Opinion / Politics

Was the African Continent Really Ready for Independence?

by Nana

This may sound like a simple question to some, but when looked at seriously a pattern of thought starts to emerge. Trust me, if you walked on any street in any major or small city in Africa majority of the answers to this question would range from “doubt” on one hand to a simple “maybe” for a few others. In the late 1950s and early 60s when majority of the continents’ countries passed the threshold of the colonial yoke to the promised land there was an air of optimism. I recall every man, woman and child in Kenya was happy and sang patriotic songs and for a moment one would think Jesus’ second coming had arrived. Little did they know that forty years down the aisle, only a few would be still singing while majority would have resigned to their fate; for them Jesus’ second coming is yet to appear.

Back to the simple or is it complex question above, “Was Africa Truly Ready for Independence?”

My answer to this question is a big NO! And before even looking into the political independence, let’s first assess the economic independence in Africa. The continents’ economic performance has been dismal, given that some countries like Nigeria, Angola, Chad and Sudan are endowed with oil deposits which should have aided them to alleviate poverty in their respective countries. Other countries like the DRC have depended on foreign aid even considering that they are endowed with unimaginable deposits of minerals. Others like Uganda, Kenya, and Zimbabwe, which have good arable land resources for bumper agricultural production, have not used these resources fully to their advantage and continue to beckon the West for a morsel of food for their population. Isn’t this really shameful?

Wealth distribution favoring between 1 to 5 % of the population in each African country has not helped the continent and has sparked civilian reactions. After all who would want to see a neighbor who drives a Benz, BMW, etc when they have nothing to feed their children? Poor policies, greed and corruption has driven the African economies to their knees and for that simple reason we still beg for FOOD from the West, Africa has failed to show economic independence.

What are your thoughts about the political independence! The decision by the Kenyan legislators yesterday that voted to send the suspected 2007 post election violence perpetrators to the ICC jostled me a little bit and for a moment I started thinking that independence for Kenya, just like for the rest of the continent, hasn’t come yet. Why would a sovereign country choose to send “suspected criminals” to The Hague for trial instead of doing it at home? Remember, majority of the judges in the ICC are from those countries that Kenya and other African countries once accused of denying them their freedom and today 40 to 50 years after gaining their independence, they are looking up to them to clean their mess! Just for amusement look at this page on the ICC, “ As of August 2008, the ICC has launched investigations into just four situations: Northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and Darfur (Sudan). Several other situations have been subject to “intensive analysis”, including AfghanistanChadColombiaCôte d’IvoireGeorgia and Kenya.” I wonder why Africa has degenerated so low as not to clean the mess in their own countries or at best establish an Africa court of justice. At least, this will give us some pride, don’t you think so?

In conclusion, political independence has been a mirage, will continue to be so as long as the leaders continue to look up to the West for economic and political support.


10 thoughts on “Was the African Continent Really Ready for Independence?

  1. I must say I skimmed over this article. I hate doing that. But I think I got the essense, and here is what I have to say:

    I understand the frustration. It is the same frustration that made me post a piece here a while ago asking a similar question, Are Africans and Africa Cursed?

    Today, indeed everywhere you look on our beautiful continent, things have gone from bad to worse, for political independence we have economic and social dependence. Maybe even the political is sometimes questionable.

    With all that said, to answer your question I would like to quote Sekou Toure, “we prefer poverty in liberty to riches in slavery.” No matter the result, independence was and still is the only choice. We were ready and had all rights to it hundred years before we got it!

  2. The African continent was never ready for independence. No fault of their own.

    Some may disagree, but I think that this was quite intentional on the side of the colonialists. I remember the clip in the movie Lumumba, when he is moving into the new quarters with his daughter and the outgoing Belgians were laughing saying that the Africans would ruin everything as they would not know how to govern themselves.

    The new African leaders where insufficiently trained to take over the new political structures handed over to them. Going from ruling a group of people that your are very connected to as a chief to a ruling multiple tribes as a president must have been very different. Remember that even in their fight for freedom many of these new leaders co ordinated the efforts of their tribes and not of the whole country.

    Here’s where I fault the African leaders. Their lack of foresight or understanding of their responsibilities as president of multi-tribal groups. In Kenya, the division of land during the Kenyatta era is at the heart of the tribal tensions today. Kenyatta in his position as president favored his ethnic group over others. The same happened all across Africa.

    It is indeed a shame that now we still haven’t gotten our act together. And sadly we won’t unless our leaders think outside their tribes .

  3. In Ethiopia we are still fighting for independence from our dictator.

    We are calling on any of you who think we may not have a country if Meles continues in power. Let us come together, help as each is able and do something never before done in Ethiopia!

    The following are some of the planned action steps of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia and beyond your words of encouragement; we need your financial contributions and action to make it happen:

    1. Contact key people to check on Birtukan’s health: We will contact the US Ambassador to Ethiopia, other key donor country ambassadors who have embassies in Addis Ababa, Amnesty International and the International Red Cross to check on the condition of Birtukan Midekssa due to reports of health problems related to her hunger strike.

    2. Draft letter with Ethiopian signatures for Obama and other key leaders: We will draft a letter asking for the unconditional release of Birtukan, Teddy Afro, and all prisoners of conscience within Ethiopia and then extend an invitation to Ethiopian groups to sign it if they are in support of its content so it can be presented as a collective request from the Ethiopian people to key public policymakers in the US, Canada, UK, EU and in other donor countries. We will also organize or assist other interested groups in advocacy efforts in other countries where opportunities become available.

    3. Creation of SMNE chapters: We are asking Ethiopians to help create SMNE chapters in your area, combining with other local groups in a joint effort. The SMNE is planning on developing a website with roles, guidelines and ideas for chapters. Groups have already begun in Oakland, Minnesota and in London, but all that is needed to begin a group is a few interested and committed persons who support the principles of the SMNE and agree to abide by them—recognizing that this is non-political movement to free the country, not for political office.

    4. Launch media campaign: We will campaign the western media to not ignore the Ethiopian crisis like has been done over the last several years, informing them that:

    a. their silence is not only hurting Ethiopians, but is killing them,
    b. that the War on Terror should not be reason to align with dictators who deny their own people their basic human rights, security, justice and freedom, and
    c. to let them know that Ethiopians are standing in solidarity.

    5. Compile a comprehensive human rights report: We are initiating a project to compile existing and newly documented human rights reports allegedly perpetrated by the EPRDF into one comprehensive summary report to present to Obama and donor countries to show if a pattern of human rights violations exists and if Meles has created a system of impunity. The purpose would be to convince them to withhold support, to enforce sanctions or to exercise other measures in support of restoring the rights of the Ethiopian people.

    6. Organizing a 100,000 person Ethiopian March for Freedom, Justice and Peace in Washington D.C.: In September of 2009, we are calling for a 100,000 Ethiopians to march in Washington D.C. to bring world attention to expose the tyranny and oppression of Ethiopians. The purposes of this rally are:

    1. To unify Ethiopians because participants will be coming as Ethiopians, not as members of a tribe, political party, certain religion or as members of certain educational or economic classes.
    2. To motivate and empower the people within Ethiopia. Each of the 100,000 participants will have at least one family member back home and the message will get home whether Meles tries to stop it or not.
    3. To show Meles we have had enough and are ready for change! We know he will hear our voice if we can bring these people together. It alone would be a powerful statement that no one could deny.
    4. To tell the western donor countries that we are on our way, to not continue to support this government, to not be a roadblock to our freedom, to isolate this government and to treat them like Zimbabwe or Sudan.
    5. To gain news coverage in the western media so that the world knows that Ethiopians are ready for change and that such a demonstration must take place outside of Ethiopia, because it would never be allowed within the country.
    6. To let the Obama administration and other donor countries see 100,000 Ethiopians in solidarity in Washington DC, so he will know that Ethiopians are ready “for change we can believed in” before it is too late, just like when he saw 100,000 or more show up for a rally during his campaign, he was assured that Americans were ready such change.
    7. To invite participation from non-Ethiopians from different religious groups, social justice groups, student groups and civic organizations to join in support of freedom and justice for Ethiopians.

    I am convinced that these plans are achievable, but only through the efforts of Ethiopians. The commitment to be at this march has already been made by some Ethiopians in London who told me they would be there and would bring family members as well.

    If every Ethiopian in the Diaspora, capable of getting to Washington D.C. in September, would devote themselves to be there, we can meet our goal of 100,000 people. Religious leaders, community leaders, political party leaders, civic organizations, women’s organizations, student and youth organizations can organize their members, even planning group transportation for those unable to fly as well as assist in planning for lodging and meals while there. What a celebration this would be!

  4. Perhaps we are being impatient. Democracy is not the easiest political system in the world. The question rather should be whether the colonialist should have left Africa alone in the first place. Africa’s woes are all rooted in the scarcity of resources or the use of state resources to accumulate and cling onto power. Picture Africa before the Arabs and the Portuguese. It is a safe assumption that nature kept everything in balance. There were no antibiotics or other modern drugs. People lived to the ripe old age of thirty and re-entered the carbon cycle. One could afford to have nine children because perhaps only two would make it to adulthood. Now fast-forward to the 21st century. Barring AIDS, the life expectancy is at least 45 years for many African countries. You have nine children and you’re almost guaranteed to have nine mouths to feed for a very long time. The ineptitude and corruption of our leaders and quite frankly common citizens is frustrating. Living under the yoke of colonialism, apartheid or slavery doesn’t seem like a dignified existence either. We need to set the bar just a little bit lower. It’s going to be a few decades before our leadership and governance matches that of the West. In the meantime, we can work to educate the masses so they can vote in capable leaders when the time comes.

  5. The Idea behind gaining independence of a country is to move forward not backwards. Africa has many many natural resources yet Western and other political powers have consistently interfered and raped these countries of its mines and mineral resources and consequently has underminded the people of Africa. Unfortunately our language barrier has become one of our major setbacks of Africa mainly because more languages are spoken in Africa than any other continent in the world. When a people can’t communicate, they can’t coordinate, when you can’t coordinate, you can’t cooperate and when you can’t coorporate, you deminish your power. It is time for the people of Africa to stand up against the injustices of the past and embrace a new way of thinking. How can anyone (especially) black in any country suggest that they were better off during colonialism or slavery. The whole idea behind democracy is having “freedom of choice” being able to choose your own leaders without interferences from other countries. Often times, African leaders have allowed themselves to becomes puppets of the West. I shudder every time I hear any person of color even remotely suggest that they were better off during slavery or colonialism or under the aparthied regime. People of Africa should take control of it’s own mining and mineral resouces and allow it’s own people to become beneficiaries of the country’s wealth. Do you think that China or the United States or any other country for that matter would allow Africans to invade their country and become majority shareholders in the mines and minerals resources of their countries, NO NO NO!!! There would be instant war. Africa needs to learn from it’s mistakes of the past and move forward with confidence. Taking little steps is better than taking no steps at all – they evolve into giant leaps. Delibrate and desparate attempts have been made over the years to keep people of color (especially Africans and African Americans separated and continue to separate our brothers and sisters and keep us divided and hating each other. Sad to say – in some instances this has worked, making some feel that they are better than the other. We need to realize that we are from the same threads and fabrics that has emerged a new generation from decades ago. We need to reunite and embrace each other and find ways to move forward collectively. None of us have arrived. Until we stop allowing people to divide us and conquer our mindset – we will forever be lost in the shrines of our past. Let’s learn to love each other, invest in each other and lift each other up for our own deliverance. God Bless each of you – and we must not allow ourselves to be divided by religion, race, gender or social status. He who is last shall be first and this prophecy is fulfilling itself. Let’s bring an end to denigrating each other and learn to lift each other up – that’s the major first step in healing our deep rooted wounds inflicted from the past. Speak up when you hear someone talking negatively about people of color – no race is perfect and we all have our weaknesses – I am an African American who loves Africa and the people of Africa with a passion and embrace my African culture with a strong sense of pride and confidence. Love to all. God Bless

  6. I have read a few comments..well skimmed and we must begin to understand the effects of the institutionalized racism that makes us BELIEVE that Africa was not ready for independence. The oppressor said that Black Americans will never be able to survive without being “taken care of”. History shows that the freed slaves who educted themselves and developed economically self-sufficient communities. Africa was once the world center of commere and trade, she can be once again if we analyze our internalized racism; our fear and hatred of ourselves and our people.
    (I don’t live on another plant and it’s easier said than done.) We must also educate African Americans about Africa and why, how thay can support the African continenent.

  7. It would appear that the real questions are whether European countries (monarchies – whatever that means, colonial, abusive, used slavery and the work of enslaved peoples to build up its fortunes and make some fancy buildings, later to have economic crises despite the fact that they have the infrastructures that most African countries are lacking – were ready for “self-rule.” Or whether the US as an example (neocolonial, warmongering, abusive, had African slavery, used their descendants as well as anyone who didn’t climb up its economic ladders to build up its fortunes and make some shopping centers, later to have an economic crisis despite the fact that they have no excuse) was ready for “self-rule.”

    If you look at African independence movements you will find that there were local factors involved – ethnic divisions and manipulations from colonial times, but also the funding of those movements, wars, etc. at a very high cost to the populations. It was never “self rule” – it was always “self interest” from the above-mentioned parasites.

  8. Africa was never ready for independence because of many factors;
    i.) World War 2 and its effects- though this is not widely known, World War 2 was a turning point for the entire continent, we must remember that most of our colonial powers i.e mainly Britain and France and to some extent Germany were all heavily involved in the war and it sapped out quite a lot of energy from them especially economically and tremendous loss of life, after the war (in the 50s) both Britain and France( the main colonizers of Africa) did not see it fit to waste time with their rebellious African colonies and effectively began the process of letting go of them. Also the creation of the League of Nations(UN) to ensure world equality virtually led to the colonialists have no moral motive to continue mistreatment of people in their African colonies.
    ii.) Loss of India- this is true for Britain, after it gave independence to India in 1947 their biggest jewel it was only a matter of time before they let most of their African colonies go.
    iii.) Greed of African independence leaders- while to most African peoples at the time, most of the leaders were ‘fighting’ for their peoples ‘good’, to us who have the benefit of hindsight it is correct to say that a vast majority if not all of Africas independence heroes were greedy wolves who only used the naivety of their peoples to gain access to the little that the colonialists had left behind for their own and their families gain, in fact I curse these so called Pan Africanists they had a great opportunity to steer Africa towards great heights had they gotten their act right but squandered it. Right now to be honest as much as I would like to see Africa move forward I do not think that is possible given most of the leadership the continent currently has.

  9. Pingback: We were given and accepted partial-independence. | viewpointafrica

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