Africa: The Politics of Independence and Unity

Africa: The Politics of Independence and Unity

Africa: The Politics of Independence and Unity

Africa: The Politics of Independence and Unity

Synopsis

Africa: The Politics of Independence and Unity combines into one edition for the first time Africa: The Politics of Independence and Africa: The Politics of Unity. With a new introduction by the author, this edition provides some of the earliest and most valuable analysis of African politics during the period when the colonial system began to disintegrate. The influential Africa: The Politics of Independence was written as Africa was just realizing independence and still reveling in the optimism it brought. Immanuel Wallerstein was one of the few scholars who had traveled throughout Africa during the collapse of colonial rule. As a result, his interpretive essay captures the dynamism of that period of transformation and adroitly analyzes Africa's modern political developments during the nascent process of decolonization. Africa: The Politics of Unity, published six years later, examines the African unity movement that arose between 1957 and 1965 and its revolutionary core. It is often considered the first thorough analysis of the postindependence history of Africa.

Excerpt

At the end of World War II, almost all countries in Africa were still colonial territories. There were only four exceptions: Egypt, Liberia, Ethiopia (newly restored to sovereignty following Italian conquest in 1935), and South Africa (a state ruled by a White minority). In 2005, sixty years later, virtually all of Africa consists of sovereign states based on universal suffrage, and all are members of the United Nations. Clearly something has changed. The questions are, exactly what has changed, and what do these changes mean for Africans and for the rest of the world?

In the immediate aftermath of World War II, the colonial powers had no intention of granting independence to their African colonies, nor did any of them expect to be forced to do so, at least not until a very long time later. True, Italy, one of the powers that had lost the war, was divested of its colonies, and it was not feasible politically to substitute another European power in its place (as had been done with Germany's colonies after World War I). To be sure, both Great Britain and France, which between them governed most of the continent, thought it prudent and necessary to introduce reforms in colonial administration. But independence of their colonies was explicitly rejected as a conceivable goal by France and referred to as a very remote objective by the British. In South Africa the election of the Nationalist Party to power in 1948 led in the opposite direction: to the withdrawal of the few political rights the Black African majority had previously had, rather than introducing ameliorating reforms that would have augmented those political rights.

Nonetheless, the world after 1945 had changed more than the colonial powers were ready to appreciate or willing to acknowledge. The combination of at least three things—the Cold War competition between . . .

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