African Nations Gain Independence

Zoe Norris, Baylee Nichols, Kenzie Casement, Brooklyn Arnold

Geograpically Diverse Continent

Africa is the second largest continent in the world. It has tropical rainforests,
savannas, and deserts. It also has fertile coastal strips in North and South
Africa. Most people live around the fertile areas. The land produces enough food
for big populations making it possible for larger colonies to thrive. Africa is known for
having lots of minerals such as gold ore, copper ore, and diamonds. They also
produce crops like coffee and cocoa. These are just some of the main reasons why
European powers wanted to stay in control and do just about anything to maintain them.
africa.pngSavannas(n.): grasslands with scattered trees

Colonies Demand Independence

Thousands of African people started to demand freedom from the European leaders.
Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta, and Leopold Senghor led independence movements in their
countries. In some countries, political pressure was enough to get independence, this method
worked well for British colonies that became Nigeria and Ghana and in most of France's West
African colonies. Unfortunately not all countries were that lucky. In countries such as Algeria and Kenya,
the battle for liberation became violent.
Kwame Nkrumah

Jomo Kenyatta: (1894-1974) Born in a small Kikuyu village, and
educated at a Christian mission. As an adult he quickly became
a very strong nationalist. He became an anticolonial organizer
and fought long and hard for the independence of Kenya.

Checkpoint Question: Why did European powers resist independence for
their African colonies? The European powers wanted the African colonies
resources like rich deposits of minerals, cash crops, and petroleum.

Africans Build New Nations

Some new African nations has peace but others broke out in civil war,
military rule, or corrupt dictators.

Confronting Ethnic Divisons

The European powers had drawn colony lines without regard of the thousands
of ethnic groups. Many nations gained independence with people that had different
religions and languages and were more focused on putting forth their loyalty to their
ethnic groups, not a national government. Because of this, there was a lot of
ethnic and regional conflict.

Dictators Seize Power

Many countries had one-party political systems rather than multiparty systems. It was
believed that multiparty systems encouraged disunity. Although, many of the one-party
systems turned into dictatorships. The down side of these particular dictatorships
was that the dictators used their power to enrich themselves, and a certain batch of
lucky people. Because of this, military's often took control. More than half of
African nations faced a coup d'etat. Some of these military leaders wished to improve
awful conditions and restore civilian rule, but that wish was never granted
to the people. Other military leaders became brutal tyrants.

coup d'etat(n.): forcible overthrow of a government

Moving Toward Democracy

As military's often ruled many of the colonies, a democratic government was
desired. In the mean time, Western governments and the World bank required
reforms as a condition for loans. Because of this, some governments made
changes. Many legalized opposition parties and allowed the freedom of speech.
In nations such as Tanzania, Nigeria, and Benin, multiparty elections took place,
removing long-ruling leaders from office.
Election Campaign held in Tanzania

Foreigners Jostle for Influence

Unfortunately, although many African nations gained political freedom, colonial powers
still maintained control of local business. Because of this, many nations remained
dependent economically on their former colonies.
During the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union often competed for military
and strategic advantages through alliances with many African countries. The United States
supported Mobutu Sese Seko, a dictator of Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo), and they also
supported Somalia. On the other hand, the Soviet Union supported Ethiopia. Many of the African
countries struck the interest of the superpowers, mostly because they wanted to gain
control of the Red Sea.
Mobutu Seso Seko(n.): 1930-1997, Dictator of Zaire 1965-1997
Red Sea(n.): Vital shipping route connecting Asia, Europe, and Africa

Checkpoint Question: Why have African countries moved toward democracy in recent years?
They did not like their political polocies and didn't think they were fair. Also, United States alliances
let African countries see what a democracy is like.

The Stories of Five African Nations

The new African nations all faced many of the same challenges, although
each nation has a unique history behind how they gained their independence.


Ghana was the first African nation south of the Sahara to gain freedom from the British.
In the 1940's Kwame Nkrumah rised to power of an independence movement
by organizing rallies and political speeches against the British. In 1957, Ghana had finally
won their battle. Nkrumah was elected the first president of Ghana and did many things
to change the system they were used to. Nkrumah advocated socialism and nationalized
many businesses. As time went on, the once democracy slowly turned into a dictatorship.
In 1966, Nkrumah overthrown by the first of several military coups in Ghana.
In 1981, a young military officer named Jerry Rawlings stepped forward. He slowly
started to strengthen Ghana's economy, which is largely based on sales of cocoa and gold.
He also restored democracy in Ghana. He then won a free election in 1992 and then lost
to an opponent in 2001.

Jerry J. Rawlings

Stuggle for Independence in Kenya

For thousands of Kenyans, freedom was only granted after a long, agonizing, armed struggle. African
farmers had lost many of their land and jobs to white settlers. The settlers took over much of the
fertile highlands making it difficult for the village of Kikuyu to prosper. The settlers claimed it as their
land but the people of Kikuyu begged to differ. Jomo Kenyatta, the leadingspokesman of the Kikuyu
said "The land is ours. When Europeans came,they kept us back and took our land." Kenyatta
was a nonviolent activist and used nonviolent methods to fight oppressive laws. Although, in the 1950's
more radical leaders stepped forward and turned to guerrilla warfare.These rebels burned farms
and attacked settlers and Africans who were known to have helped or work with the settlers.
The British called theseguerrillas the 'Mau Mau'. To end the violence, British has Kenyatta arrested
and killed thousands of Kikuyu. The rebels were crushed with no leader,but the movement lived on.
Kenyatta became a national hero and in 1963, the year of his release, he was made the
first leader of an independent Kenya. As president, Kenyatta jailed those who opposed him and outlawed
opposition parties.
June 1, 1963


Throughout the 1800's, France had conquered much of Alergia. Millions of French
people had settled there over time. They were very much determined to keep
the Algerian people from winning independence. Because of this, Algerian nationalists
set up the National Liberation Front. In 1954, this group turned to guerrilla warfare.
The French though, had just recently lost one of their asian colony in Vietnam so they
were very reluctant to lose their Algerian colony. The French sent 500,000 troops to
maintain their possession. The main reason though as to why they wanted to control
Algeria still though was because in the 1950's oil and natural gases had been discovered
As the war foryeah.jpg freedom lived on, hundreds of thousands of Algerians lost their lives.
Eventually, the public opinions of the French people spoke out and rediculed
the war causing it to end. In the year 1962, Algeria had won its freedom.
In 1965, a coupe had taken over and a long period of military ruled had begun. In the 1960's
and 1970's, Algerians had started a command economy based on oil and gas exports.
In the 1980's the country had then returned to a market economy and in 1992, the
government had allowed free elections and an Islamist party had won most of the votes.
Due to this, the military had rejected the election results and seven long years of civil war
had broke out. Since 1999, the government has stopped the fighting but tense
feelings remain. Critics have accused the government of rigging elections.

command economy(n.): system in which government officials make all basic economic decisions
market economy(n.): an economy that relies on market forces to allocate goods and resources to
determine prices
Islamist Party(n.): People who want government polocies to be based on the teachings of Islam

Democratic Republic of the Congo

The DRC was formerly a Belgian colony that covered a vast region of Central Africa.
At least 1,000,000sq.mi. consist of rain forests and savannas located near the Congo River
basin. The region contains many valuble natural resouces such as diamonds and copper of
Katanga province. In 1960, the Congo urged to declare the colony independent even though
the Congolese were not ready for a self-government system which allowed Belgian people
to maintain control over mining companies and working with poloticians in Katanga. Patrice
Lumumba, the first prime minister of the independent Congo, asked for Soviet help
to fight back agaisnt the Belgian-backed rebels. The United States on the other hand
supported Lumumba's rival, Colonel Joseph Mobutu. Mobutu captured Lumumba
and she was executed shortly after. In 1963, the United Nations ended
the Katanga and in 1965 Mobutu overthrew Congo's government and ruled as a
military dictator. Mobutu's harsh and corrupt rule let poverty and instabilities in
the Congo get worse over time. In 1997, he was exiled and a civil war broke out
for six years. In 2003, ceasefire brought uneasy peace but the country remains
divided between the east and the west, and between many ethinic groups.

Katanga(n.): copper-mining region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mobutu Seso Seko:
President of the Congofrom 1965 to 1997. He served in the country's army and later became a journalist. Through press contacts, he met several influential politicians and eventually was appointed to high positions. He reigned during the Rwandan genocide and formed an authoritarian regime. He died in exile in 1997.


Nigeria has the highest population count in all of Africa. Its people being to
thousands of ethnic groups, but three of them dominate. The Christian Ibo and
Yoruba people live in the south, and the Muslim Hausa dominate the north. After
WWll, the British gave into the idea of Nigerian independence and the country of
Nigera won independence peacefully in 1960.
In 1961, a discovery of oil in the southeast and raised high hopes for the new nations
economic future. Unfortunately though, due to regional, ethnic, and religious differences
led to many conflicts. In 1966, Nigeria suffered the first of several military coups. The
second coup help 1966 was led by northern Muslim officers which led to a rebellion
in the southeast by the Ibo people, who then declared independence as the Republic
of Biafra. Following the rebellion was a 3 year war. In the end of it all though, Nigeria's
military defeated the Biafran rebels and ended all hoped of Biafra independence.
Throughout the 1970's and 80's, a series of military rulers suppressed opposition and
diverted much of the country's oil earnings for their own good. Opposition to military rule
increased during the 1990's. Finally in 1999, a military government eventually
allowed free elections. After the return to democracy, Nigera's people faced and increase
in crimes. Meanwhile, ethnic and religious divisions gave rise to renewed violence.
Biafran War
Checkpoint Question: How did Biafra and Katanga
reflect the challenges to unity that the new African nations
faced? They were often out powered by a bigger military
rule or colony. Most often, it was a struggle for independence
and took many years of war to win their freedom.

Struggles In Africa

(pg. 686-690)

During the 50's and the 60's, many African nations were gaining independence.
However, due to many ethnic diversities, religious beliefs, and languages, their freedom
was hard to maintain under the governments control.

South Africa Struggles for Freedom

The win for freedom in South Africa is very different from any other independence gain
in Africa. They won self-rule from Britain in 1910, however freedom was limited to white
settlers. Although whites only made up 20% of the population, they still controlled the
government. They eventually passed laws that strictly limited the black minority.
external image sf-lgflag.gif

Apartheid Divides South Africa

In 1948, the government expanded the existing system of racial segregation, which
created an apartheid . Under apartheid, all South Africans were registered by race.
Black, White, Colored (people of mixed ancestry), and Asian. Apartheid's supporters
claimed that it would allow each race to develop its own culture. It was mainly designed
to control over South Africa. Under apartheid, nonwhites faced many restrictions.
Blacks were treated like foreigners in their own land.
external image 250px-DurbanSign1989.jpg
Under the passed laws, they had to get permission to travel. Other laws
banned marriages between races, and required segregated restaurants, beaches, and schools.
Black workers were paid less than whites for the same jobs. Blacks could not own land in
most areas even.
Low wages and inferior schooling condemned most blacks to poverty.

apartheid(n.): separation of the races

Apartheid: was a system of racial segregation enforced through legislation by
the National Party governments, who were the ruling party from 1948 to 1994,
of South Africa, under which the rights of the majority black inhabitants of South Africa
were curtailed and white supremecy and Afrikaner minority rule as maintained. Apartheid
was developed after WWll by the Afrikaner dominated National Party and Broederbond
organizations and was practiced also in South West Africa which was administered by South
Africa under a Leauge of Nationsmandate (revoked in 1966), until it gained independence as Namibia
in 1990.

Fighting For Majority Rule

The African National Congress (ANC) was the main organization that opposed to the apartheid
and led the struggle for majority rule. In the 50's, the ANC organized marches, boycotts, and strikes.
In 1960, police gunned down 69 men, women, and children during a peaceful demonstration
in Sharpeville. The Sharpeville massacre and crackdown pushed the ANC to shift from nonviolent
to armed struggle. Some people like Nelson Mandela went underground. As an ANC leader,
Mandela had first mobilized young South Africans to peacefully resist apartheid laws. As the government
violence grew, Mandela joined ANC militants who called for armed struggle against the white minority
government. In the early 60's, Mandela was arrested, tried, and condemned to life in prision for
treason against the apartheid. While Mandela was in prison he remained a popular leader and powerful
symbol of the struggle for freedom. In the 80's, demands for and end to apartheid and for Mandelas
release increased. Many countries, including the United States, imposed economic sanctions on
South Africa. In 1984, black South African bishop Desmond Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize
for his nonviolent opposition to apartheid.
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela

ANC(n.): Head leaders to oppose to the apartheid
Sharpeville(n.): Black township
Nelson Mandela(n.): Arrested for treason, encouraged to rebel against apartheid
served as president 1994-1999
Desmond Tutu(n.): Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for nonviolence

Checkpoint Question: What factors finally brought an end to apartheid
in South Africa?
Outside pressures and protests at home convinced president F.W. Klerk to end
the apartheid. He freed Mandela and lifted the ban on the ANC.

South Africa's Neighbors Face Long Conflicts

In Southern Africa, the road to freedom was longer and more violent than
what other nations had to overcome. For many years the apartheid
government of South Africa supported white minority rule in neighboring
Namibia and Zimbabwe. Britain and France gave up their African possessions,
Portugal clung fiercely to its colonies in Angola and Mozambique. In response,
nationalist movements turned to guerrilla warfare. Fighting raged on for 15 years,
until Portugal agreed to withdraw from Africa. In 1975, Angola and Mozambique
celebrated independence.
Independence did not end the fighting, however. Civil wars, fueled by Cold War
rivalries went on for years. South Africa and the United States saw the new nations as
threats because some liberation leaders had ties to Soviet Union or the ANC. The US
and South Africa aided a rebel group fighting the new government of Angola. South
Africa alone aided Mozambique. The fighting didn't stop until 1992, in Mozambqiue
and 2002 in Angola. Although, tensions remained afterwords. Slowly, they have
both begun to rebuild.

external image mozambique_3110_600x450.jpg
Checkpoint Question: Why did fighting continue after Agnola
and Mozambique achieved independence?
Because of the tensions that remained in the air caused by the Cold War
alliances and ties.

Ethnic Conflicts Kill Millions

After independence, ethnic conflicts plagued several African nations. The causes were
complex. Historic resentments divided ethnically diverse nations. Unjust governments
and regional rivalries fed ethnic violence.

Rwanda and Burundi Face Deadly Divisions

The small nations of Rwanda, in Central Africa, faced one of Africa's deadliest civil wars.
The Rwandan people included two main groups. Hutus were the majority group, but the
minority Tutsis had long dominated Rwanda. Both groups spoke the same language, but
they had different traditions. After independence, tensions between the two groups simmered.
Conditions worsened in the early 1990's. In 1994, extremist Hutu officials urged civilians
to kill their Tutsi and moderate Hutu neighbors. Around 800,000 Tutsis and Hutus were
slaughtered. Another 3,000,000 of Rwanda's 8,000,000 people lost their homes to
destructive mobs. As the death rate rised, the international community failed to act.
After several months of this, France finally sent in troops to stop the madness.
With United Nations assistance, Rwanda set about rebuilding and recovering from the
horrors of genocide.Those accused of genocide faced trials in an international court.
Hutus and Tutsis had to find ways to live peacefully. World leaders pledged to stop any future
genocide wherever it might occur. Their readiness, however, was limited.
The neighboring nation of Burundi had a similar population and history.
As in Rwanda, tensions between Tutsis and Hutus led to civil war during the 90's.
While the fighting did not lead to genocide such as in Rwanda, guerrilla
groups fought for much longer in Burundi. Although several guerrilla groups
signed a peace treaty in 2000, fighting continued in the years followed.

Rwandan Genocide
Rwandan Genocide

Hutus(n.):group that forms the majority in Rwanda and Burundi
Tutsis(n.): main minority group in Rwanda and Burundi
Genocide(n.): deliberate attempt to destroy an entire religious
or ethnic group
Rwandan Genocide: Over the course of approximately 100 days
through mid-July, over 500,000 people were killed, according to a
Human Rights Watch estimate. Estimates of the death toll have
ranged between 500,000 and 1,000,000 , or as much as 20% of the
country's total population. It was the culmination of longstanding
ethnic competition and tensions between the minority Tutsi, who
had controlled power for centuries, and the majority Hutu peoples,
who had come to power in the rebellion of 1959–62 and overthrown
the Tutsi monarchy.

Sudan's Ethnic Strife

After independence, Sudan's Arab Muslim north dominated the non-Muslim, non-Arab south.
Arab-led governments enacted laws and policies that discriminated against non-Muslims
and against other ethnic groups. For example, the government tried to impose Islamic law
even in non-Muslim areas. For decades, rebel groups in the south battled northern domination.
War, famine, and droughts caused millions of deaths and forced many more to flee their homes.
However, in 2004, southern rebels signed a peace agreement with Sudan's government.
The southern rebels agreed to stop fighting, and the government agreed to give the south
limited self-government, power in Sudan's national government, and freedom from Islamic Law.
Also in 2004, ethnic conflict had also spread to Sudan's western region of Darfur. This conflict
raised fears of a new genocide. Arab militias, backed by the government, unleashed terror on the
non-Arab Muslim people of Darfur. They burned villages and drove hundreds of thousands of
farmers off the land that fed them and into refugee camps, where they faced the threat of
starvation. The UN, the US, and other nations organized a huge aid effort to help refugees.
external image sudan-generation-jem-fighters.jpg

Darfur(n.):a region in western Sudan where ethnic conflict threatened to lead to genocide.