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New Nations in Africa

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Achieving Independence

During World War II, Africans fought as soldiers along with Europeans. After the war, Africans wanted independence. Many Africans took part in the Negritude movement. The purpose of this movement was to celebrate African culture, heritage, and values.

Why did independence movements increase after World War II?
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Ghana Leads the Way; Fighting for Freedom

The British gave Africans a greater part in the colonial government of its Gold Coast colony. Kwame Nkrumah led a movement to push Britain to act more quickly. The effort succeeded. In 1957 the Gold Coast colony became independent. The new nation took the name Ghana.

Nkrumah had big plans for building the economy of Ghana. But these plans were very expensive. Opposition grew. Finally, the army seized power in 1966. Ghana has been ruled by a military dictator since 1981.

The strong leadership of nationalist Jomo Kenyatta helped Kenya achieve independence in 1963. An uprising of Africans called Mau Mau also helped. Mau Mau aimed at frightening the British settlers to leave. Kenyatta became president of the new nation. He tried to unite the many different people in his country. Kenya has faced violence and a weak economy in the 1990s.

A bloody conflict for independence took place in Algeria. About 1 million French settlers lived there. They were unwilling to give up their property or their control of the colonial government.

Violence broke out in 1945 and continued for many years. In 1954, the Algerian National Liberation Front, or FLN, announced its intention to fight for independence. In 1962, the French finally granted independence to Algeria.

Ahmed Ben Bella, a leader of the FLN, was the first prime minister and then the first president of Algeria. From 1965 until 1988, Algerians tried to modernize their country. These efforts failed. An Islamic party won elections in 1991. But the government rejected the vote. Fighting between Islamic militants and the government continued through the 1990s.

What challenges did newly independent nations face?
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Civil War in Congo and Angola

The Congo won its independence from Belgium in 1960. But the new nation was not well-prepared for self-rule. The Congo quickly fell into civil war.

In 1965, Mobutu Sese Seko took control. He renamed the country Zaire and ruled until 1997. Zaire had rich mineral resources. But Mobutu’s harsh and corrupt rule made the country poor. He was overthrown in a coup in 1997. The country’s name was changed back to the Congo.

The colonies of Portugal were the last to gain their independence. Portugal did nothing to prepare the people of Angola for self-rule. Three Angolan groups emerged in the 1960s that were determined to control the new government.

In the 1970s, the army of Portugal revolted against its government over the war in Angola. The troops left Angola without putting any group in charge. Angolans fought a long civil war. The war ended in 1989. But no strong government has formed yet.

What happened in the Congo after independence?
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