimaio concession from the Sultan of Zanzibar.
April 1: decree organizing the Congo Free State into 11 districts.
April 27, relief expedition to Emin Pasha: meeting between Emin Pasha and Stanley.
April: Creation of the Church of the Native Baptists of Nigeria.
June 2: Victory of the Usuthu rebels over the British and their Zulu auxiliaries at the Battle of Ceza.
June 23: Usuthu victory over the Mandlakazi clan at the Battle of Ivuna.
July 2: British victory over the Usuthu at the Battle of Hlophekhulu which marks the end of the rebellion of Dinuzulu, who is arrested on November 12 and deported to Saint Helena.
July 23: the Kingdom of Oyo (Southern Nigeria) becomes a British protectorate. Since 1840, Britain's influence has steadily grown in the region, taking advantage of the incessant struggles between the Yoruba states.
August 2: Civil war in Buganda (1888-1890): Mwanga, King of Buganda, is overthrown by a coalition of Catholics, Protestants and Muslims. This coalition, united by the rejection of paganism, offered power to Kiwewa (en), Mwanga's brother. His reign lasts only a month, because the Arabs overthrow him and appoint Kalema, another of Mwanga's brothers (October 21). The latter was restored on October 5, 1889.
August 5: Leopold II of Belgium officially creates the Force Publique in the Congo. Recruited from 1883 on the coasts of West Africa or Swahili, it had 1,487 soldiers in 1889 and 17,833 in 1914.
August 8: Beginning of King Abushiri's revolt in German East Africa against Emin Pasha (Edward Schnitzer). It lasts until the hanging of Abushiri on December 15, 1889.
September 3: charter of the Imperial British East Africa Company of William Mackinnon (in) (founded in London on April 18). The British settle in Kenya.
September 10: Louis Archinard is appointed Commander-in-Chief of French Sudan in place of Gallieni.
September 22: Abushiri's supporters attack Bagamoyo but are repulsed by German troops.
October 14, Ethiopian-Mahdist War: Shewan troops from Gobena Dachi defeat the Sudanese Mahdists at the Battle of Gute Dili in Wellega Province.
October 29: the Constantinople Convention establishes the internationalization of the Suez Canal. The treaty is signed in Istanbul on the question of the neutrality of the Suez Canal. Nine powers including Great Britain and the Ottoman Empire