Road to African independence

Eight maps illustrating the decline of Empire in Africa in the 20th century

1935-47: Kwame Nkrumah travels to the USA and UK for education

  • Nkrumah’s studies introduce him to ideas of nationalism and socialism, and inspire his rejection of colonial rule.

1945: The Pan-African Congress encourages African nationalism

  • This meeting is considered a key turning-point for many African nationalists who attended, like Nkrumah and Kenyatta.

1948: Accra riots – African soldiers protest for rights after World War Two

  • This was the beginning of unrest in the Gold Coast colony, which soon grew into a mass protest movement, led by Nkrumah’s Convention People’s Party.

1948: The National Party introduces the Apartheid system

  • This was a complete rejection of African nationalism and showed Britain how oppressive white settlers could be in Africa. British politicians did not want to support white supremacy.

1950: The Mau Mau revolt – Kenyan nationalists challenge British white settler domination

  • This was a violent movement that showed how angry the Kenyan people were about the loss of their land.

1956: Suez Crisis – Britain suffers the shame of withdrawal from military action

  • The humiliation of backing down from the invasion of Egypt weakens the reputation of Britain in Africa and beyond.

1957: Gold Coast becomes independent

  • Kwame Nkrumah becomes Prime Minister of the independent nation of Ghana.

1963: Jomo Kenyatta released from prison and Kenya declared independent

  • The white settlers lost their attempt to keep political power in Kenya and the man they had framed for the Mau Mau revolt became its leader.