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In this essay, I will be focusing on Africa as case study to explore debate about decolonisation. Decolonisation; the term generally refers to the achievement of independence by the various Western colonies and protectors in Asia and Africa following World War II. This conforms with an intellectual movement known as post-coloniaslism. In other words, decolonisation can be achieved by attaring independence, integrating with administering power and in addition, it is a political process sometimes involving violence in extreme circumstances and may be involves peaceful negotiation and/or violent revolt and arm struggle by the native population. Colonised peoples organized anti-colonial movements that asserted their rights to self-government. In this sense, nationalism gained great momentum during the 20th century world wars, thus changing the face of contemporary international politics.
During the 20th century, decolonisation of Africa was one of the turning points in the history of post-war world. Decolonisation brought many negative images of Africa; hunger, arbitrary government, foreign exploitation and ecological pressures and neglects. But it also brought positive images; particularly it started to erase the view that blackness meant inferiority. All the consequences show us decolonisation debates made an impression as a theorically. There were two different theories; metropolitan and peripheral theory. In metropolitan theory, decolonisation was the impetus of western colonial powers because of factors in postwar Europe. In the second theory which was the peripheral theory, decolonisation was the result of which unfolded in colonies because of independence movements in colonies.
According to David Birmingham, there were three important factors; decolonisation was the result of nationalist campaigning for independence,or the result of an imperial retreat,or the consequence of superpower pressure to gain access to continent guarded by Europeans (Birmingham,1995,p.91). In contrast, the author Raymond F. Betts argued that,decolonisation was the firsy the subject of political historians and political scientists who viewed the activity as either a national or an international problem, one of party formation, mass protest, nation building, big state rivalry. Perhaps, this extended occurance and the debate over it, both subsumed under the word “decolonisation” can best be summarized in a spontaneous but symbolic gesture. It occured,most appropriately, as a European political rule in Africa was quikly terminating (Betts,1998,pp.3-4).
The decolonisation of Africa was one of the historic moment in the history of the post-war world. It captured the imagination of a new generation of idealists who declared ther belief in racial equality and individual liberty. The decolonisation of Africa caused by lots of movement as a political struggle such as the people of Africa helped to open the way for the civil rights movement in America. Before the 20th century, in the 1960s no less than 17 former African colonies become independent members of the United Nations; Somalia, Nigeria, Zaire and so forth. However, the course of decolonization was not always smooth. Primarily the burst of decolonisation was the central and most dramatic episode in a long process of political change that affected the whole of Africa. Decolonisation was the mirror image of the colonisation that had slowly brought European domination to Africa in 20th century(Birmingham,1995,p.2). In fact, this progress covered ground violent rebellion such as Algeria and Kenya or sometimes reasonably peaceful such as Gold Coast-Ghana.
Ghana which was called the Gold Coast was the first African state to become independent from British rule. The West African colony of the Gold Coast became the independent and sovereign state of Ghana in March 1957 with the previously imprisoned nationalist leader Kwame Nkrumah as its first Prime Minister(Judd,1996,354). In the case of Ghana, British governments could claim with some conviction that power had passed from colonial administrations to apparently stable and mature local government. In addition, Ghana was one of the Commonwealth states in West Africa which was in problematic political developments .
The other decolonizaiton in Africa was Algeria;french colony, that it become independent in 1962. In the north settlers of Algeria aspired to unite their territory with France. Colonial Africa in 1946 had much the same shape as independent Africa in 1995. Algeria protested and supported a movement seeking recognition for on independent republic of Western Sahara. But in 1945 Algerians who celebrated the end of the European War in May 1945, imagined that independence would now be theirs, but their demands turned into o riotous threat to colonial order; settlers were killed and many demonstrators were shot by white vigilantes. So decolonization in northwestern Africa was delayed by ten years.(Birmingham,1995,p.16). This episode probably was an evidence for violent rebellion in Algeria. Even the decolonisation of Algeria caused a prolonged and destructive confrontation between European and Africa and the Macmillan’s biographer Alastair Horne called that “savage war of peace” (Birmingham,1995,p.16). Moreover, the conflict increased in intensity such as townsmen boycotted French goods, countrymen took up arms in irregular forces and politicians demanded immediate independence.
The other big debate was happened in Kenya which was one of the British colony. Kenya became an independent in 1963 under the leadership of Jomo Kenyatta. The Mau Mau rebellion that culminated in the decolonization of the Kenya began in 1952. When, in the mid-1960s, the government of independent Kenya put pressure on its South Asian community to leave the country, the administration quickly imposed an annual quota of 1500 on Kenyan Asians wishing to enter Britain. This measure was promptly denounced as a betrayal of the agreement by which Kenya had achieved independence in 1963.
To conclude, the debates; Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya, problematic political developments in Ghana and issues of Algeria show us why the decolonization occured by colonial power and anti-colonial struggles in 20th century. In contradistinction for the other places, these three settlements in Africa covered more important movements considering the others in the way of settlers, resources. For example, Ghana had most fundamental debates on account of it was the starting point of decolonization in Africa. The French colony Algeria had some economic components solemnly.
- Betts, F. Raymond (1998) Decolonisation. London: Routledge
- Birmingham, David (1995) The Decolonisation of Africa. London: UCL Press
- Ferguson, Niall (2004) Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World. England: Penguin Books
- Hopkins, A.G. and Cain, P.J. (1993) British Imperialism: Crisis and Deconstruction. USA: Longman
- Howe, Stephen (2002) Empire: A Very Short Introduction. UK: Oxford University Press
- Judd, Denis (1997) Empire: The Trial of Jomo Kenyatta. London: Fontana Press
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