Decolonization of Africa
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The two only world powers to officially and actively support African decolonization through the entire 20th century were the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China — all others varied their opinions from the strong and stubborn defense of colonialism to a half-hearted support to fait-accompli situations.
During the Scramble for Africa in the late nineteenth century, European powers divided Africa and its resources into political partitions at the Berlin Conference of 1884-85. By 1905, control of almost all African soil was claimed by European governments, with the only exceptions being Liberia (which had been settled by African-American former slaves) and Ethiopia (which had successfully resisted colonization by Italy). Britain and France had the largest holdings, but Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, and Portugal also had colonies. As a result of colonialism and imperialism, Africa suffered, in addition to the loss of sovereignty, control of its natural resources like gold and rubber. Europeans often justified this using the concept of the White Man's Burden, an obligation to "civilize" the peoples of Africa.
Critics say that the process of African decolonization from 1950s to the 1970s turned what were relatively well-ordered and peaceful territories administered by the efficient bureaucracies and legal traditions of the Western European empires were quickly substituted by violent, inefficient and corrupt socialist dictatorships or right-wing family dictatorships with little regard for international rule of law and human rights and riddled with civil-turf wars, barbaric political purges, mass refugee crises, famines and ethnic conflict.
World War II saw the British African colonies support the Allies against the Axis powers, but with no mention of independence for African nations. German wartime propaganda had a part in this defiance of British rule. Imperial Japan's conquests in the Far East caused a shortage of raw materials such as rubber and various minerals. Africa was therefore forced to compensate for this shortage and greatly benefited from this change. Another key problem the Europeans faced were the U-boats patrolling the Atlantic Ocean. This reduced the amount of raw materials being transported to Europe and prompted the creation of local industries in Africa. Local industries in turn caused the creation of new towns, and existing towns doubled in size. As urban community and industry grew so did trade unions. In addition to trade unions, urbanization brought about increased literacy, which allowed for pro-independence newspapers.
On February 12th 1941, United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met to discuss the postwar world. The result was the Atlantic Charter. One of the provisions, introduced by Roosevelt, was the autonomy of imperial colonies. After World War II, the US and the African colonies put pressure on Britain to abide by the terms of the Atlantic Charter. When Winston Churchill introduced the Charter to Parliament, he purposely mistranslated the colonies to be recently captured countries by Germany in order to get it passed. After the war, the British still considered their African colonies as "children" and "immature"; they introduced democratic government only at the local levels.
By the 1930s, the colonial powers had cultivated (sometimes inadvertently) a small elite of leaders educated in Western universities and familiar with ideas such as self-determination. These leaders, including leading nationalists such as Jomo Kenyatta (Kenya), Kwame Nkrumah (Gold Coast, now Ghana), Léopold Sédar Senghor (Senegal), and Félix Houphouët-Boigny (Côte d'Ivoire), came to lead the struggles for independence.
The "colonial power" and "colonial name" columns are merged when required to denote territories, where current countries are established, that have not been decolonized, but achieved independence in different way.
See also 
- Economic history of Africa
- Scramble for Africa
- Wars of national liberation
- Year of Africa
- Birmingham, David (1995). The Decolonization of Africa. Routledge. ISBN 1-85728-540-9.
- Africa 'better in colonial times', BBC News, 22 September 2004
- Timeline list arranged according to current countries. Explanatory notes are added in cases where decolonization was achieved jointly or where the current state is formed by merger of previously decolonized states.
- Some territories changed hands multiple times, so in the list is mentioned the last colonial power. In addition to it the mandatory or trustee powers are mentioned for territories that were League of Nations mandates and UN Trust Territories.
- Date of decolonization for territories annexed by or integrated into previously decolonized independent countries are given in separate notes.
- On 28 February 1922 the British government issued the Unilateral Declaration of Egyptian Independence. Through this declaration, the British government unilaterally ended its protectorate over Egypt and granted it nominal independence with the exception of four "reserved" areas: foreign relations, communications, the military and the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. The Anglo–Egyptian treaty of 1936 reduced British involvement, but still was not welcomed by Egyptian nationalists, who wanted full independence from Britain, which was not achieved until the 1952 revolution. The last British troops left Egypt after the Suez Crisis of 1956.
- King, Joan Wucher (1989) [First published 1984]. Historical Dictionary of Egypt. Books of Lasting Value. American University in Cairo Press. pp. 259–260. ISBN 978-977-424-213-7.
- Robert O. Collins, A History of Modern Sudan
- Anglo-Egyptian Condominium Agreement of 1899, stated that Sudan should be jointly governed by Egypt and Britain, but with real power remaining in British hands.
- Cape Juby was ceded by Spain to Morocco on 2 April 1958. Ifni was returned from Spain to Morocco on 4 January 1969.
- The British Togoland mandate and trust territory was integrated into Gold Coast colony on 13 December 1956.
- After the French Cameroun mandate and trust territory gained independence it was joined by part of the British Cameroons mandate and trust territory on October 1, 1961. The other part of British Cameroons joined Nigeria.
- Senegal and French Sundan gained independence on 20 June 1960 as the Mali Federation, which dissolved a few months later into present day Senegal and Mali.
- British Somaliland shortly after gaining independence merged with Italian Somaliland when it got independence as Somalia.
- Independent Benin unilaterally annexed Portuguese São João Baptista de Ajudá in 1961.
- Part of the British Cameroons mandate and trust territory on October 1, 1961 joined Nigeria. The other part of British Cameroons joined the previously decolonized French Cameroun mandate and territory.
- The Union of South Africa was constituted trough the South Africa Act entering into force on 31 May 1910. On 11 December 1931 it got increased self-governance powers trough the Statute of Westminster which was followed by transformation into republic after the 1960 referendum. Afterwards, South Africa was under apartheid regime until elections resulting from the negotiations to end apartheid in South Africa on 27 April 1994 when Nelson Mandela became president.
- After both gained independence Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged on 26 April 1964
- See Rwandan Revolution.
- UN resolution 2145 terminated South Africa's mandate over Namibia, making it de jure independent. South Africa did not relinquish the territory until 1990
- Declared unilateral independence in 1965 as Rhodesia followed by attempted internal settlement in 1979 as Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, both states were unrecognised by the United Kingdom. Free elections were held in early 1980 involving the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union and Zimbabwe African National Union as stipulated in the Lancaster House Agreement.
- UN General Assembly Resolution 34/37 and UN General Assembly Resolution 35/19
- The Spanish colonial rule de facto terminated over the Western Sahara (then Rio de Oro), when the territory was passed on to and partitioned between Mauritania and Morocco (which annexed the entire territory in 1979), rendering the declared independence of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic ineffective to the present day (it controls only a small portion east of the Moroccan Wall). The UN still considers Spain as administrating country of the whole territory, awaiting the outcome of the ongoing Manhasset negotiations and resulting election to be overseen by the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara. However, the de facto administrator is Morocco (see United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories).
- Michael Crowder, The Story of Nigeria, Faber and Faber, London, 1978 (1962)
- Understanding Contemporary Africa, April A. Gordon and Donald L. Gordon, Lynne Riener, London, 1996
- Vincent B. Khapoya, The African Experience, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 1998 (1994)
- Ali A. Mazrui ed. General History of Africa, vol. VIII, UNESCO, 1993
- Kevin Shillington, History of Africa, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1995 (1989)
- Diueter Rothermund, The Routledge Companion to Decolonization, Arlington & New York: Routledge, 2006
- Africa: 50 years of independence Radio France Internationale in English
- "Winds of Change or Hot Air? Decolonization and the Salt Water Test" Legal Frontiers International Law Blog