African Decolonization

Wilson, H.S.
Date published: 
November 1994

Before the 1950s almost all of Africa was controlled by European empires or white settler states. Since then, in one of the most important transformations of the international landscape since the Second World War, the empires and settler states have gone, to be replaced by more than 50 sovereign African states. This study assesses the extent to which the change resulted from deliberate imperial policy, from the pressures of African nationalism, or from an international situation transformed by superpower rivalries. It analyses what powers were transferred and to whom they were given. Pan-Africanism is seen not only in its own right but as indicating the transformation of expectations when the new rulers, who had endorsed its geopolitical logic before taking power, settled into the routines of government. The meaning of decolonization is contested throughout Africa and beyond, not just by historians and social scientists, but by all those caught up in the crises of the continent. It is the purpose of 'African Decolonization' to show that this living past pervades the present.