The decolonisation of Africa took place in the mid-to-late 1950s to 1975, with sudden and radical regime changes on the continent as colonial governments made the transition to independent states; this was often quite unorganized and marred with violence and political turmoil. There was widespread unrest, with organized revolts in both northern and sub-Saharan colonies including the Algerian War in French Algeria, the Angolan War of Independence in Portuguese Angola, the Congo Crisis in the Belgian Congo, and the Mau Mau Uprising in British Kenya.
The "Scramble for Africa" between 1870 and 1900 ended with almost all of Africa being controlled by a small number of European states. Racing to secure as much land as possible while avoiding conflict amongst themselves, the partition of Africa was confirmed in the Berlin Agreement of 1885, with little regard to local differences.By 1905, control of almost all African soil was claimed by Western European governments, with the only exceptions being Liberia (which had been settled by African-American former slaves) and Ethiopia (then occupied by Italy in 1936). Britain and France had the largest holdings, but Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, and Portugal also had colonies. As a result of colonialism and imperialism, a majority of Africa lost sovereignty and control of natural resources such as gold and rubber. The introduction of imperial policies surfacing around local economies led to the failing of local economies due to an exploitation of resources and cheap labor. Progress towards independence was slow up until the mid-20th century. By 1977, 54 African countries had seceded from European colonial rulers.
During the world wars, African soldiers were conscripted into imperial militaries.This led to a deeper political awareness and the expectation of greater respect and self-determination, which was left largely unfulfilled. During the 1941 Atlantic Conference, the British and the US leaders met to discuss ideas for the post-war world. One of the provisions added by President Roosevelt was that all people had the right to self-determination, inspiring hope in British colonies.
On February 12, 1941, United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met to discuss the postwar world. The result was the Atlantic Charter. It was not a treaty and was not submitted to the British Parliament or the Senate of the United States for ratification, but it turned out to be a widely acclaimed document. One of the provisions, introduced by Roosevelt, was the autonomy of imperial colonies. After World War II, the US and the African colonies put pressure on Britain to abide by the terms of the Atlantic Charter. After the war, some Britons considered African colonies to be childish and immature; British colonisers introduced democratic government at local levels in the colonies. Britain was forced to agree but Churchill rejected universal applicability of self-determination for subject nations. He also stated that the Charter was only applicable to German occupied states, not to the British Empire.
Furthermore, colonies such as Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana pushed for self-governance as colonial powers were exhausted by war efforts.
For early African nationalists, decolonisation was a moral imperative. In 1945 the Fifth Pan-African Congress demanded the end of colonialism. Delegates included future presidents of Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and national activists.
Colonial economic exploitation led to European extraction of Ghana’s mining profits to shareholders, instead of internal development, causing major local socioeconomic grievances.Nevertheless, local African industry and towns expanded when U-boats patrolling the Atlantic Ocean reduced raw material transportation to Europe. In turn, urban communities, industries and trade unions grew, improving literacy and education, leading to pro-independence newspaper establishments.
Indeed, in the 1930s, the colonial powers had cultivated, sometimes inadvertently, a small elite of leaders educated in Western universities and familiar with ideas such as self-determination. In some cases where the road to independence was fought, settled arrangements with the colonial powers were also being placed. [ citation needed ]These leaders came to lead the struggles for independence, and included leading nationalists such as Jomo Kenyatta (Kenya), Kwame Nkrumah (Gold Coast, now Ghana), Julius Nyerere (Tanganyika, now Tanzania), Léopold Sédar Senghor (Senegal), Nnamdi Azikiwe (Nigeria), and Félix Houphouët-Boigny (Côte d'Ivoire).
There is an extensive body of literature that has examined the legacy of colonialism and colonial institutions on economic outcomes in Africa, with numerous studies showing an adverse and persistent impact of colonialism.
The economic legacy of colonialism is difficult to quantify but is likely to have been negative. Modernisation theory emphasises that colonial powers built infrastructure to integrate Africa into the world economy, however, this was built mainly for extraction purposes. African economies were structured to benefit the coloniser and any surplus was likely to be ‘drained’, thereby stifling capital accumulation.Dependency theory suggests that most African economies continued to occupy a subordinate position in the world economy after independence with a reliance on primary commodities such as copper in Zambia and tea in Kenya. Despite this continued reliance and unfair trading terms, a meta-analysis of 18 African countries found that a third of countries experienced increased economic growth post-independence.
Scholars including Dellal (2013), Miraftab (2012) and Bamgbose (2011) have argued that Africa’s linguistic diversity has been eroded. Language has been used by western colonial powers to divide territories and create new identities which has led to conflicts and tensions between African nations.
Following World War II, rapid decolonisation swept across the continent of Africa as many territories gained their independence from European colonisation.
In August 1941, United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met to discuss their post-war goals. In that meeting, they agreed to the Atlantic Charter, which in part stipulated that they would, "respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live; and they wish to see sovereign rights and self government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them." [ citation needed ]This agreement became the post-WWII stepping stone toward independence as nationalism grew throughout Africa.
Consumed with post-war debt, European powers were no longer able to afford the resources needed to maintain control of their African colonies. This allowed for African nationalists to negotiate decolonisation very quickly and with minimal casualties. Some territories, however, saw great death tolls as a result of their fight for independence.[ citation needed ]
On 6 March 1957, Ghana (formerly the Gold Coast) became the first sub-Saharan African country to gain its independence from European colonisation.Starting in 1945 Pan-African Congress, Gold Coast’s British- and American-educated independence leader Kwame Nkrumah made his focus clear. In the conference’s declaration, he wrote, “we believe in the rights of all peoples to govern themselves. We affirm the right of all colonial peoples to control their own destiny. All colonies must be free from foreign imperialist control, whether political or economic.”
In 1949, the conflict would ramp up when British troops opened fire on African protesters. Riots broke out across the territory and while Nkrumah and other leaders ended up in prison, the event became a catalyst for the independence movement. After being released from prison, Nkrumah founded the Convention People’s Party (CPP), which launched a mass-based campaign for independence with the slogan ‘Self Government Now!’”Heightened nationalism within the country grew their power and the political party widely expanded. In February of 1951, the Convention People's Party gained political power by winning 34 of 38 elected seats, including one for Nkrumah who was imprisoned at the time. London revised the Gold Coast Constitution to give Blacks a majority in the legislature in 1951. In 1956 they requested independence inside the Commonwealth, which was granted peacefully in 1957 with Nkrumah as prime minister and Queen Elizabeth as sovereign.
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan gave the famous "Wind of Change" speech in South Africa in February 1960, where he spoke of "the wind of change blowing through this continent".Macmillan urgently wanted to avoid the same kind of colonial war that France was fighting in Algeria. Under his premiership decolonisation proceeded rapidly.
Britain's remaining colonies in Africa, except for Southern Rhodesia, were all granted independence by 1968. British withdrawal from the southern and eastern parts of Africa was not a peaceful process. Kenyan independence was preceded by the eight-year Mau Mau Uprising. In Rhodesia, the 1965 Unilateral Declaration of Independence by the white minority resulted in a civil war that lasted until the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979, which set the terms for recognised independence in 1980, as the new nation of Zimbabwe.
The French colonial empire began to fall during the Second World War when the Vichy France regime controlled the Empire. But one after another most of the colonies were occupied by foreign powers (Japan in Indochina, Britain in Syria, Lebanon, and Madagascar, the United States and Britain in Morocco and Algeria, and Germany and Italy in Tunisia). However, control was gradually reestablished by Charles de Gaulle, who uses colonial base as a launching point to expel Vichy from Metropolitan France. De Gaulle together with most Frenchmen was committed to preserving the Empire in the new form. The French Union, included in the Constitution of 1946, nominally replaced the former colonial empire, but officials in Paris remained in full control. The colonies were given local assemblies with only limited local power and budgets. There emerged a group of elites, known as evolués, who were natives of the overseas territories but lived in metropolitan France.
De Gaulle assembled a major conference of Free France colonies in Brazzaville, in Africa, in January–February, 1944. The survival of France depended on support from these colonies, and De Gaulle made numerous concessions. They included the end of forced labor, the end of special legal restrictions that apply to natives but not to whites, the establishment of elected territorial assemblies, representation in Paris in a new "French Federation", and the eventual representation of Sub-Saharan Africans in the French Assembly. However, Independence was explicitly rejected as a future possibility:
France was immediately confronted with the beginnings of the decolonisation movement. In Algeria demonstrations in May 1945 were repressed with an estimated 6,000 Algerians killed.Unrest in Haiphong, Indochina, in November 1945 was met by another warship bombarding the city. Paul Ramadier's (SFIO) cabinet repressed the Malagasy Uprising in Madagascar in 1947. French officials estimated the number of Malagasy killed from a low of 11,000 to a French Army estimate of 89,000.
In France's African colonies, Cameroun, the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon's insurrection, started in 1955 and headed by Ruben Um Nyobé, was violently repressed over a two-year period, with perhaps as many as 100 people killed.[ citation needed ]
French involvement in Algeria stretched back a century. Ferhat Abbas and Messali Hadj's movements had marked the period between the two wars, but both sides radicalised after the Second World War. In 1945, the Sétif massacre was carried out by the French army. The Algerian War started in 1954. Atrocities characterized both sides, and the number killed became highly controversial estimates that were made for propaganda purposes. [ clarification needed ] was able to negotiate peace accord with French President Charles de Gaulle and nearly 90% of all Europeans had left the territory.[ citation needed ]Algeria was a three-way conflict due to the large number of "pieds-noirs" (Europeans who had settled there in the 125 years of French rule). The political crisis in France caused the collapse of the Fourth Republic, as Charles de Gaulle returned to power in 1958 and finally pulled the French soldiers and settlers out of Algeria by 1962. Lasting more than eight years, the estimated death toll typically falls between 300,000 and 400,000 people. By 1958, the FLN
The French Union was replaced in the new 1958 Constitution of 1958 by the French Community. Only Guinea refused by referendum to take part in the new colonial organisation. However, the French Community dissolved itself in the midst of the Algerian War; almost all of the other African colonies were granted independence in 1960, following local referendums. Some few colonies chose instead to remain part of France, under the status of overseas départements (territories). Critics of neocolonialism claimed that the Françafrique had replaced formal direct rule. They argued that while de Gaulle was granting independence on one hand, he was creating new ties with the help of Jacques Foccart, his counsellor for African matters. Foccart supported in particular the Nigerian Civil War during the late 1960s.
Robert Aldrich argues that with Algerian independence in 1962, it appeared that the Empire practically had come to an end, as the remaining colonies were quite small and lacked active nationalist movements. However, there was trouble in French Somaliland (Djibouti), which became independent in 1977. There also were complications and delays in the New Hebrides Vanuatu, which was the last to gain independence in 1980. New Caledonia remains a special case under French suzerainty.The Indian Ocean island of Mayotte voted in referendum in 1974 to retain its link with France and forgo independence.
This table is the arranged by the earliest date of independence in this graph; 58 countries have seceded.
|Rank||Country||Colonial name||Colonial power||Independence date||First head of state||Independence won through|
|1||26 July 1847||Joseph Jenkins Roberts||Liberian Declaration of Independence|
|2||31 May 1910||Louis Botha||South Africa Act 1909|
|3||28 February 1922||Fuad I||Egyptian revolution of 1919|
|4||10 February 1947||Haile Selassie||-|
|5||24 December 1951||Idris||-|
|6||1 January 1956||Ismail al-Azhari||-|
|8||20 March 1956|| Muhammad VIII al-Amin |
|9||2 March 1956 |
7 April 1956
10 April 1958
4 January 1969
|Mohammed V||Ifni War|
|10||6 March 1957||Kwame Nkrumah||1956 Gold Coast legislative election|
|11||2 October 1958||Ahmed Sékou Touré||1958 Guinean constitutional referendum|
|12||1 January 1960||Ahmadou Ahidjo||-|
|13||27 April 1960||Sylvanus Olympio||-|
|14||20 June 1960||Modibo Keïta||-|
|15||Léopold Sédar Senghor||-|
|16||26 June 1960||Philibert Tsiranana||-|
|17||30 June 1960||Patrice Lumumba||Belgo-Congolese Round Table Conference|
|18||26 June 1960|
1 July 1960
| Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal |
Aden Abdullah Osman Daar
|19||1 August 1960||Hubert Maga||-|
|20||3 August 1960||Hamani Diori||-|
|21||5 August 1960||Maurice Yaméogo||-|
|22||7 August 1960||Félix Houphouët-Boigny||-|
|23||11 August 1960||François Tombalbaye||-|
|24||13 August 1960||David Dacko||-|
|25||15 August 1960||Fulbert Youlou||-|
|26||17 August 1960||Léon M'ba||-|
|27||1 October 1960|
1 June 1961
1 October 1961
|28||28 November 1960||Moktar Ould Daddah||-|
|29||27 April 1961||Milton Margai||-|
|30||9 December 1961||Julius Nyerere||-|
|31||1 July 1962||Mwambutsa IV of Burundi||-|
|32||Grégoire Kayibanda||Rwandan Revolution|
|33||5 July 1962||Ahmed Ben Bella||Algerian War|
|34||9 October 1962||Milton Obote||-|
|35||12 December 1963||Jomo Kenyatta||-|
|36||10 December 1963||Jamshid bin Abdullah||-|
|37||6 July 1964||Hastings Banda||-|
|38||24 October 1964||Kenneth Kaunda||-|
|39||18 February 1965||Dawda Jawara||-|
|40||11 November 1965|
17 April 1980
| Ian Smith |
| Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence |
Lancaster House Agreement
|41||30 September 1966||Seretse Khama||-|
|42||4 October 1966||Leabua Jonathan||-|
|43||12 March 1968||Seewoosagur Ramgoolam||-|
|44||Swaziland||6 September 1968||Sobhuza II||-|
|45||12 October 1968||Francisco Macías Nguema||-|
|46||10 September 1974||Luís Cabral||Guinea-Bissau War of Independence|
|47||25 June 1975||Samora Machel||Mozambican War of Independence|
|48||5 July 1975||Aristides Pereira||Guinea-Bissau War of Independence|
|49||6 July 1975||Ahmed Abdallah||1974 Comorian independence referendum|
|50||12 July 1975||Manuel Pinto da Costa||-|
|51||11 November 1975||Agostinho Neto||Angolan War of Independence|
|52||29 June 1976||James Mancha||-|
|53||27 June 1977||Hassan Gouled Aptidon||1977 Afars and Issas independence referendum|
|27 February 1976|
independence not yet effectuated
| El-Ouali Mustapha Sayed |
| Western Sahara War |
Western Sahara conflict
A colony is a territory under the immediate complete political control and occupied by settlers of a state, distinct from the home territory of the sovereign. For colonies in antiquity, city-states would often found their own colonies. Some colonies were historically countries, while others were territories without definite statehood from their inception.
Colonialism is the policy of a country seeking to extend or retain its authority over other people or territories, generally with the aim of economic dominance. In the process of colonisation, colonisers may impose their religion, economics, and other cultural practices on indigenous peoples. The foreign administrators rule the territory in pursuit of their interests, seeking to benefit from the colonised region's people and resources.
Imperialism is a policy or ideology of extending the rule or authority of a country over other countries and peoples, often by military force or by gaining political and economic control. In this sense imperialism is not a form of government of a state headed by an emperor.
Neocolonialism is the practice of using capitalism, globalisation, cultural imperialism, and conditional aid to influence a developing country instead of the previous colonial methods of direct military control (imperialism) or indirect political control (hegemony).
The French Union (1946–1958) was a political entity created by the French Fourth Republic to replace the old French colonial system, colloquially known as the "French Empire". It was the formal end of the "indigenous" status of French subjects in colonial areas.
The French colonial empire constituted the overseas colonies, protectorates and mandate territories that came under French rule from the 16th century onward. A distinction is generally made between the "First French Colonial Empire," that existed until 1814, by which time most of it had been lost or sold, and the "Second French Colonial Empire", which began with the conquest of Algiers in 1830. At its apex, the Second French colonial empire was one of the largest empires in history. Including metropolitan France, the total amount of land under French sovereignty reached 11,500,000 km2 (4,400,000 sq mi) in 1920, with a population of 110 million people in 1936.
Decolonization or decolonisation is the undoing of colonialism, the latter being the process whereby a nation establishes and maintains its domination on overseas territories. The concept particularly applies to the dismantlement, during the second half of the 20th century, of the colonial empires established prior to World War I throughout the world. Scholars focus especially on the movements in the colonies demanding independence, such as Creole nationalism.
The territorial evolution of the British Empire is considered to have begun with the foundation of the English colonial empire in the late 16th century. Since then, many territories around the world have been under the control of the United Kingdom or its predecessor states
The United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories is a list of places that the United Nations General Assembly deems to be "non-self-governing" and subject to the decolonization process. Chapter XI of the United Nations Charter embodies a "Declaration on Non-Self-Governing Territories" which declares that the interests of the occupants of dependent territories are paramount and requires member states of the United Nations in control of non-self-governing territories to submit annual information reports concerning the development of those territories. Since 1946, the General Assembly has maintained a list of non-self governing territories under member states' control. Since its inception, dozens of territories have been removed from the list, typically when they attained independence or internal self-government, while other territories have been added as new administering countries joined the United Nations or the General Assembly reassessed the status of certain territories.
The French Community was an association of former French colonies, mostly from Africa. In 1958 it replaced the French Union, which had itself succeeded the French colonial empire in 1946.
The Union of African States, sometimes called the Ghana–Guinea–Mali Union, was a short-lived and loose regional organization formed 1958 linking the West African nations of Ghana and Guinea as the Union of Independent African States. Mali joined in 1960. It disbanded in 1963.
The Brazzaville Conference was a meeting of prominent Free French leaders held in January 1944 in Brazzaville, the then-capital of French Equatorial Africa, during World War II.
1960 is referred to as the Year of Africa because of a series of events that took place during the year—mainly the independence of seventeen African nations—that highlighted the growing Pan-African sentiments in the continent. The year brought about the culmination of African independence movements and the subsequent emergence of Africa as a major force in the United Nations. These rapid political developments led to speculation and hope about the future of Africa as a whole; yet at the same time, the continent was beginning to face the realities of post-colonial violence. This year also saw the beginning of armed opposition to South African apartheid government, with political ramifications across Africa and around the world.
This is a non-exhaustive chronology of colonialism-related events, which may reflect political events, cultural events, and important global events that have influenced colonization and decolonization. See also Timeline of imperialism.
The historical phenomenon of colonization is one that stretches around the globe and across time. Ancient and medieval colonialism was practiced by the Phoenicians, the Greeks, and the crusaders, among others. Colonialism in the modern sense began with the "Age of Discovery", led by Portuguese, and then by the Spanish exploration of the Americas, the coasts of Africa, the Middle East, India and East Asia. The Portuguese and Spanish empires were the first global empires because they were the first to stretch across different continents, covering vast territories around the globe. Between 1580 and 1640, the two empires were both ruled by the Spanish monarchs in personal union. During the late 16th and 17th centuries, England, France and the Dutch Republic also established their own overseas empires, in direct competition with each other.
The All-African Peoples' Conference (AAPC) was partly a corollary and partly a different perspective to the modern Africa states represented by the Conference of Heads of independent Africa States. The All-Africa Peoples Conference was conceived to include social groups, including ethnic communities and anti-colonial political parties and African organizations such as Labor Unions and other significant associations in the late 1950s and early 1960s both in Africa and the Diaspora such as Europe, North America and South America. The All-Africa Peoples Conference was conceived to represent the position that Africa should be returned to the peoples and groups, such as ethnic communities, from who it was grabbed by colonialism. The idea was mooted in Accra April 1958 by John Kale from Uganda. This was at the end of first Africa Heads of State Conference in Accra Ghana in March 1958. John Kale then operating from exile in Egypt, who was one of the organizers of the first Africa Heads of State Conference, was already the initiating secretary of the African Liberation Committee, the Africa Executive of Afro-Asian Solidarity which had its secretariat in Cairo and shortly after the Africa representative on the World Peace Council on which he was the Vice President. For John Kale the main reason of the parallel organization to the then just concluded independent Africa Heads of States was that it had brought together only nine then independent Africa states excluding the majority of the Africa peoples both in the non-independent countries and in the Diaspora. The First All-Africa Peoples Conference was attended by delegates from independence movements in areas still under European colonial rule, as well as by delegates from the independent African countries, including representatives of the governing parties of some of those countries. In the Conference's own words, it was open to "all national political parties and national trade union congresses or equivalent bodies or organizations that subscribe to the aims and objects of the conference." The Conference met three times: December 1958, January 1960, and March 1961; and had a permanent secretariat with headquarters in Accra. Its primary objectives were independence for the colonies; and strengthening of the independent states and resistance to neocolonialism. It tended to be more outspoken in its denunciations of colonialism than the Conference of Independent African States, a contemporary organisation which, being composed of heads of state, was relatively constrained by diplomatic caution. Immanuel Wallerstein says that the All-African Peoples' Conference was the "true successor to the Pan-African Congresses." The subject matter and attitudes of the Conference are illustrated by the following excerpt from its second meeting:
Demands the immediate and unconditional accession to independence of all the African peoples, and the total evacuation of the foreign forces of aggression and oppression stationed in Africa;
Proclaims the absolute necessity, in order to resist the imperialist coalition more effectively and rapidly free all the dependent peoples from foreign oppression, of coordinating and uniting the forces of all the Africans, and recommends the African states not to neglect any form of co-operation in the interest of all the African peoples;
Denounces vigorously the policy of racial discrimination applied by colonialist and race-conscious minorities in South and East and Central Africa, and demands the abolition of racial domination in South Africa, the suppression of the Federation of Nyasaland and Rhodesia, and the immediate independence of these countries;
Proclaims equality of rights for all the citizens of the free countries of Africa and the close association of the masses for the building up and administration of a free and prosperous Africa;
Calls on the peoples of Africa to intensify the struggle for independence, and insists on the urgent obligation on the independent nations of Africa to assure them of the necessary aid and support;...
The decolonization of Asia was the gradual growth of independence movements in Asia, leading ultimately to the retreat of foreign powers and the creation of a number of nation-states in the region. A number of events were catalysts for this shift, most importantly the Second World War. Prior to World War II, some countries had already proclaimed independence.
French Cameroon or French Cameroons was a League of Nations Mandate territory in Central Africa. It now forms part of the independent country of Cameroon.
The "Wind of Change" speech was a historically significant address made by the UK Prime Minister Harold Macmillan to the Parliament of South Africa, on 3 February 1960 in Cape Town. He had spent a month in Africa visiting a number of what were then British colonies. The speech signalled clearly that the Conservative-led UK Government had no intention to block the independence to many of these territories. The Labour government of 1945–51 had started a process of decolonisation, but this policy had been halted by the Conservative governments from 1951 onwards.
The United Nations Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, or the Special Committee on Decolonization (C-24), is a committee of the United Nations General Assembly that was established in 1961 and is exclusively devoted to the issue of decolonization.
The Atlantic Charter was a joint declaration released by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on August 14, 1941 following a meeting of the two heads of state in Newfoundland.