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African independence

Independence in East Africa

After the Second World War, nationalist movements became increasingly active in East Africa. Rural resistance (marked by such violence as seen in the Kenyan Mau-Mau rebellion) was underway in East Africa during the 1950s. By 1960 Britain was ready to concede independence to most of its African colonies. Tanganyika became independent under Julius Nyerere in 1961, followed by Uganda under Milton Obote in 1962 and Kenya under the premiership of Jomo Kenyatta in 1963.

East Africa was politically unstable during the 1960s. Following a communist revolution in Zanzibar in January 1964, the British Army helped the Kenyan and Tanganyikan governments to suppress mutinies and allowed Indians expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin to settle in Britain.

Independence in West Africa

In West Africa the European presence was small, and administrative intervention remained minimal, primarily aimed at tax collection. West African colonies were, however, substantial suppliers of raw materials, (palm oil, rubber, groundnuts, cocoa and minerals).

In the Gold Coast, where Africans were most involved in administration, the Second World War saw an intensification of nationalist and labour activity that increased in the post-war period. Kwame Nkrumah's Convention People's Party, however, was able to follow a constitutional path to independence and the Gold Coast became independent Ghana in 1957.

Nigeria became independent in 1960, but divisions in the country were revealed in the Nigerian civil war between 1967 and 1970, following the secession of the Biafran Republic in the south-east of the country. The British government supported the federal authorities against the Biafran rebellion, largely because of its oil interests in the region, but also because it did not want the secession to set an example for other African countries.