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The Importance Of The Role Played By The Educated Elite In The Process Of Decolonisation In Africa

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africa came under the direct jurisdiction of Europe after the initial carving out of the continent referred to as the 'Scramble for Africa'. This partition was fulfilled at the Conference of Berlin 1884-85 resulting in the political mapping of the continent. Thus, Africa facilitated the extension of the European hegemonic powers overseas. This colonization rendered the African continent the play-toy of wealthy European imperialists who raked the profits from the resource-rich territories. The period between 1880 and 1919 saw an upsurge of African resistance to colonial rule this was the period of African nationalism. The Africans were now exasperated with their economic and social situation. Thus discontent and protest was bound to surface. During colonialism generally there was the raising of a small group usually through education and a diffusion of European culture. For the French and the British the style of education was different, the French was one of making French men in Africa while the British was more indirect. However it was this group that benefited from education whether French or British were to play a key role in the decolonisation process. Crowder states that the First World War raised the hopes of this emergent class all over Africa that they would be given positions of significance and respect from the colonizers; however these hopes were never realised. The traditional elites were also disgruntled with colonisation as many of them lost their positions and respect not only from the colonizers but also from their people. Moreover, where they retained their positions many of them became puppets of the colonisers. The loss of real power, respect and social standing became a source of discontent among many of them. Neither set of elites were satisfied with colonial rule. An international congress which was convened under the auspices of the comintern at Brussels on February 1927 resulted in the formation of the league against imperialism and for national independence; this provided further impetus for the decolonisation schemes. The congress was attended by 180 delegates from Western Europe, north central and South America, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. The congress brought together socialists like the independent labour party, the radical leaders in colonial territories and representatives from Africa including Messali Hadj, Abd al-Kadir from Maghrib, Muhammad Hafi and Ibrahim Yusuf from Egypt. Lamine Senghor from French West Africa, Jomo kenyatta from Kenya and J.T. Gumede and I. A La. Guma from south Africa. There were also other movements such as the Garvey universal Negro improvement association which exerted significant influence on the educated elite and intern the masses of African. . Pan-Africanism which was a philosophy that promoted African awareness and pushed for the betterment of all Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora, was inspired by Sylvester Williams, Marcus Garvey and William Du Bois and other black American and Caribbean influences. Pan-Africanism must be said gave strong influence to the decolonisation process it further gave the eal to the nationalist movements. The subsequent advent of World War II ushered in a massive wave of decolonization struggles, and dozens of new states. The first half of the twentieth century was devastating for European colonial powers. The cumulative cost of World War I, the collapse of control and stability during the Age of Anxiety, and the devastating epic conflict of World War II, all contributed to the erosion of colonial control. Although regions seeking independence still had years of fighting to endure after 1945, countries like Britain, France, Belgium, Portugal, and the Netherlands were in a losing struggle to hold onto their colonies. Japan, Germany and Italy lost their colonial empires immediately following their defeat.

World War II also spawned the new geopolitical realities of the cold war. Both the U.S. and the Soviet Union employed anti-colonial rhetoric even as they sought to create informal empires of their own. The Atlantic Charter of 1941 had also weakened colonial powers and underscored the Allies' commitment to national self-determination. However the Atlantic Charter was not intended for colonial Africans .Nevertheless, the Chinese revolution, the Malaysian peasant rebellion, and the independence of India provided Africans with important examples of anti colonial and liberation movements.

Planned decolonization hinged on the assumption that European colonial powers would determine the pace of change in Africa; it took no account of the actions of Africans. Instead, the Africans determined the pace of decolonization in Africa. By 1948, waves of strikes by dockworkers, railway workers, and miners swept through Africa. Protests by veterans and soldiers, who had served the mother country faithfully during the war, shocked colonial administrations Constitution. Mass political parties were slower to emerge in East and Central Africa.

By this time it was obvious that all the countries of Africa had become fed up with the system of colonialism. As we stated before Pan Africanism played a critical role in decolonisation, and it was out of this movement that many of the leaders of nationalist interest group learned to organise. In the pan Africanist movements their strategy was gradual change through their meetings and suggestions. They wanted to start a movement to secure civil and political rights for Africans, these early meetings led by Dubois and others did not bring about the desired change, hence by the nineteen thirties a new group of radicals emerged in the likes of Jomo Kenyatta, of Kenya, Ras Tafari McOnnen or Hail Selasi of Ethiopia, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania Milton Obete of Uganda to name a few. They called for quick and total change. It was through them that many trade unions were formed and later political parties which led many of the countries of Africa to their long awaited independence. These educated elites were best equipped to understand the intricacies of politics and to represent their countries in the international arena. They decided that the approach towards the need for independence had to change, the spread of education was a major lever for nationalistic and anti colonial politics. What must be interjected here is that many of the future leaders while studying abroad organised themselves into small student unions where they petitioned for change, for example the African Students Union (ASU), the Lagos in Nigeria, the Young Tunisians, the north African Star under Messali Hadj and the West Africa Student Union (WASU) led by Nigerian Ladipo Solanke, which drew its membership From all of the British West Africa.. In 1944, a number of young intellectuals, including Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, and Anton Lemebede formed the youth wing of the ANC

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