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This unit is about African Nationalism of 1935 ,Their colonialism and all thier Manifestals.




To refers to ones love for one’s country, its culture and general well-being. African Nationalism refers to the strong hatred of colonialism and neo colonialism and all their manifestations by the Africans on the continent and in the diaspora.

It can mean strong sentiment against foreign domination and the belief that European Colonization hindered African Development and economic growth.

Mahmood Mandani defines nationalization as the desire and struggle among Africans for political independence and well as the desire to manage their own sound, political, and economics with minimum outside interference.

Nkrumah said that African nationalism is the total rejection of colonialism and neo colonialism in all the manifestations.

Lejun says that nationalism is the political force       he notes the idea of a nation and which rises,                                                                                         make the idea a reality. Some writers believe that African nationalism is a strong desire for self-determination political economy and cultural independence which the Africans have for their countries in Africa and in the Diaspora.

Some writers say that it is the desire for Africans to be free from colonial rule, to rule by Africans as well as having unity as Africans within the same country, between countries from the continent and in the diaspora.




In this phase African chiefs were persuaded to sign treaties of friendship with the European individuals, groups and trading companies. After signing the treaties the Europeans became unfriendly, they reduced powers of the chiefs, introduced taxes, and forced labor, started monopolizing trade. All this annoyed some African people and their leaders who took up arms to fight against colonialists for example Mwanga of Buganda, Jaja Opobo, and Asante in Ghana.


This stage was characterized by integration of Africans in the colonial system. There was compulsory growing of cash crops, construction of roads, railway lines, building of schools, foster colonialism, land grabbing by Europeans, Compulsory payment of taxes by Africans.

In this stage, colonialism took the form of armed rebellion which cut across tribal and ethnic lines for example the Maji maji rebellion in East Africa, the Nama-Herero rising in Namibia and the Asante- Fante against the British in Ghana.


In this period, the Africans demanded for increased participation in the politics of their countries and in the commercial activities forcing the European colonialists to Grant some reforms like Africans being elected on the legislative councils.

1939- Independence

In this period, African Nationalism was in form of mass political parties, large scale nationalistic movements which became institutions for fostering African Nationalism.

Such institutions include National Council of Nigerial citizens (NCNC), Kenya African Union (K.A.U), United Gold coast Convention (U.G CC), Front for National Liberation (FLN).

Post-Independence Period

This is a period in which many problems immerged to change the independent African states like Urbanization, large scale unemployment, high population growth rates, civil wars, Coup d’états and succession attempts.


Modern African nationalism is characterized by;

Strong hatred for neocolonialism (attempts by more developed countries to influence the affairs of African states indirectly through Multinational cooperation’s (MNCs). Through NGO’s like Oxfam, World Vision International and through Multi-lateral institutions like IMF, IBRD (World Bank) and through bi-lateral institutions like DANIDA and GTZ

Formation of trade unions; these are workers organizations established to protect their workers from employers and to fight for higher wedges and better conditions of work.

African Nationalism during the 20th century was under the patronage/ leadership of educated Africans (elites). Having attended missionary schools and served in the colonial service as clerks, secretaries and interpreters, they understood better evils of colonialism. Topics like the French revolution had opened their minds about the need for liberty, equality and fraternity. They based on these to criticize the colonial masters. Elites also read the newspapers and listened to radios and interpreted the nationalistic ideas to rural masses. The speeches and slogans of elites awakened national consciousness for other Africans.

It was also characterized by sabotage from conservative African chiefs and sultans. They had collaborated with European colonialists and had benefited a lot from them for example Kabakas of Buganda and sultans of both Libya and Zanzibar. When the elites started demanding for independence, the conservative African chief’s and sultans saw them as a great danger to their political positions. There was therefore a tendency for conservative leaders to work for the continuity of colonialism until the tide of radical nationalism caught them up.

It was characterized by militarism and radicalism. In areas occupied by white settlers such as Kenya, Southern Rhodesia (Zanzibar),Namibia, south Africa and Algeria, African nationalists became so militant. This was due to the extreme brutality of the whites in such countries. This militarism became more widespread after the return of ex-service men from the Second World War. These demanded for a speedy end to colonialism. Among the militant nationalist we have Amilear Cabral of Guinea, Bissau, Agostinho Neto of Angola, Sam Nijuoma of Namibia and Jean Bodel Bokassa of the central Republic.

It was closely associated with urbanization. Urban centers for example Accra, Lagos, Kampala were developed by colonialists. A number of Africans flocked to urban centers expecting jibs in industries and better standards of life. However, due to high costs of living, slummy areas, absence of jobs and discrimination from whites, life became miserable. Even the elders were either poorly paid or jobless. Due to frustrations in towns the African town dwellers were easy to mobilize towards nationalistic efforts.

It was also characterized by negotiations for independence. Almost all over the African continent, educated Africans began by negotiating with the colonial masters to grant independence to African countries. However these dialogues debates and round table talks did not yield the required results. It was then that the Africans changed from verbal to radical means of struggling for independence. F or example in South Africa where the ANC started by negotiations but later opened up a military wing. Otherwise African nationalism remained theoretical and verbal.

It was characterized by the formation of mass political parties such as the UGCC and CPP in Gold Coast (Ghana), the UFF in Uganda, the TANU in Tanganyika among others. Through these political parties, Africans were sensitized about the need for mass action against the whites. These parties were under the leadership of the elites who publicized the injustices of colonialism during open public talks.

Equally true, African nationalism was characterized by the formation of liberation movements such as the FLN (National Liberation Front) of Algeria, the ANC (African Nationalistic Congress) of South Africa, the MPLA, and PAIGC among others. These were basically guerilla movements that chose to drive the white man out of Africa using force of arms. And in some cases their pressure led to independence for example FLN in Algeria (1962), and the ANC in South Africa (1994).

African nationalism was also characterized by secessionist movements especially between the 1950’s and 70’s. In various parts of Africa, some tribes rejected the joint nationalistic efforts spear headed by young elites. Instead they preferred to struggle for tribal independence. For instance in Uganda and Nigeria, the Baganda and Ibo respectively choose to fight for tribal independence instead of joining other tribes to struggle for national independence. This was parochialism or narrow nationalism.

It was characterized with the great pride in the African continent and black skin. The strong attachment to the black skin color was due to the discrimination of whites against blacks especially in South Africa, Angola and Zimbabwe. This great attachment was exhibited when Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935. All blacks and Negros in Africa and the diaspora were brought together by what they termed as white man’s conspiracy against the black race.

It was characterized by the arrest and detention of radical African nationalists such as Nelson Mandela of south Africa, Steve Biko of the ANC ( who died in prison) Ahmed Ben Bello of Algeria, Ferhat Abbas of Algeria among others.

It was characterized by the strong desire to revive African culture. A number of emerging African writers and political leaders of Africa have since the 1940’s made a great effort to revive and preserve the African culture for example President Leopold Sedar Sengher of Senegal rejected French culture and wrote poems in support of the African culture. In 1966, he organized the first festival of Negro Arts in Dakar. President Francis Tombalbaye of Chad also re-traditionalized Chad in the 1960’s. The same to Mobutu Seseko of Zaire, African writers like Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiongo and Wale Soyinka have also expressed cultural nationalism through their writing.

It was characterized by the desire to form a single political union in Africa. The idea was championed by Kwame Nkrumah and has continued lingering in the minds of modern African Nationalists like Colonel Muamer Gadhafi. However instead of a political union, Africa has so far achieved regional economic unions/ integrations for example the ECOWAS, SADCC, PTA and EAC.

It was characterized by coup d’états such as 1965 coup in Algeria against Ben Bella, the 1966 coup d’état in Ghana against Kwame Nkrumah, The 1952 coup d’état in Egypt, the 1965 coup d’état against Patrice Lumumba in Congo, the 1974 coup against Haile Selassie of Ethiopia among others. These coups had the effect of ushering in the military factor in African politics. Hence modern nationalism characterized by transition from civilian to military rule. In most societies, independent civilian leaders either failed to bring order like Lumumba or became tribalistic like Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia.

It is characterized by a strong feeling of Africanism for example nationalism beyond borders. This is the need by all blacks all over the continent and world to unite against colonialism and neo colonialism. Also the support given by Kwame Nkrumah and Nasser of Egypt reflected great pan African zeal.

It is characterized by ideological differences between Anglo-phone and Franco phone countries. Also the ideological differences between the Arab North and Negro south, also between the supporters of the capitalist state vis a vis the supporters of the socialist/communist ideology.

It is characterized by the interference into the politics in Africa by superpowers, for example encouraging civil wars, extending economic aid, sponsoring coup plotters among others, Hence the continuity of neo-colonialism which is a danger to real nationhood. Such super power interferences have also led to the awakening of the Non-aligned movement in Africa. Creation of divisionism via political parties is also the order of the day.

It is characterized by dictatorial regimes in post-independence Africa. Hence the transition from democratic to dictatorial politics where by democratic values only remain campaigning jargons while in practice African leaders became real dictators for example Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana became so chauvinistic that he did not accept advice from anybody including his party colleagues. Also Amin and Gaddafi became dictators in their countries.

It is characterized by Islamic fundamentalism or pan Islamic influence where Moslem fanatics in some countries urge their governments to make Islam the dominant religion and put the legal system on basis of the sharia law especially in North African countries.

It is characterized by correction of past mistakes by revolutionary leaders.

Public lectures and seminars

New social classes are being created along ethnic lines


The colonial policies of the different colonial powers

The colonial administrations in various countries instituted policies which were social, political and economic in nature on Africans.


  1. The Africans were denied top posts in government and administration.
  2. The representation on the legcos was made up of nominated rather than elected.
  • African chiefs were deprived of their powers and authority
  1. African leaders were humiliated in public. All these were not tolerable to the Africans especially the educated and they now wanted to get rid of colonial rule in order to establish government rules where Africans had top posts in government and administration and made their own laws.


  1. The colonialists used a policy of forced labour where Africans were compelled to provide free labour on government projects, public farms and plantations in the mines.
  2. Europeans also practiced land alienation where the Africans were compelled to move away from their fertile lands to make room for European settlement, construction of roads, railways, administration centers and nation stations. Africans who worked on land alienated from them where mistreated and exploited as cheap labour. As a result many Africans united to struggle against the colonial system and create governments which could respect their ownership and issue of land.
  • Colonial countries denied Africans jobs in certain jobs and sectors.
  1. The Europeans extracted African mineral resources unilaterally and for their exclusive benefits.
  2. They instituted harsh methods of collecting taxes.
  3. They imposed heavy and unrealistic taxes
  • They forced Africans to grow cash crops for which they were lowly paid at the expense of growing food crops.
  • They sold imported manufactured goods expensively to Africans
  1. They discouraged the establishment of industries.

All these economic grievances propagated African nationalism and compelled them to get rid of colonial injustices and to establish African governments which would institute favorable economic sectors.


  1. The colonialists introduced western European education to facilitate the colonization process but this gave birth to the African elites who began to question the legality of colonial rule. They took a leading role in formation of political parties, they criticized the colonial system, and they politicized the masses about the need for independence. They exposed the ills of colonial rule, they wrote articles in magazines that circulated in Africa and other countries, they edited newspapers, they demanded for reforms and decolonization of their states.
  2. The European missionaries were helped by the colonial system to undermine the African culture and this was resented by the Africans.


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