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?
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
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?
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
What happened in the Congo after independence?