Decolonization of Africa

The African independence movement was lead by westerly educated African men who resented treatment of Africans and the lofty socioeconomic status of the Europeans in their native lands. The Europeans, guided by the doctrine of the white man’s burden, felt racially superior to Africans which caused even more African dissent.

African leaders gathered between the time period of the world wars to form the all African People’s Conference led by W.E.B. Du Bois (American) and Blaise Diagne (Senegal). They were only successful at leading independence by the end of WWII due to a weakened Europe. Leaders such as Kwame Nkruman (Ghana) and Jomo Kenyatta (Kenya) were then able to lead African independence.

Sub Saharan Africa

By the end of WWII, Europe decided to grant independence to their sub Saharan colonies, However their economies remained weak in areas where independence was not as easily granted. One problem with the formation of independent nations was that the borders (randomly drawn) often encompassed many hostile ethnic groups. Civil wars broke out as ethnic groups vied for control due to European withdrawl. For example, the hutus-tutsi conflict in Rwanda started when Belgian forces left.

victim of the Hutsu-Tutsi genocide

However, European influence remained. Some new nations stayed connected with their European counterparts, like Djibouti and guinea with France, and even became important trade partners.

South Africa

Although technically what occurred in South Africa was not decolonization, it still was related to the democratization of the continent.

By 1980 South Africa was the only African nation to be ruled by whites. The Boars, Dutch descendants, ruled harshely on black and mixed people, who made up 4/5 of the country, but had few economic rights. The African National Congress was unable to convince the boars to ease up, and apartheid, the segregation of races, formed.

Opposition to this system was led by Nelson Mandela, who led a militia in the 60s and was imprisoned. during this  time many blacks were sent to Swaziland. In protest, the UN imposed sanctions on south Africa, and by the 1990s apartheid was abolished, and free elections were held. Mandela became the first black president of South Africa.

North Africa

Egypt was the leader of North African independence. When the British gave up control of Egypt, Egypt formed the league of Arab States, which led to the rise of Gamel Abdel Nasser who inspired Arab nationalism.

Arab nationalism inspired independence movements of North African states from Europe, such as the revolt of Algeria from France. however, these revolutions did not bring about prosperity. similar to what occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa, they usually led to political instability.

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