USM Open Source History Text: The World at War: World History 1914-1945

Conclusion to Africa under Colonial Rule

This chapter has covered a lot of ground, from the Berlin conference to the Setif Massacre. The chapter has charted the development of colonial rule in many forms, from Lugard’s "indirect rule" to the settler‐domination in states like South Africa, Rhodesia, Kenya, and Algeria. I have also introduced important resistance movements: the founding of African political organizations in Kenya, South Africa, Egyptians rising up under western‐influenced nationalists to gain independence, the formation of Algerian nationalism, and the birth of one of the century’s most important Islamist movements: the Muslim Brotherhood.

Europeans created in Africa, from south to north, a great, great many cultural, social, and political divisions. These divisions were along class lines in some places, along ethnic and tribal lines in others, along religious lines in others still. Economically, Africa moved from a continent of subsistence farming and herding to become a part of the Western-dominated economic, capitalist system, a transformation that helped some areas and severely damaged others, but overall began a long trend of economic instability and social and political turmoil. Careless and narrow-minded economic development planted the seeds for future social and environmental devastation. 

At the same time, actions taken by emerging African leaders were paving the way for new types anti-colonial movements to emerge after WWII. Symbolic of this new energy and direction was the convening of the Fifth Pan African Conference in Manchester, England in October of 1945, attended by older anti-imperial champions like W.E.B. Dubois and new voices like Jomo Kenyatta and Kwame Nkrumah.

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