Loading...

HIST252: Modern Africa

Unit 7: Decolonization and Independence   Between 1956 and 1975, more than forty new countries replaced the French, British, Belgian, Portuguese, and Spanish Empires in Africa.  Unwilling and unable to give Africans the political rights and economic progress which African leaders demanded, European powers rapidly abandoned their colonies.  Seventeen former French colonies gained independence in 1960 alone.  Some of these transitions from foreign to home rule went smoothly; some were rushed and chaotic.  Still more were plagued by violence, and in Southern Africa, the stubborn Portuguese regime fought independence movements until 1975.  Leaders of these new African states struggled with daunting problems of political disunity and economic underdevelopment as they tried to find a place on the global stage.  A new factor—the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union and their respective allies—had a huge impact on the path to independence as well as on the task of constructing new nation and states.

In this unit, we will study the causes of decolonization in Africa and the early problems faced by independent states.  Using detailed case studies, we will compare the effects of local and global factors on the path to independence in different parts of the continent.

Unit 7 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 23.5 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 7.1: 0.5 hour

☐    Subunit 7.2: 5.0 hours

☐    Subunit 7.2.1: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.2.2: 3.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.3: 3.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.4: 8.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.4.1: 6.0 hours

☐    Subunit 7.4.2: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.5: 6.0 hours

Unit7 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Compare and contrast the different paths to independence experienced by various African states.
  • Comprehend the ways in which local, regional, and global dynamics influenced independence movements.
  • Discuss the challenges of economic development and nation-building in both conceptual and practical contexts.
  • Explore the significance of the Cold War for African politics.

7.1 Dates of Independence   - Web Media: Michigan State University’s Exploring Africa: “Unit 2: Studying Africa through the Social Studies: Module 10, African Politics and Government: African Independence” Link: Michigan State University’s Exploring Africa:Unit 2: Studying Africa through the Social Studies: Module 10, African Politics and Government: African Independence” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Examine the map.  You may want to save the map to disk which will allow you to resize it.  The map depicts the independence dates for African countries. 
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

7.2 Peaceful Transitions   7.2.1 Kwame Nkrumah and Ghana   - Web Media: BBC World Service’s “The Story of Africa:” “Part 22: Independence” Link: BBC World Service’s “The Story of Africa:” “Part 22: Independence” (Windows Media Player)
 
Instructions: Click on the link for Part 22: “Independence” and select your preferred media format. Listen to this entire audio clip (29 minutes).  Note that this audio resource also contains material you need to know for subunits 7.1.2 and 7.2.1.
 
This audio clip will help you to understand the local, regional, and global factors influencing independence movements in Africa.  This presentation contrasts different roads to independence in present-day Ghana, Kenya, and Algeria.  In Ghana, the transition to independence was peaceful and came swiftly in 1957.  Initially, Ghana was the exception, but the bitter and bloody struggles for independence in Algeria and other parts of Africa convinced Great Britain, France, and Belgium that fighting to preserve empire was no longer worthwhile.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: BBC World Service’s “The Story of Africa:” “Gold Coast to Ghana” and Fordham University’s Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Kwame Nkrumah’s “I Speak of Freedom, 1961” Speech Links: BBC World Service’s “The Story of Africa:” “Gold Coast to Ghana” (HTML) and Fordham University’s Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Kwame Nkrumah’s “I Speak of Freedom, 1961” (HTML) Speech
     
    Instructions: First, read this short BBC article, and listen to the three audio clips in the yellow boxes.  Then, read the entire excerpt from Nkrumah’s 1961 speech.
     
    This BBC text and these audio clips will help you to understand the context of Kwame Nkrumah’s rise to political prominence and his role in leading the Gold Coast to independence.  Nkrumah’s speech provides perspective on how he used Pan-Africanism and socialist ideology to call for African unity against colonialism.  Nkrumah was the first President and first Prime Minister of Ghana.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

7.2.2 Sékou Touré and Guinea   - Reading: History Cooperative: The American Historical Review, Vol. 110, No. 4 (2005): Elizabeth Schmidt’s “Top Down or Bottom Up? Nationalist Mobilization Reconsidered, with Special Reference to Guinea (French West Africa)” Link: History Cooperative: The American Historical Review, Vol. 110, No. 4 (2005): Elizabeth Schmidt’s “Top Down or Bottom Up? Nationalist Mobilization Reconsidered, with Special Reference to Guinea (French West Africa)” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this scholarly article in its entirety.  This article explains how Sékou Touré and other Guinean politicians built power bases and mobilized voters to support independence from France.  In this article, historian Elizabeth Schmidt shows that the nationalist movement in Guinea was not merely an import from the West, or a phenomenon limited to Western-educated elites.  Political awareness cut across social classes, and women played an important role in everyday politics despite their exclusion from formal government.  Please note that an additional resource that covers the topic outlined for this subunit is listed under subunit 7.1.1.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

7.3 Armed Struggle for Independence   7.3.1 Mau Mau and Kenya   - Reading: Global Literacy Project’s “Kenya: Struggle for Independence” Link: Global Literacy Project’s “Kenya: Struggle for Independence” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this article linked here in its entirety.  This reading will provide you with an understanding of Jomo Kenyatta’s biography, as well as the impact of the Mau Mau insurgency on the Kenyan independence movement.  Please note that an additional resource for this subunit is listed under subunit 7.1.1.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: YouTube's “Itungati: the Mau Mau Story” Link: Youtube's “Itungati: the Mau Mau Story” (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Watch this entire film (18 minutes) about the history of the Mau Mau insurgency in Kenya.
     
    The Mau Mau movement drew most of its fighters from the Gikuyu people of western Kenya.  Mau Mau fighters transformed their campaign to recapture their lands from white farmers into a wider anti-colonial struggle.  The war was bloody and it ended with the total defeat of the Mau Mau, but the violence convinced the British that political negotiations with independence leaders like Jomo Kenyatta were preferable to continued bloodshed.  
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Fordham University’s Internet African History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Jomo Kenyatta’s “The Kenya Africa Union Is Not the Mau Mau, 1952” Speech Link: Fordham University’s Internet African History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Jomo Kenyatta’s “The Kenya Africa Union Is Not the Mau Mau, 1952” (HTML) Speech
     
    Instructions: Read the excerpt of Kenyatta’s 1952 speech linked here.  This speech, given at the Kenya African Union Meeting at Nyeri, discusses how Jomo Kenyatta distanced himself from the violent means of the Mau Mau without disavowing the goal of independence.  
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

7.3.2 Superpowers and Angola   - Reading: US Country Studies: Thomas Collelo’s (ed.) Angola: A Country Study: “Rise of African Nationalism,” “Angolan Insurgency,” “Coalition, Transitional Government, and Civil War,” and “Independence and the Rise of the MPLA Government” Links: US Country Studies: Thomas Collelo’s (ed.) Angola: A Country Study:Rise of African Nationalism,” (HTML) “Angolan Insurgency,” (HTML) “Coalition, Transitional Government, and Civil War,” (HTML) and “Independence and the Rise of the MPLA Government” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read all four chapters, including subsections for each chapter, to understand the origins of Angola’s independence movements.
 
The Angolan war for independence and subsequent civil war between the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) remains one of the longest running conflicts in modern history.  The bitter war against Portuguese colonialism, alongside the parallel war for independence in Mozambique, brought the Portuguese government down in 1974, ultimately spelling the end of the Portuguese empire.  But the fighting did not end with independence, as the pro-Communist MPLA and pro-Western UNITA factions turned their guns on each other as the Portuguese withdrew.  The USSR and USA poured arms and money into the conflict as part of the Cold War.  The war took many unpredictable turns.  Apartheid South Africa fought with Portugal against the rebels and then with UNITA against the MPLA.  Cuban forces invaded in 1975 to save the MPLA government and remained until the 1980s.  Fighting crossed the border into Namibia, where the South West African Peoples’ Organization (SWAPO) was battling the apartheid South African state for independence.  The oil-rich enclave of Cabinda to the north of Angola was the site of a secessionist war within the wider civil war.  Funded by diamonds and oil, fighting in Angola raged until UNITA leader Dr. Jonas Savimbi was killed in 2002.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: TIME’s “Foreign Policy: The Battle over Angola” and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars: Cold War International History Project: Virtual Archive’s “Soviet Ambassador to the People's Republic of Angola E.I. Afanasenko, Memorandum of Conversation with President of the Movement for the Popular Liberation of Angola Agostinho Neto” Links: TIME’s “Foreign Policy: The Battle over Angola” (HTML) and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars: Cold War International History Project: Virtual Archive: “Soviet Ambassador to the People's Republic of Angola E.I. Afanasenko, Memorandum of Conversation with President of the Movement for the Popular Liberation of Angola Agostinho Neto” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this TIME magazine article from 1975 to see how the US government supported the UNITA faction in the civil war that ensued after Angola gained its independence from Portugal.  Then, read the memo about Soviet policy in Angola to see how Cold War politics influenced African struggles for independence linked here.
     
    There are several interesting elements in this Soviet government memo concerning developments in southwestern Africa.  First, we can clearly see how the USSR supplied the MPLA, one of three competing independence movements in Angola, with weapons.  Second, the Soviet government used its influence on the Republic of the Congo (identified as Brazzaville in the document) to support pro-MPLA and pro-Soviet radio propaganda in the region.  The second document linked here is part of a collection of Cold War primary source materials translated and published by the Woodrow Wilson Center, to aid the study of policy and diplomacy.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

7.4 Immediate Challenges of Independent African States   7.4.1 “Modernization” and Development   7.4.1.1 Modernization Theory in the Developing World   - Reading: University of Guadalajara: Sincronía, Winter 2001: Giovanni E. Reyes’s “Four Main Theories of Development: Modernization, Dependency, World-Systems, and Globalization”; Institute of Developing Economies: The Developing Economies, Vol. 12, No. 1 (March 1974): Ichir? Inukai’s “African Socialism and Agricultural Development Strategy: A Comparative Study of Kenya and Tanzania” Links: University of Guadalajara: Sincronía, Winter 2001: Giovanni E. Reyes’s “Four Main Theories of Development: Modernization, Dependency, World-Systems, and Globalization”; (HTML) Institute of Developing Economies: The Developing Economies, Vol. 12, No. 1 (March 1974): Ichir? Inukai’s “African Socialism and Agricultural Development Strategy: A Comparative Study of Kenya and Tanzania” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read Reyes’s scholarly article, comparing the four main schools of thought concerning the problem of development.  Then, please read Inukai’s article for a case study of how Kenya and Tanzania experimented with “African Socialism” to solve the problem of agricultural modernization.
 
Reyes’s article compares leading social science theories about economic growth (or the lack thereof).  Modernization theory reached the peak of its popularity as African states gained their independence and looked for ways to grow their economies and improve standards of living.  According to modernization theorists, urbanization, industrialization, the mechanization of agriculture, and the homogenization of society through mass media would lead to higher productivity and sustained economic growth.  Outside advisers urged African governments to pursue projects that mimicked the path of development followed in the United States and Western Europe, relying on foreign aid money and centralized planning to carry out these projects.  

 African countries did experience high rates of urbanization and
industrialization after independence, but prosperity did not follow.
Dependency theory emerged as a critique to the apparent failures of
modernization theory to actually bring about growth.  *Sincronía* is
a scholarly journal of the humanities and social sciences published
by the Department of Literature at the University of Guadalajara in
Mexico.  The Institute of Developing Economies at the Japan External
Trade Organization publishes scholarly research concerning the
problems of growth in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

7.4.1.2 Foreign Aid and Neocolonialism   - Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia’s “African Development and Foreign Aid, Speech of March 18, 1966” and Marxists Internet Archive: Kwame Nkrumah’s Neo-Colonialism: the Highest Stage of Imperialism: “The Mechanics of Neo-Colonialism” Links: Fordham University’s Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia’s “African Development and Foreign Aid, Speech of March 18, 1966” (HTML) and Marxists Internet Archive: Kwame Nkrumah’s Neo-Colonialism: the Highest Stage of Imperialism: “The Mechanics of Neo-Colonialism” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this speech by Zambian President Kaunda in its entirety. Then, read this chapter to see how Nkrumah viewed Western financial and technical aid in post-colonial Africa.
 
Kaunda’s speech highlights the dilemma most African states faced after independence.  Africans had fought for freedom from colonial rule, but then needed resources to build up their new nation-states.  Former colonial powers and other countries offered assistance, but many Africans saw this as an effort to re-establish colonial control over African societies.  The Soviet Union and the communist bloc also offered development aid, but this too came with strings attached.  Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, African leaders debated and occasionally fought over the question of forging ahead alone, or allying to one side or the other.
 
Kwame Nkrumah pursued a Pan-Africanist political platform after leading Ghana to independence in 1957.  In this second reading, Nkrumah uses Marxist economic ideology to argue that the independent states of Africa were becoming trapped by “neo-colonialism,” an informal kind of imperialism. Nkrumah viewed foreign development aid, foreign investment, foreign debt, foreign military bases, and Western culture as mechanisms that former colonial masters and the United States would use to indirectly control Ghana and other African states.  Nkrumah advocated a policy of “non-alignment” for Africa, maintaining distance from the U.S. as well as the Soviet bloc

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

7.4.2 Political Legacy of Colonialism   - Reading: World Bank: Mahmood Mamdani’s “Political Identity, Citizenship and Ethnicity in Post-Colonial Africa” and BBC News: Biyi Bandele’s “Africans on Africa: Colonialism” Links: World Bank: Mahmood Mamdani’s “Political Identity, Citizenship and Ethnicity in Post-Colonial Africa” (PDF) and BBC News: Biyi Bandele’s “Africans on Africa: Colonialism” (HTML)
 
Instructions: To access the scholarly article by Columbia University’s Dr. Mahmood Mamdani, follow the above link and click on the first document (Beyond settler and native as political identities …).  The BBC article is written by a Nigerian playwright who lives in London, UK.
 
Both authors reflect on the political legacy of colonialism on contemporary Africa.  Mamdani focuses on, first, political institutions of colonial rule that have been continued in the newly independent states and, second, Africa’s state boundaries.  In addressing these dynamics, Mamdani argues that the rule of law, as introduced and structured by colonial rule, is the most dire political ramification of colonialism.  Specifically, the rule of law under colonialism was based on a differentiation of people into separate and distinct groups (native, settler, ethnic group, race, etc.) which bears discrete consequences for political identity and, thus, the application of rights and obligations.  Politicized identities, then, were a foundation of colonial political institutions and continue to be reflected in contemporary institutions.  It is these artificial political identities that need to be challenged in order to build more sustainable political institutions.
 
Bandele reflects on the varying arguments advanced for Africa’s dismal political record.  Inexperienced political leadership, corruption, artificial boundaries and despotism are, in part, direct consequences of colonialism.  Because the colonial state was inherently authoritarian, so the argument goes, the leadership of newly emergent African states simply followed the examples set by colonial governments.  Bandele, however, sees the future of Africa resting in African hands.
 
Notwithstanding the various viewpoints on the legacy of colonialism, it is clear that colonial rule left its imprint on governance in African states after decolonization.  Perhaps, most critical is the authoritarian, undemocratic nature of colonialism.  Specifically, colonial administrations have relied on the threat of violence and its frequent use to keep populations under control.  To that end, strong police and military forces were formed; new African leaders could rely on these forces upon independence.  Law and order, then, were pursued to the detriment of meeting the basic necessities (health care, education, housing, etc.) of the people. In the absence of strong bureaucratic structures, firm revenue sources and experienced leadership and the presence of artificial boundaries and identities, inappropriate rules of law and corrupt power structures political instability was almost inevitable.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

7.5 Unstable States   7.5.1 External Influence in Congo/Zaire   - Reading: BlackPast.org: Ryan Hurst’s “Congo Civil War (1960-1964),” Tunde Adeleke’s “Lumumba, Patrice Emery 1925-1961,” and Patrice Lumumba’s “National Radio Address (1960);” HistoryMatters.org: Interim Report: Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders: “Chapter 3: Assassination Planning and the Plots:” “A. Congo” Links: BlackPast.org: Ryan Hurst’s “Congo Civil War (1960-1964),” (HTML) Tunde Adeleke’s “Lumumba, Patrice Emery 1925-1961,” (HTML) and Patrice Lumumba’s “National Radio Address (1960)” (HTML); HistoryMatters.org: Interim Report: Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders: “Chapter 3: Assassination Planning and the Plots:” “A. Congo” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read Hurst’s article about Congo’s independence struggle and collapse into civil war in conjunction with Adeleke’s biography of Patrice Lumumba.  Then, read Patrice Lumumba’s “National Radio Address” linked here to understand how Patrice Lumumba viewed Belgian decolonization and the attempted secession of Katanga from Congo.  Finally, read sections 1 through 3 (pp. 13-19) of the interim report to see how the US viewed developments in the Congo.
 
BlackPast.orgis a free web resource for African and African-American history maintained by scholars from around the world.  The “Congo” excerpt comes from the “Church Report,” the findings of a U.S. Senate committee tasked with investigating allegations that the USA had planned the assassinations of a number of world leaders.  In Section A, the committee presents evidence showing that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) believed Congo’s independence leader and first Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba, was a pro-Soviet communist.  To prevent the creation of a Soviet satellite state in central Africa, the CIA worked with rival Congolese factions to assassinate the country’s first democratically-elected leader. HistoryMatters.org hosts primary source documents regarding Cold War events and politics.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

7.5.2 Internal Instability in Uganda   - Lecture: iTunes U: University of Western Australia: Institute of Advanced Studies: Jeremy Marten’s “Despotism and Dictatorship in the Twentieth Century: The Case of Uganda under Amin” Link: iTunes U: University of Western Australia: Institute of Advanced Studies: Jeremy Marten’s “Despotism and Dictatorship in the Twentieth Century: The Case of Uganda under Amin” (iTunes U)

 Also available in:  
 [Mp3 (Streaming or
download)](https://lectopia.uwa.edu.au/lectopia/lectopia.lasso?ut=278&id=77967)  
    
 Instructions: Listen to this lecture (length: 1 hour) about Ugandan
dictator Idi Amin to understand why Amin came to power and what
effect his rule had on Uganda.  
    
 Idi Amin’s seizure of power in 1971 had little to do with Cold War
rivalry between the USA and USSR.  Local political competition
between Amin and President Milton Obote led Amin to depose the
President with the support of the Ugandan army.  While Amin received
arms and political support from foreign powers, his policies had
very personal and regional aims.  Under Amin, Uganda’s substantial
South Asian community was expelled, and Amin then pitted other
religious and ethnic groups against each other to destabilize
potential rivals.  Amin’s regime killed more than 100,000 Ugandans
before his ouster in 1979.  This lecture was delivered by Jeremy
Martens for the Institute of Advanced Studies “Dictators” lecture
series at the University of West Australia in 2007.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Units 6 and 7 Reading Questions” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Units 6 and 7 Reading Questions” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please write a well-developed paragraph in response to each of the following questions. Refer to the appropriate readings as well as the explanatory notes in these units for all relevant information; additional research is not needed to gather the information. Your answers should be thorough yet succinct. When you have completed the task you are encouraged to check your work against the Saylor Foundation’s “Guide to Responding to Units 6 & 7 Reading Questions” (PDF) for some notes on possible answers. This assessment should take roughly 1.5 to 3 hours to complete.