Asia and Africa achieved their independence from colonial rule in the aftermath of the Second World-War. But independence is not an end in itself preserving it through fulfilling the needs and aspirations of the people and forming the basis of a civil society on which can grow peace and stability as the challenge before every free nation. insurmountable problems seized-the leaders of the new states of Africa after liberation. The early careers of some of the countries of Africa which have been in news over the past few decades.
THE NEW AFRICA.
It will be an understatement to say that all the newly freed African nations began with tremendous handicaps. Each of them is a polyglot of several tribes who were earlier held together through brute force by the colonial masters of the respective countries. During their brief freedom struggles, they had somehow maintained a veneer of unity. But once the Europeans left, their people were caught in confusion. In Nigeria, Congo (Zaire) Burundi and in Rwanda etc. tribal rivalry led to open civil war and confusion.
Most of today’s modern African states are not natural nations but were formed as a result of the partition of the continent prompted by the colonial interests. After independence each of them discovered that their economic well being depend on export earnings, and that too from one or two agricultural products or natural resources. Nigeria, for instance, was totally dependent on the export of oil, Ghana on cocoa and Kenya on tea. Ghana is a country of Africa having an area of 108, 889 sq. kms. and population of about 12.5 millions and religion is Christianity.
Former Gold Coast republic had kwame Nkrumah holding office as its first president between 1957 and 1966, when he was ousted through a military coup. Under his socialist government, Ghana’s population became better off than most of their other African counterparts. He developed the country’s principal export crop, cocoa, and also tried to diversify the economic base by promoting forestry, fishing cattle-breeding, gold and bauxite mining. Nkrumah was an international known leader for promoting the concept of pan-Africanism as he realized the imperative need to form a federation of African states. through economic unions with Guinea and Mali. He was also one of the promoters of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) which was set up in 1963. But one of the flaws of his administration was over centralization of authority.
He gradually discarded the parliamentary system and introduced one party rule which made him a sort of dictator. Repressive steps were initiated against political opponents. In 1959, an order was passed by which opponents could be expelled from the country and imprisoned up to five years in jail without trial. In 1964, all political parties were banned and Kwame Nkrumah promoted a strong personality cult around himself. This angered the country’s military leadership. In 1966, when Nkrumah was on a tour of China, military coup was staged. The military promised the nation a return to democracy and a. new constitution with the safeguards against dictatorship. By 1969, the new constitution was ready and fresh elections were held. Kofi Busia, head of the Progressive Party became the prime minister.
Busia, a former Oxford don, found that the Army was virtually controlling everything in Ghana. But the country’s economic condition further deteriorated under him. Ghana was caught in debt trap which necessitated devaluation of the currency. Tribal rivalries too surfaced during his term. Consequently, in 1972 he was deposed by the Army which put Colonel Ignati in power. But the country’s economic crisis was too deep to be resolved by a corrupt government. In July 1978, the Army removed him too on grounds of corruption and installed General Fred Akffo in his place. But in June 1979, a Junior Air Force officer of mixed Ghanian-Scottish parentage, Jerry Rawlings, staged another coup promising to wipe out corruption and return the country under democratic rule.
In July, elections were held and Hilla Limann was sworn in as the President of Ghana. But nothing could be done to stop the economic rot that had set in Ghana. There was widespread unemployment and industrial strikes broke out. Rawlings now staged his second coup to get rid of Limann. He then made himself Chairman of the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) of Ghana.
Rawlings was a rare kind of military man. He did not want the Army to run the country, but merely have a say. He appointed a civilian government under the PNDC comprising well-known leaders. and academicians. An economic recovery program was started which led to all round growth in Ghana. Gradually, Ghana moved towards total democracy, a process that was completed by the 1991 elections. John Kufor is in power since 2001. He is a democratically elected president. Falling prices of cocoa and in rising cost of oil have made his economic condition deplorable, so it had to depend on aid, loan and help of developed rich countries.
Nigeria has an area of 923768 sq. kms and population of about 122.9 millions follows Christian religions and tribal belief. This country has huge oil reserves and had a huge advantage over its other African countries. But it had the problem of political instability. It has been in the grip of a coup culture which sees periodic dismissals of democratic government by factions of the country’s military. The military leaders, who stage these coup by conspiracy and shrewd tactics.
Between 1960 and 1966 all went well under Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. But in 1966, a military coup overthrew his liberal government and civil war broke out. This was primarily due to serious tribal conflicts. In the north, the Muslims view for supremacy. with the Hausea and Fulani tribes. In the west, the Yorubas, and in the east, the Ibos harbored the grievance that the. more powerful northern region, from where Balewa himself hailed, was dominating them. Thus, the Ibo officer in the Army staged a coup. Balewa and many leading politicians were killed. This sparked off ethnic conflict in the country, General Ironsi who made himself the new leader, was himself killed by soldiers hailing from the north they installed colonel Yakubu Gowan in power which led to large scale migration of the Ibos from other parts of the country to the east. In 1967, under Colonel Ojukwn, they declared themselves independent of Nigeria and called their new country Biafta and tried to establish separate government.
The civil war between Lagos and the east raged for about three years. Thousands of people in the east were killed, but more due to starvation than by war. Neither the UNO nor the (British) Commonwealth of Nations could bring peace, literally the last Biafra soldier, finished fighting. After the civil war was over Colonel Gowon restructured the country’s administration by setting up a new federal system consisting of 12 states (later increased to 19) to give more representation to every tribal group. In mid 1970s oil scare which made oil exporting countries rich benefited Nigeria too. The country’s economic condition improved though political instability remained a problem.
The Army, which did not like the way Gowon was returning the country to civilian rule, was upstaged in a coup. But under international pressure, elections were held in 1979, by which a civilian government under President Shagari came to power, but conditions did not improve.
In the 1980s, Nigeria’s economy which was over-reliant on oil prices, collapsed because of a recession in global trade. In August 1983, Shagari government fell due to another coup by when Major General Bukhari made himself president. But Bukhari himself did not last long. Frustrated over the deteriorating economic conditions a rival group of Army officers led by Major General Babangida came to power. He emulate Rawlings example and rule through a democratic structure made up of eminent civilians. Though he tried to diversify the Nigerian industrial base, yet the constantly falling oil price in the world market Undermined his efforts of economic recovery, for the first time in 1986, Nigeria was forced to accept a World Bank loan to sustain its economic recovery program. The road to the return of democracy was also became easy. But once again the coup culture came. In 1993.
General Sani Abacha staged a bloodless coup and began a highly authoritarian rule. Several important politicians and intellectuals, including the famous novelist Ken Saro Wiwa etc. were put in prison and then hanged on flimsy charges. This attracted global condemnation and Nigeria found itself isolated in the world, sanctions were imposed on it which, preventing her from selling her oil on which her economy depended. In the north the Muslims imposed the rule of the Shariat which led to widespread human rights abuses. Thus, the once proud nation with considerable potential to match South Africa as an economic power slipped to the status of an international pariah state. Nigeria has fallen into steep decline. Inflation is very high. Purchasing power of Nigerians is only of subsistence levels. Now it is a. poverty-stricken country, depend on aids, loans and help of developed countries.
Angola possesses area of 1246,699 sq. kms and population of 13.2 millions. It was under Portuguese rule and got freedom. in 1975. A bitter civil war broke out in Angola, soon after it became independent of the Portuguese colonial rule in 1975. There were three different liberation struggles without any link among them. Once the Portuguese left, they began to fight with each other for control.
The popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) belong to left wing. It installed itself in power under Agostinto Neto. The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola. (UNITA), led by Jonas Savimbi, had its support base among the Ovimbundu tribes of the country’s south. The National Front for the Liberation of Angola (NFLA), though weaker than the MPLA and UNITA had pockets of support, particularly among the Bakongo tribe in the country’s north-west. The rise to power of the MPLA alarmed the Western nations as it had a communist character about it. The United states along with President Mobutu of neighboring Zaire, backed the UNITA with arms and ammunition, so Cuba decided to support the MPLA, South Africa, which was against the MPLA for backing the South West Africa, People’s Organisation (SWAPO) of Namibia (a country illegally held by South Africa) invaded the country from the south. Zairean forces Stormed the country’s north-east. This complicated the situation in Angola.
The civil war of Angola dragged on for more than a decaded. Finally in December 1988, the UNO mediated and a peace arrangement under which South Africa agreed to give independence to Namibia. The Cuban troops left Angola Under Sam Nujoma, thus, Namibia became a democratic republic in 1990 and election were held in 1992 under the supervision of U.N. which returned Nujoma’s MPLA to power. But by this time world communism was tottering and support from Moscow and the East Bloc ceased. This emboldened the UNITA to make one more attempt to seize power.
Jonas Savimbi, its leader, refused to accept the results of the elections even though they were conducted under the UNO. The fighting began again. For six months until the USA which had so far withheld recognition to the MPLA, formally recognized the Nujoma government. In 1993, the UNITA rebels were brought back to the negotiating table. It accepted the results of the 1992 elections and agreed to join a Coalition government with the MPLA. Angola is still suffering due to poverty and tribal conflicts.
Burundi has an area of 27834 sq. kms and population of about 66 lakhs. Religion is Christianity coupled with tribal belief. It got independence in 1962. There was tension between Burundi and Rwanda, the two former Belgian countries right from the time they gained their independence in 1962. The Tutis tribe, which was in a minority, held power in Burundi. It was resented by the Hutus. Therefore, in 1988 the Hutu tribal soldiers in the Burundi Army turned against the Tutsis and massacred thousands of them. When the country’s first democratic elections were held, in 1993, the Hutus emerged victorious. But the Tutsis resented this and murdered the new president. Then began a cycle of killings and reprisal killings, throwing the country into complete anarchy and chaos. Fighting continued until 1996. Alarmed by the endless bloodbath, the Organisation of African Unity sent a peace keeping force in this country in 1996.
Burundi was under an Army backed government in which the Prime Minister was a Tutsi and the President a Hutu. But when even the peace keeping force could not bring peace the Army dismissed the government and seized power under Major Pierre Buyoysa a Tutsi. In 2003, a Hutu gained power but fighting is continuous. Due to anarchy and chaos and falling price of coffee, country could not make progress.
Rwanda is a small country with an area. of 26338 sq. kms and population of 8.5 millions was under Belgium. Here too, there was intense Tutsi-Hutu rivalry Which resulted in frequent incidents of genocide. In 1990, fighting broke out between the Tutsi dominated Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) and the Rwanda Army in which the Hutus got upper hand. The UN sent a peace keeping force while international mediation went onto end the civil war. There was temporary peace from October 1993. But in early 1994 an unusual assassination was carried out. The Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi both Hutus, held a meeting in Tanzania and were flying in the same aircraft back to Rwanda’s capital Kigali shortly before landing, it as brought down by a missile, killing all on board.
This let loose a horrible slaughter in African history and thousands of Tutsi men, women and children were massacred. Though there was a UNO peace keeping force stationed in the country, it could do little to prevent the killings. More than half a million Tutsis were killed over in the next few months and more than a million of them fled to neighborliness Zaire and Tanzania etc. This endless massacre shocked the world despite repeated UN mission of peace and attempts by Hutu moderates, the cycle of violence has not ended. In 2003 elections were held and a new constitution was adopted.
Zaire (formerly Belgian Congo) was under the rule of Belgium. It has population of 52 million. This country had over 150-tribes While departing in 1960, the Belgian colonists handed over power to a coalition government. But fighting broke out soon. There was also a rebellion in the Army, still controlled by Belgian officers. The Belgian copper mining company, Union Miniere Which controlled the rich copper areas of the south-eastern province of Katanga, sponsored a secessionist movement which encouraged the local tribes to announce the formation of a separate country called Moise Tshombe.
The UNO intervened. The UNO secretary General Dag Hammarskjold was suspected by many observer as playing partisan role on this affair, President Patrice Lumumba appealed to the world body to send a peace-keeping force. Though the UNO stationed about 3, 000 troops in this country.
Hammarskjold yielded to the Belgian pressure in favor of an Independent Katanga which would have suited the former colonial power Belgiam to continue to exploit the region’s copper. Though the UNO did not recognize Katanga, yet it did nothing to prevent it from functioning as a free state. Lumumba appealed to Moscow for help. This brought USA into the picture. Abetted by them, President Joseph Kasavubu imprisoned Lumumba and then killed him. After this Hammaraskjold, the UNO Secretary General died in an air crash, his successor, U Thant, a Burmese, decided to put an end to the UNO’s duplicity. In September 1962, the UNO troops intervened in Katanga and unified this country.
The Katanga conflict was only part of the young nation’s tribal rivalries which frequently led to armed clashes. In 1965 General Joseph Mobutu, used foreign mercenaries to seize power. He provided Congo with an authoritarian government and strong central authority which gradually helped this country to return’ to normalcy. But in the late 1970s Zaire (the nation’s new name) was invaded by Angolian troops who took over Katanga and renamed it as Shaba. Though that problem ended due to international intervention, Zaire’s economic woes multiplied because of a decline in world copper prices which made food imparts costly. Mobutu’s authoritarian rule assumed a brutal nature as civic unrest grew. In 1990, Mobutu under international pressure lifted the ban on multi-party politics.
In 1994, the ethnic massacres in neighboring Rwanda led to hundreds of thousands of Tutsis cross over into eastern Zaire where the clashes continued. The Zairean Army intervened and drove back the refiigees into Rwanda where they faced the prospect of extermination by the Hutus. Meanwhile, Mobutu’s health deteriorated and he was hospitalized in Europe for long period. General Laurete Kabila, with the help of the Rwandan government, rebelled in the eastern part of this country. The Zairean Army pat up little resistance as Kabila grabbed more and more territory to the west.
In May 1997, his troops entered the capital Kinshasa and Mobutu was forced into exile. The country was renamed Democratic Republic of Congo. Kabila Could not restore peace in this war-torn country. Rebels assisted by Uganda and Rwanda staged an upring and raided Kinshasa in August 1998, Kabila got aid from Angola, Namibia dnd Zimbabwe etc. in beating back the.raiders. A cease fire was declared in August 1999, Kabila was murdered by one of his own bodyguards and was succeeded by his son Joseph. Two rebel leaders were also succession in 2003.
Incidentally there is another country called the Republic of Congo in ‘Western Africa which is also known as Congo Brazville. It gained its independence from France in 1960.
Tanzania has an area of 945087 sq. kms. and population of 36.3 millions. Capital: Dares Salam religion: Christian, Islam and Tribal belief. This is one of the poorest countries of Africa but tribalism is not a problem. The Swahili language acts as a common bond, President Julius Kambarage Nyrere’s visionary leadership based on socialist principles contained in his famous Arusha declaration led to the diversification of this country economic base. The declaration emphasized that the state must have effective control over all means of production and prevent the exploitation of the poor by the rich. He strengthened this country. Agricultural base though there was a single party rule but genuine democracy existed. He offered the developing world an alternative to Western models of growth and government, the other African countries blindly copied the Western example and suffer civil war, ethnic strife, vast disparities in living standards between the rich and the poor.
Nyerere was an outspoken critic of the world economy and he reduce the poverty. As such played an important role in smashing the tyranny of General Idi Amin in neighboring Uganda and was prime mover of the Organisation of African Unity. Nyerere retired in 1986. In 1992, the constitution was amended to establish a multi-party System and privatization was allowed gradually, Nyerere died in 1999. Tanzania followed path of market economy but economy recovery is slow.
South Africa has an area of about 1223, 201 sq. kms and population of 44.8 millions. Its population contains Hindu, Muslim and Christians. South Africa is rich, most industrialist, but equally controversial country of the Africa. Till the 1990 this country was a byword for everything that was retrogressive and antihumanist on the same levels as the Nazi Germany and the Stalinist USSR for following apartheid, a policy based on racial discrimination.