Decolonization of Africa

Although the colonised countries of Africa no doubt longed for independence, it was only really in the 20th century that they began to see any sort of reward for their efforts. By that time, practically the entire continent had been colonized by the Europeans.

Then, in the Second World War, political alliances saw English-colonised African countries stand in opposition to German-affiliated African countries. In addition, the war hampered trade and development between the African countries and their international allies. This forced Africa to boost its local industries from within if its people were to survive. This, in turn, led to increased urbanization as well as improved literacy and infrastructure.

In 1941, the Atlantic Charter was implemented as a result of discussions between Franklin D. Roosevelt (the President of the United States of America) and Winston Churchill (the British Prime Minister). This document covered many aspects of the post-war world, but one of these was the independence of imperial colonies. Churchill intentionally mistranslated the Atlantic Charter to Parliament so that “the colonies” became “recently captured countries by Germany”. This allowed for the Charter to be passed and for the imperial colonies to gain autonomy. However, democratic government was only introduced at local levels as Africa was still considered to be too politically immature to govern itself completely.

There were some African political leaders that had been educated in Western universities by the colonial powers in the decade before the Atlantic Charter. These ones became instrumental in rising to the challenge in terms of fighting for independence. They represented countries like Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya and Senegal. Unfortunately, independence was usually only achieved after a period of war, during which time much of the landscape and population was ravaged. The entire decolonisation movement spanned from 1922 to 1975.

One of the major results of decolonisation was the migration of officials and natives to their original homelands. Migrants also moved to areas in West Africa, which were more financially lucrative, as well as to the European countries that had once colonised them.

During the 1960’s and 1970’s, many immigrants left Cape Verde, Angola and Mozambique and moved to Portugal, where they needed labourers to replace the Portuguese workers that had relocated to other parts of Europe. The 1960’s also saw a large proportion of the Asian people in East Africa moving to the United Kingdom, which has resulted in a huge population of English Asians even today. In fact, there were approximately 29 000 of these immigrants during the 1960’s alone.

Decolonisation was, therefore, responsible for introducing significant proportions of non-whites into Europe, contributing to its modern cultural diversity. At first, these ones faced serious opposition and racial inequality in some of their new homelands. But, the 1980’s were a time of enforcing equality for all, promoting the ideals of granting equal education, medical care and infrastructure to all.