The Scramble For Africa
African Decolonialism Part 2
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Before 1870 Europeans had made little headway into Africa, either as conquerors or explorers, mainly because of their lack of resistance to the area’s tropical diseases. This left Africa in a shroud of mystery that earned it the title of the “Dark Continent”. After 1870, Europeans made rapid inroads into Africa thanks to the industrial revolution which gave them two new weapons: vaccines for combating the diseases and rifles and machine guns for combating the African natives.
Three lines of development got Europeans interested in Africa and triggered a virtual land rush there. First of all was a highly publicized expedition by the journalist, Henry Stanley
to find the
explorer David Livingston who had been missing for some time. Stanley’s bestselling account, mostly remembered for the quotation, “Dr. Livingston, I presume”, especially interested King Leopold of Belgium who ruthlessly conquered and exploited the Congo (modern Zaire).
The other two lines of development concerned British expansion into Egypt and South Africa. In Egypt, the ruler’s lavish lifestyle led to a growing debt and the eventual takeover of his shares of the Suez Canal by British bankers. The loss of revenue from the canal further disrupted Egypt’s stability. Therefore, in order to protect the Suez Canal from native revolution, the British government took over Egypt in the 1880’s. Control of Egypt led to near hysteria over the outlandish possibility that the government in Sudan could cut off the source of the Nile and turn Egypt into a desert. As a result, the British also conquered Sudan.
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United Kingdom and the British Empire
Britain had taken over South Africa from the Dutch in 1815 to secure their route to India. The Dutch settlers (known as Boers) were
unhappy with Britain’s abolition of slavery in 1832 and trekked inland to settle the Orange Free State and Transvaal. The Boers were left alone until the discovery of diamonds and gold prompted a rush of British prospectors into the Boer territories. Growing friction between the Boers and these newcomers eventually caused the British to take over the Boer Republic of Transvaal in order to protect British business interests there. This got the British into hostilities with various native peoples, most notably the Zulus. After some hard fighting, including the massacre of one British army by the Zulus and a desperately fought guerrilla war against the Dutch Boers at the turn of the century, the British successfully occupied the area.
In each case, one can see how involvement in one area led to involvement in other areas and so on. Even more important was that growing British colonial power alarmed other industrializing nations who wanted their own colonies so they could keep up with Britain. Therefore, Disraeli’s
strategy to mobilize British public opinion also dragged other European countries with economic and political problems similar to Britain’s into imperial expansion. The result was a virtual scramble for colonies in Africa and Asia.
The German Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, held the Congress
of Berlin in 1884 to establish the ground rules for all the imperialist powers involved in this land rush. (No Africans or Asians were invited.) The participants agreed to give prior notice before claiming a new colony. However, mutual distrust between the European powers often led them to be more secretive and sneaky in claiming new colonies.
As stated above, largely the same forces drove the other powers in their grab for colonies as drove Britain: a feeling of economic vulnerability that colonies would magically cure a fear that other powers would get a head start in claiming colonies, and a need to unify the voters behind a common cause. Each country also had its own particular set of circumstances to drive it along.
In Germany, Bismarck saw colonies as more of a nuisance and drain of resources. However, the new Kaiser, Wilhelm II, fired Bismarck in 1890 and pursued an aggressive policy of building an empire (and navy to protect it) in order to claim “Germany’s place in the sun. There was also concern about the emigration of Germans to non-German areas, especially America. German colonies would provide homes for emigrants and enclaves of German culture across the globe. France felt the need for a unifying cause after the humiliating defeat in the Franco-Prussian War and the unsettling economic conditions brought on by depression and huge war indemnities to Germany. Colonies would enhance its national prestige and also give it some leverage for future revenge against Germany.
Italy, also newly unified in 1871, was still much more politically fragmented and economically undeveloped than Germany. Colonies would provide some focus for national pride and unity.
The partitioning of Africa was one of history’s more brutal and insensitive episodes. Europeans came in and carved up Africa along arbitrary boundaries that split some tribes up and threw others together. Europeans legitimized this by having the Africans sign treaties that they did not understand the meaning of. They also used forced labor to build railroads, etc., killing thousands in the process. By 1914, practically all of Africa had fallen prey to European aggression.
The impact of neo-imperialism was generally negative. For one thing, European colonial boundaries often cut across old tribal boundaries or combined peoples of different (and hostile) tribes. Even after liberation from European rule, the old colonial boundaries remained to further disrupt traditional patterns of life. This mess is still being sorted out today, a continuing legacy of European rule. There was also the humiliation and suffering colonial peoples were subjected to. While Europeans did work to abolish slavery, they still killed thousands through forced labor (slavery by another name) in order to complete their building projects and bring the “benefits” of European civilization to Africa.
There was also the issue of imposing European culture upon native peoples because it was supposedly superior. For example, Europeans would impose their agricultural techniques on Africans and, in the process, ruined the soil, which was better suited for the traditional slash and burn agriculture. They would teach African school children poems about daffodils, even though there were no daffodils in Africa. In the end, this cultural policy backfired against Europeans. Many colonial subjects went to Europe to get college educations and brought back the dangerous ideas of liberalism, nationalism, and Marxism. That, combined with the fact that many colonials served in European armies and had picked up on European firearms technology, helped lead to the ultimate downfall of the European colonial empires.
Even for the European powers, colonies were often more of a liability than an asset. For one thing, many colonies cost more to rule than they brought back in revenues and resources. Second, as the number of available places to take over decreased by 1900, tensions rose between the European powers wanting to take those places. True, by 1914, European or European derived powers controlled 85% of the globe and were definitely sitting on top of the world. But the beginning of the end was near as the specter of the First World War loomed on the horizon.
Britain had Freetown in Sierra Leone, forts along the coast of The Gambia, a presence at Lagos, the Gold Coast protectorate, and a fairly major set of colonies in Southern Africa (Cape Colony, Natal, and the Transvaal which it had annexed in 1877).
In between 1874 and 1902, Britain acquired 4,750,000sqm of land and 90 million people. Before this period Britain had little interest in Africa, but now she went on to claim places from Egypt to Somaliland, from Rhodesia to the Sudan. There have been many schools of thought as to why Britain wished to partake in what became known as the ‘scramble for Africa’. Some have suggested economic factors, others strategic, but in truth there are far more, and often these reasons changed during the time period. Indeed, Salisbury said in 1891 ‘I do not know the cause of this revolution, but there it is.’ Why did it happen? An economic argument suggests that Britain took part in the scramble in order to reap the rewards of increased trade and of the large amounts of raw materials and resources in each colony. For instance in Niger there was large amounts of rubber, coca and palm oil, all of which were impossible to come by at home. Evidence of this is shown by the fact that Sir George Taubman Goldie
, who ran the Niger Co., had
tried to persuade Britain for years to take advantage of the potential prospects in the area, and Britain finally made a sudden movement into the area.
British imperial interests in Africa predate the Berlin Conference of 1884 to 1885, which is usually considered the defining event in the scramble and partition of Africa. By 1871 Britain had established crown colonies in Gambia, Sierra Leone, Lagos, and at the Cape and Natal provinces in South Africa. England built Fort James at the current site of Banjul on the Gambia River in 1618. Sierra Leone became a colony in 1801, and Britain brought the Cape and Natal provinces under its control in the early nineteenth century. These territorial acquisitions that occurred before the dawn of” new imperialism” provided the British with a foundation they built on during the second half of the nineteenth century.
Besides Gambia and Sierra Leone, the other British colonies in western Africa included the Gold Coast (Ghana) and Nigeria. The West African coast was part of the elaborate network of transatlantic slave trade and hence was not immune from the commercial interests of various European nations. In 1844 British officials signed treaties with Fante chiefs as equals. The British economic interests were subsequently enhanced and by the 1870s they monopolized trade in the region. In 1874 the British colonized the coastal Fante states. However, it was not until 1901 that the British conquered Ashanti (Asante). This followed a series of wars between the British and the Ashanti in which the latter lost. This was a significant step in bringing the coast and hinterland regions under British colonial rule.
In the context of Nigeria, the British declared Lagos its
protectorate in 1851. The Royal Niger Company was granted a charter to help advance the political and economic interests of the British in the Niger Delta region. It was not until 1900 that the northern part of Nigeria was brought under control, thereby bringing the entire country under formal British colonial rule.
In 1875 Britain increased its influence in Egypt when it bought a substantial share in the Suez Canal. Safeguarding the canal became a major preoccupation of the British government. When the Egyptian economy went into recession and defaulted on its debts, the British government increased its military involvement in Egypt, suppressed the Ahmed Urabi revolt, and occupied the country in 1882. Egypt thus came under British rule as a protectorate. Once Britain occupied Egypt in 1882, it made its way to the Egyptian colony of Sudan. The Anglo-Egyptian forces met stiff resistance from the Mahdi forces in Sudan, and it was not until the 1890s that the country was formally brought under control.
In eastern Africa, the Imperial British East Africa Company was instrumental in establishing Kenya and Uganda as British spheres of influence before the two countries were formally brought under the direct control of the British government: Uganda in 1894 and the British East Africa Protectorate (Kenya) in 1895. In eastern Africa, some communities, including the Giriama, Kikuyu, and the Nandi in Kenya, fiercely contested the imposition of British imperial control, while in Uganda the British sent military expeditions against the Bunyoro.
In contrast, some communities supported the imposition of British rule because they wanted to maintain their preexisting political and economic situation by working closely with the British. The Baganda had an elaborate governance infrastructure, which the British wished to preserve with a view to using Baganda agents in establishing colonial rule. The Masai in Kenya sought assistance from the British because of emergent humanitarian needs brought about by drought and famine. Britain’s control of British Somaliland, which is the territory at the mouth of the Red Sea, was concluded in 1884 when it was declared a protectorate.
The British colonization of the Cape Colony between 1802 and 1806 was significant in the context of its imperial interests in India. Having conquered the Cape from the Dutch, the British made it a port of call for their ships en route to India. It was the discovery of gold and diamonds eight decades later that forced Britain to get directly involved in southern Africa with a view to controlling the economic and political destiny of the region. British colonists went to South Africa in large numbers, a development that provoked resentment from the Afrikaners who fiercely resisted the British expansion into the interior as well as their permanent presence. Their stay was bound to undermine the Afrikaner dominance in South Africa.
The arrival of one of the great British empire-builders in Africa, Cecil Rhodes (1853-1902),
drastically changed the hitherto existing territorial situation in southern Africa by pressing inland and winning for the British the territories of Bechuanaland (Botswana), Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia (Zambia and Zimbabwe, respectively), and Nyasaland (Malawi). The African communities, especially the Shona and Ndebele, fiercely resisted the conquest of these lands in Central Africa. In what is today the Republic of South Africa, the provinces of Cape Colony, Natal, Orange Free State, and the Transvaal were united to form the Union of South Africa, which was granted autonomy and thus began to be self-governed in 1910. The whites dominated the political system until 1994, when the country attained majority rule under the leadership of Nelson Mandela (b. 1918).
The British method of colonial administration was dependent on the prevailing local situation. The British retained governmental structures in preexisting centralized polities. The examples of the kingdom of Buganda in Uganda and the Sokoto caliphate in Nigeria are instructive of the British determination to maintain the status quo so long as the leadership accepted its status as subject to the British Crown.
In situations of decentralized polities, the British appointed chiefs through whom orders and directives were communicated to the local population. This method of rule in which the British officials were appointed as governors, as well as provincial and district commissioners, while Africans served as chiefs under the designated European officials, is called indirect rule. The system was cost-effective because the British needed only a few European officials to govern the colony. The governor was the most powerful person in the colony and was assisted by executive and legislative councils in carrying out the duties of governance. For most of the colonial period these councils were the preserve of European colonial officials. It was the European missionaries who often represented African interests in these councils. The decolonization of British African Territories followed World War II as colonized peoples agitated for independence and colonial powers withdrew their administrators from Africa
Independence from the British
The Urabi Revolt or Orabi Revolt referred also as the Orabi Revolution, was an uprising in Egypt in 1879-82 against the Khedive and European influence in the country. It was led by and named after Colonel Ahmed Urabi. This revolt together with the Suez Crisis ensured Egypt’s independence from British Rule.
Egypt regained its independence on 28 February 1922.Its first head of state being Abdel Khaliq Sarwat Pasha
(1873–1928). He served as the Prime Minister of Egypt from 1 March 1922 until 30 November 1922, and again between 26 April 1927 and 16 March 1928.
In 1820, Northern Sudan came under Egyptian rule and the Egyptians developed Sudan’s trade in ivory and slaves.
In the 1890s the British sought to regain control of Sudan and an agreement was reached in 1899 establishing Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, under which Sudan was run by a governor-general appointed by Egypt with British consent. In reality, Sudan was a colony of Great Britain. From 1924, until independence in 1956, the British had a policy of running Sudan as two essentially separate colonies, the south and the north.
Britain agreed to Sudanese independence after the 1952 revolution in Egypt. Sudan gained its independence on 1st
1956; Ismail Al-Azhari
was elected first Prime Minister and led the first modern Sudanese government. The year before independence, a civil war began between Northern and Southern Sudan. Southerners, who knew independence was coming, were afraid the new nation would be dominated by the North. The North of Sudan had historically closer ties with Egypt and was predominately Arab and Muslim. The South of Sudan was predominately black, with a mixture of Christianity and Animism. Sudan experienced 150 years of colonial rule in the north, first by the Ottoman Empire and for 58 years by the British. The British played on this diversity to separate the north and the south.
This was done through so many laws and ordinances, which were put by the British colonial system. There was a clause called District Ordinance, which was a very notorious law introduced in 1920 to separate the north and south. In 1922 the British also established English Language in the South and restricted Arabic language in the South. So these kinds of laws created the barriers between north and south.
In 1652 Dutch settlers arrived at the Cape and set up a refreshment post for the journey to the Dutch East Indies. With minimal impact on the local peoples (Bantu speaking groups and Bushmen) the Dutch started to move inland and colonize. The arrival of the British in the eighteenth century accelerated the process. The Cape colony was ceded to the British in 1814. In
1816, Shaka kaSenzangakhona became Zulu ruler, to be assassinated by Dingane in 1828. The Great Trek of the Boers moving away from the British in the Cape started in 1836 leading to the founding of the Republic of Natal in 1838 and the Orange Free State in 1854. Britain took Natal from the Boers in 1843. The Transvaal was recognized as an independent state by the British in 1852 and the Cape Colony was granted self-government in 1872. Zulu War and two Anglo-Boer wars followed, and the country was unified under British dominion in 1910. In 1910 the Union of South Africa was created by the unification of four areas, by joining the two former independent Boer republics of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State with the British dominated Cape Province and Natal.Independence for white minority rule came in 1934.
In 1958 Dr.Hendrik Verwoerd
, the Prime Minister, introduced the Grand Apartheid policy. The African National Congress, formed in 1912, finally came into power in 1994 when the first multiracial, multiparty elections were held. The Republic of South Africa as it is today did not gain independence fully at a single point in history. Rather, it went through a series of transitions. It first gained partial independence from Britain on 31 May 1910. Then it formed the Union of South Africa under partial British and Dutch rule. It then gained further independence from the statue of
Westminster on 11 December 1931. From there it gained full independence on 31 May 1961 to form the Republic of South Africa which was governed by the apartheid regime. Apartheid ended gradually in 1990 and the first democratic elections took place on 14 April 1994 when the first black president of the Republic was democratically elected. That was Sir Nelson Mandela.
During the 19th century the territory of Basutoland played an important role in the colonial history of southern Africa. The first formal contact between European immigrants and its indigenous residents was probably made in 1833 when three French missionaries, Thomas Abousset, Eugene Casalis and Constant Gosselin, visited Moshoeshoe, king of the newly formed baSotho nation
, and obtained permission to establish a mission station at Morija. After the first visits by missionaries, groups of migrant Dutch farmers, some of whom were granted land for settlement under baSotho customary law, infiltrated the country. In 1836 the territory was invaded by groups of Voortrekkers who, despite having signed a “treaty of friendship” with the Basotho in 1837, declared a separate republic on their lands in 1843.
In 1959 Basutoland became a British Colony and was called Territory of Basutoland. Basutoland gained full independence from Britain on 4 October 1966 and became known as Lesotho. Jonathan Leabua became the country’s first Prime Minister.
The Bechuanaland Protectorate (BP) was a protectorate established on 31 March 1885, by Great Britain in southern Africa.
Bechuanaland meant the country of the Bechuana (now written Batswana or Tswana). The Bechuanaland Protectorate was eventually divided into two. The southern part, south of the Molopo River became the Crown colony known as British Bechuanaland, later became part of the Cape Colony and is now in South Africa. This is the area around Mafikeng (then spelled “Mafeking”). The Bechuanaland Protectorate (1904: Area (estimated), 225,000 square miles (580,000 km2
Bechuanaland was technically a protectorate rather than a colony. Originally the local Tswana rulers were left in power, and the British administration was limited to a police force to protect Bechuanaland’s borders against other European colonial ventures. But on 9 May 1891 the British Government gave the administration of the protectorate to the High Commissioner for South Africa, who started to appoint officials in Bechuanaland, and the de facto independence of Bechuanaland ended.
The British government originally expected to turn over administration of the protectorate to Rhodesia or South Africa, but
Tswana people opposition left the protectorate under British rule until it became the Republic of Botswana on 30 September 1966. Seretse Khama
, a leader in the independence movement and the legitimate claimant to the Ngwato chiefship, was elected as the first president,
British East Africa (Kenya)
The colonial history of Kenya dates from the establishment of a German protectorate over the Sultan of Zanzibar’s coastal possessions in 1885, followed by the arrival of the Imperial British East Africa Company in 1888. Incipient imperial rivalry was forestalled when Germany handed its coastal holdings to Britain in 1890. This was followed by the building of the Kenya–Uganda railway passing through the country. At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, the governors of British East Africa (as the Protectorate was generally known) and German East Africa agreed a truce in an attempt to keep the young colonies out of direct hostilities. By the 1930s, approximately 30,000 white settlers lived in the area and gained a political voice because of their contribution to the market economy. The area was already home to over a million members of the Kikuyu people, most of
whom had no land claims in European terms, and lived as itinerant farmers. To protect their interests, the settlers banned the growing of coffee, introduced a hut tax, and the landless were granted less and less land in exchange for their labour. A massive exodus to the cities ensued as their ability to provide a living from the land dwindled. By the 1950s, the white population numbered 80,000. From October 1952 to December 1959, Kenya was under a state of emergency arising from the Mau Mau rebellion against British rule. Kenya became independent on December 12th, 1963, and Jomo Kenyatta
became Kenya’s first president.
British Somaliland (northern Somalia)
Following World War II, Britain retained control of both British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland as protectorates. In November 1949, during the Potsdam Conference, the United Nations granted Italy trusteeship of Italian Somaliland, but only under close supervision and on the condition—first proposed by the Somali Youth League (SYL) and other nascent Somalian political organizations, such as Hizbia Digil Mirifle Somali (HDMS) and the Somali National League (SNL)—that Somalia achieve independence within ten years. British Somaliland remained a protectorate of Britain until June 26th
1960. A government was
formed by Abdullahi Issa and other members of the trusteeship and protectorate governments, with Haji Bashir Ismail Yusuf as President of the Somali National Assembly, Aden Abdullah Osman Daar
as President and Abdirashid Ali Shermarke as Prime Minister (later to become President from 1967–1969).
Cameroon became a German colony in 1884. After World War I, the territory was divided between France and Britain as a League of Nations mandate. In 1960, the French administered part of
Cameroon became independent as the Republic of Cameroun under President Ahmadou Ahidjo.
The southern part of British Cameroons merged with it in 1961 to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. The country was renamed the United Republic of Cameroon in 1972 and the Republic of Cameroon in 1984.
Gold Coast (Ghana)
By the latter part of 19th century the Dutch and the British were the only traders left on the Gold Coast and after the Dutch withdrew in 1874, Britain made the Gold Coast a protectorate—a British Crown Colony. In 1896, a British military force invaded Ashanti the main rulers in the Gold Coast and overthrew the
native leader named Prempeh I
. The deposed Ashanti leader was replaced by a British resident at Kumasi. The British sphere of influence was, thus, extended to include Ashanti following their defeat in 1896. However, British Governor Hodgson went too far in his restrictions on the Ashanti, when, in 1900, he demanded the “Golden Stool,” the symbol of Ashanti rule and independence for the Ashanti. This caused another revolt on the part of the Ashanti people against the British colonizers. However, the Ashanti were defeated again in 1901. Once the leader and his council had been exiled, the British appointed a resident commissioner to Ashanti. Each Ashanti state was administered as a separate entity and was ultimately responsible to the governor of the Gold Coast. British authorities adopted a system of indirect rule for colonial administration, wherein traditional chiefs maintained power but took instructions from their European supervisors. Indirect rule was cost-effective (by reducing the number of European officials needed), minimized local opposition to European rule, and guaranteed law and order. Theoretically decentralizing, indirect rule in practice caused chiefs to look to Accra (the capital) rather than to their people for decisions. Many chiefs, who were rewarded with honors, decorations, and knighthood by government commissioners, came to regard themselves as a ruling aristocracy. In its preservation of traditional forms of power, indirect rule failed to provide opportunities for the country’s growing population of educated young men. Other groups were dissatisfied because there was insufficient cooperation between the councils and the central government and because some felt that the local authorities were too dominated by the British district commissioners.
As Ghana developed economically, education of the citizenry progressed apace. In 1890 there were only 5 government and 49 “assisted” mission schools in the whole of the Gold Coast with a total enrollment of only 5,000. By 1920 there were 20 governmental schools, 188 “assisted” mission and 309 “unassisted” mission schools with a total enrollment of 4,300 pupils. By 1940, there were 91,000 children attending Gold Coast schools. By 1950 there were 279,000 children attending some 3,000 schools in the Gold Coast. This meant that, in 1950, 43.6% of the school age children in the Gold Coast colony were attending school. Thus by the end of the Second World War, the Gold Coast colony was the richest and most educated territories in West Africa. Within this educated environment, the focus of government power gradually shifted from the hands of the governor and his officials into those of Ghanaians, themselves. The changes resulted from the gradual development of a strong spirit of nationalism and were to result eventually in independence. The development of national consciousness accelerated quickly in the post-World War II era, when, in addition to ex-servicemen, a substantial group of urban African workers and traders emerged to lend mass support to the aspirations of a small educated minority. Change that would place real power in African hands was not a priority among British leaders until after rioting and looting in Accra and other towns and cities in early 1948 over issues of pensions for ex-servicemen, the dominant role of foreigners in the economy, the shortage of housing, and other economic and political grievances.
On August 3, 1956, the new assembly passed a motion authorizing the government to request independence within the British Commonwealth. The opposition did not attend the debate, and the vote was unanimous. The British government accepted this motion as clearly representing a reasonable majority. On March 6, 1957, the 113th anniversary of the Bond of 1844, the former British colony of the Gold Coast became the independent state of Ghana, and the nation’s Legislative Assembly became the National
Assembly. Kwame Nkrumah
continued as prime minister, and Queen Elizabeth II as monarch, represented in the former colony by a governor general, Sir Charles Noble Arden-Clarke. This status of Ghana as a Commonwealth realm would continue until 1960, when after a national referendum, Ghana was declared a republic.
Originally a German colony, the British and French invaded the colony at the outbreak of World War One and quickly subdued it. They agreed to divide the territory between them. This division was confirmed by a League of Nations mandate after the war. British Togoland was administered from the neighbouring colony of Gold Coast (Ghana). In fact, after a 1956 plebiscite, British Togoland was amalgamated with the Gold Coast colony at Independence in 1957.
The name “Rhodesia” was derived from Cecil John Rhodes
, the British empire-builder who was a guiding figure in British expansion north of the Limpopo River into south-central Africa and founder of the British South Africa Company. Rhodes pushed British influence into the region by obtaining mineral rights from local chiefs under questionable circumstances. After making a vast fortune in mining in South Africa, it was his ambition to extend the British Empire north, all the way to Cairo if possible. He sent European settlers into the territory that became Southern Rhodesia, and encouraged and financed British expeditions to bring areas north of the Zambezi into the British sphere of influence. British common law became the basis of the administration of Southern and Northern Rhodesia, unlike Roman Dutch law which applied in South Africa. In 1916, the British South Africa Company attempted to unify the administration of the two Rhodesian territories, but this foundered because of opposition from the Southern Rhodesian colonialists who were concerned about taking responsibility for a large undeveloped area and also about the Northern Rhodesian practice of employing Africans in administrative posts in lack of European settlers. The prospect of a split in opinion between the Company and the settlers led to the establishment of an Advisory Council through which settler opinion could be communicated Following a judgment by the Privy Council that the land in Southern Rhodesia belonged to the British Crown, opinion among settlers in Southern Rhodesia turned to favor responsible government and in 1923 this request was granted. This left Northern Rhodesia in a difficult position since the British South Africa Company had believed it owned the land in both territories and some settlers suggested that the ownership in Northern Rhodesia be similarly referred. However, the British South Africa Company insisted that its claims were unchallengeable and persuaded the United Kingdom government to enter into direct negotiations over the future administration of Northern Rhodesia.
Zambia (Northern Rhodesia)
As a result, a settlement was achieved by which Northern Rhodesia became a protectorate under the British government, with its administrative machinery taken over by the Colonial Office, while the British South Africa Company retained extensive areas of freehold property and the protectorate’s mineral rights. It was also agreed that half of the proceeds of land sales in the former North-Western Rhodesia would go to the Company. On
1 April 1924, Herbert Stanley
was appointed as Governor and Northern Rhodesia became an official Protectorate of the United Kingdom, with capital in Livingstone. The capital was moved to Lusaka in 1935.
The most important factor in the colony’s economy was copper. Copper was known to the native peoples, but its discovery in 1895 by the British South Africa Company is owed to its celebrated American scout, Frederick Russell Burnham
, whose lead and oversaw the massive Northern Territories (BSA) Exploration Co. expedition which first established for Westerners that major copper deposits existed in Central Africa. Along the Kafue River in then Northern Rhodesia, Burnham saw many similarities to copper deposits he had worked in the United States, and he encountered natives wearing copper bracelets. Later, the British South Africa Company built towns along the river and a railroad to transport the copper through Mozambique.
But prior to 1924, the British South Africa Company had not sought to fully exploit Northern Rhodesia’s mineral resources. With the Company giving up administration, it changed its mining policy. Whereas Southern Rhodesia had seen a flood of fortune-seeking prospectors seeking to set up independent mines, Northern Rhodesia was largely untouched, and this allowed the Company to agree large scale deals with major commercial mining companies. The price of copper crashed in 1931. An international agreement restricted output. This caused a catastrophe in Northern Rhodesia where many employees were sacked, and put an end to hopes which many Europeans had held of turning Northern Rhodesia into another white dominion like Southern Rhodesia. Many settlers took this opportunity to move back to Southern Rhodesia, while Africans returned to their farms.
In contrast to Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia followed a policy of ‘Indirect Rule’ of African areas, where the administration attempted to build up self-governing institutions within the African community and to leave them to their own devices. In 1930, the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs Lord Passfield
issued a memorandum which said that the interests of natives should be paramount in Northern Rhodesia and should, if they came into conflict, take precedence over those of the settlers. This aroused considerable opposition to the United Kingdom government among the settlers. Africans working in the copper mines were outraged when, in 1935, the rates of the poll tax charged in the Copperbelt were increased retrospectively because of a large number of defaulters.
This decision provoked an all-out Copperbelt strike which broke out from May 22 to May 25 in three of the four mines in the area, namely Mufulira, Nkana and Roan Antelope. Troops were sent to Nkana to suppress it. When, on May 29, police in Luanshya attempted to disperse a group of Africans, violence erupted and six Africans were shot dead. The end of the Second World War gave the opportunity for increased participation by Africans in the affairs of the colony. In 1946, the Federation of African Welfare Societies was formed. Welfare societies had been set up by educated Africans in towns in the 1930s who discussed local affairs in English. In 1948 the Federation changed its name to the
Northern Rhodesia Congress and Godwin Lewanika, a Barotseland native from an aristocratic background, became its leader. The Congress under Godwin Lewanika
became a political force and developed a radical policy. In 1952 Lewanika was succeeded by Harry Nkumbula, a schoolteacher from Kitwe who was such a radical figure that many Chiefs withdrew their support from the Congress. These developments among the Africans caused concern among the 50,000 white Northern Rhodesians who feared being deposed. The white Northern Rhodesians also felt that the Africans, who were led by clerks and schoolteachers, lacked any skills in the complex business of governing.
However, the Africans did have some interests in common with the Europeans, including on the issue of trade union organization. Roy Welensky also led a move in the Legislative Council to restrict the British South Africa Company’s mineral rights which garnered African support; the Company agreed in 1949 to assign 20% of its revenues to the Government, and to transfer all its remaining rights in 1986. As part of their attempts to hold off African control, the idea of federation with Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland was again suggested. The British government, now run by the Labour Party, was becoming favorable as a way of more logically running the remaining British Empire and of relieving the burden of running loss-making colonies like Nyasaland. Accordingly in 1949 a
conference was held at Victoria Falls which produced a workable federal scheme. After revisions and a further draft by civil servants in 1951, agreement was eventually reached and following a successful referendum in Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia joined the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland when it was created. When the Federation dissolved at the end of 1963, Northern Rhodesia reverted to its former status until achieving independence as the nation of Zambia on October 24, 1964 with Kenneth Kaunda
becoming the inaugural president.
Zimbabwe (Southern Rhodesia)
With the colony of Northern Rhodesia no longer in existence, in 1964 Southern Rhodesia reverted to the name Rhodesia. In 1965, Rhodesia unilaterally declared itself independent under a white-dominated government with Prime Minister Ian Smith
. The British Government considered the UDI unconstitutional and illegal but made clear that it would not use force to oppose it. On November 12, 1965, the United Nations also determined the Rhodesian Government and UDI to be illegal and called on member states to refrain from assisting or recognizing the Smith regime. The British Government imposed sanctions on Rhodesia and requested other nations to do the same. On December 16, 1966, the UN Security Council, for the first time in history, imposed mandatory economic sanctions on a state. Rhodesia’s primary exports including ferrochrome and tobacco, were placed on the selective sanctions list, as were shipments of arms, aircraft, motor vehicles, petroleum, and petroleum products to Rhodesia.
On May 29, 1968, the Security Council unanimously voted to broaden the sanctions by imposing an almost total embargo on all trade with, investments in, or transfers of funds to Rhodesia and imposed restrictions on air transport to the territory. After a long civil war between the white government and two African nationalistic organizations (ZIPRA and ZANLA), Britain resumed control for a brief time and then granted independence to the country on 18th
April 1980, whereupon it became Zimbabwe; Robert Mugabe
being the first Prime Minister.
July 1958, saw the arrival of Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda to the country after a long absence in the United States (where he had obtained his medical degree at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee in 1937), the United Kingdom (where he practiced medicine), and Ghana. He assumed leadership of the Nyasaland African Congress, which later became the Malawi Congress Party (MCP). In 1959, Banda was sent to Gwelo Prison for his political activities but was released in 1960 to participate in a constitutional conference in London.
On 15 April 1961, the MCP won an overwhelming victory in elections for a new Legislative Council. It also gained an important role in the new Executive Council and ruled Nyasaland in all but name a year later. In a second constitutional conference in London in November 1962, the British Government agreed to give Nyasaland self-governing status the following year.
Hastings Banda became Prime Minister on 1 February 1963, although the British still controlled the country’s financial, security, and judicial systems. A new constitution took effect in May 1963, providing for virtually complete internal self-government. Malawi became a fully independent member of the Commonwealth (formerly the British Commonwealth) on 6 July 1964. Two years later, Malawi adopted a republican constitution and became a one-party state with Hastings Banda
as its first president.
Tanzania (Tanganyika and Zanzibar)
The East African nation of Tanzania dates formally only from 1964, when it was formed out of the union of the much larger mainland territory of Tanganyika and the coastal archipelago of Zanzibar. The former was a colony and part of German East Africa from the 1880s to 1919, when, under the League of Nations, it became a British mandate until independence in 1961.
The latter Zanzibar was settled as a trading hub, subsequently controlled by the Portuguese, the Sultanate of Oman, and then as a British protectorate. British policy was to rule indirectly through African leaders. In 1926, a Legislative Council was established, which was to advise the governor. The British administration took measures to revive African institutions by encouraging limited local rule, and authorized the formation in 1922 of political clubs such as the Tanganyika Territory African Civil Service Association. In 1926 some African members were unofficially admitted into the Legislative Council and in 1929 the Association became the Tanganyika African Association which would constitute the core of the nascent nationalist movement. In 1945 the first Africans were effectively appointed to the Governor’s Legislative Council. After World War II, Tanganyika became a UN territory under British control. Subsequent years witnessed Tanganyika moving gradually toward self-government and independence. In 1954, Julius Nyerere
, the future leader of Tanzania, who was then a school teacher and one of only two Tanganyikans educated abroad at the university level, organized a political party—the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU).
On December 9, 1961, Tanganika became an autonomous Commonwealth realm, and Nyerere became Prime Minister, under a new constitution. On December 9, 1962, a republican constitution was implemented with Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere as Tanganyika’s first president.
Zanzibar today refers to the island of that name, also known as Unguja, and the neighboring island of Pemba. Both islands fell under Portuguese domination in the 16th and early 17th centuries but were retaken by Omani Arabs in the early 18th century. The height of Arab rule came during the reign of Sultan Seyyid Said
, who moved his capital from Muscat to Zanzibar, established ruling Arab elite, and encouraged the development of clove plantations, using the island’s slave labor. Zanzibar and Pemba were world-famous for their trade in spices and became known as the Spice Islands; in the early 20th century, they produced approximately 90% of the world’s supply of cloves. The United Kingdom’s early interest in Zanzibar was motivated by both commerce and the determination to end the slave trade. In 1822, the British signed the first of a series of treaties with Sultan Said to curb this trade, but not until 1876 was the sale of slaves finally prohibited. The Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty of 1890 made Zanzibar and Pemba a British protectorate. British rule through a Sultan remained largely unchanged from the late 19th century until 1957, when elections were held for a largely advisory Legislative Council.
Zanzibar received its independence from the United Kingdom on December 19, 1963, as a constitutional monarchy under the Sultan. On January 12, 1964, the African majority revolted against the sultan and a new government was formed with the ASP leader, Abeid Karume
, as President of Zanzibar and Chairman of the Revolutionary Council. In the first few days, between 5,000 and 15,000 Arabs and Asians were murdered, women were raped and their homes burned. Within a few weeks, a fifth of the population had died or fled.On April 26, 1964, Tanganyika united with Zanzibar to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. The country was renamed the United Republic of Tanzania on October 29 of that year with Julius Nyerere as President.
Uganda officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the “Pearl of Africa”. It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by Tanzania. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, which is also shared by Kenya and Tanzania.
In the 1860s British explorers searching for the source of the Nile entered the region. Protestant missionaries entered the country in 1877, followed by Catholic missionaries in 1879. The United Kingdom placed the area under the charter of the British East Africa Company in 1888, and ruled it as a protectorate from 1894.
Uganda gained independence from Britain on 9th
October 1962, maintaining its Commonwealth membership. The first post-independence election, held in 1962, was won by an alliance between the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) and Kabaka Yekka (KY). UPC and KY formed the first post-independence government with Milton Obote
as executive Prime Minister, the Buganda Kabaka (King) Edward Muteesa II holding the largely ceremonial position of President and William Wilberforce Nadiope, the Kyabazinga (paramount chief) of Busoga, as Vice President.
French Colonization of Africa
French West Africa was a federation of eight French colonial territories in Africa: Mauritania, Senegal, French Sudan (now Mali), French Guinea (now Guinea), Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), Dahomey (now Benin) and Niger. The federation existed from 1895 until 1960.
As the French pursued their part in the scramble for Africa in the 1880s and 1890s, they conquered large inland areas, and at first
ruled them as either a part of the Senegal colony, or as independent entities. These conquered areas were usually governed by French Army officers, and dubbed “Military Territories.” In the late 1890s, the French government began to rein in the territorial expansion of its “officers on the ground”, and transferred all the territories west of Gabon to a single Governor based in Senegal, reporting directly to the Minister of Overseas Affairs. The first Governor General of Senegal was named in 1895, and in 1904, the territories he oversaw were formally named French West Africa (AOF). Gabon would later become the seat of its own federation French Equatorial Africa (AEF), which was to border its western neighbor on the modern boundary between Niger and Chad. Following World War II, the French Fourth Republic began a process of extending limited political rights in its colonies. In 1946, French legislation the loi Lamine Guèye granted some limited citizenship rights to natives of the African colonies. The 1956 Loi Cadre created popularly elected Territorial assemblies with only consultative powers. The French Empire was renamed the French Union. The Constitution of the French Fifth Republic of 1958 again changed the structure of the colonies from the French Union to the French Community. Each territory was to become a “Protectorate” with the consultative assembly named a National Assembly. The Governor appointed by the French was renamed the “High Commissioner,” and made head of state of each territory. The Assembly would name an African as Head of Government with advisory powers to the Head of State. Each colony had the right to remain or leave the new structure in place. All the colonies except Guinea voted to remain in the new structure. Guineansvoted overwhelmingly for independence.
In 1960, a further revision of the French constitution, compelled by the failure of the French Indochina War and the tensions in Algeria, allowed members of the French Community to unilaterally change their own constitutions. Senegal and former French Sudan became the Mali Federation (1960–61), while Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Upper Volta and Dahomey subsequently formed the short-lived Sahel-Benin Union, later the Conseil de l’Entente.
The history of French colonial policy in Mauritania is closely tied to that of the other French possessions in West Africa, particularly to that of Senegal, on which Mauritania was economically, politically, and administratively dependent until independence. The French policy of assimilation and direct rule, however, was never applied with any vigor in Mauritania, where a system that corresponded more to Britain’s colonial policies of association and indirect rule developed. Colonial administrators relied extensively on Islamic
religious leaders and the traditional warrior groups to maintain their rule and carry out their policies. Moreover, little attempt was made to develop the country’s economy. After the Second World War, Mauritania, along with the rest of French West Africa, was involved in a series of reforms of the French colonial system, culminating in independence on November 28 1960 Moktar Ould Daddah
being the first President.
Senegal is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north. Dakar, the capital city of Senegal, is located at the westernmost tip of the country on the Cap-Vert peninsula. It is about 500 kilometers (300 mi) off the coast, of the Atlantic Ocean. During the 17th and 18th centuries, numerous trading posts, belonging to various colonial empires, were established along the coast. The town of St. Louis became the capital of French West Africa before it was moved to Dakar in 1902. Dakar later became its capital in 1960 at the time of independence from France. In January 1959 Senegal and the French Sudan merged to form the Mali Federation, which became fully independent on 20 June 1960. Due to internal
political difficulties, the Federation broke up on 20 August, and the union of Senegal and French Sudan (renamed the Republic of Mali) proclaimed its independence. Léopold Senghor
was proclaimed Senegal’s first president in September 1960. Senghor was a very well read man, educated in France. He was a poet, a philosopher and personally drafted the Senegalese national anthem.
Guinean Republic (French Guinea)
French Guinea was a French colonial possession in West Africa. It became independent from France in 1958 following the rejection of Charles de Gaulle’s Constitution of 1958. At the time French
Guinea was the only colony to refuse the new constitution. French Guinea became the modern day country of Guinea keeping French as its official language. Sékou Touré
, the P.D.G. leader, became the President of the republic and the head of the government. He was in every aspect the founding father of the first Guinean Republic.
Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
An 1843–1844 treaty made Côte d’Ivoire a protectorate of France and in 1893; it became a French colony as part of the European scramble for Africa. From 1904 to 1958, Côte d’Ivoire was a constituent unit of the Federation of French West Africa. It was a colony and an overseas territory under the Third Republic. Until the period following World War II, governmental affairs in French West Africa were administered from Paris. France’s policy in West Africa was reflected mainly in its philosophy of “association”, meaning that all Africans in Côte d’Ivoire were officially French “subjects”, but without rights to representation in Africa or France. Charles de Gaulle’s
provisional government assumed control of all French West Africa. The Brazzaville Conference of 1944, the first Constituent Assembly of the Fourth Republic in 1946, and France’s gratitude for African loyalty during World War II led to far-reaching governmental reforms in 1946. French citizenship was granted to all African “subjects,” the right to organize politically was recognized, and various forms of forced labour were abolished. Until 1958, governors appointed in Paris administered the colony of Côte d’Ivoire, using a system of direct, centralized administration that left little room for Ivoirian participation in policy making. Whereas British colonial administration adopted divide-and-rule policies elsewhere, applying ideas of assimilation only to the educated elite, the French were interested in ensuring that the small but influential elite was sufficiently satisfied with the status quo to refrain from any anti-French sentiment. Although strongly opposed to the practices of association, educated Ivoirians believed that they would achieve equality with their French peers through assimilation rather than through complete independence from France. But, after the assimilation doctrine was implemented entirely through the postwar reforms, Ivoirian leaders realized that even assimilation implied the superiority of the French over the Ivoirians, and that discrimination and political inequality would
end only with independence. The son of a Baoulé chief, Félix Houphouët-Boigny
, was to become Côte d’Ivoire’s father of independence. In 1944 he formed the country’s first agricultural trade union for African cocoa farmers like himself. Angered that colonial policy favoured French plantation owners, they united to recruit migrant workers for their own farms. Houphouët-Boigny soon rose to prominence and within a year was elected to the French Parliament in Paris. Côte d’Ivoire’s gained its full independence (1960).
Burkina Faso (Upper Volta)
After a decade of intense rivalry and competition between the British and the French, waged through treaty-making expeditions under military or civilian explorers, the Mossi kingdom of Ouagadougou was defeated by French colonial forces and became a French protectorate in 1896. The eastern region and the western region, where a standoff against the forces of the powerful ruler Samori Ture complicated the situation, came under French occupation in 1897. By 1898, the majority of the territory corresponding to Burkina Faso today was nominally conquered.
The Republic of Upper Volta (French: République de Haute-Volta) was established on 11 December 1958, as a self-governing colony within the French Community. The name Upper Volta indicated that the country is situated on the upper reaches of the Volta River. The river’s three tributaries are called the Black Volta, White Volta and Red Volta, and the colors of the national flag
corresponded to these parts of the river system. Before attaining autonomy it had been French Upper Volta and part of the French Union. On 5 August 1960, it attained full independence from France. The first president, Maurice Yaméogo,
was the leader of the Voltaic Democratic Union. It was renamed Burkina Faso on 4 August 1984, by President Thomas Sankara to mean “the land of upright people”.
France conquered Dahomey in the Second Franco-Dahomean War (1892–1894), and established a colonial government. Most of the troops who fought against Dahomey were native African. Under
French rule, the educated class learned French and the language became widely used. The area is still French-speaking today. In 1958, Dahomey became an autonomous republic, and gained full independence on August 1st 1960. The president who led them to independence was Hubert Maga
. The Republic of Dahomey changed its name to Benin in 1975.
Niger became a French colony in 1922. Niger’s colonial history and development parallel that of other French West African territories. France administered its West African colonies through a governor general in Dakar, Senegal, and governors in the individual
territories, including Niger. In addition to conferring French citizenship on the inhabitants of the territories, the 1946 French constitution provided for decentralization of power and limited participation in political life for local advisory assemblies. Niger gained full independence on 3 August 1960 under the presidency of Hamani Diori.
Portugal’s Colonization of Africa
When the Portuguese arrived in Africa late in the 15th century, they were the first European colonial power to establish itself on the continent. When they left in 1974, they were among the last to leave. The last fifteen years of this long and unhappy sojourn were marked by unrelenting guerrilla warfare throughout the African colonies. Portugal was something of an accidental colonial power in Africa. Portuguese sailors first stopped in Africa for water during their great trading voyages to the Orient. They returned for slaves, a traditional feature of the African economy that could be used to fill the labor needs of Portugal’s Brazilian plantations. The slaves were supplied by a powerful, native kingdom, Bakongo, in what is now northern Angola and far south western Congo. At first, Bakongo could meet the demand by selling prisoners of war it had taken in day-to-day disputes with its neighbours. But the swelling demand from Brazil soon depleted the supply of prisoners and forced Bakongo into more and more wars. As the number of its enemies grew, Bakongo needed more modern weapons, especially guns, which in turn had to paid for with still more slaves. It was a vicious circle. Inevitably, the Bakongo state became over-extended, suffered reverses on the battlefield, and suffered dissension at home. Within 50 years or so, the kingdom had collapsed and its great cities had been swallowed by the jungle. Almost reluctantly, Portugal took charge of the country in order to protect its watering stations and its source of slaves. The Portuguese made little attempt to colonize the territory, and, as the demand for slaves waned and the routes to the East lost their crucial importance in the world economy, the colonies gradually lost their importance to the home country. So things stayed until the early 1930s. In May 1926, right-wing army officers overthrew the Portuguese government and, in 1932, installed António Salazar
as de jure prime minister and de facto dictator, a position he retained until 1968. Salazar had a rather old-fashioned notion of what constituted the wealth of nations, and his single-party New State and infamous secret police (Polícia Internacional de Defesa de Estado
) saw to it that he never heard anything more up-to-date. For Salazar, colonies were what made a modern nation great. Colonies provided captive markets for home-produced goods, ready sources of cheap raw materials and foodstuffs, and an outlet for the homeland’s surplus population. Accordingly, from 1930 on, Salazar did all he could to integrate the African colonies into the nation. He encouraged colonization on a large scale, using generous subsidies, free housing, and land grants as inducements. For the first time, Portuguese settlers began to arrive in large numbers in Angola and Mozambique. Africans had many legitimate grievances. Chief among these was the practice of extorting involuntary, uncompensated labor from indigenous citizens. Until 1962, when it was belatedly abolished, the colonial administration justified this part-time slavery by pointing to the cash taxes that European and well-to-do African citizens paid. The rural African could not pay in money, so, the argument went, he paid in kind. The reasoning was entirely specious, of course. The burden imposed on subsistence farmers and day laborers was in actuality enormous compared to the modest assessments paid by those who had money. The arrival of European colonists in large numbers during the ’30s made the plight of rural poor considerably worse. Europeans expected a European-style road and rail infrastructure. This greatly expanded the demand for conscript labor and led to ever longer periods of servitude. What might once have been an insulting inconvenience lasting a few days could now bring ruin, impoverishment, and death upon the African small holder and his family. Forced labor might now consume up to up to six months out of every year, effectively halving his already meagre annual income. In 1961, repression provoked a large-scale rising in Angola. Guerrillas from the outlawed MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) attacked police barracks and prisons across northern Angola, in hopes of freeing the political prisoners that the Portuguese had seized. Their example inspired spontaneous attacks on rural government offices, isolated European-owned plantations, and Catholic missions. Four hundred Portuguese were killed. Wealthy Europeans fled, while panicky poor and lower middle-class Portuguese formed vigilante squads and indiscriminately terrorized their African neighbours. Often these groups operated with the connivance of police and army units. As many as 40,000 Africans were killed. Rebellions quickly sprang up in Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique as well.
The Angolan War of Independence (1961–1975) began as an uprising against forced cotton cultivation, and became a multi-faction struggle for control of Portugal’s Overseas Province of Angola with three nationalist movements and a separatist movement. The war ended in 1975 when the Portuguese government, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), the Popular Movement for the Liberation of
Angola (MPLA), and the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) signed the Alvor Agreement, after a leftist military coup in Lisbon in April 1974 which overthrew Portugal’s Estado Novo regime. Angola’s independence from Portugal was achieved on November 11, 1975 through the Alvor Agreement; with Agostinho Neto
becoming the first president.
In Mozambique, the conflict erupted in 1964 as a result of unrest and frustration amongst many indigenous Mozambican populations, who perceived foreign rule to be a form of exploitation and mistreatment, which served only to further Portuguese economic interests in the region. Many Mozambicans also resented Portugal’s policies towards indigenous people, which resulted in discrimination, traditional lifestyle turning difficult for many African indigenes, and limited access to Portuguese-style education and skilled employment. As successful self-determination movements spread throughout Africa after World War II, many Mozambicans became progressively nationalistic in outlook, and increasingly frustrated by the nation’s continued subservience to foreign rule.
The Mozambican War of Independence was an armed conflict between the guerrilla forces of the Mozambique Liberation Front or FRELIMO, and Portugal. The war officially started on September 25, 1964, and ended with a cease fire on September 8, 1974, resulting in a negotiated independence in 1975. Samora Machel
became Mozambique’s first president.
Guinea-Bissau (Portuguese Guinea)
Guinea-Bissau (as well as the nearby Cape Verde archipelago) had been claimed by Portugal since 1446 and was a major trading post for commodities and African slaves during the 18th century, before the former had been outlawed by the Portuguese authorities. The interior was however not fully controlled by the Portuguese until the latter half of 19th century. Sporadic fighting continued during the early 20th century and the Bijagós Islands were not pacified under Portuguese rule until 1936. In 1952 by a constitutional amendment Guinea-Bissau became an overseas province.
While there had always been local resistance it was not until 1956 the first liberation movement was founded by Amílcar Cabral and Rafael Barbosa, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). The first major activity of the PAIGC was a strike by dock-workers in Bissau on August 3, 1959. The colonial police violently repressed the strike and more than 50 people died, the incident became known as the Pijiguiti Massacre. The massacre led to a major upswing of popular support for the PAIGC.
Guinea-Bissau War of Independence was an armed conflict and national liberation struggle in Portuguese Guinea (modern Guiné-Bissau) between 1963 and 1974. On 26 August 1974, after a series of diplomatic meetings, Portugal and the PAIGC signed an accord in Algiers, Algeria in which Portugal agreed to remove all troops by the end of October and to officially recognize the Republic of Guinea-Bissau government controlled by the PAIGC whose leader was A one-party state controlled by the PAIGC and headed by Luís Cabral
Spanish Colonization of Africa
In 1884, Spain was awarded the coastal area of present-day Western Sahara at the Berlin Conference, and began establishing trading posts and a military presence. Entering the territory in 1884, Spain was immediately challenged by stiff resistance from the indigenous Sahrawi tribes. A 1904 rebellion led by the powerful Smara-based marabout, shaykh Ma al-Aynayn, was put down by France in 1910, but it was followed by a wave of uprisings under Ma al-Aynayn’s sons, grandsons and other political leaders.
Because of tribal uprisings, Spain found it difficult to control parts of the country’s hinterland until 1934. With its independence in 1956, Morocco laid claim on Spanish Sahara as part of its alleged pre-colonial territory. Immediately before the death of Francisco Franco in the winter of 1975, however, Spain was confronted with an intensive campaign of territorial demands from Morocco, and to a lesser extent Mauritania, culminating in the Green March. Spain then withdrew its forces and settlers from the territory, after negotiating the Madrid Accords, a tripartite agreement, with Morocco and Mauritania in 1975, under the terms of which the latter countries took control of the region. Mauritania later surrendered its claim after fighting an unsuccessful war against the Polisario. Morocco engaged in a war with the Algeria-backed Polisario Front, although a cease-fire came into effect in 1991, and the sovereignty of the territory remains under dispute.
The first inhabitants of the region [now Equatorial Guinea] are believed to have been Pygmies, of whom only isolated pockets remain in northern Rio Muni. From 1827 to 1843, Britain established a base on the island to combat the slave trade. The Treaty of Paris settled conflicting claims to the mainland in 1900, and periodically, the mainland territories were united administratively under Spanish rule. Spain lacked the wealth and the interest to develop an extensive economic infrastructure in what was commonly known as Spanish Guinea during the first half of this century. In 1959, the Spanish territory of the Gulf of Guinea was established with status similar to the provinces of metropolitan Spain. The first local elections were held in 1959, and the first Equatoguinean
representatives were seated in the Spanish parliament. Under the Basic Law of December 1963, limited autonomy was authorized under a joint legislative body for the territory’s two provinces. The name of the country was changed to Equatorial Guinea. Although Spain’s commissioner-general had extensive powers, the Equatorial Guinean General Assembly had considerable initiative in formulating laws and regulations. In March 1968, under pressure from Equatoguinean
nationalists and the United Nations, Spain announced forthcoming
independence for Equatorial Guinea. In the presence of a UN observer team, a referendum was held on August 11, 1968, and 63% of the electorate voted in favour of a new constitution, a General Assembly, and a Supreme Court. Francisco Macias Nguema
was elected first president of Equatorial Guinea – independence was granted on 12 October 1968.
German Colonization of Africa
Germany’s overseas empire was dismantled following defeat in World War I. With the concluding Treaty of Versailles, Article 22, German colonies were divided between Belgium, the United Kingdom, and certain British Dominions, France, and Japan with the determination not to see any of them returned to Germany — a guarantee secured by Article 119.
In Africa, Britain and France divided German Kamerun (Cameroons) and Togoland. Belgium gained Ruanda-Urundi in northwestern German East Africa, Great Britain obtained by far the greater landmass of this colony, thus gaining the ‘missing link’ in the chain of British possessions stretching from South Africa to Egypt (Cape to Cairo), Portugal received the Kionga Triangle, a sliver of German East Africa. German South West Africa was taken under mandate by the Union of South Africa.
Belgium Colonization of Africa
Belgium created two colonies in Africa: the entities now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly the Republic of Zaire) and the Republic of Rwanda, previously Ruanda-Urundi, a former German African colony that was given to Belgium to administer after the defeat of Germany in World War I.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Belgium itself had gained independence in 1831 when it broke away from the Netherlands and became a new nation. The second king of Belgium, Leopold II, was a very ambitious man who wanted to personally enrich himself and enhance his country’s prestige by annexing and colonizing lands in Africa. In 1865 he succeeded his father, Leopold I, to the Belgian throne. In 1876 he commissioned Sir Henry Morton Stanley’s expedition to explore the Congo region. This exploration led initially to the establishment of the Congo Free State. The new colony comprised a land bigger than Western Europe and seventy-four times larger than Belgium, and belonged to Leopold II as a personal possession. He proclaimed himself king-sovereign of Congo Free State at a time when France, Britain, Portugal, and Germany also had colonies in the area. Despite the modest improvements in the lives of the Congolese, the Belgians created two separate societies in the Congo: the whites and the natives. The whites had all the luxuries, and the native Africans lacked everything. It was an apartheid type of social and political system. All the major decisions concerning the Congo were made in Brussels, and the Congolese were not allowed to participate in the running of their own country. In 1955 some of the few Congolese educated-elites organized a resistance to the lack of democracy and the apartheid policies of the Belgian colonial masters. The main aim of these so-called évolués
in resisting the Belgian colonial administration was
to redress the gross inequality that existed between the Europeans and the Africans. They used civil disobedience, strikes, and civil unrest against the Belgian colonialists. This uprising led to the disintegration of the Belgian colonial administration and helped in winning independence for the Congo in 1960. Patrice Lumumba was elected as Prime Minister, and Joseph Kasavubu
, as President.
Republic of Rwanda
Belgium’s other colony, Rwanda, was an independent monarchy until the Germans annexed it in 1899 and made it part of German East Africa. Belgium seized Rwanda and Burundi from Germany in 1916; two years later, after the defeat of Germany in World War I, Ruanda-Urundi was formally given to Belgium as a League of Nations (later United Nations) trust territory.
Before the European incursion into Rwanda and the Belgian colonization, Rwanda was united under the central leadership of an absolute Tutsi monarchy. The people, although classified as Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa, essentially spoke the same language. They also shared the same culture, ate the same or similar foods, and practiced the same religion. Precolonial Rwanda under the monarchy was highly stratified. The aristocracy, who were essentially the Tutsi, owned all the land and earned tributes from the farmers, who were mainly Hutu. Whereas the Hutus were farmers, the Tutsis were cattle herders. The Twa or the “pygmies,” who were the original inhabitants of Rwanda, were outcasts and despised by both the Hutus and the Tutsis. When the Belgians took over the administration of Rwanda from the Germans in 1918, they significantly changed the Rwandese system of government and social relations. The Belgians found willing elites to help them rule Rwanda. The Tutsis were willing collaborators to the Belgian colonization. The Belgians, in turn, gave the Tutsis privileged positions in politics, education, and business. The Belgians even took the few leadership positions that the Hutus had and gave them to the Tutsis. Specifically, in 1929, they eliminated all the non-Tutsi chiefs, and as a result the Hutus lost all their representation in the colonial government. A further blow came in 1933, when the Belgians issued identity cards to all Rwandans. These mandatory identity cards removed the fluidity from the Rwandan stratification (caste) system, thereby confining people permanently as Hutus, Tutsis, and “pygmies.” The Belgians empowered the Tutsis so much that their exploitation of the Hutu majority reached new heights. As the independence of
Rwanda became inevitable in the 1950s, however, the Belgians changed course and started to empower the Hutus by increasing their political and economic muscle and providing them access to modern education. A convergence of anti-colonial, and anti-Tutsi sentiment resulted in Belgium granting national independence on June 1962. Direct elections resulted in a representative government dominated by the majority Hutu under President Grégoire Kayibanda.
Italian Colonization of Africa
The Italian Empire was created after the Kingdom of Italy joined other European powers in establishing colonies overseas during the “scramble for Africa”. Modern Italy as a unified state only existed from 1861. By this time France, Spain, Portugal, Britain, and the Netherlands, had already carved out large empires over several hundred years. One of the last remaining areas open to colonization was on the African continent.
By the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Italy had annexed Eritrea and Italian Somaliland, and had wrested control of portions of the Ottoman Empire, including Libya, though it was defeated in its attempt to conquer Ethiopia.
The Battle of Adwa (usually known as Adowa, or sometimes by the Italian name Adua) was fought on 1 March 1896 between Ethiopia
under command of Emperor Menelik II
; and Italy near the town of Adwa, Ethiopia, in Tigray. It was the climactic battle of the First Italo-Ethiopian War, securing
Ethiopian sovereignty thus ending Italian attempts at its conquest for another three and a half decades.
The Fascist government under Italian dictator Benito Mussolini which came to power in 1922 sought to increase the size of the empire further. Ethiopia was successfully taken, four decades after the previous failure, and Italy’s European borders were expanded. An official “Italian Empire” was proclaimed on 9 May 1936 following the conquering of Ethiopia. Italy sided with Nazi Germany during World War II and initially enjoyed successes. However, this was short-lived as
Ethiopia under the leadership of Emperor Haile Selassie I
regained its independence only five years later during World War II at the end of the East African Campaign with the help of Allied forces.
Italian colonial policy was similar to that of other colonizing powers. Italian colonial policy differed, however, in that it was premised more on enhancing the glory and overall international prestige of Italy, rather than on the economic benefits that could be gained from colonies. Italian colonialism in Africa came to an end with the death of the Italian leader Benito Mussolini, the collapse of the Fascist regime, and the defeat of Italy in World War II. Britain retained control of both British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland as protectorates.
British forces defeated the Italian army in Eritrea in 1941 at the Battle of Keren and placed the colony under British military administration until Allied forces could determine its fate. The first thing the British did was to remove the Eritrean industries (of Asmara and Massawa) to Kenya, as war compensation. They even dismantled parts of the Eritrean Railway system.
In the absence of agreement amongst the Allies concerning the status of Eritrea, British administration continued for the remainder of World War II and until 1950. During the immediate postwar years, the British proposed that Eritrea be divided along religious lines and parceled off to Sudan and Ethiopia. The details of Eritrea’s association with Ethiopia were established by the UN
General Assembly resolution of September 15, 1952. It called for Eritrea and Ethiopia to be linked through a loose federal structure under the sovereignty of the Emperor. Eritrea was to have its own administrative and judicial structure, its own flag, and control over its domestic affairs, including police, local administration, and taxation. The Eritrean authorities declared Eritrea an independent state on 27 April 1993 after years of struggle with the Ethiopian Government, with Isaias Afewerki
In 1934, Italy adopted the name “Libya” (used by the Greeks for all of North Africa, except Egypt) as the official name of the colony (made up of the three provinces of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan). After World War II Tripolitania and Cyrenaica were left under British administration, while the French controlled Fezzan. Idris al-Mahdi as-Senussi (later King Idris I)
, Emir of Cyrenaica, led Libyan resistance to Italian occupation between the two world wars. On 21 November 1949, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution stating that Libya should become independent before 1 January 1952. Idris represented Libya in the subsequent UN negotiations. On 24 December 1951, Libya declared its independence as the United Kingdom of Libya, a constitutional and hereditary monarchy under King Idris, Libya’s first and only monarch.
The Decolonization of Africa was a long and hard struggle in which many lost their lives. Unfortunately the effects of the colonization of the African continent; by its European partners has had far reaching effects on modern day life in Africa. Most countries were left by their colonial masters in a state of bankruptcy and confusion, countries were abandoned without even the basic infrastructure to survive and its peoples were left without the rudimentary tools to succeed. It may take many generations for the continent to realize its potential. In essence Africa needs its industrial revolution that was so cruelly denied in history.
The Ethiopian World Federation Incorporated