UNIT 13: The Descolonization The decolonization has been an extremely important phenomenon which affected more than a half of the world, but independence of former colonial territories has not been the end of their problems. The new states have been depending on former European powers or new ones, which has caused a “neo-colonialism”, in which the economy is still controlled and submitted to the foreigner’s interests, and the incurred debt prevents from going out from poverty, starvation and underdevelopment.
Foreign causes of decolonization: The two world wars. They were the events that showed the weaknesses of colonial empires because colonies became aware of their fundamental role during the conflicts and this vanished the image of superiority of their motherlands. The international organizations, such as The League of Nations favored the decolonization process through its “mandates” system to administer colonies of losing powers in Second World War (Germany and Turkey). The UN (United Nations Organization)created the Decolonization’s Committee in 1961 to help decolonization in those countries that have not been decolonized yet. USA and Soviet Union, for different reasons were the first to help decolonization process. The USA’s president Wilson, in his program of Fourteen Points (1918) have been already defending the concept of self-rule (autodeterminación) and nationalities as the way to guarantee peace after World War I. Moreover, decolonization meant the opening of huge markets, an excellent opportunity for Americans products after the broken monopoly of Europeans. To the Soviet Union it was a way to facilitate the penetration of Marxist ideology and its sphere of influence. Solidarity among colonies. The Asian and African peoples which have reached independence collaborated with others to help them to obtain i as well. Bandung’s Conference (1955) with a strong protagonism of Asian leaders (Nehru form India, Zhou Enlai from China, Sukarno from Indonesia), condemned European domination and call to the rebellion. It was the starting point for decolonization of the African continent to help nationalist feelings. The oficial statement of the conference has passed to history because it declared as basic principle the right of the peoples to self-rule. Colonialism was also defined as an evil that has to be ended immediately and condemned as the principal cause of problems for African and Asian people. Panafricanism, panasiatism, and overall, panarabism and panislamism are trends to unite all the continents in the fight agaisnt colonialism and for independence. Panafricanism inspired by Kwane Nkrumah,ends in 1963 in the creation of the Organization for the African Unit (OAU), to foment unity, solidarity and stability of African states.
Domestic causes: During colonization, the deep impact of Western civilization provoked a series of socio-economic transformations inside the colonies: -Construction of infrastructures (roads, railway, ports, telegraphs, telephone, etc). -Urban development. -Demographic growth. -Alteration of tribal society. -Appearance of natives’ bourgeosie. -Cultural progress, depite the clash of cultures -Extension of education
In the formation of the nationalist movement in the colonies there were these various elements: The contradiction of the colonizers countries , which claimed for the whole sovereignty in politics and economy, but deny it to their colonies. The spread of democracy coming from Europe and the change of menatality of those people studying at the universities in Europe, and also the soldiers who fought in the wars got the idea of freedom, equality and independence. Both intelectuals and soldiers tried to carry these concepts to their countries. The hate to the European whites and the denounce of capitalism and imperialism. The recuperation of national identity (africanity, negritude), and the strong affirmation of own values against the foreign ones with the support of socialism.
Consequences. The consequences of the decolonizing process can be analysed in a double viewpoint, from colonizers and colonized. In mother countries, the loss of colonies caused grave tensions, with important economic, social and political effects.The European decadence has begun, but the end of colonial empires meant the loss of European hegemony. On the other hand, the world’s political map made him much more complicated with the new states appearance in Asia and Africa, and the structure of international organizations must be altered with the new entrances, which modified the previous balance of powers. In former colonies, the independence was not the end of the problems. From an economic view, the new states carried on depending on old mother countries or fell under dependency on other new ones (USA/USSR), which gave origin to a “neocolonialism” in which the conomy was totally controlled under foreign interests. For years, economic aids in credits given by international organizations (IMF, World Bank,etc.) or private Banks, meant an injection of resources for these new countries, but they had reinforced their dependency because they have to give the money back plus interests. The incurrred debt , has been increasing due to the bad management of these governments, which stopped the development and stick those countries with poverty and underdevelopment, ending to make up the Third World.
The decolonizing process. Even though decolonization had a precedent in the independence of British possesions and Spanish and Portuguese colonies during the 18th and 19th centuries, the term “decolonization” is used only for the process of independence during the 20th century affecting Asian and African continents.
Three stages : 1)Interwar Period (1919-1945). Former Ottoman territories obtained independence 2) Between (1945-1955). Independence of India, Pakistan, Ceilan,Burma, Malaysia and Indonesia. 3) Between 1955-1975) The North of Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, Argelia and Lybia) and Black Africa (Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Chad, Sudan, Tanzania, Angola and Mozambique).