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Nationalism (1992 words)

NationalismThe rise of nationalism was very important in Africa. The national patricians and the establishment during colonial times meant the lose of their gained power and influences all which had had until now. The status quo until now meant had supported the colonial powers to change the economy, culture and the way of life for Africans. Of course, Africans never accepted colonial rule and destruction of their customs. Paradoxically, colonialism resulted in an awareness of consciousness among all Africans; awareness of themselves as Africans, consciousness of being oppressed, exploited and humiliated. This common consciousness gave rise to nationalist feelings and eventually to a drive, and at times, a fight to independence.


Successfulness in Gaining Independence
World War II was a traumatic experience to many. However, it had powerful effects such as giving new spur to colonial protest. It brought a new force to the call for anti-colonialism change. In addition, war experiences helped develop better political understanding of the colonial system in the in the world and it raised political consciousness. Many Africans joined the Allies in order to defeat anti-Nazism and anti-racism. Africans believed that the war would end the system of colonization as they had known it. They fought as equals along side European soldiers in the second world war conflict, and they won battles. Therefore, in their mind, the colonial white of superiority became nonsense. Also, during the war, many Africans learned to write and read European languages and they received technical training. This served to deepen their understanding and welcoming of the idea of freedom. The war weakened the main colonial powers, France and Britain, both economically as well as in the area of the socially and politically in their relationship with Africa.


The Western powers had a great part in Africa gaining its independence. During the war, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin met together and Roosevelt and Churchill composed the Atlantic Charter. The charter promised that after the allies won the war that they would respect the right of all people to choose the form of government under which they would live. Africans heard about this charter through the radio, and colonial nationalist welcomed it, as they believed it to mean that at the end of the war, they would have the right to ask and obtain self-government and/or independence.


After the war, the super powers (U.S. and Russia) seemed to be without limit in their might. Although they were allies of France and Britain during the war, they had no intention of helping the French and British in keeping their colonies. The United States believed that the pre-war empire would disappear and they believed that the colonized people should have political freedom and at the same time, Africa would become part of a new international world system under indirect American leadership. The U.S. gave more encouragement to colonial nationalist by openly attacking imperialism and supporting the demands of oppressed people. The U.S. attitude of anti-colonialism was explained due to the necessity of the open door policies and the necessity to prevent Russian influence on the third world. Russia, on the other hand, was against colonialism for ideological reasons such as freedom and world peace. Russia also wished that Africa should fall in line with the national interest of USSR. Both powers were in favor of ending colonial rule in Africa and they put a great deal of pressure on ending it at the conclusion of the war. Both powers had great interest of having Africa under their influences and as markets for their products.


The United Nation organization also contributed to the growth of nationalism in Africa. The objective of the UN was to develop relationships between the nations based on the respect of the principal of equality of people’s right and the rights of nations of self -determination.


Rise of Movements
As stated before, independence occurred due to World War II. Europe who was a great power was a weakened and defeated power in the 40’s. With help of the West, independence in the colonies seemed inevitable. The British thought it was better for them to retreat before the rise of nationalism became an oncoming tide of nationalism. Great Britain knew this to be true so there was not much effort made to stop the independence movement in her colonies in Africa. She was willing to decolorize Africa and move to a neo-colonial system in which she would continue to hold her economic interest in the newly independent nations. The British thought that by giving way in the political field cautiously and slowly, they could safeguard their interest in the economic field. After World War II, small companies became large operated companies by foreign investments. Each colonial power was trying to safeguard their own colonies. This started to create a diversion of old colonial monopoly and new colonial monopoly. This added new pressures to colonial powers towards riding political control. Also, this was a new stimulus for African nationalism. What occurred was that big companies saw that the direct political control was no loner useful because the weak African economy could continue to be milked by strong non-African economy without any colonial government. The colonial power believed that it would be better to grant African countries political sovereignty but they would still have a hold on the economy. In short, Africa would have political independence and economic dependence which is know as neo-colonialism and eventually they would enter the British Commonwealth of Nations.


However, in other parts of Africa different methods were used for gaining independence. In the rural areas of Africa, the main method was rebellion. In some plantations, Africans refused to work or they destroyed expensive machines to express their resentment of oppression. Another method used was migration especially from places such as Togo to larger urban centers. This was due mainly to get away from forced labor as well as from capital punishment. Their objective was less based on the overthrowment of injustice than on higher pay. Also, there was the formation of youth movement (clubs, associates, church sectors) that used tools such as politicians, campaigns and newspaper in order to get the message of nationalism across to the people of Africa. In urban areas, nationalist arose mainly because educated elite remained loyal to colonial powers.


There were different movements in the French colonies because the French did not want to relinquish her hold on her colonies. In 1946, there was the development of a powerful party called Rassemblement Democratic African (RDA ? Felix Houphaiet Boigny). This party wanted to be able to exert influence on French politics and they wanted to fight the conservative in the French government because the latter were against colonial reform. This party allied itself with the French Communist Party. The communists were giving support to many anti-colonial movements much to the dissatisfaction of the United States. The United States knew that a country in turmoil, in political and economic turmoil, would probably try to seek the help of a great power in order to find stability, tranquillity and safety.


In the French colonies, independence was harder to achieve. Economically and politically, Germany destroyed France. France needed her colonies in order to extract wealth and help the economic restoration of the country. Nonetheless, nationalism arose against the French in each colony. Tunisia and Morocco were able to achieve independence easily compared to Algeria. In Tunisia, the neo-destour movement developed in order to gain independence. The French tried to stop the uprising of such a movement but it was futile. The French powers did not want to have a revolution in their hands nor could she afford one, so they granted independence. A similar situation occurred in Morocco, with the Istiqlal movement, where peasants rose against French authorities. By 1956, Morocco’s independence was achieved.


Algeria was another matter. The French military was not going to easily give up Algeria. The army felt that they had lost face when they gave up Tunisia and Morocco. The army did not want this to occur with Algeria. A small group of Algerian nationalist under Ahmed Ben Beela no longer wanted to exist under French rule. These strong sentiments of the nationalists began to form the Front de Lib?ration Nationale. In the late 1950’s, intense fighting took place in this colony with shifts of power from one form of government to another. After years of fighting, revolutions, movements, and shifts of powers, Algeria was granted her independence on July 3, 1962.


Reasons of Africans Failure to Develop Nation State
Africa is a potentially wealthy continent rich in natural resources yet, she failed to successfully achieve the development of nation states. Imperialism played a great part in Africans lack of ability to achieve nation states. There were outside influences controlling (neo-colonialism) the economic stability of Africa. Great Britain gave political freedom to their African colonies however, they kept a control on their economy. Also, there were big monopolies of companies who were interested in their own financial interests and not of those of the African people. Africa saw a one party dominance, which was semi-socialistic and where the system controls the economy and robs it blind. In addition, Africa has a kleptocracy, which is similar to a mafia type system in government, where the elite get rich and richer, while the poor gets poorer. In short, there was lack of political stability and abuse by a few.


Another reason for African failure to create nation states is due to the population increase and the decrease of food. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Africa had to begin importing food supply because the growth of their population exceeded the supply of food she grew. Too many people began to rot the economy’s development. However, it is estimated that within a few years, the population growth would be leveled off.


A third reason has to deal with the tribal warfare occurring in Africa. Places such as Rwanda has been going through constant warfare due to tribal groups’ enmities. Rwanda is divided into various tribal groups. The majority of the population (85%) is the Hutu while the minorities are the Tutsi who make up 15% of the population and dominate the area. The friction between the two groups deals with differences in appearance and color. There is also historically bad blood between the two groups. Hutu blamed the Tutsi for killing the Hutu’s president. As a result, a ? million Tutsi were killed by the Hutu. Civil war broke out. Such things were occurring in many places of Africa. Borderlines were originally drawn by colonial powers ignoring tribal separations with people from many different ethnic group forced to live with their ethnic groups. This multiplicity of ethnic group being forced to live together created friction.


A fourth reason of failure has to deal with the poor education system and poor health care in Africa. In this Third World Continent, education wasn’t for everyone only the economic elite. There were few institutions for Africans so many of them received no education. People with no education are not very good skilled workers and tend to accept the situation at hand with resignation. There was an improvement of health care, but it was so expensive that it was probably designed for foreigners, elite and very few Africans. Also, there has been a rise of disease due to cramped living conditions, poor sanitary, lack of education in hygiene and the rise of prostitution. Aids is on the rise in Africa and other diseases such as Ebola have become an epidemic.


Finally, a major reason why Africa did not succeed in developing nation states is a direct result of Apartheid in South Africa, but as distinct barriers along socioeconomic lives. The majority of people in South Africa were black dominated by the minority of the population who were whites. All of these factors occurred within the context of the cold war.