Why colonialism ended in Africa?

Western colonialism experienced a set back during the period of the Second World War because of the development of nationalism. World War II itself helped to enhance the decolonization as planners got confused about pace, nature, and method of removal from the empire as they focused on external and internal pressure (Ferguson, 2003).

The Second World War empowered African nationalist movements as well as combining their sentiments about their colonial masters, hence, the experience earned by the servicemen and guards involved in the war were empowered psychologically. This is reflected when they fought for others’ benefit while they did not have what they fought for back at home thus projecting the white as equal to them and the need for independence. The war had an effect on economic, political and social effects on Africans view hence leading to prolonged anti-colonial militancy, which triggered rural instability(Lipton,1986). This is reflected when both British and French colonies enacted forced labor to counter food shortage at war leading to the development of trade unions in Africa which enhanced strikes after the war, such boycotts like the 1945 Nigeria postal, railway and employees boycott. This reduced the Colonials’ efficiency in operation.

The International intervention such as the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union enhanced the decolonization of Africa. The new superpower United States was against the colonialism practice as it hindered free trade and confidence, a concept they upheld in Atlantic Charter in 1941 while Soviet Union upheld the Marxist concept that reflected it as the worst level of capitalism (Lipton, M. 1986).

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Moreover, there is also the United Nations anti-colonial position that was enacted with a focus on global peace in 1945. The decolonization calls were presented as per the U.N. charter, article 73, on nations, still holding on their colonies hence developing political democracy and independent government while at the same time denouncing the legalization of colonialism. Furthermore, the United Nation empowered nationalist with international moral governance and a strong forum to use in check the powers of imperials hence disabling the colonialism. The Atlantic Charter, article III enacted by the United States President Roosevelt and British Prime minister Churchill gave citizens of nations freedom of political democracy hence empowering and protecting the colonized territories (Lipton, M. 1986).



Feinstein, C. H. (2005). An economic history of South Africa: Conquest, discrimination and development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ferguson, N.( 2003). Empire: How Britain made the modern world. London: Allen Lane.

Kanogo, T. (1987). Squatters and the roots of Mau Mau: 1905-63. London: James Currey.

Lipton, M. (1986). Capitalism and apartheid: South Africa, 1910-1986. 2nd edition. Aldershot: Gower/Maurice Temple Smith.

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