Nationalism, independence and the problems of governing new African Nations


Talking about Nationalism, Independence and governing of New African Nations begs a very serious question. Was African Nations independence really possible? And after clear deliberations on that question one can also rightly say that African Nations Independence is still not possible. If by independence we mean “freedom from control or influence from another or others” then talking about African independence simply means change of guards, the colonialists simply changed their system of governance by employing new leaders to run the “new system” (Indirect rule). The intellectuals who were fighting for independence were simply presenting themselves as bringing something new, whereas they were ready to guard the system started by the imperialists. It’s true, “They wanted to throw off the imperialist yoke, and end discrimination and exploitation of man by man, and they wanted freedom and respect.” But they could not in any way be independent from the Western Democracies. There were many factors that rendered independence impossible in Africa. For instance in many African nations, the colonialists were invited by the Traditional leaders for instance in Buganda Kingdom of the current Republic of Uganda, King Muteesa invited the British. The King and his subjects became beneficiaries of whatever the British brought. It was so hard for such beneficiaries to support ‘independence’ whereas they still depended on the British in many ways. The Kingdoms still needed security from the Colonialists, they felt very unsecure without the colonialists. It was so hard for the chiefs and many of their subjects to support the new intellectuals. I guess that’s why Ade Ajayi in his article says that places like Uganda would like to see the return of colonial rule. The intellectuals did not have a clear idea of how to develop the people or how run a country. They could not easily provide education and a better health. And if they were to continue providing it, they had to fully depend on the already started system of the imperialists. In many areas of development, Africa for the most part is still not independent. African “independent” nations are still dependent on Western Nations to this day. African nations still depend on loans and gifts to finance their budgets. Can we really say they are independent? The Arusha declaration spells it out clearly and at some point calls it “salvation” African economies are coming up but still have a long way to go, so African Nations are not yet independent. There is no way one can govern a nation well without economic power.

The imperialists had their system of governance which they had imposed, with a number of political parties in place. These political parties were very foreign to Africa. Most of Africa was traditionally set up with different Kingdoms or chieftaincies. The people were used to a single leader. So the system of multi-party was very unfamiliar and not easy to accommodate in Africa. These kings and chiefs were leaders for life in most of Africa, so changing leaders was not even very well-known and acceptable to even the new intellectuals. I think that’s why to this day many African leaders want to stay in power for life. The Western Nations had and still have to teach this new system to the Africans. Elections in most of African states have become a formality because they were copied from the colonialists. In one of my classes I was shocked when one student told me she had never in her life learned about Africa. On the hand, what is surprising African children learn more about the western countries than their own African countries. The African economy is in one way or another controlled by the west. The buyer of African produce who is outside Africa dictates what to buy and sets the price. And independent states have no say about what quantity and quality to produce and what price for the produce. That is total dependence. I totally agree with the Arusha Declaration that Africa cannot be independent while still depending on foreign investors, loans and gifts from the developed countries.

2 thoughts on “Nationalism, independence and the problems of governing new African Nations

  1. DorcasAminaDonkor

    Mukad you make very interesting points here. I still battle with the definition for independence in relation to Africa and the West. Independence can only be defined in terms of political control. therefore Africa was politically independent from the West. Economically and even culturally, we are heavily dependent on the West It is no wonder that the IMF would control Ghana’s employment rate after “bailing” Ghana from its economic woes. He who plays the piper calls the tune. Africa’s dependence on West is so heavy that it has infiltrated our culture. most of the things we do from marriage ceremonies to funerals and everything has a Western reflection. This is not to say we should cut ties with Western countries, however Africa must draft and implement policies and measures that would curb corruption and our dependence on the West.

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