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WHAP - MR. DUEZ   CH 23 “Independence & Development in the Global South 1914-Present”             DOCUMENT STUDY

Considering the Evidence: Debating Development in Africa

Nowhere were the expectations for national independence greater than in Africa during the 1950s through the 1970s as country after country broke free from colonial rule. “We shall achieve in a decade what it took others a century,” declared Kwame Nkrumah, who had led Ghana to freedom in 1957 as black Africa’s first independent country. “[W]e shall not rest content until we demolish these miserable colonial structures and erect in their place a veritable paradise.”9 But nowhere have the disappointments of the post independence era been more acute than in Africa. Despite some scattered successes, Africa after independence experienced the slowest rate of economic growth among the various regions of the developing world. Famine, civil war, genocide, failed states, endemic corruption, the AIDS epidemic, massive poverty, frequent military coups—all of this and more accompanied, and surely contributed to, the economic disappointments of the past half-century.

Such conditions have generated a sharp debate about development among African political and intellectual leaders as well as among disillusioned citizens. Why have African nations performed so poorly in improving the living standards of their impoverished people? What strategies should African states adopt in their continuing search for development? The documents presented here offer a sample of African thinking about development.

Development and African Unity

One of the most important legacies of the colonial era was the African continent’s division into more than fifty separate countries, many of them quite small. And yet the common experience of colonial rule and the sharp racial divisions of the colonial era had also given rise to the notion of an overall African identity, especially among educated people. As independence dawned across the continent, some leaders sought to translate that pan-African ideal into a concrete political and economic union. The chief spokesman for that idea in the early years of independence was Ghana’s nationalist leader and its first president, Kwame Nkrumah. He was convinced that only in union could the African continent achieve genuine and substantial economic development. Nkrumah’s pan-African ideal has achieved some very modest successes in the form of several regional groupings of African states trying to coordinate their economic policies and in an African Union in which all African states seek to address common problems. But nothing approaching the kind of larger economic and political union that Nkrumah envisaged has emerged.

KWAME NKRUMAH, Africa Must Unite, 1963

There are those who maintain that Africa cannot unite because we lack the three necessary ingredients for unity, a common race, culture, and language. It is true that we have for centuries been divided. The territorial boundaries dividing us were fixed long ago, often quite arbitrarily, by the colonial powers. Some of us are Moslems, some Christians; many believe in traditional, tribal gods. Some of us speak French, some English, some Portuguese, not to mention the millions who speak only one of the hundreds of different African languages. We have acquired cultural differences which affect our outlook and condition our political development…

In the early flush of independence, some of the new African states are jealous of their sovereignty and tend to exaggerate their separatism in a historical period that demands Africa’s unity in order that their independence may be safeguarded…

[A] united Africa—that is, the political and economic unification of the African Continent—should seek three objectives:

Firstly, we should have an overall economic planning on a continental basis. This would increase the industrial and economic power of Africa. So long as we remain balkanized, regionally or territorially, we shall be at the mercy of colonialism and imperialism. The lesson of the South American Republics vis-à-vis the strength and solidarity of the United States of America is there for all to see.

The resources of Africa can be used to the best advantage and the maximum benefit to all only if they are set within an overall framework of a continentally planned development. An overall economic plan, covering an Africa united on a continental basis, would increase our total industrial and economic power. We should therefore be thinking seriously now of ways and means of building up a Common Market of a United Africa and not allow ourselves to be lured by the dubious advantages of association with the so-called European Common market…

Secondly, we should aim at the establishment of a unified military and defense strategy…

For young African States, who are in great need of capital for internal development, it is ridiculous—indeed suicidal—for each State separately and individually to assume such a heavy burden of self-defense, when the weight of this burden could be easily lightened by sharing it among themselves…

The third objective: [I]t will be necessary for us to adopt a unified foreign policy and diplomacy to give political direction to our joint efforts for the protection and economic development of our continent… The burden of separate diplomatic representation by each State on the Continent of Africa alone would be crushing, not to mention representation outside Africa. The desirability of a common foreign policy which will enable us to speak with one voice in the councils of the world, is so obvious, vital and imperative that comment is hardly necessary…

Under a major political union of Africa there could emerge a United Africa, great and powerful, in which the territorial boundaries which are the relics of colonialism will become obsolete and superfluous, working for the complete and total mobilization of the economic planning organization under a unified political direction. The forces that unite us are far greater than the difficulties that divide us at present, and our goal must be the establishment of Africa’s dignity, progress, and prosperity.

Source: Kwame Nkrumah, Africa Must Unite (London: Heinemann, 1963), 132, 148, 218–21.

Document 23.2 “Development & African Unity”

KWAME NKRUMAH Africa Must Unite 1963

1. Why did Nkrumah think that union was so essential? What benefits would it bring to Africa in its efforts at development?

2. What kind of union did Nkrumah seek?

3. What challenges does Nkrumah identify to his soaring vision of a United States of Africa? Which of these do you think was most daunting?

4. Why do you think the thirteen separate colonies of British North America were able to form a United States of America in the late eighteenth century while their twentieth-century counterparts in Africa have not created a more substantial union?

CH 23 “Independence & Development in the Global South 1914-Present”                                  DOCUMENT STUDY

Non-Co-operation Tree and Mahatma Gandhi

India’s independence movement, embodied in the Congress Party and led by the iconic figure of Mahatma Gandhi, was among the first to achieve success as it broke the hold of British colonialism in 1947. It subsequently became an inspiration and a model for many others all across the colonial world and beyond. That success, however, was the product of long decades of hard struggle against British repression, for the colonial power was reluctant to fully accommodate the increasingly forceful demands of the movement. The Indian nationalist struggle was likewise accompanied by serious internal divisions and controversies, and the moment of its greatest victory also witnessed its greatest tragedy—the bloody partition of the country into two states: a Muslim Pakistan and a largely Hindu India (see pp. 1089–90).

Visual Source 23.1 shows a Congress Party poster from the early 1930s in support of Gandhi’s policy of nonviolence and noncooperation with British authorities. In “reading” this richly detailed image, it will be useful to notice a number of its major features. In the center is the Tree of Noncooperation; slightly to the right, a British soldier is trying to shake Gandhi’s followers out of the tree using a rope labeled “Policy of Repression” with a British colonial jail prominent in the upper right. In the tree are two rival groups of Gandhi’s followers, one labeled the “Swarajya (Independence) Party” and the other called the “No-Change Party,” a critical reference to those who thought Gandhi was moving too rapidly and aggressively. Two bridges cross the “Gulf of Differences” at left. One leads to the Council Chamber, representing cooperation with British-created political institutions, while the other leads to the Swarajya Ashram, a center for training young freedom fighters in Gandhi’s philosophy of noncooperation. At the bottom left are several blood-stained and quarreling figures labeled “Hindu-Mohammedan friction,” while at the upper left three earlier figures in India’s nationalist movement overlook the scene below from the clouds.

In the lower right, the female figure labeled Bharat Mata (Mother India) is a Hindu goddess image widely used in Congress Party circles to represent the Indian nation. Her male companion is Krishna, a major Hindu deity, shown pointing toward Gandhi. The quotation above Krishna’s head comes from a famous speech that the god made, as recorded in the sacred Hindu text known as the Bhagavad Gita:

The virtuous people to protect, and to destroy the sinful ones,

To set up firmly righteousness, from age to age, I enter birth.

Finally, the red-clad Goddess of Unity in the Tree of Noncooperation seeks to hold together the several factions of Gandhi’s movement.

Visual Source 23.1 “Non-Cooperation Tree”

1. How does the poster portray British colonial authorities in relationship to Gandhi’s movement?

2. What kinds of divisions within India’s nationalist movement does the poster suggest?

3. What does the poster disclose about the role of religion, and particularly Hinduism, in the Indian nationalist movement? How might Muslims have responded to the Hindu religious imagery of the poster?

4. How does the poster portray Gandhi and his wife, Kasturbai, the woman in white sitting in front of the small red house? According to the poster, what kind of India was Gandhi seeking after independence?