Reference Entry

Decolonization in Africa: An Interpretation

Fred Cooper

in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, Second Edition

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9780195170559
Decolonization in Africa: An Interpretation

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The most difficult problem in writing the history of decolonization is the temptation to write it backwards. We know that almost all African colonies eventually became independent states, hence a tendency to relate the triumph of Nationalism, of an African conquest of the colonial state. We know now that the fruits of independence have often turned bitter, hence a temptation to write the history of disappointment, of the continued subordination of Africa to Western powers. Neither the triumphalist history nor the story of frustrated aspirations is sufficient.If instead of writing history from the present to the past, we watch it run forward, the history of Africa from the 1940s onward opens up to a much wider range of actions, aspirations, and possibilities. We see political movements directed not just at taking over the nation-state, but at revitalizing local belief systems or forging connections among people of African descent all around the world. We see African workers organizing to demand wages equal to those of whites, merchants seeking access to markets alongside European firms, peasants trying to restore harmony to the land. People act together as members of an Islamic brotherhood or as migrants from a particular rural area. Such collectivities are important not simply as they contributed to anticolonial or nationalist movements—even though many of them did—but because they helped reshape people’s lives.A number of scholars would dispense with the concept of decolonization altogether, for some because it never really happened—because Africa remains subordinated to Europe—for others because the term suggests that Colonial rule marched to its own end, rather than being overthrown by people striving to liberate themselves. The term is still useful, as long as one does not read more into it than it deserves. Colonialism may be distinguished from other systems in which a few people ruled over many by the institutions colonial regimes created that explicitly reproduced social difference and inequality. Colonial states drew and redrew distinctions among people under its rule, defining some as natives (in turn, divided into tribes) and others as citizens or Europeans, with different rights and obligations, administered through different agencies. Although states often used similar techniques at home and overseas to command obedience, the ruling fiction in the colonies was difference, while the ruling fiction at home in Europe, at least since the nineteenth century, was the legal and political equality of citizens. Colonial rulers passed laws against intermarriage and tried to prevent whites from “going native,” or educated natives from thinking too highly of themselves.These distinctions became increasingly difficult—and then impossible—to sustain in the period after World War II (1939–1945). Decolonization entailed the transition from empires in which distinction was emphasized to a global system of states in which all states were formally equivalent and in which each regarded its own citizens as formally equivalent to one another.The word formally is crucial. The world and its individual states have always been and remain driven by distinctions. Sovereignty allowed African leaders to make certain kinds of claims on world resources, and many became adept at appealing, using a vocabulary of “nation-building” and “development,” to rich states’ interests in having a world order of states participating in global institutions and markets. Internally, sovereignty also had its uses: sovereign power could be used to reward friends and punish enemies, to forge symbols of national solidarity. The politics of running a state, in short, are not the politics of running a colony. Crisis of Colonialism In 1945 the idea that most of Africa would be divided into independent states within twenty years would have struck most Europeans—and possibly most Africans—as unimaginable. By 1965 it was a fact. Part of understanding this transition is figuring out how the transfer of power became imaginable—in Paris, in Accra, in villages in rural Tanganyika (present-day Tanzania).Another of the temptations the historian faces is that of making colonialism into more than it was—a solid and unchanging edifice of power. Colonists wanted to believe this, as did anticolonial movements, for it defined their own heroism. Colonialism, in fact, came apart at its cracks, even as colonial regimes tried to remake themselves.What conquering powers could do best was concentrate forces—to smash African political units one by one, to punish rebellion brutally, and to round up labor or seize resources at certain moments. What they could do least well, try as they did, was to insinuate themselves into the routine exercise of power. In South Africa, Algeria, Southern Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe), and parts of other colonies, white settlers both forced indigenous people off their land and provided a surveillance and control over agricultural and mineral production that was impossible elsewhere. When two decades into the colonial period British rulers proclaimed themselves advocates of indirect rule, they were accepting their incapacity either to make Africans into replicas of Europeans or else to turn Africans into the servants of European will. They insisted that keeping African societies in their allegedly timeless integrity had been British policy all along. Actually, this “ethnicization” of Africa—French Africa as well as British—came at a time shortly after World War I (1914–1919) when educated Africans were building associations and political organizations and acting disturbingly like “citizens.”At the very time, in the 1920s, when European powers were pretending that Africans were living within tribal cages, many were deeply involved in boundary-crossing activities: as farmers, opening up new territories; as merchants, exchanging goods from different ecological zones; and as workers, seeking as best they could to obtain cash wages without losing access to land and community. Religious movements were shaping affinities that crossed or expanded lines of language and culture. African intellectuals forged connections throughout the African diaspora and with intellectuals from other colonized regions, while working-class Africans entered into diasporic relations when black sailors and dockworkers from Africa and the Americas met on ships or in ports, and eventually contributed to the rise of the Garvey movement.The colonialism that collapsed in the 1950s was not the stagnant colonialism of the 1920s or 1930s, but colonialism at its most arrogantly interventionist, its most self-consciously reformist. In the 1920s and 1930s, France and Great Britain rejected efforts from within the colonial establishment for a more vigorous development of African resources. A crisis came with recovery from the 1930s depression, as African workers returned to employers slow to raise wages recently cut, to cities with virtually no social services. The result was a wave of strikes beginning in the British Copperbelt (in present-day Zambia) in 1935, where it spread beyond the mines to engulf entire towns, extending to railroads in the Gold Coast and ports in Kenya, Tanganyika, and elsewhere. The wave struck the British West Indies as well. In London this was seen as an empire-wide threat. More important, it revealed that pretending to keep colonized people in their tribal cages was a failure. The British government decided it had to reclaim the initiative with the Colonial Development and Welfare Act of 1940. This recognized that resources would have to be put into colonies—not just extracted from them—if social peace and colonial initiative were to be restored.Then came the war—to which Africans contributed their bodies and their labor, and for which they received little. Another strike wave hit British Africa, and this time officials focused specifically on the labor question, partially giving in to wage demands and at last acknowledging the worker as something more than the “detribalized African.” In French Africa, parallel developments occurred after the war—in the shadow of major strikes and urban conflicts between 1945 and 1948—and also resulted in a new development initiative. Development in the Service of Empire The international situation had also changed. On the one hand, Europe needed African minerals and crops more than ever. On the other hand, empire became more vulnerable politically. Adolf Hitler gave racist ideologies a bad name, and imperial leaders were at pains to explain why “self-determination” was a useful cry against Nazi conquests but not against imperial domination. Would Africa simply become a zone of heightened extraction, or could imperial powers reconcile expanding production with containing protest and relegitimizing empire internationally? For France and Great Britain, the development idea seemed for a time to offer an answer: their capital and knowledge would both increase output and raise the standard of living of Africans. Development would be the salvation of empire.In Portuguese Africa, production was expanded within a highly authoritarian system of rule and a highly coercive system of labor recruitment. In Belgian Africa, development meant more power for the already powerful mining companies, which provided services to stabilize workers in their employment. Belgium boasted of health and other services, but it did little to train an elite and less to allow expression, suppressing numerous peasant uprisings, religious movements, strikes, and mutinies.Modernizing colonialism sharply raised the stakes: the old empire on the cheap was becoming economically and politically impossible, while the expensive empire of the postwar era had yet to prove itself. In fact, the development drive did more to foster demands and disorder than to contain them. And meanwhile, the attempt to legitimize the colonial order was opening cracks in the structure of power, which African political movements quickly pried wider open. Political Mobilization in Africa If one can sense the vulnerability of European powers, one needs to understand the multiple ways in which Africans mobilized, and the diverse objectives that they sought. It is too easy to project backwards the struggle for the nation-state, but important to note the way in which African political parties brokered quite diverse movements and aspirations—well enough to create plausible political organizations, not well enough to deepen those connections into a sense of common purpose.There were struggles to group together chiefdoms into larger units with more influence in the colonial capital, attempts to install younger or more progressive chiefs in place of reactionary ones, efforts of urban migrants to strengthen and expand their communities of origin, and attempts to combat spiritual threats to the health of local communities. These movements used local languages and religious beliefs, and they often involved people literate in English or French who might enhance oral tradition by compiling it in written form. There were Muslim brotherhoods with networks of Koranic schools and leadership hierarchies across West and North Africa as well as Christian communities and breakaway, sometimes millennial, religious organizations—all bringing people together in other ways. Pan-Africanism in its various forms confronted imperialism on a world scale, insisting that the oppression of people of color demanded a global liberation. South Africans had organized effective labor and strike movements from the 1920s, while Algerian workers—more of whom had jobs in France than in Algerian cities—built a powerful organization of North African workers in France, linked to currents of proletarian internationalism in Europe. It would soon catalyze radical nationalism in Algeria itself.What was really new after World War II was the possibility of articulating these concepts not simply among people of African descent literate in French and English, but between the elites and wider groupings of people within their respective territories.Before the war, political parties and other political organizations existed within a number of colonial territories, but most importantly across them—the National Congress of British West Africa and later the West African Students Union notable among these. In North Africa, where European colonization had never eclipsed the merchant or administrative elites of the previous Ottoman Empire, elite movements such as the Young Algerians or Young Tunisians claimed meaningful forms of citizenship. In Egypt a relatively brief period of formal British rule gave way in 1922 to a restored Egyptian monarchy, besieged by students, commercial elite, and other modernizers, and increasingly by mobilization among workers and peasants, all demanding that the state be truly independent, be truly national, and respond to their needs. Throughout North Africa, Islamic reform movements sought to purify social life and link the region to a broader Islamic world. In the 1940s these movements focused more clearly on demands for political autonomy, but with considerable disagreement over whether this should take place in relation to France or Great Britain, under a monarchy poised between traditionalist and modernizing political movements, or in an explicitly national form.In South Africa from 1912, the African National Congress (ANC) drew on Anglo-American traditions of peaceful petition and protest to insist that democracy made sense in Africa too. By World War II, young educated elite throughout Africa were adding a new militancy, linkages to labor movements, and connections to radical anti-imperialists in European and colonial capitals. In French Africa, the Rassemblement Démocratique Africaine organized a wide political movement in 1946, and territorial political parties came under its umbrella.Social action was necessarily political, and political action invariably had social implications. Yet a labor union was, first of all, a labor union, struggling for better wages and working conditions. In the 1945–1950 strike wave, unions in French Africa turned the government’s idea of a single, transoceanic France into demands that all workers within that unit receive the same pay and benefits. Although political leaders saw workers as a constituency, and unions saw political action as useful to their cause, a tension between the idea of solidarity among workers and unity among Africans grew. Similarly, the wide variety of movements among peasants—against the intrusiveness of colonial agricultural projects, over land issues, against below-market prices paid to farmers by colonial crop marketing boards—must be seen in all their specificity, though every success any movement had contributed to a broader sense of empowerment.It was the genius of men such as Kwame Nkrumah and Léopold Senghor that they could bring together diverse movements and tendencies. They were machine politicians in the best sense of the word. They drew together the poor peasant hemmed in by colonial agricultural policies, the well-off merchant feeling the heavy hand of the European import-export houses, the railway worker facing barriers to advancement, the literate clerk trapped in the racial hierarchy of a bureaucracy, the lawyer espousing constitutional justice into what—for a time at least—was a coherent movement against the injustices of colonial states. Studies of politics in different territories stress that political parties both were constrained by regional and ethnic differences and cut across them, and in any case the affiliations that defined an ethnic group changed in the course of political mobilizations.The institutions that colonial powers created failed to contain political mobilization, but they often channeled it in certain directions. After World War II, France and Great Britain—but not Portugal and Belgium—sought to open up electoral institutions that would co-opt elite Africans and justify the argument that colonial stewardship was preparing Africans for a democratic, modern future. Limited as these initially were, colonial political institutions defined a game with clear rules. Politics was encouraged when it took the form of electoral campaigns for the legislative body created for each colony, for the local councils, and in the French case the territorial units that elected representatives to the Paris legislature, where they would constitute a numerically small voice in the sovereign body. In Nigeria or Senegal, businessmen, teachers, and trade unionists became the building blocks of early parties. However, in French Equatorial Africa—where a particularly brutal and exploitive form of colonization had been practiced—the electoral system created by the French after 1945 constituted its own political reality, in which politicians turned categories such as urban youth into political units and redrew the boundaries of ethnic affiliations to fit the constituencies they were organizing.Meanwhile, other forms of political connection—from Pan-Africanism to Muslim brotherhoods—received no such representation, no such encouragement. Indeed, from Sétif (Algeria) in 1945 to Madagascar in 1947 to Central Kenya in 1952 or Cameroon in 1956 and most notoriously Algeria after 1954, colonial repression was brutal toward movements that strayed beyond quite unclear limits. Yet the interest of Great Britain and France in stopping extremism gave the moderates more room to maneuver. Nkrumah and later Jomo Kenyatta successfully combined enough mass support with enough demonstrated respect for existing economic and political institutions to shed the label of dangerous demagogue for that of responsible moderate. Whether modern national mass movements—as political scientists in the 1960s called them—were all that modern, all that national, or all that mass is a complicated question; the languages and networks of mobilization were indeed diverse and contradictory. Abandoning an Empire: French and British Cases For all their searching for the moderates with whom to negotiate the evolution of the colonial relationship, Great Britain and France soon became trapped in an expanding spiral of demands: for broadening the franchise, for giving more power to elected legislatures, for making good on promises of equivalent salaries for African workers and agricultural opportunities in rural areas. By insisting that European society and the European standard of living were models for the world, France and Great Britain in fact legitimated a wide range of claims on European budgets.As early as 1951 or 1952, officials in France and Great Britain were complaining about the results of the development drive: that heavy public expenditure was failing to stimulate private investment, that the inadequate infrastructure was choking on the new supplies coming in, that the lack of trained personnel (African and European) and the strength of African trade unions in ports, mines, and railways were driving up labor costs, and that African societies were stubbornly resisting colonial aspirations to change the way they produced and lived. Ironically, this was the great era of expansion of African exports—the most impressive of the colonial era—when exports of copper, cocoa, and coffee soared. But the act of imagination that had made development the watchword of colonialism created its own standards: officials began with an imagined end point—industrialization, European social relations, legislative institutions—rather than with the nature and dynamics of African societies themselves. Nor was the development project doing the political work expected of it: development efforts created more new points of conflict than they resolved. More intensive agriculture by white or black farmers forced tenants off the land—a major cause of the rebellion in Kenya known as Mau Mau—and heavy-handed soil conservation or land consolidation projects led to peasant movements against this disruption of the harmony of relations with nature. Even the heroes of economic growth—prosperous cocoa farmers or owners of transportation fleets—often used their gains to challenge European-owned firms or support political activity critical of colonial rule.By 1956 or 1957 British and French governments and part of the press were doing something they had not done before: coldly calculating the costs and benefits of empire. Old images that had once justified colonization now appeared in conservative arguments for letting go: Africa as vast, untamed space, inhabited by backward people, remote from the notions of “the citizen” or of “economic man” that the European elite associated with themselves. The two governments began to think about extricating themselves, a process that was as much an abdication of responsibility for the consequences of their own actions as the devolution of power.Part of the postwar thinking about development and modernization eased the imaginative transition: development (unlike civilization) was a universal possibility, so that the European elite could expect that Africans would follow a foreordained path that would keep them in close relationship to Europe. But there was an element of cynicism too: an awareness growing out of the experiences of 1945–1955 of the conflict and uncertainty surrounding political and social change, and a desire that African governments, not European ones, be blamed for whatever went wrong.African politicians had built their power bases within territories defined by the colonial powers. These boundaries and the institutions of state provided the basis for negotiated decolonization, marginalizing other kinds of affinities and aspirations. The recalculation was eased in Ghana by Nkrumah’s espousal of his own variant of development, linking him economically to the very forces he criticized as neoimperialist; it was eased in Morocco and Tunisia by relatively coherent political movements willing to open the conservative elite to a measure of nationalism, but not too much. In Egypt, however, Nasser’s coup of 1952 threw awry the neocolonial arrangements Great Britain had with the former regime and put in place a symbol of nationalism who influenced other decolonization struggles.Britain and France had more trouble in colonies with white settlers, both because of the settlers’ ability to play racial politics (and to threaten or effect a whites-only form of decolonization) and because of the intensity of social conflicts. It was most difficult of all for France to rethink its empire in Algeria. In this case, a divided French polity was caught between the right’s support of an Algérie française that denied Muslims full citizenship in their own country and the left’s attachment to developing Algeria, while Algerian nationalists themselves fought over strategies and objectives. A brutal colonial war from 1954 to 1962 called into question France’s own republican principles. After 1962, newly liberated Algeria was torn by fighting and coups. Decolonization in Portuguese Africa The Portuguese empire does not fit the timing outlined above. As a weak European power, it lacked the confidence that its market power, capital, and technology could shape African evolution when it acted even slightly less colonial. Moreover, Portugal itself was ruled by a dictatorship, and the legitimacy crisis that beset France and England after the war did not apply. Portugal set out to develop Mozambique, Angola, and Guinea-Bissau, but it was a thoroughly authoritarian version, entailing new waves of white emigration to Africa to take the leading roles in the “modern” sectors. But Portuguese Africa could not escape the ferment and opportunities around it—or the contradictions within. By the mid-1960s in Guinea-Bissau, Angola, and Mozambique, political movements, well aware of the liberation around them, had turned toward armed struggle, using bases in neighboring countries and a wide range of networks and affiliations, although the Portuguese limited their success by manipulating regional rivalries.The Portuguese government had its own regional connections—with the white regimes of South Africa and, after 1965, Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe), which helped with military support as well as economic interaction. The region was caught up in Cold War politics: Soviet support played an important role for nationalist movements Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO), Popular Movement of the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), and African Independence Party (PAIGC)—as well as for the ANC in South Africa, and Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) in Rhodesia—and the United States quietly helped the South African and Portuguese militaries and some of the anti Communist guerrilla movements they sponsored, even while claiming to oppose racist governments. Portugal’s entanglement with its African colonies and the effects of prolonged war came home to Portugal itself. A military coup d’état ended the dictatorship in 1974 and the decision of army and civilian moderates (some of whom knew African leaders from antigovernment networks) brought to an end over 400 years of colonization, in favor of an effort to Europeanize Portugal itself. As with the earlier decolonizations, this one involved an abdication of responsibility for the sins of colonial rule and for the viciousness of the final struggle itself, from the land mines and assassinations to the hasty pullout of Portuguese civil servants and professionals seeking their European future. White Rule in Southern Africa The persistence of white rule in Rhodesia (to 1979) and South Africa (to 1994) has much to do with the ambiguity of the colonial situation there. For most Africans, these were the most colonial of colonial regimes, with a settled white population big enough to staff an effective military and bureaucracy, closely integrated into farms and industries that took control of African labor to ground (or below ground) level. But for many whites, particularly Afrikaans speakers, the sense of possessing the land in which they lived—and of having no home to go back to—was deep and the willingness to fight to stay strong. But their identification with Africa was not complete. Racial domination was also rooted in a sense of being Western. And social life, especially as white society became relatively prosperous, implied belonging to a global bourgeoisie—of having access to the same commodities, sports events, and travel possibilities as Europeans and North Americans.Here is where these regimes lost the battle of civilization, Christianity, progress, and democracy, a battle that had begun in the early twentieth century, when the first African national movements began to appropriate the vocabulary of democracy and rule of law. As much as liberation movements in Rhodesia and South Africa drew on affinities and a language of solidarity rooted in the daily lives of different African communities, they also built global networks via churches, labor unions, human rights and antiracist groups, and pan-Africanist organizations—building on ideologies of self-determination and antiracism—to attack the legitimacy and sustainability of racist rule. In the end, the ruling regimes could not maintain unity and ideological coherence, even if for a time they could repress (but not eliminate) armed struggle. The last decolonization, 342 years after the original Dutch intrusion into South Africa, was, remarkably, a negotiated one. Consequences of Decolonization What ended with the decolonizations of 1957–1965 , of 1974, of 1979, and of 1994 were the very categories of empire and colony, of white rule. These had been considered normal for centuries; they ceased to be imaginable politically. Decolonization did not end social or political inequality, or the uneven power to determine what kind of policies are discussible. The International Monetary Fund is much better able to make the alleged mismanagement of exchange rates by an African government into an issue demanding correction than an African government is able to make the unavailability of clean water into a question requiring global action.It would be a mistake either to see colonialism as a phenomenon that could be turned off like a television set—with all problems instantly turned into African problems—or to define a colonial legacy that determined what African polities could do, without considering the openings and closures that occurred during the process of struggle. The anxieties—and the brittle repressiveness—of new African rulers reflected as much their appreciation and fear of the diverse movements they had ridden to power as their inability to confront the divisions in society that colonial regimes had encouraged. Colonial regimes and their successors were gatekeeper states, facing great difficulty routinizing the exercise of power domestically outside of capital cities and commercial or mining centers, and best able to manipulate the interface between their country and the outside world. Their taxation power relied heavily on import-export controls, their patronage on insisting that outside resources pass through them. Their great fear was that social movements would draw on connections independent of the regime. Postcolonial gatekeeper states were more knowledgeable than colonial ones, better able to forge relations of clientelism within their boundaries, but without coercive power coming from outside they were extremely vulnerable to any attempt to contest access to the gate itself. Hence the cycles of coups and military governments that beset Africa shortly after decolonization, as well as the hostility of many governments to the political, intellectual, and cultural autonomy of their citizens.Great Britain, France, and Belgium and later Portugal never learned how they could adapt state power to working with African societies as they actually were, not as they were imagined to be. In abdicating responsibility for the consequences of their own actions, the decolonizing powers assumed the easier task of judging how Africans carried out the tasks of governance that they themselves had been unable to perform. Such judgments need not be left unchallenged. The history of Africa from the 1940s reveals that many futures have been and can be imagined, that political mobilizations have taken place and can take place on a variety of lines, and that such mobilizations can turn what seemed impossible into an everyday fact. Such an observation applies as much to Africa’s future as to its past.See also Afrikaner; Development in Africa: An Interpretation. Chronology of African Independence StateDate of IndependenceColonial PowerNotesEthiopiaAncientItalian occupation 1936–1941.LiberiaJuly 26 1847Private colony 1822–1847. Home for freed American slaves.South AfricaMay 31 1910Britain(Suid Afrika) Union of four colonies, Cape Colony, Natal, Orange River Colony (Orange Vrij Staat), and Transvaal (Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek), the last two of which had been independent Boer republics to May 31 1902. The Union became republic outside British Commonwealth May 31 1961.White minority rule.Unrecognized ‘independent’ homelands:Transkei October 26 1976Bophuthatswana December 6 1977Venda September 13 1979Ciskei December 4 1981EgyptFebruary 28 1922BritainJoined with Syria as United Arab Republic (UAR) from February 1 1958 to September 28 1961. Federated with Kingdom of (North) Yemen from March 8 1958 to December 26 1961. Name UAR retained by Egypt to September 2 1961.LibyaDecember 24 1951ItalyBritish (Tripolitania and Cyrenaica) and French (Fezzan) administration 1943–1951.Ethiopia (Ogaden)February 28 1955Italian occupation 1936–1941 . British administration 1943–1955.SudanJanuary 1 1956Britain & EgyptAnglo-Egyptian condominium.MoroccoMarch 2 1956France(Maroc)TunisiaMarch 20 1956France(Tunisie)Morocco (part)October 29 1956International zone (Tangiers).GhanaMarch 6 1957Britain(Gold Coast) including British Togoland (UN Trust), part of former German colony of Togo.Morocco (part)April 27 1958Spain(Marruecos) Spanish southern zone.GuineaOctober 2 1958France(Guinée Française)CameroonJanuary 1 1960France(Cameroon) UN Trust. Larger part of former German colony of Kamerun.TogoApril 27 1960FranceUN Trust. Larger part of former German colony of Togo.SenegalJune 20 1960FranceFirst independent as ‘Federation of Mali’ with Mali (former French Soudan),(August 20 1960)Federation dissolved after two months, joined Gambia in Confederation of Senegambia, January 1 1982, to October 6 1989.MaliJune 20 1960 (September 22 1960)France(Soudan Française) Independent initially as ‘Federation of Mali’ with Senegal, Federation dissolved after two months.MadagascarJune 26 1960France(Malagasy, Republique Malagache)ZaireJune 30 1960BelgiumCongo Free State (Etat indépendent du Congo) May 2 1885, to November 11 1908 when it became the Belgian Congo (Congo Belge, Belgisch Congo). Name changed from Congo October 27 1974.SomaliaJuly 1 1960Italy & BritainUN Trust, Union of two colonies, Italian and British Somaliland. British Somaliland independent prior to union on June 26 1960.BeninAugust 1 1960FranceName changed from Dahomey November 30 1975.NigerAugust 3 1960FranceBurkina FasoAugust 5 1960FranceName changed from Upper Volta (Haute Volta) August 4 1984.Côte d’IvoireAugust 7 1960FranceName changed from Ivory Coast October 15 1986.ChadAugust 11 1960France(Tchad)Central African Republic (CAR)August 13 1960France(Oubangui-Chari, Republique Centrafricaine) Central African Empire from December 4 1976, to September 20 1979.Congo (Brazzavile)August 15 1960France(Moyen Congo)GabonAugust 17 1960FranceNigeriaOctober 1 1960BritainMauritaniaNovember 28 1960France(Mauritanie)Sierra LeoneApril 24 1961BritainNigeria (British North Cameroon)June 1 1961BritainUN Trust. Part of former German colony of Kamerun. Plebiscite February 11–12 1961.Cameroon (British South Cameroon)October 1 1961BritainUN Trust. Part of former German colony of Kamerun. Plebiscite February 11–12 1961. Union with Cameroon as United Republic of Cameroon.TanzaniaDecember 9 1961Britain(Tanganyika) UN Trust. Greater part of former German colony of Deutsche Ostafrika. Name changed to Tanzania following union with Zanzibar April 27 1964.BurundiJuly 1 1962BelgiumUN Trust. Ruanda-Urundi, divided at independence, was smaller part of former German, colony of Deutsche Ostafrika.RwandaJuly 1 1962BelgiumUN Trust. Ruanda-Urundi, divided at independence, was smaller part of former German, colony of Deutsche Ostafrika.AlgeriaJuly 3 1962France(Algérie)UgandaOctober 9 1962BritainTanzania (Zanzibar)December 10 1963BritainUnion with Tanganyika as Tanzania April 27 1964.KenyaDecember 12 1963BritainMalawiJuly 6 1974Britain(Nyasaland) Federated with Rhodesia October 1 1953, to December 31 1963.ZambiaOctober 25 1964Britain(Northern Rhodesia) Federated with Nyasaland and Southern Rhodesia October 1 1953, to December 31 1963.GambiaFebruary 18 1965BritainJoined with Senegal as Confederation of Senegambia, January 1 1982, to October 6 1989.BotswanaSeptember 30 1966Britain(Bechuanaland)LesothoOctober 4 1966Britain(Basutoland)MauritiusMarch 12 1968BritainSwazilandSeptember 6 1968BritainEquatorial GuineaOctober 12 1968SpainComprises Rio Muni and Macias Nguema Biyogo (Fernando Poo)Morocco (Ifni)June 30 1969Spain(Territorio de Ifni)Guinea-BissauSeptember 10 1974PortugalGuine-Bissau formerly Guine-Portuguesa.MozambiqueJune 25 1975Portugal(Moçambique)Cape VerdeJuly 5 1975Portugal(Cabo Verde)ComorosJuly 6 1975FranceArchipel des Comores. Excluding island of Mayoette which remains a French Overseas Territory (Territoire d’Outre-Mer).Sã Tomé and PrincipeJuly 12 1975Portugal(St. Thomas and Prince Islands)AngolaNovember 11 1975PortugalIncludes detached enclave of Cabinda.Western SaharaFebruary 28 1976Spain(Rio de Oro and Sequit el Hamra) On Spanish withdrawal seized by Morocco. Occupation disrupted POLISARIO, formed May 10 1973.SeychellesJune 26 1976BritainDjiboutiJune 27 1977France(Territoire Française des Afars et des Issas formerly Côte Française des Somalis)ZimbabweApril 18 1980Britain(Rhodesia, formerly Southern Rhodesia) Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in effect from November 11 1965, to December 12 1979. Federated with Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland October 1 1953, to December 31 1963.NamibiaMarch 21 1990South Africa(South West Africa) UN Trust. Former German colony of Deutsche Sudwestafrika.EritreaMay 24 1993ItalyBritish administration 1941–1952 . Federated with Ethiopia September 11 1952.EthiopiaUnion with Ethiopia November 14 1962.African Territories and Islands Not IndependentSpanish North AfricaSpainPlazas de Soberania: Ceuta, Islas Chafarinas Melilla, Penon de Velezde la Gomera, Penon de Athucemas.Small enclaves and islands on the north coast of Morocco.MadeiraPortugal(Arquipelago da Madeira)Canary IslandsSpain(Islas Canarias)St Helena with Ascension and Tristan da CunhaBritainBritish Crown ColonySocotraYemenMayotteFranceIsland of Comoros Group. Territoire Française d’Outre-Mer.RéunionFranceIle de la Réunion, Département d’Outre-Mer (from 1946).French Indian Ocean IslandsFranceIle Europa, Ille Juan de Nova, Bassas da India, Iles Glorieuses, Tromelin (all near Madagascar).Source: I. Griffiths, The Atlas of African Affairs (1994).

Reference Entry.  5497 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History

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