African nationalism

African nationalism is the nationalist political movement for one unified Africa, or the less significant objective of the acknowledgment of African tribes by instituting their own states, as wearseholell as the safeguarding of their indigenous customs. Establishments which championed the cause included the Aborigines' Rights Protection Society in the Gold Coast (founded 1897), the African National Congress in South Africa (1912) and the National Congress of West Africa (1920).

Africa is a vast continent, amounting to nearly 30,000,000 square kilometres; indeed, it is as large as the USA, Europe, India and China all put together. Its diverse population is fast closing in on 1,000,000,000, with Berbers and other traditionally nomadic peoples, Arabs(who live in the North)and Bantu in the central and southern regions not to mention some smaller groups, helping to make up this massive number. There are about 8,000,000 Europeans and Asians. Ninety per cent of the population lives off agriculture- although there are a few areas that have been industrialised, most obviously in South Africa, which may be said to be the only properly-industrialised African state.

Africa's boundaries enclose hundreds of tribes, most of which have different languages, religions -- there are, among many others, the Muslims, Christians and animists --, traditions, economies, clothing, hut-construction, farming methods and means of livelihood (settled, nomadic, pastoral or agricultural). In Nigeria, the largest country in the continent, there are some 100 tribes, 248, all three of the religions mentioned above (in parenthesis) and individual economies. There is no doubt that one of Africa's most patent characteristics is its diversity -- which accounts for its extreme volatility.

Not so long ago, Africa was known as the "Dark Continent". This was because of its size, its deserts, its tropical climate, it unnavigable rivers, its lack of harbours and the hue of its people. There was also the problem of tropical illnesses such as malaria, yellow fever and sleeping sicknesses, all of which acted as deterrents to European exploration. It definitely lived up well to its other title, the "Terra incognito".

In the latter half of the Nineteenth Century, however, German, French and British explorers made their respective ways deep into the previously-undiscovered interior, where they discovered Central African lakes the Niger, Nile and Congo. The memoirs of great explorers such as Stanley and Livingstone gradually brought Africa into the spotlight.

When the liberated slaves and other progenies of the Afro-American populace commenced their homecoming to the African continent, principally in the western part, many overseas-directed churches were deserted by a large amount of Africans, and, in their stead, self-sufficient and -governing churches of the Africans’ own were set up. These often involved themselves in the battle against colonialism.

Between World War I and World War II, a strident howl for self-determination resonated deafeningly from the gorges of numerous mutinous groups in a growing number of African countries. By the time of World War II, almost every nation in Africa had his own pro-autonomy factions, and there were even a number of organisations which spread their weight over whole expanses of the continent. The National Congress of British West Africa was one such organisation. The Atlantic Charter, from 1941, and the critical approach to colonialism by the USSR and USA] served only to fortify this expanding dogma.

In the years following World War II, African nationalism found itself significantly stirred by men like Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Nelson Mandela of South Africa.


African nationalism is poles apart from European nationalism; indeed, the solitary resemblance between the two, it may be argued, is common territory. European nationalism was founded on social, political, geographical and economic grounds, gradually manoeuvring nations into unity. It may, therefore, be declared that African nationalism is a recognition of one's fitting into a familiar group. It was also an urge to be liberated from the colonial authorities and their presidency, a fervent remonstration against foreign domination, a craving for self-governance and independence, an insistence on egalitarianism, a denunciation of the belief that Africans are second-rate, the assembly of an African personality; a means of achieving social, political, economic and cultural upliftment, a pathway to taking Africa into the 21st Century; and, finally, the aspiration to pull alongside the rest of the planet with respect to free will and equal opportunity.

Two distinctive qualities

African nationalism has a brace of distinguishing good qualities: it articulates itself outwardly (in the form of a struggle for the comprehensive eradication of the decayed relationship between Europe and Africa,), as well as inwardly (in the form of a rejuvenating force looking to trim down to nothing Africa's colonist way of thinking and make the continent stronger socially, politically, economically and culturally).

Three types of African nationalism

Local nationalism

This brand of nationalism regularly transpires in the village or township, on ethnic and clannish grounds, and very often leads to civil wars as a consequence of the self-interest and insistence on sovereignty of these tribes and ethnicities.

Geo-political nationalism

This deals with the nationalistic inclinations of a particular country, which may make possible the all-too-recurrently-observed independence struggles.


This form of nationalism gives it approval to common self-interest among all Africans. It may be said, therefore, to grasp cooperative African nationalism closely, which presents a cohesive frontage to the rest of the world. It is sometimes unambiguously in opposition white people, who are considered representations of colonial totalitarianism, and often proclaims the movement for unity under the catchphrase "Africa for the Africans", while striving for independence as part of the Uhuru Movement.

Factors leading to the African Revolution

In spite of the abundant disadvantages of colonial rule, it did help to industrialise African states , there was a sturdy aspiration after 1945 for independence. This spirit of nationalism, embodied in Uhuru, brought about the African Revolution.

The following peripheral and domestic factors generated an awareness in the African consciousness of its peoples’ rights and self-worth. Slowly but surely, they gained the confidence not to settle for exploitation by their colonial masters but rather to stand up and be heeded, to protect and to fight. This desire to come to blows with white supremacy soon built up into an unstoppable mania, an unquenchable collective obsession not to be simple black Englishmen but, rather (and which meant so much more) Africans, disposing of alien rule and administering their own countries. This was what African nationalism was all about.

External factors

What follows are factors outside of Africa which led to the commencement of the African Revolution.

The campaign of the American negro leaders

In the United States of America, the black leaders Garvey and Du Bois stimulated much of the sentiment behind the call for black independence. Their voices sounded across the Atlantic Ocean, encouraging greatly the Africans who heard them. Aphorisms such as "Africa for the Africans" called for the ejection of European clout and the independence of the indigenous laypeople.

World War One and the League of Nations

Many African soldiers fought in conjunction with their white rulers and co-colonials all the way through the war. Whites and blacks lived and died through the war as equals, but this new-found parity dissipated almost immediately on their return home. The black man, consequently, was somewhat befuddled -- yet tremendously resolute and desirous of political transformation. The League, meanwhile, stressed the importance of universal equality -- irrespective of creed or colour. None of this, however, stopped the Allied powers from claiming German colonies for themselves in the aftermath of the war.

Communist propaganda

Communist cant was a burly force in the 1920s. It denounced imperialism and colonialism, supporting African nationals in their undertakings for independence. Russia was making a concentrated effort to widen the scope of its ideology -- one which has proven, historically, almost always to have been an appealing proposition to the destitute peoples of impoverished nations, as so many Africans certainly were under colonial rule. Propaganda filtered through from Moscow, supporting equality (most markedly via Radio Cairo, Russian-connected and discharging sentiments of an anti-colonial nature on an almost daily basis). Mozambique and Angola were doubtless the most successful targets of the various party lines adopted by the USSR in its varied agitprop-inspired schemes.

The influence of World War Two

This was a clear-cut crossroads in the struggle, for the rapidity with which change took place was hastily amplified after the conclusion of the Second World War. It left most colonial powers very feeble, and the United States and the U.S.S.R., neither of which were embroiled right the way through the conflict (and thus escaping comparatively unscathed) emerged as super-powers. Each, with its own divergent agenda, called for decolonisation and independence of and to the colonised states. This may certainly be said to have been a key component of the Cold War clash of ideologies. Both syndicates, looking to win themselves friends in this battle of manipulation and propaganda, became compassionate with African and Asian colonial states. They used a mishmash of money, technical aid and still more propaganda to buy African allies. Both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. wanted to assert their dominance over the world, and Africa was seen as a new territory to influence and from which to gain support. They wanted some control over African, but their influence would be limited while colonialism was still in place. Both countries, therefore, sought successfully to hasten the process of decolonisation.

India also put pressure on the colonisers after WWII. India became independent from Britain in 1948 and fought for the same outcome for its African counterparts.

Many thousands of Africans fought overseas during the War -- one which was waged initially with Germany, a former African coloniser. It was a fight against domination by one power, and it promoted the values of freedom and democracy, which African soldiers took home with them and sought to apply to their own countries.

As the span of the media (in the form newspapers and radio, for example) grew, so too did the prospects and perceptions of these people. They were soon beginning to achieve a measure of equality with their white counterparts. The black soldiers, on their return, were most disgruntled with the circumstances in which they were expected to live -- not to mention the master-servant affiliation which prevailed between whites and blacks. They reasoned that, if they were good enough to fight alongside the whites in a war, they must surely be good enough to be their equals at home, too.

The War also exposed the strategic and economic importance of the African continent. The West had become dependent on its provisions of natural resources – cotton and food, along with other raw materials, being the most obvious examples. The War made it of fundamental importance for the colonisers to endorse industrialisation really in their colonies, so that more of these rudiments could be generated and acquired. Such economic escalation led to an augmented call for freedom. The Africans, quite naturally, wanted the turnover from these African enterprises to remain in Africa.

The War resulted in the corrosion of the image and kudos of the white man, as the blacks observed first-hand his barbaric acts of war. Whites were seen mercilessly massacring one another in the gory theatre of war, and blacks soon came to realise that these Europeans were no more sophisticated than themselves. It was very difficult for the colonisers to justify why they had fought for freedom and democracy during the war but would not grant it to their colonies.

The Japanese trouncings of Holland, Britain and France led to a considerable waning of colonialism in the hitherto totally-colonised south-East Asia, where British India, French Indo-China and the Dutch East Indies all achieved independence. Indeed, most south-East Asian states were self-regulating by the end of the 1940s, and, with independence coming to them, it was only to be expected that the call would strengthen. At the 1955 Bandung conference (attended by 29 independent countries, only six of which were African), there was a colossal cry for freedom and independence from the Afro-Asian states. The symposium ultimately took the decision to slam colonialism, thus arousing further feeling in African (and, of course, Asian) states.

The war had been very expensive for a number of European countries. Much of the West was in debt and badly damaged in its aftermath. The cost of running colonies, too, had increased over the years, and colonial powers were on the lookout for means of reducing the financial strain. Independence (or, at least, partial independence) was a possible solution.

All in all, the Second World War underscored the ideas of freedom, democracy and the inalienable rights of man. All of these were potted in the Charter of the U.N., whose affirmation of Human Rights called for parity to all components of mankind. The United Nations, born out of World War Two, became the platform on which African states stood in order to voice their demands and anxieties.

Colonialism and its decline

The word "colonialism" refers to a system of direct political, economic and cultural intervention by a powerful country in a weaker country. By the beginning of 1900, most of Africa had been colonised -- mainly by France, Britain, Germany, Belgium and Portugal. It was sometimes a rather harsh and brutal system, weakening and often destroying the traditional way of life of the African people. Although there was a range of colonial experiences in Africa, there were a number of common features:
  • African people were generally given no political rights in the colonies.
  • Colonisers usually spent very little money on their colonies, leaving education and healthcare in the hands of the less-modernised locals.
  • Colonial powers generally took as much as they could from their colonies, minimising expense to themselves.
  • The colonists often ended up paying the costs of colonisation through taxes imposed on them by the colonisers.
  • Local labour (sometimes totally unpaid slavery) was used by the colonisers to extract valuable minerals, raw materials and agricultural products, which were then exported to Europe.
  • Local leaders in most colonies had their powers taken away by colonial authorities.
  • In several cases, the colonial powers used the local leaders to gain control over large numbers of people.
The colonial powers did take some measures beneficial to the colonists but were generally concerned only with matters that would improve their ability to extract wealth. They built railways and roads, but only for the purposes of transporting resources to harbours, where they could be shipped off to Europe. The diamond and gold mines of South Africa are perfect examples of this.

African people were also forced off their own land to work on white-owned farms or factories, where they were paid decidedly low wages. In colonies such as the Belgian Congo, people were made to labour under cruel conditions and were brutally punished if they were seen not to be working hard enough.

After World War Two, with most African countries still under colonial rule, the question was chewed over substantially and the conclusion reached that colonialism was a wicked and immoral anachronism. Its wide-spread battering had actually begun well before WWII, and, by 1963, the majority of Africa was free from colonial rule.

After some regal powers had been sent packing by the Japanese (who were shortly met with the U.S. embargoes which brought about the Pearl Harbour calamity and the U.S.A.'s ingress into the War), they attempted to return once the War was over -- but they met with very little success. One example of this occurred in the Dutch East Indies: when the Dutch occupational forces left the territory to go off and fight, it was left almost totally unoccupied and vulnerable, and the Dutch never had any real control over their colony again. The East Indies, however, is only one example of a formerly-colonised state that wanted to preserve its new-found autonomy. Things had unquestionably changed in south-East Asia, and Africans were certainly motivated by these occurrences. With avowals such as the Atlantic and the U.N. Charters, the assailment of colonialism and calls for decolonisation stepped up a few notches, and the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. (with ulterior motives aforesaid in this article) took a lead in the hostility. Decolonisation became a snowballing procedure -- a kind of domino effect.

Improved communications

The African scholar and combatant had an enhanced contact with the rest of the world. Television, radio and the press exposed people to world events, viewpoints and trends. Better connections brought about a better flow of ideas, and also helped to stimulate political awareness.

Internal factors

There was a tremendous collision of peoples within the African continent itself. British, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Belgian colonisation was quite correctly labelled an enforced (and thus unwanted) European ruling of Africa -- a total takeover completely unsupplied with respect. Amongst other matters, it had led to detribalisation -- and the tribe is conventionally an imperative element of the African social order.

The African had been socially converted and was most disgruntled at his mediocre eminence within society under colonial rule. Each mother country had set up its own particular model of command so as to establish and sustain law and order: whereas Britain favoured measured decentralisation, eventually leading on to self-governance, the Belgians, French and Portuguese followed a totally opposite course of action -- centralisation, where the satellite state was led directly from the fatherland, as if it were a mere extension. Retrospect, of course, has shown the British way to be the more favourable of the two options.

Loss of land

Colonisation had led to a change of land-ownership, with the Europeans coming in and taking tenure of the entire country and its territory. The Kenyans, to cite one example, could no longer farm for themselves (although they had always done so with the singular purpose of subsistence); they could only toil away as manual workers on the land of their colonial masters. As Africa became overpopulated, a greater strain was put on the land, and this resulted in a severe decline in manufacturing efficiency. African reserves became overstocked and congested, leading to a mass movement of rural people to urban areas as nomadic (or migrant) workers. Needless to say, they were not very happy with life at the moment.


Cut off from his consecrated culture and society, the metropolitan African, caught between a rock and a hard place, became insecure and isolated. Contact with western society had quickly detribalised him, taking away his traditional existence and exposing him to the benefits and disadvantages of an urban existence.

New associations and ideas

Urban living brought with it sports clubs, literary circles and trade unions, allowing intellectuals (and, indeed, Joe Average himself) to sit down and speak, trading ideas and creating information channels with which to politicise the people. These voluntary organisations became the brass tacks on which African liberation movements and parties were built. The towns became the cradles of new ideas and principles, and these usually reached the rural villages via constantly-travelling migrant workers.

More newspapers appeared, raising the level of awareness about equality and independence, and assisting in the naissance of the first African political organisations (viz. the Nyasaland African Congress and the Kenya African Union). These movements -- they were far more than mere political organisations -- produced programmes and policies which stimulated and aroused fellow Africans. Self-sustaining people usually bought into these.

The role of the educated African

Education was perhaps the most essential dynamic in the intensification of African nationalism. Schools and universities brought into being a class of erudite intellectuals, and it was this assemblage (rather than the innately uninformed farmers or migrant workers) which blazed a trail across Africa in its struggle for independence. Education made the African conscious of his fiscal exploitation of by the whites -- with its consequently stumpy wages, the colour bar (job reservation), labour-intensive employment, the pros and cons of western civilisation, the philosophy behind equality and freedom; the basic ideas for criticising colonial rule; and a consciousness of being used and abused as cheap labour for the benefit of his white masters. At first, most were keen merely to participate in the running of their countries; later, however, they wanted to get rid of the colonial powers' presence altogether so as to establish their own government, run by people of their own nationality. This approach was African nationalism personified.

The role of the churches

Coupled with the educated African is the very important function carried out by the African churches. Autonomist Ethiopian (white and blue) and Zionist (green) churches stressed the historical magnitude of the African, his background and the need for equality, freedom and change. The people tended to trust the opinions of their spiritual leaders, and what they said sunk in with profound effect. This contributed immensely to the growth of African nationalism.

Independence movements


Black nationalist protest movements had little success prior to 1945, because colonial governments took quick, harsh steps to bring to a standstill the advancements of any opponent. In the British-controlled states of western Africa (Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Ghana), there was strong opposition to British rule from youth groups, political movements and the press -- with newspaper editors giving the issue plenty of space. French rule in western Africa, meanwhile, came under pressure from both political and religious groups.

African nationalism was far stronger in northern Africa. Egypt, having become a self-governing British colony in 1922, achieved total independence in 1936. In the Sudan and the French colonies of Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria, however, nationalism was retarded by ethnic divisions (as in the Sudan, with the Dalfour crisis and the constant fighting between Muslims and other religious sects) - as well as the pressure on political opponents and their imprisonment.

In East Africa, African nationalism was perhaps at its strongest in Kenya, where legendary heroes Harry Thuku and Jomo Kenyatta led the struggle against the privileged European settlers with their kingly estates, where white-clad locals did all for them. The Mau-Mau Riots soon brought a backlash.

In Central African states like Southern and Northern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Nyasaland (Malawi), Mozambique, Congo and Angola, however, opposition was silenced by the colonial authorities.

What the nationalists wanted were improved rights, leading to eventual self-governance and, finally, independence. The Second World War would make their desires more desperate and immediate...

Post 1945

After World War Two, there were only four independent African states, namely South Africa (in a manner of speaking), Liberia, Ethiopia and Egypt. "The Winds of Change" (described in a speech in 1960 by British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in 1960) had begun to blow strongly; indeed, they amounted to a veritable gale-force by the 'sixties, when the drive started to get serious.

Not all countries achieved their independence in the same way or at the same time. Some colonial powers opted to bring their control slowly to an end after a few years, arguing that African nations needed to be prepared for independence. The British, in particular, sought to maintain strong links with their colonies after independence so that they could still benefit from them. Other colonial powers, like Belgium and Portugal, sought to hold onto their territories and resist decolonisation for as long as they could, but the independence movements eventually proved far too costly to keep putting down.

British colonies

The British colonial policy was initially called "guardianship", a solid approach that allowed countries to remain part of the Commonwealth even when they had become independent, after a gradual lessening of colonialism. This meant that Britain's colonies got preferential trading and British support. In most cases, this is still strong today. After the Second World War, the official title of this approach changed to the "partnership leading to independence within Commonwealth".

In this way, Britain would still benefit from and have some control over her colonies even after they had become independent from her. She gave power to the English-educated African elites in the hope that they would later rule the countries and seek to keep strong ties with their former coloniser.

Britain failed, however, to dictate the pace of decolonisation in most of her colonies. People became impatient with the cumbersome process and started demanding their independence.

The first British colony to win its independence was Sudan in 1956. The Gold Coast was granted its independence, as the Republic of Ghana, in 1957. The country's campaign for autonomy was organised by the Convention Peoples' Party (CPP), established and ordered by Kwame Nkrumah. Like so many others, he demanded independence far sooner than the British were willing to grant it. He used general strikes, boycotts of European goods and violent demonstrations to make his case heard, but was subsequently imprisoned, along with a number of other leaders, for his efforts. Britain could not ignore his popularity and demands for long, though, and Britain agreed in 1951 to allow a limited form of self-governance to Ghana. Nkrumah was released from prison, and the CPP won the elections. Nkrumah became the Gold Coast's Chief Minister, but his country had not yet won total independence. Britain wanted to ensure that the new government had gained enough experience before handing over total control. Ghana only achieved full independence in 1957.

These developments paved the way for the rest of British Africa, with Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Gambia all following suit. In several other British colonies, however, the pace of decolonisation was very slow and difficult. This was due mainly to the fact that these countries had larger settler populations, which feared a loss of land, business and wealth.

In Nigeria, the British were forced to help the country towards independence after Nnamdi Azikiwe organised a general strike against British rule in 1945. Britain only handed power over to the Nigerians in 1960, however, after a long struggle.

The only British colony in which things turned really sour was Kenya, where the Mau-Mau movement launched a campaign of terror against the European farmers and authorities, who comprising part of a particularly large settler population totally against the idea of Kenyan independence. They feared a loss of land and business if the natives won their independence. Jomo Kenyatta (whose name had nothing to do with that of his country's) and his Kenya African Unity Party could not, consequently, force the British to grant the nation self-governance.

Many Kenyans became impatient at the slow (or non-existent) pace of change, and the Mau-Mau uprising commenced in the early 1950s. Settlers and their farms were violently attacked by the Mau-Mau community, who believed that the settlers had taken this land from them. A State of Emergency was declared, and Kenyatta and many others were imprisoned. Over 10,000 people perished in the violence, and more than 90,000 were arrested. Most were later released when Britain finally gave in.

In 1961, Kenyatta's party won the election, and, in 1963, the country gained independence under his presidency.

Similar successes followed in Zambia, Uganda, Tanganyika, Southern Rhodesia and Malawi.

Southern Rhodesia was another country with a large settler population of about 200,000, most of which resisted the majority rule of the 4,000,000-strong native population. The white settler population requested that Southern Rhodesia be given independence and they its governance. Britain agreed -- on condition that a third of the seats in parliament be occupied by black people. The settlers did not like this, and, in 1965, Ian Smith made a unilateral declaration of independence, essentially an illegal form, as it was made without Britain's permission.

African nationalism in Southern Rhodesia soon commenced with a guerrilla war against the settler government. The Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) and the Zimbabwean African National Union (ZANU) were the two foremost movements in the resistance struggle. By 1978, they had control of large portions of the country, and the country finally became properly independent, as Zimbabwe, in 1980, when the settlers were forced to hand over power to the majority. In the first democratic elections, ZANU won comfortably, and Robert Mugabe was made president. He is still in power today, having become exactly what the white settlers of whom he helped to dispose [1] once were). In the period from 1966 to '68, independence reached Basutoland (which became Lesotho), Bechuanaland (Botswana) and Swaziland.

French colonies

Initially, France sought to repress the demands for independence in her colonies, but the protests were so fervent that, in the end, she was forced to give in and accept the process of decolonisation.

France's policy, unlike England's, was based on the principle of "assimilation and association": those who absorbed the French culture and the French language became French citizens. After World War Two, all French colonies became overseas territorial parts of France, with representatives in the French parliament. In 1958, Charles de Gaulle became president of France, and former colonies were collectively known as the "French Community of Nations". This offered the colonies three choices:
  • They could maintain their status quo and remain overseas provinces of France.
  • They could become autonomous members of the French Community of Nations, in which they would trade with France and be given the necessary economic assistance. This, of course, enabled the mother country to maintain some form of control, as her former colonies would still be dependant on her in some or other way.
  • They could become totally independent, thus forfeiting all technical, economic and military aid that the mother country could provide.
Guinea won independence in 1958, opting for full autonomy and total autonomy from France. Sekou Toure, with the support of the Guinea people, rejected the idea of belonging to the French Community of Nations. France immediately pulled out officials and equipment out of the country, and ceased to support it. It was widely predicted that Guinea would collapse, but this never happened.

All other French colonies, although inspired by Guinea's example, took the second option and, in 1960, all of the following nations had been granted their independence: Very few of them were able to act independently from France. The mother country was still able to influence economic and foreign policies.

In North Africa, Tunisia and Morocco achieved independence in 1956, and Algeria in 1962. In the former, Habib Bourghiba led a guerrilla war. It commenced in 1952, and, in spite of a French defence of 70,000 troops, she could not quell the uprising.

With Bourghiba in prison, resistance to French control gathered momentum. Local leaders emerged with even more extreme views, and this was naturally of great concern to the mother country. The more moderate Bourghiba was released, and Tunisia became independent in 1956 under his leadership.

In Algeria, the large settler population (of about 1,000,000) was again the biggest problem. rejected the idea of independence. With so many settlers with economic interest, the French government was unwilling to grant Algeria independence. Near the end of 1954, the Ben Bella-led National Liberation Front (NLF) started a guerrilla war which waged on for over six years. More than 700,000 soldiers were sent over from France to fight the war, which came to be viewed by the French public as unnecessary and far too costly to pursue. Pressure both at home and abroad forced France to hand the territory over to a local government. Algeria became independent in 1962, and approximately 800,000 settlers left the country.

Belgian colonies

The Belgian Colonial Policy differed from that of the French in that it did not see its colonies as part of the motherland. This led to the veritable mess that came about in a number of its few colonies. Belgium had no idea of how to handle them when they got out of hand. When decolonisation became an inevitability, she handed over power as slowly as possible to ensure that she held on to power for as long as possible.

She deliberately held back on providing education to the Congolese people, fearing that it would spread nationalist ideas. It was also hoped that an undereducated Congo would be more reliant on Belgium after independence. In spite of this, there emerged a number of nationalists who began to agitate for freedom. They were led byPatrice Lumumba.

In Leopoldville in 1959, due to unemployment and declining standards of living, there were numerous riots for independence by the Congolese nationalists. The Belgian government responded by offering Congo gradual reforms and a move towards independence over a thirty-year period, but this offer was rejected as intolerable, the Congolese desire for independence being far too strong. Fearing a protracted civil war, Belgium backed down immediately and gave Congo independence in 1960. She argued that this was necessary to prevent further bloodshed and injury to the 100,000 Belgian settlers living in the Congo, but this has often been interpreted otherwise: granting immediate independence would leave the new government fragile and vulnerable. With no time to prepare for autonomy, Congo would look again to Belgium for support, and, in this way, the mother country would be able to maintain its influence and control in the colony.

Lumumba became Prime Minister and Joseph Kasavubu state president. The transition, as predicted, was too sudden. Together with Congo's lack of infrastructure, this led to mass rioting and, within weeks, a civil war. Belgium saw the opportunity to intervene and regain influence, but Lumumba still wanted little or nothing to do with the Belgians. He appealed to the Soviet Union for assistance, and Congo immediately became embroiled in the altogether more complex conflict that was the Cold War.

The United States, predictably, got involved, and the United Nations sent in a peace-keeping force. The Belgians and the UN both supported the ensuing coup which ousted Lumumba, who was later assassinated.[2]

Only in 1965, when General Joseph Mobutu of the Congolese army, aided by white mercenaries (led by the legendary Mike Hore) and backed by the USA, launched another coup, crushing resistance and restoring calm to the stricken country. An indirect result of this was that Belgium was forced to grant independence to her other colonies, Rwanda and Burundi, in 1962.

Portuguese colonies

In spite of the Portuguese government's policy of assimilation (turning the African man into a Portuguese man with a mind to eventual equality) and reform, resistance to Portuguese rule increased. The Portuguese, nevertheless, fought far longer than the Belgians to maintain control over their colonies. Portugal did not support the process of decolonisation, and it faced a great deal of resistance in its attempts to hold on to power in Mozambique and Angola. The Portuguese autocracy knew that its colonies brought in a lot of its wealth; to lose them would be seriously damaging to the Portuguese economy.

In Mozambique, FRELIMO was established under Doctor Eduardo Mondlane, aiming to seize independence by means of military force. It was strongly supported by the Soviet Union, while the Portuguese government was backed up by the USA and the apartheid government in South Africa. In 1969, Mondlane stepped down and Samora Machel took hold of FRELIMO's reigns. After the overthrow of Doctor Caetano's government in Portugal and the arrival of new leadership under General Spinola, independence was achieved in 1975, under Machel's presidency, after secret negotiations between FRELIMO and the Portuguese government, which could not afford to keep up the war and keep down the resistance -- especially when the public back home indicated its lack of support for the campaign.

In oil-owning Angola, the only Saharan country with that resource, matters were more complicated. Resistance came in 1961 in the form of separatist political and religious movements, such as the MPLA (the Peoples' Movement for the Angolan Liberation, under Dr. Agostinho Neto), NFLA (the National Front for the Liberation of Angola, under Holden Roberto) and UNITA (the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola Dr. Jonas Savimbi). The MPLA was the strongest and, like Mozambique's FRELIMO, received Soviet support. Again, Portugal had South African and American support, but public opinion back home, together with the financial difficulties associated with maintaining control, forced her to pull out.

After Angolan independence in 1975 (Spinola having given it to both Mozambique and Angola immediately), a civil war ensued, FNLA and UNITA taking on the Communist MPLA, which was supported by Russian and Cuban troops and weapons. The civil war lasted twenty-odd years. The end of Portuguese rule in southern Africa resulted in huge pressure, from the 1980s onwards, on the white minority movements in Rhodesia and South Africa to accept majority rule.

Italian colonies

In northern Africa in 1955, Libya became independent, but, fourteen years later, the radical and charismatic Colonel Muammar Gaddafi took control after a military coup.[3] Eritrea was added to Ethiopia in 1952, and Italian Somalialand became independent Somalia.

Spanish colonies

Equatorial states Rio Muniand and Fernando Po gained independence as Equatorial Guinea in 1968, while the Spanish Sahara saw the birth of the national movement called the Polisario Front. With her tail between her legs, Spain withdrew from the region, leaving the two countries in her way, Morocco in the north and Mauritania in the south, to partition the territory. This was opposed by the Polisario Front, which eventually gained independence for the southern part of the country.

Interpretations of the decolonisation of Africa

Naturally, historians have a number of dissimilar and divergent views on African decolonisation. There are three main ones.

The African nationalist viewpoint

Historians who hold this view are of the opinion that decolonisation occurred because African nationalists force it upon the colonisers. In writing about the decolonisation process, these historians generally focus on the role that African freedom fighters played in winning independence for their countries. Little acknowledgment is given to the colonial powers for their granting independence.

The Eurocentric or planned-decolonisation viewpoint

Historians who hold this view feel that the colonial powers were primarily responsible for decolonisation, arguing that decolonisation had been a part of their plans prior to World War II. They concentrate on the actions taken by the mother countries to prepare their colonies for independence. They give less importance to the resistance struggles.

The developmentalist viewpoint

This is easily the most balanced of the three main viewpoints. Historians partial to this one generally assert that both of the first two viewpoints hold water and also that other factors had roles to play. The Cold War and the impact of World War Two are both taken into consideration, and decolonisation is placed in its historical context.

Common challenges facing African states today

The political, social and economic journeys of newly-independent African states were (and are still) slow and arduous ones. There were some gains, however, such as control over their own affairs; there were also a few gains for the ordinary African, who now had more access to information and was free from European enslavement. On the whole, though, the difficulties and challenges outweighed the benefits, especially politically and economically. Many African leaders found it incredibly difficult to cope, and their nations soon became one-party affairs.

Some governments became corrupt and kept the country's wealth for themselves; others (such as Nigeria and the Congo) experienced civil wars, slowing their development; others were ravaged by severe droughts; others found life hard due to the economic damage with which the coming of independence had left them; others struggled under the maintained control of the colonial powers.

Despite the many differences with regard to area, population and wealth (among others), African states do experience several common difficulties, most of which are related to the rapid modernisation of the continent. On achieving independence, and with the withdrawal of the white master, many unrealistic African leaders and, indeed, ordinary people assumed that they would live now in complete Utopia and immediate prosperity. This, alas, was not to be, and the African leaders were met with many unexpected problems with which they were often ill-equipped to deal. The future of the African states will depend on the extent to which their problems can be solved. Again, these challenges may be divided into internal and external categories.

Internal challenges

Political challenges

African countries have faced numerous political difficulties since attaining independence. These basically concern governmental and administrational snags. Some were vestiges of the old colonial governments; others came about solely as a result of the inadequacies of the new ones. African states are finding it very difficult to adapt to the coming of the hitherto foreign concept of democracy. Parliamentary systems have failed, and, in many cases, we have seen them replaced one-party military regimes much akin to those in place under the colonial powers.

Decolonisation and independence came very rapidly to many African states, and their inexperience in respect of how to run a government has told quite severely in numerous instances. Western democracy, quite simply, is incompatible with the form of government epitomised by the African tribes -- and with which many Africans still feel more comfortable. African leaders often became dictators, outlawing democracy. There were over seventy instances of this between 1963 and 1997. By the end of the 'eighties, more than half of the African states were controlled by martial administrations, which were sometimes brutally corrupt. This was most certainly the case in Uganda, under the command of Idi Amin, an ex-sergeant who stole a fortune from his country and oversaw the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people who resisted him. Mobutu Sese Seko and Bokassa, in Zaire and the Central African Republic respective, are two other examples of crooked leaders who used their positions to gain personal wealth at the expense of their people.

African rulers have often considered unity to be more important than democracy -- especially so soon after winning freedom. Some argued that democracy would create differences amongst their citizens. It was believed that tribal and ethnic differences would be used to garner support, and that this would threaten stability and unity. With no rival political parties, there was less reason for conflict, resulting in concord and solidity. In a number of countries, such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania, a dictatorship provided a stable and effective government -- but, because there was no other way to remove a leader, violence was often used by opposition factions to achieve their political ends.

When the colonial powers took their colonies, they paid little or no attention to the different ethnic and tribal groupings; rather, the divisions that they imposed were constructed along natural and geographic features like rivers and mountains, and lines of longitude and latitude. The resultant bordering of countries created a number of problems.

For one thing, limitation by means of rigid physical borders was not an African concept, and it drew together people of different and conflicting cultures and made them of the same nationality, resulting in massive conflicts. Some did not feel that they belonged in a certain territory, while other tribes, having fought one another for ages, were now suddenly coupled together within the same area.

Following independence, however, the borders remained unaltered, and ethnic differences began to emerge once more. In Nigeria, Zaire, Burundi and Rwanda, civil wars broke out.

Economic challenges

African states have also faced a great number of economic challenges since gaining independence. These, like the political challenges, may be best understood by looking at the roles of both the former colonial powers and the newly-established African governments. Environmental issues, however, have also played a significant role, with draught and disease having an especially detrimental effect.

With colonialism in place, African countries were made to export their raw materials to take back home to the colonising country or sell on the world market. They were not encouraged to build their own industries or engage in any developments which might result in competition with the goods produced by the world's richer nations.

This pattern of trading persisted after independence. The colonisers, having left the African states with limited infrastructure and expertise, making it difficult for them to develop the various parts of their economies, persisted still in their attempts at obtaining cheap raw goods from their former colonies and discouraged them from developing competitive industries.

During the colonial period, African farmers were forced off their small-scale subsistence ranches and made to work on large plantations. There they would produce the crops that the colonisers wanted to export. In many cases, these were not food-crops, with coffee, sisal and cocoa predominating. Come independence, therefore, some African states could not produce food on a scale great enough to feed themselves. They were forced, as a result, to import from other countries, an activity which many could ill afford.

While electricity, transport, schools and hospitals were amply provided in the towns, rural areas went largely neglected. The resultant mass migrations from bucolic to urban regions brought about congestion, joblessness and poverty. The number of farmers in agricultural areas, meanwhile, was dramatically reduced, bringing about significant food shortages.

Diseases and illnesses related to malnutrition and draught have brought about high death-rates and poor health on a massive scale, which has, in turn, radically reduced work-forces.

Most African states have a very narrow range of exports. When demand dropped or the yield was little, they had little or nothing on which to fall back. Also problematic were the low prices paid by the former colonial powers.

Some independent governments have wasted their funds on unnecessary and introduced poor economic policies. Large sums of money found their way into the pockets of dishonest rulers, and needlessly large armies were created at the expense of education, industry and healthcare. It has been estimated that Mobutu Sese Seko had a private riches of around $6,000,000.

Social challenges

Many of Africa's social troubles come as a direct consequence of her economic and political difficulties. Their roots may also be found in Africa's colonial historical. Social ills such as unequal wealth-distribution, human-rights violations and the abundance of refugees, however, have to be attributed primarily to the inadequacies of the independent African governments. Although independence has brought about many positive changes to Africa's social development.

Literacy levels are lower in Africa than in any other continent. Despite numerous educational advances over the past few decades, literacy is still below thirty per cent. Refugees have also been a huge problem, stemming primarily from civil wars, for post-independent Africa.

Many African leaders have violated the basic human rights of their people, jailing and killing those who criticise or make a stand. Ethnic divisions have been used as excuses, as in Rwanda, where the ruling Hutus carried out mass genocide on the Tutsis.

Disease has impacted negatively on a social level, too, but healthcare has seen encouraging improvement. Successful campaigns have been launched against polio, cholera and smallpox, but malaria remains a quite horrific blight, while the AIDS epidemic has ravaged the continent since the 1980s. The OAU has recognised AIDS as one of its greatest challenges.

Women remain subservient in a number of countries. They have a low social status traditionally in many African cultures, but they played a far from negligible role in the various independence struggles. Many African women hoped that with independence would come gender equality, and progress has been made, but they continue to suffer in many African states from traditional male attitudes and customs.

Social inequality has also persisted on a broader spectrum. There is a wide gap between rich and poor, and educated and uneducated. Most rural Africans have remained in poverty, but the problem has grown markedly in urban areas, and most are well below the national poverty lines. The ruling black elite, meanwhile, has become increasingly affluent.

See also


1. ^ There were 600,000 whites in Zimbabwe in 1965; that number has since dwindled to 100,000
2. ^ There is evidence that the CIA was involved.
3. ^ He is still in power today, although Robert Mugabe seems to be under the impression that he is Africa's longest-ruling leader.
Nationalism is a term that refers to a doctrine[1] or political movement[2] that holds that a nation—usually defined in terms of ethnicity or culture—has the right to constitute an independent or autonomous political community based on a shared
..... Click the link for more information.
Africa is the world's second-largest and second most-populous continent, after Asia. At about 30,221,532 km² (11,668,545 sq mi) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area, and 20.4% of the total land area.
..... Click the link for more information.
This article or section is written like a personal reflection or and may require .
Please [ improve this article] by rewriting this article or section in an . (, talk)

..... Click the link for more information.
Aborigines' Rights Protection Society (ARPS) was an association critical of colonial rule, formed in 1897 in the Gold Coast, as Ghana was known.

Originally formed by traditional leaders and the educated elite to protest the Crown Lands Bill of 1896 and the Lands Bill of 1897
..... Click the link for more information.
Gold Coast was a British colony on the Gulf of Guinea in west Africa that became the independent nation of Ghana in 1957.

The first Europeans to arrive at the coast were the Portuguese, in 1471.
..... Click the link for more information.
18th century - 19th century - 20th century
1860s  1870s  1880s  - 1890s -  1900s  1910s  1920s
1894 1895 1896 - 1897 - 1898 1899 1900

Subjects:     Archaeology - Architecture -
..... Click the link for more information.
African National Congress (ANC) has been South Africa's governing party, supported by its tripartite alliance with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP), since the establishment of majority rule in May 1994.
..... Click the link for more information.

..... Click the link for more information.
19th century - 20th century - 21st century
1880s  1890s  1900s  - 1910s -  1920s  1930s  1940s
1909 1910 1911 - 1912 - 1913 1914 1915

Year 1912 (MCMXII
..... Click the link for more information.
19th century - 20th century - 21st century
1890s  1900s  1910s  - 1920s -  1930s  1940s  1950s
1917 1918 1919 - 1920 - 1921 1922 1923

Year 1920 (MCMXX
..... Click the link for more information.
"In God We Trust"   (since 1956)
"E Pluribus Unum"   ("From Many, One"; Latin, traditional)
..... Click the link for more information.
Europe is one of the seven traditional continents of the Earth. Physically and geologically, Europe is the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, west of Asia. Europe is bounded to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the west by the Atlantic Ocean, to the south by the Mediterranean Sea,
..... Click the link for more information.
This page is currently protected from editing until disputes have been resolved.
Protection is not an endorsement of the current [ version] ([ protection log]).
..... Click the link for more information.
This page contains Chinese text.
Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters.
China (Traditional Chinese:
..... Click the link for more information.

..... Click the link for more information.
"Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress"
"Arise O Compatriots, Nigeria's Call Obey"

Capital Abuja

..... Click the link for more information.
Classification & external resources

Plasmodium falciparum ring-forms and gametocytes in human blood.
ICD-10 B 50.
ICD-9 084

OMIM 248310
DiseasesDB 7728
MedlinePlus 000621
eMedicine med/1385   emerg/305 ped/1357
..... Click the link for more information.
yellow fever
Classification & external resources

ICD-10 A 95.
ICD-9 060

eMedicine med/2432   emerg/645
Yellow fever virus

TEM micrograph: Multiple yellow fever virions (234,000x magnification).

..... Click the link for more information.
The 19th Century (also written XIX century) lasted from 1801 through 1900 in the Gregorian calendar. It is often referred to as the "1800s.
..... Click the link for more information.
African Americans or Black Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.[1] In the United States the term is generally used for Americans with sub-Saharan African ancestry.
..... Click the link for more information.
Colonialism is the extension of a nation's sovereignty over territory beyond its borders by the establishment of either settler colonies or administrative dependencies in which indigenous populations are directly ruled or displaced.
..... Click the link for more information.
Clockwise from top: Trenches on the Western Front; a British Mark IV tank crossing a trench; Royal Navy battleship HMS Irresistible sinking after striking a mine at the Battle of the Dardanelles; a Vickers machine gun crew with gas masks, and German Albatros D.
..... Click the link for more information.
Allied powers:
 Soviet Union
 United States
 United Kingdom
 France al. Axis powers:
 Italy al.
..... Click the link for more information.
self-determination, often seen as a moral and legal right, is that every nation is entitled to a sovereign territorial state, and that every specifically identifiable population should choose which state it belongs to, often by plebiscite.
..... Click the link for more information.
Atlantic Charter was negotiated at the Atlantic Conference (codenamed Riviera) by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, aboard warships in a secure anchorage at Naval Station Argentia, Newfoundland, and was issued as a
..... Click the link for more information.
19th century - 20th century - 21st century
1910s  1920s  1930s  - 1940s -  1950s  1960s  1970s
1938 1939 1940 - 1941 - 1942 1943 1944

Year 1941 (MCMXLI
..... Click the link for more information.
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (abbreviated USSR, Russian: ; tr.
..... Click the link for more information.
Kwame Nkrumah (September 21, 1909 - April 27, 1972)[1], one of the most influential Pan-Africanists of the 20th century, served as the founder, and first President of Ghana.
..... Click the link for more information.

..... Click the link for more information.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela IPA: [xolíɬaɬa mandéːla] (born 18 July 1918) is a former President of South Africa, the first to be elected in fully representative democratic elections.
..... Click the link for more information.

This article is copied from an article on - the free encyclopedia created and edited by online user community. The text was not checked or edited by anyone on our staff. Although the vast majority of the wikipedia encyclopedia articles provide accurate and timely information please do not assume the accuracy of any particular article. This article is distributed under the terms of GNU Free Documentation License.