The year 1960, often known as the ‘Year of Africa’, marked a significant period in the continent. In total, 17 African countries declared themselves as independent from their colonisers.
The fundamental reasoning behind the colonisation of these countries was primarily economic, religious and political as an economic depression scattered throughout Europe.
Powerful countries such as Great Britain and France were struggling to find an answer to their woes, causing the Europeans to look elsewhere for an answer. Unfortunately for Africa, the continent was deemed the perfect solution, leading to what is now widely known as the ‘Scramble for Africa’.
The fight for liberation began to intensify around the end of World War II.
African countries such as South Africa gained independence in 1931, following negotiations with the British Empire, as well as Libya’s independence from Italy in 1951.
Several African countries followed suit in the late 1950s, but not without bloodshed. The freedom of African countries came with violent revolts, assassinations, and many bloody skirmishes throughout the land. However, the peak of African independence in 1960, brought about a new era of change, and regardless of the aftermath of this change, the dates of liberation are now celebrated as national holidays throughout the continent.
As the independence of African countries spread across the continent, the grip of the Europeans lessened with it. Struggling to contain the resistance, the writing was on the wall as the era of European imperialism was coming to an end. The British Prime Minister at the time, Harold Macmillan, confirmed as much in his famous ‘Wind of Change’ speech, admitting that imperialism of African countries had run its course and the occupation of Africa was no longer feasible.
Many African leaders agreed, including Guinean Foreign Minister Caba Sory, who stated; “The ‘wind of change’ which has been referred to recently by Prime Minister Macmillan, threatens to soon become a hurricane…Guns and bayonets can no longer prevail in the face of the strong conscience of the populations of Africa which are determined to put an end to colonialism.”
These events marked the end of foreign countries direct involvement in African affairs. Subsequent events on the continent were the results of the damage caused by the colonisers.
This article first appeared in the West African Times as the first in a series.