Independence of African countries - Civil Services Preparation Online! UPSC & IAS Study Material

Independence of African countries

by Devender

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Almost all the African countries were either mandates or colonies of the Colonial powers and they achieved freedom at different times and under different circumstances. So, we will be discussing each one of them.

African countries Independence

  • Egypt:
  • Egypt became a British mandate after the First World War and was declared independent after 1922 but the British troops still remained in Egypt. After the Second World War, the demand to withdraw British troops from Egypt reached new heights and clashes started to erupt between Egypt and Britishers due to which Egypt suffered a lot.

    People were also against the king who was a puppet to the Britishers and installed by them. A revolution broke out in 1952 by the Egyptian army under the leadership of Lt Colonel Gamal Nasser and they overthrew the monarchy while declaring Egypt a republic.

  • British troops left finally in 1956
  • The economic reconstruction of Egypt began under the leadership of Nasser
  • Egypt refused to align with the US while received economic and military help from the Soviet Union
  • He nationalized Suez Canal in 1956 which even brought attacks from Israel, Britain, and France
  • These attacks were condemned widely and the Soviet Union gave a warning to Britain
  • The attackers were forced to retreat
  • This war became the prestige of not only African countries but also of the Soviet Union and Asian countries. It erupted as a savior and friend to all the newly independent countries.


  • Libya:
  • Libya was under Italian rule since 1911 and during WW2, some of the most ferocious battles between Britain and Germany took place in Libya. After the second world war, it came under the rule of Britain and France.

  • Libya became independent in 1951 but under the monarchical form of government
  • It became one of the largest oil-producing countries in the world by 1960
  • The US build one of its strongest air bases in Libya
  • The king of Libya didn't interfere with the government which led to inequality in the society. In 1969, a group of army officers overthrew the monarchy and took power into their hands.


  • Algeria:
  • Algeria came under the rule of France in 1830 and since then France has ruled it. In 1954, the nationalist organization of the people of Algeria known as the National Liberation Front called for an armed revolution against the French rule. They organized a large army by 1958 and demanded the formation of a government of the Republic of Algeria.

  • The Algeria situation had serious consequences on France
  • General Charles de Gaulle became the President of France in 1958
  • He gave the rights of Algerian people to self-determination
  • This decision was not liked by some sections of the French army in Algeria. They started a revolt against it and even tries to assassinate the President. A poll was conducted in July 1962 and people voted for independence.


  • Ghana:
  • Ghana was under the control of Britain and it was called Gold Coast. A party named as Convention People's Party was organized by Kwame Nkrumah in 1949, the most prominent leader of Ghana.

  • A strong Trade union emerged in Ghana
  • They demanded freedom from British rule
  • They were arrested by the Britishers
  • In the elections that came, CPC won by a clear majority, and Britishers were forced to provide constitutional reforms and finally, Britishers agreed to Ghana's Independence in 1952. Then, the country was renamed from Gold Coast to Ghana after the old west African Kingdom.


  • Guinea:
  • It was under the rule of France and it was a French colony. France was at war with Algeria in 1958 and during that time, France conducted a poll in all its colonies. The people of Guinea voted for complete independence and hence in 1958, Guinea has proclaimed a republic.

    The achievement of Independence of Ghana and Guinea also accelerated the speed of achievement of independence of other African countries. Even Indian was also helping African countries as its foreign policy was the promotion of African countries freedom movement. 1960 is known as the African year as 17 countries gained freedom in this year. The organization of African Unity was formed in 1963.


  • Kenya:
  • Kenya was a British colony and Jomo Kenyatta was the one who led its freedom movement. He was the leader of the Kenya African Union. A Peasants revolt broke out in 1952 known as the Mau Mau Rebellion. It was against the seizure of lands by Britishers.

    Jomo also supported this revolt and he was jailed for the same in 1953 but Britishers were not able to suppress the freedom movement. They were forced to give in and Kenya became independent in 1963.

    These newly independent countries had to face a lot of problems. Even the imperialist countries were not over, they were still at work - Belgium with help of some countries brought the secession of the rich province of Katanga. The Portuguese colonies of Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, and Cape Verde became independent by 1975.


  • Namibia:
  • It was a German colony and given to South Africa as a mandate after that but South Africa treated it as a colony. South Africa even refused to withdraw from Namibia despite the resolutions of the United Nations.

  • It was the last African country to become independent.
  • It was known as South West Africa.
  • Its freedom movement was led by South-West Africa People’s Organisation which was formed in 1960
  • It started a war against South Africa with the help of Guerrilla forces to liberate the country. It was made of a member of NAM. Then, the Nam, African government and the UN played their parts in the freedom movement of Namibia. The war ended in 1989.


  • South Africa:
  • It has been an independent country from start and was known as the Union of South Africa since 1910. It became the Republic of South Africa in 1961. Its government was one of the most oppressive regimes in the world in the 20th century.

    It was under the exclusive control of white minorities who performed the worst kind of racism. There was a system of apartheid that was established there.

  • Everyone was classified and separated on the basis of race
  • Separate schools, universities, theatres, shopping centers, and train coaches were there for white people
  • Selection in teams of sports was also based on races
  • Marriage between different racial groups was a criminal offense
  • Non-whites had no right to vote and non say in government
  • The best lands of the country were under the control of whites
  • The non-whites were denied any human rights
  • End of Apartheid:
  • The African National Congress which was set up in 1910 to fight against the regime gathered an army of its own to fight against racism but in 1960, the ANC got banned and all its leaders were arrested. Due to this, SA got isolated from the world and even its cricket team was banned by ICC.

  • Indian was the first country to come to the aid of the people of SA
  • Western countries also imposed sanctions in the 1980s
  • By the end of the 1980s, the international isolation of SA was complete due to which Sa had to lift the ban from ANC

Due to the international isolation, SA was forced to release Nelson Mandela who was in jail for 27 years. The Apartheid law was terminated and a constitution was started to develop where everyone was equal and had the right to vote.

Elections were held in 1994 and a new government came to power which was non-racist and democratic. Nelson Mandela was made President of the Country.



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