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This Unit is about World War 2, its Effects and The causes, The Formation of Unions, The role of the super power and how different countries got their independence all over the continent.

World War 2

It occurred between 1939 and 1945 and was between Germany, Italy and japan (the axis powers) on one side and Britain USSR (Union Soviet of Socialist Republics) and USA (Allied powers) on the other side. It led to the growth of African nationalism in the following ways;

The African soldiers who were taken to fight in World War 2 by the colonial masters realized that colonialism was a bad thing and needed to be fought against.

During World War 2, the Africans realized that the European were also mortal and could be defeated. This shuttered the myth of superiority and invisibility which the white man had surrounded himself with. This made the ex- service men determined to fight against the white man giving rise to African nationalism.

The African soldiers who were taken to fight in the war were promised independence for their countries, good pay before and after the war but on return to their countries after the war these promises were not fulfilled so the African decided to get what they had been promised through the use of force and by expelling the colonialists from their countries.

During the war, the Africans learnt new skills, ideas and techniques of fighting. They learnt how to read and write, got into contact with the liberals. Learnt how to drive, operate and service modern weapons. They got mobilization and leadership skills. All these experiences provided initiative for the war veterans to spear head independence for their countries for example Ben Bella of Algeria and Jean Badel Bokassa had fought for the French in Indo-china. Bildad Kaggia had fought for the British in morocco and Waruhiu Ibote had fought in South East Indonesia for the British.

It resulted into the coming into power the labor party in Britain. After the war, the conservative party led by Churchill lost direction to the labour party under Clement Atloe. The labour party was liberal and was positive about granting independence to the British colonies in Africa. As a result they made changes which encouraged the activities of the nationalists and this fostered the growth of African nationalism.

World War 2 led to the emergency of the United Nations organization as an institution to safeguard international peace and harmony. The UNO was dominated by USA and USSR which were anti-colonial and they pressured Britain and French to decolonize their territories and to make some fundamental reforms of their colonies and such reforms facilitated the growth of African nationalism. The UNO also had a decolonization committee which put pressure on the colonial powers to let go of their colonies.

During world war 2 Britain and French as colonial powers experienced losses which compelled the colonial administration to step up their exploitation of African countries. These increased exploitations became intolerable to the Africans who decided to use military arms and struggle for independence in order to be free from such exploitations.

It resulted into the emergency of two super powers USA and USSR which had not been affected by the war. These two powers greatly disapproved of colonialism and sometimes they helped the nationalists in funding their activities. They funded African nationalist’s movements and political parties facilitating the growth of African nationalism.

World War 2 led to the growth of commune type of African nationalist who were radical, uncompromising and militants who helped in the growth of African nationalism for example Nyerere of Tanganyika, Nkrumah of Ghana, Namdi Azikiwe of Nigeria and Ben Bella of Algeria.

World War 2 led to the development of cities and towns and increasing number of people flocked to the towns and cities where they experienced unemployment, bad living conditions which contrasted sharply with the living position of the whites. The urban areas were cosmopolitan where new loyalties were developed which transcended clan, ethnic and kinship loyalties. The unity forged between urban dwellers facilitated the growth of nationalism.


The independence of Asian countries

Many Asian countries got independence from colonial rule between 1947 and 1950. India was the first one in 1947 followed by Pakistan in the same year, Burma and Indonesia in 1948-49, china in 1949 together with Bangladesh. The independence of Asia had a lot of influence on the growth of African nationalism in the following aspects;

The anti-colonial movements in Asia inspired African nationalists to form political parties and form liberation movements which were institutions that fostered the growth of African nationalism for example India national movement was a model on which Nkrumah run the CPP in Ghana ( Convention People’s Party).

The African nationalists copied the methods used by the Asian nationalists by fostering nationalism and in the struggle for independence. They used methods like demonstrations; sit down strikes, boycotts, use of the press to undermine colonialism. Such methods were used by Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana, namdi azikiwe in Nigeria, Kenneth Kaunda in Zambia and Julius nyerere in Tanganyika.

Asian independence especially in japan led to technological development. This roused African nationalists thinking regarding the benefits of independence and this provided impetus for nationalist activities and demand for decolonization.

Asian nationalism made it apparent for the African nationalists that they should never give up what they aimed at until it was achieved. This attitude of perseverance and persistence was copied of Asian from the Asian nationalist.

The independence of the Asian countries helped in spreading anti-colonial propaganda at international level for example after independence, the Chinese leader Mao Tsetung established radio Peking through which African nationalists aired out injustices of colonial rule in the countries at international level and this helped to get international sympathy and support for Africans in the spread of nationalism and the struggle for independence.

The Asian nationalists and independent countries extended moral and financial support for the nationalistic struggle which fostered the development of African nationalism. For example Nehru of India urged the Asians in Kenya to help the nationalists financially in their struggle against British rule, china provided fire arms, training personnel and financial support to the FLN in Algeria, PAIGC in Guinea Bissau and FRELINO in Mozambique.

The Asian countries like India criticized and pressurized the colonial powers to decolonize African countries for example India pressurized Britain and persuaded her to give independence to her African colonies and put them under the common wealth. This led to Britain decolonization of her West African colonies especially Ghana and Nigeria.

The Asian countries after independence became members of the UNO and they used their position to decamping colonialism on the UNO general assemblies. They also put pressure on the decolonization committees of the UNO to speed up the process of independence of some African states and this fostered African nationalism.

The independent Asian countries in1955 organized a conference for afro-Asia solidarity in Bandung the capital of Indonesia. The Bandung conference, the Asian countries pledged to help the African countries in the struggle for independence and also help in economic development. The Bandung conference also gave rise to the idea of non- alignment movement where African countries countries were urged to take a neutral stand in international politics in order to preserve their integrity and sovereignty as well as fostering nationalism.

The independent Asian countries extended economic help to foster the development in post independent African countries in order to undermine neo colonialism for example china and japan helped and continue to help in the establishment of large projects for example establishments of dams, HEP stations, construction of railways and roads which have helped African countries maintain their sovereignty.

The weakness of the League of Nations and establishment of the UNO

The failure of the League of Nations to stop the occurrence of World War 2 undermined its credibility so in 1945, the countries of Europe and the then independent countries decided on the formation of UNO. The UNO was instrumental in fostering African nationalism in the following ways;

It established a trusteeship council which replaced the mandate system of the League of Nations. The trusteeship council pressurized the colonial powers to give independence to their colonies as a matter of urgency for example Britain was urged to make constitutional reforms in Tanganyika which led to her independence in 1961, France was also urged to make reforms in Togo in Cameroon which led to the independence of Togo in 1960 and Cameroon in 1961.

Role of super powers

These included USA and USSR, by 1945 USA threatened Britain to stop giving it aid if it did not decolonize African countries. Since Britain had lost most of its colonies and needed the financial assistance it decided to comply to USA’s demands. Colonization was associated with capitalism and USSR was against capitalism.

The super powers USSR and USA as permanent members of the UNO and as important members of the general assembly condemned colonialism and defended Africans for example they allowed Nkrumah and Haile Selassie as well as Samora Machel to address the UNO assembly about the problems of colonialism in their country.

The super powers extended moral and financial support and this enabled the liberation movements to fight successfully in dislodging colonial rule and mobilizing finacialist activities for example Russia helped the Angolan Liberation Movement for the liberation of its country.

It was instrumental in the signing of the Atlantic charter in 1941 and article 3 of the charter acknowledged the fact that people were free to choose the kind of government they wanted and ruled under and this became a base for Africans demand for decolonization of their countries.

The two super powers did not have colonies so they compelled Britain and France to decolonize in exchange for development aid to rehabilitate their states after World War 2. As a result Britain and France made reforms in their colonies which led to the spread of nationalism.

The super powers in a bid to spread their ideologies socialism and capitalism, urged the African nationalists to adopt the idea of socialism and capitalism to mobilize their people and forge unity among them and this mobilization fostered growth of African nationalism.

Role of Africans in the diaspora

Diaspora is a place around outside the continent of Africa. The Africans living in the diaspora especially in America started pan African movements. The pan Africanists like Web Dubois, Garvey Marcus and George Padmore appealed to Africans all over the world to be proud of their race and to unite against whites in Africa. Marcus Garvey’s “Go back to Africa” policy and “Africa for Africans” slogan inspired the growth of nationalistic feelings amongst African students who went to study abroad for example Kwame Nkrumah.

Role of African Elites

African elites were the people who got the chance to be educated and enlightened about the various things which were taking place around them.

The African elites are those who had been educated in missionary schools especially whom the colonialists intended to use as man power to help colonial administrators. These include Kwame Nkrumah, Dr. Danqual, K. Gbedemah in Ghana, Namdi Azikiwe in Nigeria, Blaise Diagne and Sector Senghor in Senegal, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya and Julius Nyerere of Tanganyika who provided the vital leadership in the struggle for decolonization.

The elites wrote newspapers in which they pointed out the short comings of colonial rule.

The elites created awareness among the African people about the need for reform in their countries and as a result the masses became politicized about colonization and its badness. The masses joined reforms for the political liberation of their countries.

Role of religion

The independent church movement was formed during colonial rule with many countries as a protest against colonial rule using nonviolent means.

The independent church movement was made up of new churches established and ran by Africans as a result of break away from the main European led churches which were discriminative in nature.

The independent churches acted as platforms from which the nationalists would condemn activities of the colonial government and this helped to de popularize colonial rule.

They established their own schools which accommodated greater numbers of children both at elementary and secondary and even the old were given a chance to learn how to read and write. This helped to integrate and widen the scale and struggle for unity and independence.

The independent churches upheld the traditional values and cultures of Africans and initiated the pride of the young in African culture which helped to promote African nationalism.

The independent churches appealed for unity among the different communities as brothers and sisters and this helped to foster the growth of African nationalism.

Role of the Brazzaville conference 1944

The conference was summoned at the imitation of President De Gaulle of France and it was a conference of French administration of the French colonies in equatorial Africa. It took place in Congo- Brazzaville. The conference was attended by the governors of the French colonies of Ivory Coast, Niger, Senegal, Cameroon and Congo- Brazzaville. It was called to look for a way of rewarding Africans who helped France in World War 2 and look for ways of reforming the French colonial policies in their colonies.

It contributed to the growth of African nationalism in the following ways;

It provided for the establishment of territorial parliaments in the French colonies where Africans would take part in controlling their local affairs.

It empowered Africans to vote for their leaders and representatives to the French national assembly in Paris.

It initiated the formation of political parties, fostered the election process for example Roassemblement Democratique Africane (RDA) which was formed by the nationalists in Senegal and Ivory Coast under the leadership of Sedar Senghor and Houphouet Boigny. The RDA carried out mass politicization and mobilization against French colonial rule in West Africa.

The conference led to the abolition of forced labor and arbitrary imprisonment and these led to a lot of people engaging in nationalistic activities.

It recommended extension of education to the young and this enabled the youth to carry the messages of reform and unity fostering the growth of African nationalism.

France increased her investment in health and economic projects in her colonies in West Africa. These reforms acted as a base on which African nationalist asked for more demands for liberal reforms and independence and this fostered the growth of nationalism.

It resulted into the 1958 referendum in which the French colonies in West Africa would vote yes if the wanted to be independent and no if they wanted to stay under French rule. As a result Guinea under the leadership of Ahmed Sekou Toure voted yes and was given immediate independence which inspired many French territories to also start pressing for independence

The inability of the French government to fulfill all the promises of the Brazzaville conference compelled Africans to take up arms to secure the unrealized and unfulfilled promises made by the French.

However, the Brazzaville conference only laid foundation for emancipation of the French colonies in West Africa and did not affect the Portugal and British colonies. It also didn’t have African representation on the continent and the only African was Felix Eboue a Latin American from French Gayana.

The coming to power of the labor party in Britain

In 1945 after world war2 Churchill and his conservative party lost power in the elections that took place after the war. The labor party under Clement Atlee came into power. This facilitated the growth of African nationalism in that;

It was more liberal and willingly made reforms in British colonies in Africa which acted as a base for the growth of African nationalism for example Richards’s constitution in Nigeria in 1946 and the burns constitution in the gold coast in 1947.

The labor party introduced election of representatives to legislative councils rather than nominations and this widened the scope of political activity.

The labor party allowed British colonies to have more African representatives on the legco and this helped to increase African political awareness leading to the growth of African nationalism.

It signed the treaty of San Francisco in 1945 which led to the establishment of the UNO and its various institutions later fostered the growth of African nationalism.

The Manchester conference of 1945

This was the fifth pan African conference held in Britain and for the first time it was attended by many Africans from the African continent including Magnus Williams from Sierra Leone, Namdi Azikiwe of Nigeria, Peter Abrahams from south Africa, Kenneth Kaunda form Zambia, together with Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana who organized the conference with Edward Padmore and Web Dubois.

It marked the beginning of active participation of black Africans in the pan African movement as an expression of African nationalism.

It enlightened the African nationalists about international affairs giving them morale to press for the decolonization of their countries.

At the conference, the liberal European leaders joined their voice with that of the African nationalists on the continent to demand for the freedom and independence of African states.

The participants urged the Africans nationalists who lived in Europe to return to their countries and spear head the spread of African nationalism and the struggle for independence of their countries.

As a result of the conference, many Africans returned to their countries and fostered the politicization and mobilization of their people against colonial rule for example Nyerere returned to Tanganyika in 1946 and Kwame Nkrumah in 1947 to Ghana.

It initiated militant nationalism and radicalism because of the Manchester declaration in which Africans resolved that they would use force if necessary in order to end colonialism.

The Russian communist revolution of 1917

Because of the problems of the First World War and Russo- Japanese wars in 1908, Tsarism in Russia came to an end and the Bolsheviks led a revolution and established a communist government based on Marxist principals under Lenin.
Communism is a social political ideology which believes that the will of an individual should be subservient to the state for the will of all. The Bolshevik revolution resulted into economic progress and industrialization of Russia which had great impact on African nationalism.

The revolution was important in that;

The ideas of the Bolshevik revolution of Marxist and Leninism reinforced the enmity of African towards European imperialism and colonization through class struggle.

The Africans now felt less alone in the struggle against European imperialism and colonization and this boasted their morale to continue their struggle for decolonization.

The revolution in Russia formed a base of helping the Africans against colonialism in order to entrench the ideas of socialism and communism that’s why Russia greatly funded the struggle in guinea Bissau, Angola, Mozambique, and Algeria.

Russia which was now rich helped the Africans by training their nationalist armies, providing ornaments for the guerrilla armies, funding political parties and all these activities led to the spread of African nationalism.

Russia after 1945 started providing funds for new economic development programs when the capitalist countries abandoned the Africans who were against ne colonialism for example Russia provided funds for the construction of the Aswan high dam after the Egyptian revolution of 1952 and the Snez canal crisis of 1956. It also provided funds to Guinea Bissau when France withdrew her economic aid after the referendum of 1958 which led to guineas independence.

Russia allowed some African nationalists to acquire higher education in their institutions where the nationalists were taught to appreciate the badness of colonialism and goodness of socialism and communism. From the Russian example, the Africans learnt that a country would progress economically without the encumbrance of colonial rule and imperialism.

The Russian revolutions showed the African nationalists that they had powerful friends in the struggle against imperialism and this boosted their morale as they carried out their activities.

The communist revolution in Russia served as an example in china which also had a communist revolution led by Mao Tsetung in 1949. This revolution led to china’s emergency as a powerful economy and it later did what Russia did for African nationalism.

The missionary activities in Africa

Missionaries came to Africa in large numbers in the first quarter of the 19th century. They preached freedom and equality which contrasted with the support for colonization.

They regarded Africans as idle and lazy people and they needed the intervention of the whites to shade these evils and be like other men.

Missionary teaching was divinizing diving people in lines of converts and non- converts and this compelled Africans to unite in order to preserve their interests.

They undermined African culture including African songs, dance, drama, land ownerships among others. As a result the missionary attitude led to large scale desire by Africans to do away with colonialism in order to preserve their culture.

They provided formal education for the sons of chiefs and leading people in the society and this educated Africans formed the elite class who were the fore runners of African nationalism.

Some missionaries even supported the nationalists in their activities for example they supported Lumumba in Belgian Congo in his struggles for the decolonization of his countries. They supported the Hutu nationalists in their struggle against the Belgians in Rwanda.

Role of mass media

The mass media included newspapers, radios. It created and increased the scale of awareness among the masses about the wickedness of colonial rule and the benefits that are cruel to a country as a result of decolonization and independence for example radio Accra in gold coast and radio Cairo in Egypt topped in politicization of the masses.

The radios were propaganda based inspiring Africans to revolt against bad colonial policies for example Radio Accra broadcast a message in Swahili which encouraged the Africans in Kenya to fight against the British leading to the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya from 1952-1956.

The newspapers and Magazines initiated the sense of self-worth among Africans which facilitated the growth of African nationalism for example Accra evening news and west Africa pilot helped to promote nationalism in Ghana and Nigeria.

The newspapers edited by the elites initiated a sense of unity and encouraged Africans on the continent to unite against colonial rule and as a result there was increased unity that facilitated the growth of African nationalism.

The Egyptian revolution of 1952

In July 1952, a coup occurred in Egypt led by Abdel Nasser, Mohammed Neguib and other army officers. The coup which removed Farouk from power led to great change in Egypt which constituted a revolution.

It fostered the growth of African nationalism in such a way that;

It gave inspiration to other countries to fight for their independence.

Nasser the leader of the revolution inspired and mentored other African nationalists to carry out changes in their countries for example he mentored Ben Bella and Balkachem Krim form Algeria.

Nasser’s government extended material and financial support to anti-colonial movements elsewhere in the continent for example it supported the Mau Mau rebels in Kenya and after 1956, it gave the FLN the arms it captured from the British and French in the Snez canal area.

Egypt after 1952 became a safe haven for African nationalists to plan their liberation activities for example Ignatius Musaazi of the UNC made his base in Egypt after 1954. The Algerian nationalists made Cairo a base for their government in exile during the liberation struggle.

Nasser as the leader of new Egypt allowed Africans to get educational facilities in Cairo where they got new ideas about political economy, international politics and economics as well as social ideologies.

Egypt allowed safe passage of arms from Eastern Europe to Algeria and other parts of Africa where there was struggle. This helped to speed up the process of decolonization and African nationalism.

Egypt broke the polarization between the Arab north and Negro south so that there was cooperation between all the Africans of the continent and this helped in African nationalism.

Egypt after 1952 helped financially and militarily the anti-colonial struggles in Mozambique, Angola, Algeria and even South Africa.

The independence of Ghana in 1957

Ghana was the first African country to get independence from the colonialists. After her independence, Ghana became a model for many African countries because it inspired liberation struggles all over Africa and African nationalists began to increase their demand for independence for example it inspired the independence struggles in Nigeria.

After Ghana’s independence, Nkrumah called for unity among the African states for example in his book “Africa must unite.”

After independence, Ghana leaders urged the independent states by then to help those other African countries which were still under colonialism to release their independence.

After the independence, Ghana’s leadership offered advice and financial help to other countries in the search for and consolidation of their independence for example Ghana gave guinea Conakry under Sekou Toure some financial aid after France had withdrawn her aid from guinea in 1958.

Ghana after independence hosted the whole Africa conference in Ghana where many African nationalists were brought into interaction with each other and after the conference; they stepped up anti-colonial and nationalist activities in their countries.

The Accra conference of 1958 encouraged the formation of political parties and national movements as vital institutions to foster nationalism and spear head the decolonization struggle for example it inspired Patrice Lumumba to form the MNC ( Mouvment Nationale du Congolace) which led Belgian Congo to independence in June 1960.

Role of British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan

In 1960, Harold Macmillan made a visit to the cape and made a famous speech which urged the whites to cooperate with the Africans in South Africa. After the visit, he addressed the British parliament where he talked about the wheel of change in Africa which was not likely to abate and therefore advised British government and other colonial masters to vacate Africa in order to avoid constant confrontations with the natives which would not benefit the colonial, powers.

The speech fostered increased nationalist activities and demand for independence especially in the British colonies of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and South Africa.

The non- aligned movement 1955

In 1955, the independent countries organized a conference in Bandung the capital of Indonesia with an aim of fostering closer ties between the Asian countries and the African countries. The conference was attended by many African nationalists including Nasser and Nkrumah.

The conference which resulted into the formation of the non- aligned movement was important in such a way that;

The rich non- aligned movement member states like India and Egypt pledged to help the poor African states which were still under the yoke of colonialism to attain their independence.

The Africans were also encouraged to be nonpartisan in their international dealings so that they would not lean towards socialism and capitalism in order to preserve their sovereignty.

The formation of the O.A.U in 1963.

The O.A.U (Organization of African Unity) was created IN May 1963 in Addis Ababa was a major achievement in the pan- African movement.

The O.A.U which was first made up of the independent African states fostered growth of African nationalism by;

Appealing for unity among African states

Preserving of integrity of member states through the policy of noninterference of the affairs of the member states.

It condemned colonization and all its manifestations

It supported the liberation movements in various countries like Mozambique and Angola.

It established a liberation committee based in Dar-es-salaam which gave financial and moral support to the nationalists and liberation struggle in Angola, Mozambique and South Africa.

It urged the member states to help one another in fighting against the colonizers.

It imposed sanctions against the colonizers and put pressure on the colonial masters to grant independence to their colonial territories.

It tried to mediate in stopping civil wars and secessions in its member state for example it intervened in the attempt by Katongo to succeed from Belgian Congo and Biafra to succeed from Nigeria. It also intervened in the civil war in Chad from 1966-1981.
The independence of Guinea

Following the De Gaulle’s innovative referendum of 1958, Ahmed Sekou Toure, leading nationalist voted no for guinea showing that Guinea no longer wanted to be ruled under France. Because of this vote, France withdrew all her technical administrators, experts and stopped financial aid to Guinea. Guinea was saved from collapse because of the help from Ghana, USSR and other socialist and communist countries of Eastern

Europe and Asia.

Their independence was important in the following ways;

It encouraged other nationalists to be bold in the search for independence for their countries like what their leader had done.

After the independence of Guinea, other countries like Senegal, Mali and Nigeria began to demand for their independence.

It led to the formation of the Senegal Mali union in1959 and the union begun to demand for reforms which would allow the independent states to remain independent in the French community. On this basis France allowed Dahomey, Benin, Ivory Coast, Mauritania and Niger to be independent in 1960. The independence demonstrated to other countries that a country would be independent of the colonialists and their support and still survive and this gave courage to other countries even in British West Africa, central and eastern Africa to demand for decolonization of their states.

It influenced Patrice Lumumba to step up the demands for independence for his country Belgian Congo in 1960.

The independence of French Guinea provided a practical example for Amilcar Cabral of Guinea Bissau in his leading the struggle of the country from the Portuguese.

Guinea also provided a base for the operations and moral support for PAIGC as a liberation movement in Guinea Bissau.

Guinea’s independence put into practice the idea of pan Africanism through the Ghana- Guinea union formed in 1958 and the union later embraced Mali in 1961 marking large scale unity and cooperation among the African states.


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