The decolonisation of Africa took place in the mid-to-late 1950s and 1960s, very suddenly,[ citation needed ] with little preparation.[ citation needed ] There was widespread unrest and organised revolts in both Northern and sub-Saharan colonies, especially in French Algeria, Portuguese Angola, the Belgian Congo and British Kenya.
The Algerian War, also known as the Algerian War of Independence or the Algerian Revolution was fought between France and the Algerian National Liberation Front from 1954 to 1962, which led to Algeria gaining its independence from France. An important decolonization war, it was a complex conflict characterized by guerrilla warfare, maquis fighting, and the use of torture. The conflict also became a civil war between the different communities and within the communities. The war took place mainly on the territory of Algeria, with repercussions in metropolitan France.
The Angolan War of Independence (1961–1974) began as an uprising against forced cotton cultivation, and it became a multi-faction struggle for the control of Portugal's overseas province of Angola among three nationalist movements and a separatist movement. The war ended when a leftist military coup in Lisbon in April 1974 overthrew Portugal's Estado Novo regime, and the new regime immediately stopped all military action in the African colonies, declaring its intention to grant them independence without delay.
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.
The Scramble for Africa was the occupation, division, and colonisation of African territory by European powers during the period of the New Imperialism, between 1881 and 1914. It is also called the Partition of Africa or the Conquest of Africa by some. In 1870, only 10 percent of Africa was under formal European control; by 1914 it had increased to almost 90 percent of the continent, with only Ethiopia (Abyssinia) and Liberia remaining independent. With the Italian occupation of Ethiopia in 1936, only Liberia remained independent. There were multiple motivations for European colonizers, including the quest for national prestige, tensions between pairs of European powers, religious missionary zeal and internal African native politics.
The Berlin Conference of 1884–85, also known as the Congo Conference or West Africa Conference, regulated European colonization and trade in Africa during the New Imperialism period and coincided with Germany's sudden emergence as an imperial power. The conference was organized by Otto von Bismarck, first Chancellor of Germany; its outcome, the General Act of the Berlin Conference, can be seen as the formalisation of the Scramble for Africa, although some scholars of history warn against an overemphasis of its role in the colonial partitioning of Africa, drawing attention to bilateral agreements concluded before and after the conference. The conference ushered in a period of heightened colonial activity by European powers, which eliminated or overrode most existing forms of African autonomy and self-governance.
Liberia, officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country on the West African coast. It is bordered by Sierra Leone to its northwest, Guinea to its north, Ivory Coast to its east, and the Atlantic Ocean to its south-southwest. It covers an area of 111,369 square kilometers (43,000 sq mi) and has a population of around 4,700,000 people. English is the official language and over 20 indigenous languages are spoken, representing the numerous ethnic groups who make up more than 95% of the population. The country's capital and largest city is Monrovia.
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 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.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, often referred to by his initials FDR, was an American statesman and political leader who served as the 32nd president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. A Democrat, he won a record four presidential elections and became a central figure in world events during the first half of the 20th century. Roosevelt directed the federal government during most of the Great Depression, implementing his New Deal domestic agenda in response to the worst economic crisis in U.S. history. As a dominant leader of his party, he built the New Deal Coalition, which realigned American politics into the Fifth Party System and defined American liberalism throughout the middle third of the 20th century. His third and fourth terms were dominated by World War II. Roosevelt is widely considered to be one of the most important figures in American history, as well as among the most influential figures of the 20th century. Though he has also been subject to much criticism, he is generally rated by scholars as one of the three greatest U.S. presidents, along with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a British politician, army officer, and writer. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, when he led Britain to victory in the Second World War, and again from 1951 to 1955. Churchill represented five constituencies during his career as a Member of Parliament (MP). Ideologically an economic liberal and imperialist, for most of his career he was a member of the Conservative Party, which he led from 1940 to 1955, but from 1904 to 1924 was instead a member of the Liberal Party.
The Atlantic Charter was a pivotal policy statement issued during World War II on 14 August 1941 which defined the Allied goals for the post-war world. The leaders of the United Kingdom and the United States drafted the work and all the Allies of World War II later confirmed it. The Charter stated the ideal goals of the war: no territorial aggrandizement; no territorial changes made against the wishes of the people (self-determination); restoration of self-government to those deprived of it; reduction of trade restrictions; global cooperation to secure better economic and social conditions for all; freedom from fear and want; freedom of the seas; and abandonment of the use of force, as well as disarmament of aggressor nations. Adherents of the Atlantic Charter signed the Declaration by United Nations on 1 January 1942, which became the basis for the modern United Nations.
Furthermore, colonies such as Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana pushed for self-governance as colonial powers were exhausted by war efforts.
For early African nationalists, decolonization 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.
Malawi, officially the Republic of Malawi, is a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west. Malawi is over 118,000 km2 (45,560 sq mi) with an estimated population of 18,091,575. Lake Malawi takes up about a third of Malawi's area. Its capital is Lilongwe, which is also Malawi's largest city; the second largest is Blantyre, the third is Mzuzu and the fourth largest is its old capital Zomba. The name Malawi comes from the Maravi, an old name of the Nyanja people that inhabit the area. The country is also nicknamed "The Warm Heart of Africa" because of the friendliness of the people.
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).
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.
The debts of African economies are external and one-sided. While the USA and the UK have gross external debts of 95% and 400% respectively, these debts are balanced by the countries being major lenders.This is not the case for African nations which do not own as many assets or debts to balance the burden. The debt situation in sub-Saharan Africa means that the world’s poorest countries were transferring $3 billion US dollars to developed countries between 1995 and 2000. This is exacerbated by interest and principal arrears which made up over 27% of total external debt for sub-Saharan nations in 1998. This causes two main problems: firstly, servicing the debt means less money is available for importing goods, secondly debt creates uncertainty and risk which puts off investors and reduces business confidence.
Over 2,000 distinct languages are spoken in the continent. Along with Africa’s indigenous dialects - Afro-Asiatic, Kordofanian and Khoisan languages, many colonial languages are spoken today. For example, English is spoken in Ghana, Gambia and Kenya, French in Benin, Burkina-Faso and Cameroon, and Portuguese in Guinea-Bissau, Angola, São Tomé and Príncipe.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.
Today, 93% of South Africa's land is still owned by ‘descendants of white settlers’ despite the political negotiation of the Native Land Act in 1913. [ dubious ] King (1990) argued that ‘space’ is a mode of segregations, creating forms of inclusions and exclusions. Evidence is represented through different architecture designs, and distinct segregation of spaces (Zonification) in cities are still a feature in the colonial present. For example, the new development of the business improvement district in Cape Town portrays a similar image of the colonial era with embedded struggles in class, race, ethnicity and hierarchical differences. Decolonization marks one of the historical moments in which African countries increased its autonomous status from the impetus Western colonial powers. Echoes of the colonial past are still visible in the African society today because Ferguson (2006) stated there are still widespread social stigmas associated with the continent such as phrases of ‘darkness’ and ‘troubled’. The representation of Africa, therefore, reveals the continual Western legacies of the colonial past and the struggles embedded in the countries.
Following World War II, rapid decolonization swept across the continent of Africa as many territories gained their independence from European colonization.
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 decolonization 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 colonization in the twentieth century.[ citation needed ]
Starting as early as the 1945 Pan-African Congress, Gold Coast’s 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.”
Four years later 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!’” [ citation needed ]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. While the movement started with violence, it would end with political cooperation.
In Algeria, anti-colonialism sentiment grew following World War II until it reached a boiling point. Unlike many territories that gained their independence through a smooth transition, France believed the African colony was important and never met their promise of self-governance in Algeria. As a result the Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN) began a guerrilla-style attack to win their freedom.Lasting more than eight years, the estimated death toll typically falls between 300,000 and 400,000 people. By 1958, the FLN was able to negotiate peace accord with French President Charles de Gaulle and nearly 90% of all Europeans had left the territory.
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 |
|2 March 1956 |
7 April 1956
10 April 1958
4 January 1969
|Mohammed V||Ifni War|
|10||6 March 1957||Kwame Nkrumah||Gold Coast legislative election, 1956|
|11||2 October 1958||Ahmed Sékou Touré||Guinean constitutional referendum, 1958|
|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
|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||Comorian independence referendum, 1974|
|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||Afars and Issas independence referendum, 1977|
|27 February 1976|
independence not yet effectuated
| El-Ouali Mustapha Sayed |
| Western Sahara War |
Western Sahara conflict
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.
In history, 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 nation seeking to extend or retain its authority over other people or territories, generally with the aim of opening trade opportunities. The colonizing country seeks to benefit from the colonized country or land mass. In the process, colonizers imposed their religion, economics, and medicinal practices on the natives. Some argue this was a positive move toward modernization, while other scholars refute this theory as being biased and Eurocentric, noting that modernization is a concept introduced by Europeans. Colonialism is largely regarded as a relationship of domination of an indigenous majority by a minority of foreign invaders where the latter rule in pursuit of its interests.
Kwame Nkrumah PC was a Ghanaian politician and revolutionary. He was the first Prime Minister and President of Ghana, having led the Gold Coast to independence from Britain in 1957. An influential advocate of pan-Africanism, Nkrumah was a founding member of the Organisation of African Unity and winner of the Lenin Peace Prize in 1962.
Neocolonialism, neo-colonialism, or neo-imperialism is the practice of using capitalism, globalization and cultural imperialism to influence a developing country in lieu of direct military control (imperialism) or indirect political control (hegemony). Coined by the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre in 1956, it was first used by Kwame Nkrumah in the context of African countries undergoing decolonization in the 1960s. Neo-colonialism is also discussed in the works of Western thinkers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Noam Chomsky.
The Gold Coast was a British colony on the Gulf of Guinea in west Africa from 1867 to its independence as the nation of Ghana in 1957.
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 colonial empire," that existed until 1814, by which time most of it had been lost, and the "second colonial empire", which began with the conquest of Algiers in 1830. The second colonial empire came to an end after the loss in later wars of Indochina (1954) and Algeria (1962), and relatively peaceful decolonizations elsewhere after 1960.
Decolonization or decolonisation is the undoing of colonialism, the latter being the process whereby a nation establishes and maintains its domination over one or more other 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.
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 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.
A colonial empire is a collective of territories, mostly overseas, settled by the population of a certain state and governed by that state.
Decolonization of the Americas refers to the process by which the countries in the Americas gained their independence from European rule. Decolonization began with a series of revolutions in the late 18th and early to mid-19th centuries. The status quo then prevailed for more than a century, excepting the independence of Cuba.
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 development 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 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, also known as the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514, was a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly during its fifteenth session, that affirmed that the resolution also provided for the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples.
The historical phenomenon of colonization is one that stretches around the globe and across time. Modern state global colonialism, or imperialism, began in the 15th century 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. In 1492, notable Genoese (Italian) explorer Christopher Columbus and his Castilian (Spanish) crew discovered the Americas for the Crown of Castile. The phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was first used for the Spanish Empire in the 16th century. 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 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.
The decolonization of Oceania occurred after World War II when nations in Oceania achieved independence by transitioning from European colonial rule to full independence.
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.
Nkrumaism is an African socialist political ideology based on the thinking and writing of Kwame Nkrumah. Nkrumah, a pan-Africanist and Marxist–Leninist served as Prime Minister of the Gold Coast from 1952 until 1960 and subsequently as President of Ghana before being deposed by the National Liberation Council in 1966.