HIST 2005 Week 1 The Struggle for Independence in Africa

HIST 2005 Week 1 The Struggle for Independence in Africa


Africa, prior to World War II, was predominantly colonized by British and French powers, dividing the continent into Northern, Southern, Western, and Eastern regions. However, after the war, the rise of nationalism and the United Nations’ declaration on self-determination prompted the decomposition of colonial rule. Britain and France recognized the inevitability of granting independence to African colonies and took steps to prepare the populations for self-government. Despite some efforts by the colonial governments, the struggle for independence involved campaigns led by educated Blacks discontent with limited opportunities under colonial rule.

HIST 2005 Week 1 The Struggle for Independence in Africa Decolonization Efforts

The British government responded to demands for self-rule by introducing the Burns Constitution. Similarly, other colonial governments followed suit in their decolonization efforts, though France preferred its colonies to remain French rather than independent. However, Portugal, under the regime of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, made little effort to prepare its colonies for independence. As a result, countries like Portugal, Algeria, and Kenya had to engage in long-armed battles before gaining their independence.

The Struggle for Social Justice in South Africa

In addition to the broader struggle for independence, South Africa faced its own challenges in the form of the apartheid laws enacted in 1948. These laws institutionalized racial discrimination and segregation, affecting various aspects of life such as marriage, work, housing, education, religion, and politics. The apartheid system aimed to maintain white supremacy, perpetuating inequality and injustice among the races.

HIST 2005 Week 1 The Struggle for Independence in Africa Economic Challenges and Political Discord

Despite achieving independence, Africa continues to face economic challenges. Many parts of the continent still struggle with underdevelopment and are considered third-world countries. Industrialization and urbanization during colonization led to economic ties with former colonizers, with France maintaining close economic connections. In contrast, British colonies established economic ties with other nations. The concept of Pan-Africanism aimed to promote unity among African nations, but economic and political differences hindered its success. Africa’s diverse cultural and political landscape contributed to economic disparities and political discord.


The struggle for independence in Africa involved a complex and multifaceted process. African populations fought against colonial rule, endured discrimination, and faced economic challenges after gaining independence. Achieving social justice and economic prosperity remains an ongoing endeavor for many African nations.

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