Problems in Africa

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This article will analyze the situation that emerged in Africa after the European people started to give independence to African countries leading to Decolonization. It has taken into account all the aspects till the millennium.
Common problems of African states
Africa is a continent with many countries. So talking about individual countries is not possible. But there do existed common problems of the whole area which are important to be considered. All of them have been mentioned below:
1. Economically underdeveloped
The main problem of African countries economic deprivation was that most of them were dependent on one or two commodities for export. It was very usual that if the prices of that product fall in the world it would naturally lead to recession in that concerned country. E.g. Nigeria heavily depended on oil exports almost 80% of its annual income.
Shortage of capital and skills
High rate of population growth with no measures for population control
High amount of loan taken by these countries. So, all the little money generated via exports was all spent to pay the loans & little was left for welfare programs.
Though Colonial power had gone, Western countries still controlled them (neo- colonialism)
All the available capital was being used for welfare programs than the developmental programs as the capital availability was low.
2. Political problems
Leaders lacked experience of running parliamentary governments based on democracy after independence.
High amount of Corruption in government lead to political unrest among the public & many a times government was either overthrown or was taken over by the public or some “popular” leader which again started corruption & this cycle continued.
3. Economic and natural disasters
Due to world recession, demand for African exports like oil, copper and cobalt drastically decreased.
In 1982-85 Africa was hit by severe droughts which led to crop failure, famine and starvation. This was the darkest period where all the available money was used up. Governments in many countries were overthrown as they were not able to cope up with the new problems.
4. Tribal differences
Africa had number of different Tribal’s. i.e. Tribes & sub-tribes & subsub- tribes.
They were held together because of the common European power as a common bond.
Though they fought against European power as a united group but after independence, their country loyalty turned into tribal loyalty.
And hence there arose great tribal differences for asserting the rule of some particular tribe.
As already said there are many countries in Africa. But some are very important from exam point of view. The countries that will be discussed are as follows:
South Africa
This country was ruled by a person named Kwame Nkrumah from the time Ghana got independence i.e. in 1957 until his removal by army in 1966.
He was socialist. He wanted to increase the living standards of his people. He gave primary preferences to Ghanas main export like fishing, forestry, cocoa, cattlebreeding, etc., Focus was given on more efficient exploitation of natural resources like gold and bauxite. He build dams and provided water for irrigation and gave electricity to people. He gave government money to invest in village projects. He strongly supported the pan African movement. He build strong relations with China and USSR. So, in a way we can say that he was famous internationally.
He had borrowed large amount of money from abroad, and introduced rapid industrialization and hoped that he can repay the loan via profits from increased exports.
But the prices of main export product (Cocoa) had fall worldwide and there was a huge amount of trade deficit.
He was criticized for investing large amount of money on unnecessary public projects.
Most important reason for his downfall was that he started abandoning parliamentary government & started to have one party system and personal dictatorship.
Intermediate things that followed:
During, the visit of Nkrumah to China (1966), army took control of Ghana.
Army promised to return to democratic state after the constitution was drawn up. Elections were held after the constitution was ready (1969) & Kofi Busia became the Prime Minister of Ghana.
Kofi Busia was also removed in 1972 by army as he was not able to solve the problems of Ghana. (People wanted quick recovery which was not possible considering the export levels)
He was an air force officer. His view was to remove corrupt politician and soldiers before the formation of democratic states. Rawlings brought civil rule in Ghana under Dr. Hilla Limann as the President (1979). There were many problems present in Ghana, so the president we removed by military action and Rawling become chairman of provisional national defense council. Rawling was a rare person in the army who didn’t want power & as per the promise to the civilians of the Ghana, he brought civil rule in 1992 again. He himself was elected at that time & gave a nice governance to the people of Ghana.
It got independences in1960. But it had an added advantage of being a wealthy state with vast oil reserves. In Nigeria civil war between the different tribes broke out and lasted upto 1970.
More serious tribal differences than any other African country
Economic recession: Inflation was rising along with unemployment. Also, government was criticized of being very corrupt.
Most of the politicians were killed by the military.
There were many problems due to the war like famines, unemployment, tribal differences, loss of economic resources due to war. Gowon (a military Colonel) carried this difficult situation very easily, he introduced a new federal system in states, recognized more efficiently tribal differences. Nigeria had took the great advantage of growing oil prices during 1970s & recovered heavily from the profits of exporting that oil. But it is equally true that they did suffer a lot during the world recession & the droughts that followed in the 80’s.
It got independence in 1961 and it joined the island of Zanzibar and become Tanzania as independent country.
Problems of Tanzania
No industrialization
Very poor in whole Africa
Limited mineral resources
Mostly depended on one kind of export that is coffee
Lot of investment to overthrown president of Uganda (it’s neighboring country). It incurred loss on the part of Tanzania as they were already short of capital & all they had was poured mostly in the war.
Dr. Julius Nyerere was the important leader at this time in Tanzania. Nyerere was very different leader from other African rulers, he increased the production levels of coffee, cotton, sugar and expanded the health and education services. To bridge the gap between the poor & the rich he came out with a remarkable document called ‘ Arusha declaration’ published in 1967. Mainly he tried to form a society on socialist lines.
Main features of documents are :
Elimination of bribery and corruption
No accumulation of wealth, society should be classless
Humans should be treated equally
State to have control over means of production
Povery and disease to be eliminated
Progress or failure
Most of arusha declaration was not achieved like corruption, no investment was made in agriculture so there was no production as expected. At the end of 1978 Tanzania was in difficult situation due to fall in world prices of coffee and tea, rising oil prices, expenses of war against Uganda. There were required to pay huge loans taken from international monetary fund.
It got independences in 1975 from Portugal. After the independences their were three different liberation movement –
1) MPLA( Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) – Marxist style party. It claimed to be the new government with its leader, Agostinho Neto
2) UNITA( National Union for the Total Independence of Angola)- with leader Jhone savimbi, got most support from tribe Ovimbundu from south of country
3) FNLA ( National Liberation Front)- weaker than other two unions. Got its support from bankongo tribes in northweast.
UN had ordered to NAMIBIA (a country between Angola & South Africa) be given to south Africa during at the end of first world war to be prepared for independence. But the white community governing South African government delayed this order to give government in hands of black people as long as possible. After that liberation movement started in Namibia , SWAPO ( south west Africa peoples organization) with leader Sam Nujoma started guerrilla campaign against south Africa.
The civil war started from 1980 . During 1988, UN had managed to arrange peace settlement in which South Africa agreed to remove his troops from Namibia provided that Cuban forces left Angola. Due to this agreement, Namibia became independent. Angola become independent under the leadership of sam nujoma. The organization of African unity ( OAU) , US , Russia, UN all played important role in settling peaces talk between the MPLA government and UNITA.
During the first elations leader of MPLA got majority, but the UNITA refused to accept this saying that there were frauds in elections. But 4oo members of UN were observing that and their report said the elections had been free and fair.
UNITA renewed the civil war. Many people were dead due to UNITA, most people were blaming US for supporting UNITA (as MPLA was Marxist style political party). At last, US too recognized MPLA government as the legitimate government.
The first Europeans to settle in south Africa were the members of ‘Dutch East India Company’ they founded colony at the ‘CAPE OF GOOD HOPE’ in 1652. In 1795 cape was captured by British. In the Boer War, British defeated the Transvaal and the Orange Free State (these were the other two colonies in South Africa) & hence together with the Cape Colony it came to be known as Union of South Africa.
Government were controlling black people through different laws, E.g. Black people cannot enter into white colony unless he shows his pass.
Black people can do only manual works in factory and in farms.
They were forced to live only in those areas which are reserved for them.
They didn’t had the right to vote and form political organization.
Living conditions for black people were unhygienic
Blacks were forbidden to hold skilled jobs
They were not allowed to do strikes.
“It was policy formulated deliberately to assert white race supremacy over the black race. It involved use of many unjust policy and programs against the blacks”. It was introduced by Dr. Malan ( Prime Minister, 1948-54)
Complete separation of black and white at all levels
Every person has given identity card and racial classification
No political rights for Africans
Marriage and sexual relations between blacks and white were forbidden
The political party African national congress (ANC) arranged a strike against apartheid
Demands of ANC=
Right to vote
Free medical care
Free, compulsory and equal education
Equality before law
Minimum wage, 40 hrs working week, unemployment benefits
Freedom for movement , assembly, speech, religion and Press
Right to work with equal pay for equal work.
Prime Minister P.W. Botha (elected in 1979), was of the view that the current system will not function long enough & certain changes regarding the apartheid policy should be immediately made or else the political system may collapse leading to fall of white supremacy. Such change in view was because of following reasons:
Criticism from the international community against the Apartheid program. Like even the USA due to its liberal program for the black community in their country emphasized on equal rights be given to black community considering them as equal humans.
Economic problems in South Africa: Inflation was increasing. Recession of 70’s brought dramatic problems. Also, the black population was increasing.
African homelands (areas reserved for the black people) were proving insufficient to meet the demands of the ever increasing black population. Even the existing one’s were ill equipped & lacked heavily on the part of sanitation.
# A majority of white people now realized that it will be very hard from this time onwards to stress on white rule. So, they finally brought end to the apartheid.
In 1993, general elections were held where ANC won almost two-thirds of the votes.
This marked creation of the coalition government of ANC, National Party and Inkatha & Nelson Mandela as the first black president of South Africa. Though there was violence and bloodshed, Nelson Mandela deserves the credit of taking South Africa away from Apartheid to black majority rule without civil war.
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