Decolonization of the British Empire Term Paper
- Length: 9 pages
- Sources: 30
- Subject: Literature - African
- Type: Term Paper
- Paper: #78378626
Excerpt from Term Paper :
In a post decolonized environment, the self-interest prevented productive social and civil plans from being carried out. Not until 1963 was a 120-mile stretch of railway that was vital to the economy of both Kenya and Uganda completed.
The African nations, to the extent that they did come together, did not accomplish much, and the three elements of regime change that authors and researchers Jinks and Goodman, there seems to have been a tendency towards acculturation in the Black African perspective on decolonization. Although there are, too, examples where the other two elements of coercion and persuasion seem evident, the ultimate tendency was one of acculturation.
Acculturation because if there was a prevailing influence that existed amongst the colonies as they came together in discussion on decolonization, that influence was one of nationalism and self-interest. The colonial experience had not served Africa well, and as such the focus was on how to expel white settlers from those countries, and how to redistribute wealth and power. They were clearly about African black power and autonomy.
There were, however, differences between these states, not the least among which were the relationships between the white settler populations and the political ideals of the black leadership that would eventually assume control over the states.
In Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta recognized the benefits that Kenya would reap by dealing with the settlers in a fair and equitable manner would bring to Kenya. In cooperation with the British government, under Kenyatta the country of Kenya helped buy out the white settlers, and the land was redistributed by Kenyatta. Post buy out, the country experienced significant economic hardships that Kenyatta turned around throughout the course of his life and tenure as president.
Throughout the British African Empire, the prevailing thought of the British was one of Africans in general being unable to govern themselves. "Constitutional draftsmen applied their principle of partnership through a political arithmetic which gave less weight to population figures than to subjective assessments."
In South African, in South Rhodesia, which subsequently became Zimbabwe, there was an effort amongst the whites to establish a government independent of the empire that would be much the same in nature, with the complacent Black population going along with the politics of the day. In North Rhodesia, there had been much more activity and meetings and organizations formed with an eye towards Black leadership in the country. Organizations like the Nyasaland African Congress were founded in 1944, but the white population were fooling themselves, thinking that because they had given the black populations avenues to air grievances, that this would politically sustain the country throughout the process of decolonization, and afterwards too. They were very wrong.
In Rhodesia, the method of regime change began as acculturation, but, like in so many other African states, eroded to one of persuasion and then, ultimately coercion under the rule of the Black leader Robert Mugabe. From its base in Bulawayo, in 1945 and in 1948, the ICU led strikes and extended its influence throughout Matabeleland and aroused the ire of Rhodesian peasantry. Radicalism amongst the remote area populations grew, and even some representatives of the Black coalitions were concerned with the leanings towards nationalism and communism.
Unlike Kenya, which was absorbing its colonial heritage and leaving intact and assuming responsibility for infrastructures and civil services; Rhodesians seemed bent on obliterating all signs that the whites had been there. Even though these experiences were increasing around the white settlers, they continued to be unwilling to accept the fact that any rule of Rhodesia had to include the Black majority.
By the time Robert Mugabe formed the Zimbabwe African National Union, which was in direct competition with and opposition to the Zimbabwe National People's Union. The differences between the white and black organizations were resolved by the British in 1979, and Mugabe, a well educated man who was born and raised in Rhodesia, won the first national election in 1980. During the decade of the 1980s, Mugabe lead Zimbabwe in cooperation with the whites, and Zimbabwe continued to have a strong economy as it had experienced under white rule.
In the 1990s, however, Mugabe took a very different position in his leadership and in his relationship with the white settlers. Now, his position was once again coercive, and he proceeded to encourage indigent squatters to take up residence on white lands, and by 2002, he began to evict the white settlers from their land altogether and redistributed the land to blacks.
The end result was social and economic chaos, and "Today Zimbabwe, once prosperous, is in economic ruins, its population starving, and with 25% of the number also suffering from AIDS. Zimbabwe can only be considered one of the least successful examples of political and economic decolonization."
Today, Kenya is one of the most prosperous states of the decolonized African nations. Although it still struggles economically, its success is attributed in part to the fact that it absorbed the colonial processes that were already in place and did not entirely reinvent itself as a new state and with entirely new processes by obliterating all signs of "British."
In summary, the influences that the Black African organizations had on one another during the process of decolonization ranged from persuasive, in joining together in the call for unity and Black leadership in the African nations; coercion during the years process of decolonization as the individual self-interest and groups vying for power became more subversive and coercive in nature in a struggle for power; and, finally, at least for Kenya and Rhodesia, a period of acculturation, during which the pending Black leadership assumed the identity and institutions and roles of the as yet in tact British empire. The new regimes resorted again to coercion in order to deal with the remnants of the colonialism, and to fend off competing Black forces challenging existing authorities for political power.
Of all the chaos and confusion and coercion surrounding the bid for control of the former British African Empire, what is clear is that from colonization, to the decolonization, the error which had the greatest impact on the white and blacks alike is that Blacks had never had positions of equality or power within the governments that governed over them. This cannot be the case in a country where the majority is subordinate to a minority.
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