Decolonization Of Africa Essay

2038 words - 8 pages

"The wind of change is blowing through this [African] continent, and whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact. We must all accept it as a fact, and our national policies must take account of it" (Macmillan). This speech, made by the prime minister of England in 1960, highlights the vast changes occurring in Africa at the time. Changes came quickly. Over the next several years, forty-seven African countries attained independence from colonial rule. Many circumstances and events had and were occurring that led to the changes to which he was referring. The decolonization of Africa occurred over time, for a variety of complex reasons, but can be broken down into two major contributing factors: vast changes brought about in the world because of World War II and a growing sense of African nationalism.

The colonization of Africa officially began in 1884 with the Berlin Conference. Western European powers began to split up the land and resources in Africa among themselves. This period of history became known as the Scramble for Africa. The Scramble for Africa occurred because as the slave trade ended, capitalists saw Africa as a continent that they could now exploit through legitimate trade. European capitalists found new ways to make money off of the continent. With greater exploration of the continent even more valuable resources were found. The encouragement of legitimate trade in Africa brought Europeans flocking to colonize Africa. Africa lost their independence, and along with it, their control over their natural resources. Europeans used the term the "White Man's Burden," a concept used by white colonizers in order to impose their way of life on Africans within their colonies, to justify their actions and even to make colonization seem noble somehow. The attitude was based on the belief that Africans were inferior and backwards and needed the help of Europeans. (Paalz)

Although the decolonization of Africa escalated after 1960, the events and circumstances of World War II played a significant role in decolonization. “The speed with which the European Empire crumbled following the end of World War II, and the manner in which it did so, suggest that the war was primary cause of decolonization. (Decolonization, Sub-Saharan Africa) On September 1, 1939, Europe entered World War II. Although having seemingly nothing to do with the African colonies, Africa was pulled into the war to aid the Allies (Paalz). Many of the events of World War II provided the catalyst for change in Africa. The African colonies provided considerable aid to the Allies in the form of resources and manpower even though there had not been any promises of African independence in return. Without being given any sort of recognition for their efforts in the war, many Africans became resentful towards Europe. Along with Europe’s constant economic exploitation, African’s began to feel obliged to support the Axis powers. During...

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