What challenges did Africans face when they gained independence from colonial rule?
African countries encountered a myriad of challenges after gaining their independence because of the changes made by the colonialists during the colonial period. African countries were initially organized administratively along communities, and each community had its own form of governance. Entry of the colonialists created territorial boundaries as determined by the origin of the colonialists given they were from different European countries.
African communities were effectively divided to serve these new territorial interests. After the exit of the colonialists, these communities were left disillusioned as to how the new system of governance and territorial boundaries would work. The situation resulted in conflicts among some of the societies. The colonialists also left behind power vacuums in the different countries, which led to further conflicts among African societies, with groups and individuals clamoring for the administrative positions. Some of these conflicts are still prevalent in certain African countries.
The European colonialists deliberately failed to empower the colonized societies economically. The situation forced the colonized African countries to remain dependent on their colonial masters. On the other hand, the colonialists took advantage of the situation to continue exploiting the different countries.
When African countries won their independence from European colonizers, they faced many challenges. Here are some major types of challenges they faced:
- Multi-ethnic states that had no logic to their boundaries. The colonizers created colonies without regard to where one ethnic group began and another ended. This caused situations with many ethnic groups in one state or one ethnic group spread overy many states. Both led to conflict.
- Economies geared toward colonial goals. The Europeans were not trying to create mature and stable economies. They just wanted the colonial economies to help the colonizing country. This meant that the newly independent countries had weak economies that were generally only geared towards extractive industry.
- A lack of educated citizens to take over the running of the government and economy. The colonizers didn't really care about educating Africans because they had little need for highly educated subjects. Once independence came, not enough Africans had been educated or trained well enough to take over major positions in a modern government.
Another very critical and ultimately tragic challenge that post-Colonial Africa faced was the military legacy of the empires, which placed minority tribes in positions of power and the military over majority rival tribes. This was called indirect rule and was primarily practiced by the British, and as the above post suggests, this system remained after colonialism ended, and is still the source of conflict to this day in some areas of Africa.
To compound this problem, the US and the Soviet Union waged the Cold War through proxy states in Africa, extending foreign aid by the billions to sometimes ruthless dictators in exchange for loyalty, resources or military bases, and huge amounts of modern military weaponry, which turned centuries-old tribal disputes into genocidal bloodbaths. The CIA and the KGB were also very active in planning coups, rigging elections, and engineering the most friendly possible governments in African nations.