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History of Africa by Kevin Shillington

(excerpts from Chapter 28)

The political legacy of colonial rule:


Many of Africa’s independence leaders had suffered periods of detention How did European colonial boundaries
without trial for daring to speak out against the unjust and arbitrary nature lead to social conflicts in Africa?
of colonial authority. The boundaries of the countries themselves were
mostly totally artificial. They had been created at the whim of European
politicians with little or no regard to Africa’s multitude of pre-colonial
nation states and small scale village communities. Peoples of widely
differing languages and political and cultural traditions had been cobbled
together for European convenience…These people were now suddenly
expected to feel at ease with systems of multiparty parliamentary
democracy that had only evolved in the nation states of Europe after
centuries of conflict.
How did European colonial boundaries
The artificiality of Africa’s national boundaries caused serious problems of
lead to pollical conflicts in Africa?
nation unity after independence. African politicians may have been united
in their anti-colonial sentiments, but they were yet to think of themselves
as part of a single nation…most newly independent African states were
plagued to a greater or lesser extent by some form of regionalism…In Chad
and Sudan regional disputes have been fueled by mutual distrust between
Muslim and Non-Muslim and have flared into incessant civil war. But the
vast majority of African governments have succeeded in holding their
sometimes fragile states together.

The economic legacy of underdevelopment and dependency:


European colonial governments left Africa with a mounting economic crisis How did colonial rule economically hurt
that had been the end product of eighty years of colonial misrule. The Africa?
African economies, such as they were, had been directed towards exporting
cheap agricultural raw materials and unprocessed minerals to Europe and
in return, importing relatively expensive manufactured goods. There had
been little or no attempt to develop African economic self sufficiency, for
that would have defeated the purpose of Europe possessing
colonies…Prices for Africa’s export commodities were controlled in the so-
called developed economies of Europe and North America…
At the same time, as more effort was put into cash crop production and
How were the lives of Africans ignored
laboring in the mines, subsistence cultivation for Africa’s basic food was
by colonial rule?
neglected. By the 1950’s Africa had become a net importer of food. In other
words, Africans on average were growing less than half of their own food
needs. The crisis was heightened by the growing level of urban
unemployment. Many people migrated to the towns in a desperate attempt
to escape increasing rural poverty or forced cropping and forced labor
schemes….
The lack of education was a further debilitating legacy of the colonial
period. Across most of tropical Africa, barely 10% of the population was
literate at independence…
The early drive to economic development:
The continent’s new inexperienced rulers had high expectations of what How did independence not bring
could be achieved with political independence. But their dreams were soon freedom to Africa?
shattered as the depth of the underlying economic crisis became apparent.
To make matters worse, the new rulers of independent Africa made the
initial mistake of modeling their development programmes upon the
industrialized economies of Western Europe and North America. In this
they were strongly advised by European economic ‘experts.’ The theory was
simple: Europe was ‘developed’; Africa was ‘under-developed’. Therefore,
to rectify the problem, Africa must copy the European model of urban
centered industrialization. African leaders accepted the model because they
saw rapid industrialization as the means to achieve economic self-
sufficiency...early schemes for industrialization were far too ambitious and
often inappropriate for the needs and resources of the country. On the
other hand, Africans had to import all the expertise, technology, machinery
and building materials from Europe and North America. The same applied
to the improved health, education and transport facilities which Africa’s
new leaders were determined to provide for their people. Within a very few
years, African governments had run up huge new debts with the
‘developed’ world. The result was the need for ever greater exports of cash
crops and minerals to finance the debts. The old colonial trading pattern
was continued, and the adverse terms of trade got worse. The industries set
up with European and American capital and expertise were those which
suited Europe and America rather than Africa.

_____________________________________

On this continent, it has not taken us long to discover that the struggle against colonialism
does not end with the attainment of national independence. Independence is only the
prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic
and social affairs; to construct our society according to our aspirations, unhampered by
crushing and humiliating neo-colonialist controls and interference…

We have already reached the stage where we must unite or sink into that condition which
has made Latin America the unwilling and distressed prey of imperialism after one-and-a-
half centuries of political independence.

As a continent, we have emerged into independence in a different age, with imperialism


grown stronger, more ruthless and experienced, and more dangerous in its international
associations. Our economic advancement demands the end of colonialist and neo-colonialist domination of Africa.

But just as we understood that the shaping of our national destinies required of each of us our political independence
and bent all our strength to this attainment, so we must recognise that our economic independence resides in our
African union and requires the same concentration upon the political achievement.
Source: Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana, in his speech before the creation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Addis Ababa,
Ethiopia in 1963.

Why does Nkrumah think African unity is necessary?


History of Africa by Kevin Shillington
(excerpts from Chapter 28)

The political legacy of colonial rule:


Many of Africa’s independence leaders had suffered periods of detention How did European colonial boundaries
without trial for daring to speak out against the unjust and arbitrary nature lead to social conflicts in Africa?
of colonial authority. The boundaries of the countries themselves were
mostly totally artificial. They had been created at the whim of European Colonial boundaries both cut across
politicians with little or no regard to Africa’s multitude of pre-colonial villages dividing groups who identified
nation states and small scale village communities. Peoples of widely as one, as well as, began putting
differing languages and political and cultural traditions had been cobbled together peoples from a variety
together for European convenience…These people were now suddenly cultures, languages and identities.
expected to feel at ease with systems of multiparty parliamentary
democracy that had only evolved in the nation states of Europe after
centuries of conflict.
The artificiality of Africa’s national boundaries caused serious problems of
How did European colonial boundaries
nation unity after independence. African politicians may have been united
lead to pollical conflicts in Africa?
in their anti-colonial sentiments, but they were yet to think of themselves
as part of a single nation…most newly independent African states were
By putting diverse people together
plagued to a greater or lesser extent by some form of regionalism…In Chad
within arbitrary political boundaries,
and Sudan regional disputes have been fueled by mutual distrust between
Europeans sowed seeds of conflict.
Muslim and Non-Muslim and have flared into incessant civil war. But the
vast majority of African governments have succeeded in holding their
sometimes fragile states together.

The economic legacy of underdevelopment and dependency:


European colonial governments left Africa with a mounting economic crisis How did colonial rule economically hurt
that had been the end product of eighty years of colonial misrule. The Africa?
African economies, such as they were, had been directed towards exporting
cheap agricultural raw materials and unprocessed minerals to Europe and Having industrialized, Europeans
in return, importing relatively expensive manufactured goods. There had exploited the colonies for their raw
been little or no attempt to develop African economic self-sufficiency, for materials and used their colonies as
that would have defeated the purpose of Europe possessing markets for their manufactured goods.
colonies…Prices for Africa’s export commodities were controlled in the so- They had little regard for African
called developed economies of Europe and North America… economic improvement.
At the same time, as more effort was put into cash crop production and
How were the lives of Africans ignored
laboring in the mines, subsistence cultivation for Africa’s basic food was
by colonial rule?
neglected. By the 1950’s Africa had become a net importer of food. In other
words, Africans on average were growing less than half of their own food
European control of African economies
needs. The crisis was heightened by the growing level of urban
led to greater dependency of European
unemployment. Many people migrated to the towns in a desperate attempt
nations for survival. Cash crops
to escape increasing rural poverty or forced cropping and forced labor
replaced food. No attempt was made
schemes….
for the improvement of the African
The lack of education was a further debilitating legacy of the colonial population during through education.
period. Across most of tropical Africa, barely 10% of the population was
literate at independence…
The early drive to economic development:
The continent’s new inexperienced rulers had high expectations of what How did independence not bring
could be achieved with political independence. But their dreams were soon freedom to Africa?
shattered as the depth of the underlying economic crisis became apparent.
To make matters worse, the new rulers of independent Africa made the While African countries gained
initial mistake of modeling their development programmes upon the independence, they were kept in
industrialized economies of Western Europe and North America. In this economic dependency. The Western
they were strongly advised by European economic ‘experts.’ The theory was advice for industrialization led many
simple: Europe was ‘developed’; Africa was ‘under-developed’. Therefore, countries into debt and industries that
to rectify the problem, Africa must copy the European model of urban were suited to European and American
centered industrialization. African leaders accepted the model because they interests rather than for the benefit of
saw rapid industrialization as the means to achieve economic self- Africa.
sufficiency...early schemes for industrialization were far too ambitious and
often inappropriate for the needs and resources of the country. On the
other hand, Africans had to import all the expertise, technology, machinery
and building materials from Europe and North America. The same applied
to the improved health, education and transport facilities which Africa’s
new leaders were determined to provide for their people. Within a very few
years, African governments had run up huge new debts with the
‘developed’ world. The result was the need for ever greater exports of cash
crops and minerals to finance the debts. The old colonial trading pattern
was continued, and the adverse terms of trade got worse. The industries set
up with European and American capital and expertise were those which
suited Europe and America rather than Africa.

_____________________________________

On this continent, it has not taken us long to discover that the struggle against colonialism
does not end with the attainment of national independence. Independence is only the
prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic
and social affairs; to construct our society according to our aspirations, unhampered by
crushing and humiliating neo-colonialist controls and interference…

We have already reached the stage where we must unite or sink into that condition which
has made Latin America the unwilling and distressed prey of imperialism after one-and-a-
half centuries of political independence.

As a continent, we have emerged into independence in a different age, with imperialism


grown stronger, more ruthless and experienced, and more dangerous in its international
associations. Our economic advancement demands the end of colonialist and neo-colonialist domination of Africa.

But just as we understood that the shaping of our national destinies required of each of us our political independence
and bent all our strength to this attainment, so we must recognise that our economic independence resides in our
African union and requires the same concentration upon the political achievement.
Source: Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana, in his speech before the creation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Addis Ababa,
Ethiopia in 1963.

Why does Nkrumah think African unity is necessary?


Modern imperialism or neo-colonialism may not seek political control, but it still seeks to interfere in other nations for
economic benefit. Africa countries can gain political independence but if it does not gain economic independence it will
still be weak. African countries must unify against this continuing threat.