To what extent is the weakness of African states

To what extent is the failing of African provinces due to the procedure of decolonization in the 1950s and early sixtiess.

The procedure of decolonization was a major watershed in the history of 20th century Africa. It triggered wide-ranging societal, economic and political alteration and delivered effectual power to Africans. It can be argued that the colonial bequest has contributed to weak and neglecting provinces in Africa today, yet there are other noteworthy factors. The corruptness and misgovernment of African leaders in the subsequent decennaries has to be seen as the primary grounds for the current failing of African provinces today, along with the economic crises that have affected much of the continent. The apathetic response of the richer states, some of them once colonial powers, has besides contributed to the failing of African provinces, as have the cultural struggles that have occurred across Africa since decolonization.

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The procedure of decolonization had been encouraged by the Atlantic Charter of 1941 that had promised that every people should be free to take their ain authorities ( p280 Davidson 1994 ) . Patriotism grew across Africa in the early 1950s. Ghana was the first state to derive independency and legion others followed suit throughout the undermentioned two decennaries. The procedure differed harmonizing to which was the withdrawing colonial power in single provinces. The British backdown for illustration was about a entire retreat, whilst Gallic settlements saw a more nominal alteration of sovereignty. Newly independent provinces signed understandings with France on foreign assistance and defense mechanism that reinforced Gallic cultural and economic predomination. Close ties remained in topographic point between new leaders and the Gallic political establishment.. As Freund writes:

“The Africanisation of the province services took topographic point far more decorously than in ex-British Africa.” ( p198 Freund 1998 ) . The consequence of this is that some provinces, the Ivory Coast for illustration, remain dependent on France instead than developing into a strong independent province that can take its ain way. Economic growing in the state has been linked to continued Gallic influence ; trade agreements offer the Ivory Coat a secure market in return for devouring over-priced Gallic exports. It is as Freund describes, “the development of underdevelopment” ( p212 Freund 1998 ) .

By the terminal of the 1960s nevertheless, the satisfaction at the bringing of independency across Africa was get downing to worsen as the failings of the post-colonial order was made clear. Initial upsets in Rwanda and the Congo spread elsewhere and as Hargreaves summarises:

“Constitutional authoritiess followed and outdid their colonial predecessors in empowering the detainment of individuals judged unsafe to their ain security and in overruling the bench in order to keep the authorization of the state.” ( p205 Hargreaves 1998 ) .

Elsewhere in Africa, economic crises developed throughout the 1970s and 1980s that can be linked to some extent to, but non entirely, to decolonization. Most new authoritiess had demand of foreign assistance, yet the assistance in itself rapidly became a job. Some of it was merely aimed at go oning the transportation of wealth overseas yet even the assistance that was aimed specifically at development was to be paid for at high rates of involvement and debt to foreign loaners grew at an dismaying rate. Administrations such as the World Bank and the IMF became major participants in footings of pull offing assistance, yet set rigorous bounds on how the assistance could be spent, restricting the existent independency of African provinces. Every African state was forced to continue with structural accommodation programmes that had been approved by the Bank.

By the mid-1980s, many African authoritiess had reached a point where they could no longer pay the involvement of their debts, a fact that could merely take to a weakening of the provinces across the continent. Attempts at autonomy, such as in the states of the Sahel proved excessively hard and they merely slipped farther into dependance on assistance.

Zimbabwe serves as an illustration of a one time strong African province that has fallen quickly through failing to the point of failure. Its diminution over the last decennary can be explained mostly by the hapless and corrupt leading in the state instead than any nexus to decolonization. Some of the economic statistics give cursing grounds as to the incompetency of the Mugabe government – in 2000 and 2001, GDP per capita slid rearward by 10 per centum a twelvemonth. The local currency fell against the U. S. dollar from 38-1 in 2001 to 400-1 in the first half of 2002 and to 1700-1 in the 2nd half. ( p80 Rotberg 2004 ) . Foreign and domestic investing besides ceased and unemployment rose to 80 per centum. Health and educational services vanished while HIV infection rates climbed to 30 per centum ( P80 Rotberg 2004 ) . Not surprisingly, the government’s legitimacy vanished whilst corruptness flourished, with the governing elite pocketing their additions and allowing most of the population go hungry. Real famishment appeared in mid-2002, despite nutrient assistance from abroad. All of this wretchedness, and the inclination to neglect, resulted from the ruthless designs and retribution of an corrupt and untouchable swayer instead than from the effects of decolonization. Kenya is a similar illustration in that it is a state, potentially affluent, that for 25 old ages was destroyed by corrupt leading, a ill managed economic system and cultural favoritisms – decolonization may hold given the chance for these corrupt leaders to come to power, but the backdown of the colonial powers from these provinces can non, in itself, be seen as the cause of subsequently jobs. The deficiency of response from other states and international administrations to step in in Africa when required has besides contributed towards jobs on the continent. Cultural competitions in African provinces have contributed towards their failing yet failure by the international community to forestall race murder in Rwanda and in 1994 and so far a deficiency of response to the possibility of race murder in Darfur has been critical. One could reason that that the national authoritiess that have carried out these atrociousnesss are non weak, yet in footings of supplying a signifier of authorities that can protect and back up all of the population, they clearly are.

State failure or failing is adult male made, non inadvertent. Decolonization may hold left Africa with economic systems behind those of the industrialized universe, yet hapless leading since has been the primary factor in go oning failing. The ability of former settlements in Asia to reinvent their economic systems shows that decolonization does non needfully convey about the failure of provinces. As Rotberg describes:

“Moreover, weak African authoritiess, in contrast to those in Asia, consistently under invested in the acquisition of human and physical capacity, boosted backing over virtue in their bureaucratisms, and farther undermined capacity to execute and protections against corruptness and rent-seeking by politicians… . Economically goaded crises, taking in many instances to failure, inescapably followed. ( p91 Rotberg 2004 ) .

The backdown of colonial powers in the 1950s and 1960s was done mostly on the footings of the colonial states without any existent long term planning for the hereafter of the African provinces. The deficiency of substructure in topographic point has contributed towards the failing of many provinces today. Yet it is events since decolonization that have dictated the state of affairs in modern Africa. Corrupt leading, cultural tensenesss, economic development by richer states and a failure by the international community to truly back up Africa are more valid ground for the continent’s jobs.


Davidson B, Modern Africa – A Social and Political History,Longman Group, New York 1994

Freund B,The Making of Contemporary AfricaMacmillan Press, London 1998

Hargreaves J D,Decolonization in Africa,Longman Group, New York 1998

Rotberg I,When States fail: causes and Consequences, Princeton University Press, 2004

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