African nationalism is a political movement that desires to create one unified Africa. Their minor objective is to have national acknowledgement of African tribes by allowing them to create their own states within nations and to preserve their individual cultures. Political action began in the early 20th century with anti-colonial rebellions by natives who had been mission-educated. By 1939, there were nationalist groups in nearly every territory of the continent (African Nationalism).
President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999 and was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. He was an anti-apartheid activist and the leader of the Umkhonto we Sizwe, (Spear of the Nation) the armed wing of the African National Congress (Umkhonto). In 1962, he was arrested and convicted of sabotage and sentenced to life in prison. Mandela stated that the move to violence was a last resort after years of increased repression and violence from the state (Mandela). He served 27 years until his release on February 11, 1990. He was given an honorary title, u Tata Madiba by elders of his clan and won the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. Since retirement from the presidency, Mandela has been involved in philanthropic efforts, bringing attention to the AIDS epidemic in South Africa and to the attempt at bringing about world peace such as bringing together leaders from the U.S. And Libya for a nonviolent discussion of differences.
Nkrumah was the leader of Ghana from 1952 to 1966. He began his rule when the country was still called the Gold Coast. Kwame Nkrumah was a founding member of the Organization of African Unity. On March 6, 1957 Nkrumah declared that Ghana was an independent nation and would stop any government control by Britain. For this he was declared Osagyefo, or redeemer (Zimmerman). In 1961, Nkrumah founded the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute which was created to train civil servants and promote Pan-Africanism. However it was also used to indoctrinate the populous. Nkrumah said, "Trainee should be made to realize the party's ideology is religion, and should be practiced faithfully and fervently" (National 251). What began as a Marxist government became more and more dictatorial. He wrote the Preventive Detention Act which made it for his administration to arrest and detain anyone for treason without due process. Under the Trade Union Act of 1961, anyone who attempted to strike for better treatment or fairer wages could be similarly detained. While on a visit to North Vietnam in February of 1966, a military coup led by Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka and the National Liberation Council successfully deposed Nkrumah and his associates.
Azikiwe, popularly known as Zik, was the first President of Nigeria after the country became independent from England in October of 1960. After school, Azikiwe became a newspaper reporter, promoting pro-African nationalist ideas. After publishing an article in 1956 entitled "Has the African a God?" Azikiwe was arrested and tried for sedition. On appeal, his conviction was turned over and he went on to found the West African Pilot which was even more vocal about its nationalistic biases. In 1960, he became Governor General and the first Nigerian named to the Queen's Privy Council (Ugowe). His presidency would be short-lived and he was overthrown in a coup in January of 1966. The writings of Nnamdi Azikiwe created a political philosophy known as Zikism which is targeted towards African liberation. The five principles of this philosophy are spiritual balance, social regeneration, economic determination, mental emancipation, and political resurgence.
Senghor was the first president of Senegal and the founder of the political party called the Senegalese Democratic Bloc. Following the independence of Senegal from France, the country was led by two men, President Senghor and Prime Minister Mamadou Dia. In 1962, the latter was arrested for supposedly planning a coup against the President. Unlike other African nations who had developed governments based on Marxism following independence, President Senghor ensured that the nation retained close ties with France even serving as a member of the elite Academie Francaise (Roche). Many historians and political proponents have stated that they believe this connection to the former colonizer has helped create stability in Senegal. It is a fact that Senegal is one of the few remaining nations to have never had a political coup and to always have had peaceful transition of leaders in power. One of his other lasting contributions was the creation of Negritude which was an intellectual movement to assert and honor what the founders believed to be distinct African characteristics in retaliation to the bombardment of French culture that had permeated the country (Guilbert).
Nyerere served as the first President of Tanzania from 1961 until he retired in 1985. In 1961 the country was known as Tanganyika. In 1964, it became politically united with Zanzibar and changed the name to show this alliance. Ten years before this, Nyerere formed the Tanganyika African National Union which was created to aid the nation in becoming a sovereign state. For his political movements, Nyerere lost his job as a teacher and became even more adamant in his political beliefs (Blumberg). Like many newly-independent African nations, Tanzania became a Marxist country and developed close ties with China. Nyerere also implemented a collective mentality with regard to the country's agriculture which he called Ujamaa or "familyhood." This system failed economically because the farmers could not continue growing crops when they had insufficient funds to do so. By 1979, 90% of rural populations lived on farms and yet they were only able to put out 5% of the country's agricultural products (Meredith). Although officially retiring in 1985, Nyerere was still the chairman of the governing party for another five years.
Kenyatta served as both the first Prime Minister and the first President of Kenya. He began his rule in 1963 and would maintain it until 1978. In October of 1952, Kenyatta had been imprisoned for participation in the Mau Mau Society which was a radical anti-colonial group. He would be convicted and remain in prison for seven years (Lonsdale). After he became president, Kenyatta created a policy of gradual Africanization. Many people who held jobs when Kenya was colonized retained them until they could be replaced by Kenyans who had been trained properly. Kenyatta was not above corruption and arrested and detained any of his political opponents. He also made sure that only his political allies could hold government positions, ensuring that there was little or no argument from within. It has been said that Kenyatta's greatest failure as a leader was that, upon his death, the government broke down and became varying tribes all fighting violently for political domination (Karimi).
Machel was the President of Mozambique from its independence in 1975 until his death in 1986. After gaining independence, Machel forced all Portuguese in the nation to return to their homeland. It was later said that this mass exodus led directly to the financial collapse of post-independence Mozambique. This action was believed to have come from Samara Machel's hatred of the Portuguese who he believed had oppressed African nationals to the point of near-slavery. In the early 1960s, Machel had protested about how black nurses were paid far less than white nurses who were doing the same job and how they received no benefits. He was quoted as saying, "The rich man's dog gets more in the way of vaccination, medicine and medical care than do the workers upon whom the rich man's wealth is built" (Hedges). His subsequent rule was characterized by Marxist agenda and nationalistic ideals for Mozambique. He continued working in this vein until his death in a plane crash on October 19, 1986.
Christianity and Colonialism:
Many of the first white people to travel to the African continent were earnest missionaries who felt a calling to go "educate" the natives about Christianity. It did not take long however before the "civilized" nations discovered the rich resources available in the continent Africa, African people being counted among these. The governments were reluctant to believe some of the reports of cruelty against the indigenous people by the white oppressors were it not for the testimony of mercenaries. Despite the political debates going on about which colonizing nations was entitled to which African nation, although of course none really were, the missionaries travelling throughout the continent were initially determined to do more good than harm. Besides attempting to convert people that they determined held pagan beliefs, the missionaries from England, France, and Belgium although primarily from England, also gave medical aid, built hospitals, and provided education through schools that they built, both secular and religious (Lettinga). Of these three groups, the English missionaries were the most determined to bring about secular education and consequently it was the nations that achieved independence from British rule that fared better when they went to form their new governments.
The intrusion of colonial governments prevented the…