African countries achieve independence – how african countries gained independence

African countries achieve independence 

Zimbabwe

Another country which had to undergo a long period of struggle before she became independent was Zimbabwe (formerly Southern Rhodesia). She had been a British colony but the White settlers there, under the leadership of Ian Smith, captured power in 1965. They were alarmed at the prospect of the country being granted independence which would have meant Black majority rule. A White minority government was established there on the pattern of South Africa and with South African support and it declared what it called the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI). Most countries of the world at the instance of the United Nations and the Commonwealth imposed sanctions against Southern Rhodesia A powerful guerrilla movement grew in Southern Rhodesia. It was aided by the neighbouring African states, the Non-Aligned Movement and the socialist countries. Realising that they could never succeed in suppressing the war of national independence, in spite of South Africa’s support, the White minority government gave up. In 1980 elections were held in Southern Rhodesia in which everyone Black and White alike—had one vote. The nationalist parties swept the polls and the country became independent with a new name. Zimbabwe. The government there was headed by Robert Mugabe who became the Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement at its conference held in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, in 1986.

One of the major forces which accelerated the process of the eradication of imperialist rule in Africa was the Organisation of African Unity. It was set up in 1963 at a Pan-African Conference held in Addis Ababa. Its role in the 1960s was particularly crucial in promoting African nationalism.

Colonial Powers’ Efforts to Retain Their Influence

The transition to independence in the countries mentioned above has in no case been smooth. In most cases, the colonial powers have tried to retain their influence even while conceding independence to their colonies. In some countries, particularly when the colonial countries or their supporters thought that the colonial rule was being replaced by governments dominated by radical leaders, they tried to intervene more directly.

Guyana

In 1953, under a new constitution, elections were held in British Guiana (now Guyana) in which the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) won 18 of the 25 seats. The party, led by Dr Cheddi Jagan and Forbes Burnham, had been the main anti-imperialist party in Guyana and drew its support from all sections of the population, mainly people of Indian origin and Black people. Cheddi Jagan became the prime minister and he started implementing, a radical social and economic programme. However, after about four months the government was dismissed and the constitution suspended. British troops landed there and leaders of the PPP-Jagan and Burnham-were arrested. all this was done in the name of ‘repelling’ communism. After that, the British fomented ethnic conflicts in Guyana and the PPP was split. In the 1957 elections, Dr Jagan’s party again won and intensified the demand for independence. In the 1961 elections his party again a majority, but the government was denied financial help and ethnic disturbances and violence were fomented. In the 1964 elections, Bumham’s party-he had broken away from the PPP-polled less votes than the PPP but by allying with another party, he became the Prime Minister of Guyana. In 1966, Guyana became independent with Bumham as prime minister (and later as president). In the 1992 elections, Dr Chhedi Jagan was elected president.

Democratic Republic of Congo

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire and much earlier called the Belgian Congo), the freedom movement was led by Patrice Lumumba who had set up the National Congolese Movement (MNC). On 30 June 1960, Congo became independent with Lumumba as the prime minister. However, soon after, the governor of the province of Katanga, supported by Western companies which controlled the vast mineral (copper) resources of the province, announced the secession of the province from Congo. A number of mercenaries were employed to support the secession. On the request of the government of Congo, United Nations troops were sent to Congo to end the secession and the foreign interventions. However, they failed to protect Lumumba, who was murdered. Later, however, they succeeded in ending the secession of Katanga. In 1965, Colonel Mobutu who headed the army of Congo captured power and became the president of the country, which was renamed Zaire. Lumumba was regarded as one of the greatest leaders of the nationalist resurgence in Africa and his murder, it is believed, had been planned by the US intelligence agency, CIA. Mobutu’s authoritarian rule continued till 1997, when he was overthrown. In 1996, a genocidal war broke out between the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda, with Mobutu supporting the Hutus. Kabilas, who had the support of various opposition groups and of the Tutsis, overthrew Mobutu in 1997 and became the president. He had also secured the help of foreign companies by giving them rights over the country’s natural resources He was assassinated in 2001 and was succeeded by his son.
Similar efforts were made in Angola where a government led by Agostinho Neto was formed after independence. However, this government was sought to be overthrown by the US and South Africa aiding and arming rival groups of Angolans. The South African troops also entered Angolan territory and fought against the Angolan troops. Angola requested Cuba’s help in resisting foreign invaders and attempts at destroying Angola’s independence were thwarted. After many years, agreements were reached on the ending of foreign intervention in Angola and the withdrawal of Cuban troops from there.

South Africa: The Emergence as a Democratic Nation

The most vicious system of racial oppression was set up in South Africa. The system of racial segregation, called apartheid, was enforced in the country by the government of the White minority led by Daniel Malan, who came to power in 1948, and by the successive governments. The non-Whites, over 80 per cent of the population, were denied the right to vote, strikes were banned, Africans were deported from some specified areas, education was segregated, mixed marriages were declared illegal (and immoral) and all dissent was banned under what was called the Suppression of Communism Act. Some of the greatest works of world literature, and not just political writings, were banned under the Suppression of Communism Act. Strict restrictions were imposed on the movement of Africans and they were Equired to carry a pass permitting them to do so. South Africa left the Commonwealth when the policy of apartheid came under attack at the conference of the Prime Ministers of Commonwealth countries.

The system of apartheid created widespread revulsion everywhere and most contries banned all relations with South Africa. The United Nations called for the imposition of military and economic sanctions against South Africa and under pressure from world opinion and from their own people, the Western countries also began to apply these sanctions.

However, despite the condemnation of her policies, South Africa, for a long time, was not deterred from pursuing her inhuman policy with a brutality comparable only to that of the Nazis. In 1960, an anti-apartheid rally at Sharpeville was dispersed by resorting to brute force. Later, many other acts of brutal repression took place. By th early 1960s, most leaders of the anti-apartheid movement were arrested and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment
. The others worked to overthrow the oppressive regime either from underground or from other countries.

The struggle against apartheid and the White minority rule was led for many decades by the African National Congress (ANC) which had been formed in 1912. In 1955, a Congress of the People was held which adopted “The Freedom Charter”. This Charter laid down the basic objectives of the South African people’s struggle. The Charter declared:

We, the people of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know:
that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people:
that our people have been robbed of their birthright to land, liberty and peace by a form of government founded on injustice and inequality;
that our country will never be prosperous or free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities;
that only a democratic state, based on the will of all the people, can secure to all their birth right without distinction of Colour, race, sex or belief; And therefore, we, the people of South Africa, black and white togehter
-equals, countrymen and brothers-adopt this Freedom Charter. And we pledge ourselves to strive together, sparing neither strength nor courage, until the democratic changes here set out have been won.

The African National Congress had so far followed a policy of peaceful non-violent struggle. In the face of the brute force with which all peaceful protest was suppressed, it decided to launch an armed struggle. It trained its guerrillas and soldiers inside South Africa and in the independent states of Africa. Some of the prominent leaders of the ANC had been able to escape arrest. A powerful underground movement was built up and many daring acts of sabotage were committed. In its struggle the ANC received full support from the African states, the Non-Aligned Movement and the socialist countries in its struggle. With her almost total isolation in the world and the growing strength of the struggle inside the country, the White rulers of South Africa were forced to open negotiations to end the policy of apartheid. Nelson Mandela, who was the vice-president of the ANC, was released from jail in 1990 after about 26 years. He had become the indomitable symbol of the struggle of the South African people. When he visited India in October 1990, he was given the honour of Head of State. He was also awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding. Nelson Mandela’s release was followed by the lifting of ban on ANC and repeal of many apartheid laws. Subsequently, agreement was reached to put an end to the system of racial oppression and for holding democratic elections on the basis of one person one vote.

No event in recent history has been acclaimed the world over as much as the elections and the formation of a new government in South Africa. In April 1994, the first ever democratic elections were held in that country. The ANC swept the polls and in May 1994, Nelson Mandela became the president of the first non-racist democratic government of South Africa. This is known as the Government of National Unity (GNU) and almost every major political party of South Africa is represented in it. The emergence of a democratic South Africa can be truly considered a glorious event in recent world history. With this, the liberation of Africa was complete.

JAPAN

Japan was occupied by the US forces after her defeat in the war. A number of reforms were initiated in the political system of Japan and in the economy and society which laid the foundations of the postwar development of Japan. The power of the big landlords was broken. Workers’ unions were given freedom to function. The educational system was reformed and its misuse for inculcating militaristic and chauvinistic values was prevented. In May 1947, a new constitution prepared mainly by the occupation authorities (the US), came into force. It introduced a democratic parliamentary form of government and universal adult franchise in Japan. Though the institution of monarchy was retained, the emperor was divested of all his powers and was viewed as just “the symbol of the state”. The new Japanese constitution renounced war as a national policy. It also prohibited Japan from having a standing army or navy. In 1952, the US occupation of Japan was ended, though by a security pact she retained the right to station her troops in Japan.

The country has been almost throughout ruled by the conservative Liberal Democratic Party which, in spite of many cases of corruption involving the prime ministers of the country, has been generally returned to power. The second most popular party is the socialist party which advocates nationalisation of industry and wants the security pact with the US scrapped which has aligned Japan with the US. The Japanese Communist Party also has a substantial following.
These two parties along with others are opposed to any revival of militarism in Japan. The security pact with the US provoked countrywide protests in Japan when it was renewed in 1960.
A number of small right-wing groups have emerged in recent years in Japan which advocated the revival of the greatness of Japan as a military power, and inculcation of the traditional values some of which are closely related to militarism.
Japan has, during the post-war decades, emerged as a great world economic power, challenging US supremacy in many areas of the economy. Her economic growth is often referred to as a ‘miracle’. Lacking most of the natural resources herself, she has made tremendous advances in technology which has become her main asset. In many fields of manufacture requiring high technology, she has surpassed every other country in the world. As one of the economic ‘giants’ in the world today, she is closely allied with the most advanced capitalist economies of the West. In her foreign policy, she has generally followed the US. She started normalising her relations with China, formerly her main victim since her rise as a modern nation, in the early 1970s, and subsequently with the Soviet Union (and after her break-up, with Russia).

SOME IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENTS IN ASIA

A reference has been made to some developments within and between Asian countries in the context of the Cold War. It is necessary to mention a few other developments and events which are important in the history of the region.

Main Trends in Political Development

The political development of Asian countries since their emergence as independent nations has followed many different trajectories. While it may be said that the general direction of political developments in Asia has been towards the establishment of democratic systems, this has neither been smooth nor has it been without reversals. Not many countries in the region throughout the period since their independence have had a stable democratic political system. The Indian political system is among the few which has remained democratic throughout its history as an independent nation. In some countries, such as Pakistan, there has been military rule for long periods. Democracy was restored with the holding of elections there recently, after about ten years of rule by General Pervez Musharaf as president. Burma (renamed Myanmar in 1989) started as a political democracy in 1948 but came under one-party rule in the early 1960s, with the armed forces playing a dominant role. In May 1990, elections were held in Myanmar and the party led by Daw Aung Saun Suu Kyi, who had been put behind bars, swept the polls. However, no change was effected in the government even after the elections. Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for being an ‘important symbol in the struggle against repressions. She continued to be under house arrest for six years and was released in July 1995, only to be rearrested again. Almost all through the following years, she has been under house arrest and a few times in jail. In 2008, her house arrest was extended by another year. All efforts by the United Nations in recent years to secure her release have failed. In some countries in the region, there has been frequent political turmoil, often accompanied by violence. The overthrow of monarchies in some countries has been referred to earlier. This has, however, not always led to the establishment of democratic regimes. There has been growing secularisation of political and social life also been trends which are the reverse of secularism. In some countries, religion has been used as a basis of political activities and even of nationhood. An early example of such countries is Pakistan which was created on the basis of the Muslim League’s claim that Muslims in India constituted a separate nation and, therefore, should have a separate state. In some parts of the region, religio-political movements, with the active participation of religious leaders, have arisen. These movements exercise, or seek to exercise, influence and even dominance on the state. They lay stress on the inviolability of their religious principles and advocate the view that these principles should form the fundamental basis of state policy in all spheres. Their conception of religion is often highly dogmatic and obscurantist. Some of them do not hesitate to use terrorist methods against those who do not agree with them and for gaining their ends. These movements are often referred to as movements of religious fundamentalism.

African countries achieve independence

There are also powerful socialist and communist movements in some countries of Asia. In three Asian countries—China, North Korea, and Vietnam communist parties have been the ruling parties in their respective countries. In Mongolia, which adopted a parliamentary system of government, the former communist party is a major political force.

African countries achieve independence

Developments in China

The victory of the Communist Party of China in the civil war and the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China on 1 October 1949 have already been referred to. The communist victory in the most populous country in the world was considered a world-shaking event. During the first few years of its rule, the Communist Party carried out radical land reforms and launched programmes for industrialisation. She received economic, technical and military aid from the Soviet Union with whom she had entered into an Alliance. China also developed close relations with India. The two countries entered into an agreement in 1954 according to which Chinese suzerainty over Tibet was recognised by India and China reaffirmed the status of Tibet as an autonomous region. The five principles of peaceful coexistence, known as “Panchsheel”, were also a part of this agreement. From the late 1950s, Chinese policies began to change. A reference has been made to the emphasis laid on peaceful coexistence by the Soviet leadership after the death of Stalin. The Chinese Communist Party, under the leadership of Mao Zedong, opposed this and the relations between the two countries began to deteriorate. By the early 1960s, the split between them was complete. The Sino-Soviet split led to splits in many communist parties the world over. The Chinese started incursions into Indian territory in the late 1950s. The Chinese policy in Tibet also changed and in 1959 the Dalai Lama and thousands of his followers had to flee to India where they have lived ever since as refugees. In 1962, there was a border war between India and China when the latter invaded Ladakh in the north-west and Arunachal Pradesh in the north-east. In her internal policies, this period is known for what was called the Great Leap Forward. It aimed at accelerating the growth of economy. This was also the period when the growth of the personality cult of Mao Zedong began. His thought was extolled for its invincibility.

African countries achieve independence

The period from 1966 to 1969 was called the Cultural Revolution. There was political turmoil in China during this period. In the name of continuing the revolution, thousands of people were disgraced and removed from their jobs by mobs of students and Red Guards. Centres for higher education were closed down and severe restrictions imposed on literary and cultural activities. China’s economic life was seriously disrupted. In the early 1970s China was admitted to the United Nations. Her relations with the United States also improved. By then, China had become a nuclear power. Mao Zedong’s death in 1976 was followed by a fierce power struggle in China. By 1980, Deng Xiaoping had become the most important leader in China.

African countries achieve independence

From the late 1970s, vast changes began to take place in China in every sphere. The damage done to the economy, political system, education and cultural life during the Cultural Revolution and its aftermath was undone. Her relations with the Soviet Union were normalised and there was a significant improvement in her relations with India. There were significant advances in her economic life and there was an amazing acceleration in the growth of the Chinese economy, particularly from the 1990s. For many years, the annual growth rate has been about 11 per cent. During the recent years, the economy of Chinese has been the fastest growing economy in the world and has become the fourth largest economy in the world. The economic policies and the economic reforms’ that China has pursued during this period mark a sharp departure from the kind of policies that were followed earlier in the name of building socialism. There was not only the beginning and increasing spread of private (capitalist) enterprises but also massive foreign investments. Officially the new system is described as ‘market socialism’. Along with economic growth, inequalities in society have also grown giving rise to new tensions. The disparities in the living standards of the rural and urban populations have been particularly marked.

African countries achieve independence

A major significant event has been the transfer of Hong Kong to China by Britain which came into effect in 1997. It may be recalled that Hong Kong which was a part of China had become a British colony in 1842 after the First Opium War. In course of time, it had become a leading financial capital of the world. It became a part of China as a Special Administrative Region retaining a great deal of internal autonomy as well as its character as an advanced capitalist economy. Hong Kong becoming a part of China while retaining its autonomy and capitalist system, is described as ‘one country, two systems’.

African countries achieve independence

It may be noted that while vast changes of a basic nature have taken place in the economic policies of the country, China’s political system continues to be under the exclusive control of the Communist Party of China. While the kind of regimentation which characterised China’s political and cultural life for many years has come to an end, there has been little progress in the direction of political democracy. In the late 1980s, there was widespread upsurge for democratic rights in Beijing and some other major cities of China. It began with protest demonstrations by students in April 1989 in Beijing with Tiananmen Square in the city becoming as the rallying centre of what was described as the Democracy Movement. There were massive demonstrations in Beijing in May 1989 by students, who were joined by others, with hundreds of students going on hunger strike. To clear the Tiananmen Square of the demonstrators, the troops of the PLA (China’s army known as the People’s Liberation Army) were brought in on 3 June who resorted to indiscriminate firing. On 4 June, the Square was cleared of demonstrators and the movement was crushed.

According to foreign media and observers, several thousand people were killed in the Tiananmen Square and elsewhere in the city. There has been little change in the country’s political system since the events of 1989. By the early years of the twenty-first century, however, China had emerged as one of the most powerful countries of the world,

African countries achieve independence

Conflicts and Wars

There have been many other conflicts and wars between Asian countries after 1945. In most of these the two major superpowers of the world were not directly involved. There have been three wars between India and Pakistan. The first war took place in 1947 soon after the two countries became independent. After Jammu and Kashmir had acceded to India, the invasion of Kashmir launched from and with the support of Pakistan was halted by Indian troops. In 1965, there was another war when Pakistan sent her infiltrators into Kashmir. The third war took place in 1971 over the question of Bangladesh which will be referred to separately. In the 1980s, relations between the two countries were strained because of the aid which Pakistan gave to terrorists in Punjab.

Since the late 1980s, a major issue of conflict between the two countries has been the Pakistani support to the secessionist elements in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly Pakistan’s training and arming of terrorist groups operating in Kashmir. Though there have been talks between the leaders of the two countries with both countries committing themselves to resolving the Kashmir issue through negotiations, the infiltration of armed groups trained in camps located in Pakistan, particularly in territories of Kashmir which are under Pakistan occupation [POK), into Jammu and Kashmir across the Line of Control has not ceased. In 1998, war broke out between the two countries in the Kargil region of Kashmir. There had been large scale infiltration by Pakistani soldiers in this mountainous region in May 1998. Indian armed forces, including the air force, succeeded in defeating the Pakistani forces and inflicting heavy casualties on them. The war ended in July 1998, with most countries blaming Pakistan for violating the Line of Control [LOC]. The war remained confined to the Kargil area and did not lead to a general war between the two countries. In 1999, Pervez Musharaf, chief of Pakistan’s army,

overthrew the civilian government and became the President of Pakistan. In 2001, there was a summit meeting between him and Indian Prime Minister at Agra but it ended without any formal agreement between the two countries. Pervez Musharaf had to resign as president in 2008 after the elections in Pakistan. The elections had been preceded by the assassination of Benazeer Bhutto who had been Pakistan’s prime minister twice and had led the movement for the restoration of democracy in the country along with other political parties and groups.

In the meantime, many citizen groups in both countries have been active in promoting people to people contacts to create an atmosphere of peace and harmony between the peoples of the two countries. Some steps towards normalisation of relations between the two countries have been taken by the governments of the two countries. For example, train services between Delhi and Lahore (the train is appropriately known as Samjhauta Express) and bus services between the two cities have been resumed. Road transport between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad (the latter in POK) has been started. The end of army rule and the restoration of democracy have opened up possibilities of further steps in promoting relations of peace and harmony between the two countries. Both the countries since 1998 are countries with nuclear weapons and this has made the establishment of peaceful and cordial relations between them more imperative than ever before.

In 1980, war broke out between Iran and Iraq. There had been some disputes over boundary between the two countries as well as political differences. The war continued for eight years taking a toll of hundreds of thousands of lives in both the countries and causing serious damage to their economies.

In 1991, there was a war between Iraq and a number of other countries including USA. In August 1990, Iraq had occupied Kuwait. On her refusal to end her occupation, the United Nations authorised the use of force against her. On 17 January 1991, war broke out in which there was large-scale use of missiles by both sides. This was the first major war in which the US troops were directly involved after the end of the Cold War. It came to an end on 28 February 1991 after the forces of the US and her allies in the war had entered the territory of Iraq and Kuwait and Iraq had ordered the withdrawal of her troops from Kuwait. It had a shattering effect on the economy of Iraq besides taking a huge toll of human lives.

African countries achieve independence

Bangladesh as an Independent Nation

Pakistan, which was created with the partition of India in 1947, was divided two parts-East Pakistan and West Pakistan. The two parts were separated by about 1600 km of Indian territory. The only bond which united the two parts was religion—the majority of the population in both parts was Muslim.

Soon it was clear that religion could not be the basis of nationhood. Almost immediately after the creation of Pakistan, there had been a movement for autonomy by the people of East Pakistanis. The Awami League led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman spearheaded the movement. While the people of East Pakistan comprised more than half the population of Pakistan, the government and the armed forces were dominated by West Pakistanis. East Pakistan was also economically exploited by West Pakistan and her language, Bengali, and culture were sought to be suppressed. In the elections held in December 1970, the Awami League swept the polls in East Pakistan, winning 168 out of 169 seats. It was expected that Pakistan would now frame a new federal constitution which would guarantee greater autonomy to East Pakistan. It was also expected that with the Awami League as the majority party in Pakistan, Mujibur Rahman would form the government at the centre. However, the meeting of the newly elected assembly was not allowed to be held leading to widespread demonstrations in East Pakistan. To suppress the protest demonstrations, the army was sent to East Pakistan and Mujibur Rahman was arrested in West Pakistan. Soon after, the independent state of Bangladesh was proclaimed with its own guerrilla army to fight against the Pakistan army. Thousands of people were killed and millions of Bangladeshis entered India as refugees. The influx of millions of refugees into India created a difficult situation for India and she intervened in support of the people of Bangladesh on 3 December 1971. Pakistani troops unconditionally surrendered on 16 December. In January 1972, Mujibur Rahman was released and on his return he became the first prime minister of the independent state of Bangladesh.

The emergence of Bangladesh as an independent nation was an event of great historical significance, particularly for the Indian subcontinent. It was a serious blow to the theory of nationhood on the basis of religion.

The period after independence has been marked by long periods of political instability and military rule in Bangladesh. On 15 August 1975, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, popularly known as Bangabandhu, who had led the struggle for independence and was the President of Bangladesh, was assassinated along with most members of his family. This was followed by army rule with General Ziaur Rahman as president. Zia was assassinated in 1981 and was followed by General Ershad. He resigned and in 1991 elections were held which brought Khaleda Zia, Ziaur Rahman’s widow to power as prime minister. In 1996, Sheikh Hasina the surviving daughter of Mujib and leader of the Awami League, won the election and became prime minister. In 2001, the Awami League was defeated and Khaleda Zia again came to power. There have been wide spread political disturbances in the in strength. Elections that were due to be held in 2006 were not held. In January 2007, a caretaker government, with the active backing of the army, took over power and a promise of holding elections. A large number of political workers and leaders, including Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, were arrested and put behind bars. It is almost two years since the caretaker government took over power but there is still no firm announcement of elections.

African countries achieve independence

Regional Groupings

In spite of tensions and conflicts, a number of regional groupings have emerged in Asia to promote common political, economic, social and cultural interests and cooperation among its members. The Arab League, which has 21 Arab states, including Palestine, as its members, was set up in 1945. ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), comprising six countries of Southeast Asia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Brunei and Indonesia—was set up in 1967. Most of these countries are among the fastest growing economies in the world and ASEAN has played an important role in the economic development of each of its members. Vietnam became the seventh member of ASEAN in July 1995. Another major regional grouping which was set up in 1985 is SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation). It comprises seven countries India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives Because of strains in the relations between some of these countries SAARC’s actual achievements have so far been limited.

African countries achieve independence

Commonwealth of Nations

Commonwealth of Nations was formed before the Second World War but acquired a different character after the end of the Second World War. It had started as an association of self-governing British colonies and was referred to as the British Commonwealth and Empire. After India became independent, followed by the independence of other British colonies, its character changed. It was no longer ‘British’ and ‘Empire’ but an association of independent nations which had once been British colonies. Its members, now numbering fifty independent countries, follow their own’ independent policies in their domestic and foreign affairs. Its multiracial character as well as the variety of political, social and economic systems that its members represent have made the Commonwealth an extremely useful body for discussing important issues and for promoting cooperation in various fields.

African countries achieve independence

BRITISH AND DUTCH CO   LONIES IN SOUTH AMERICA

Britain had continued to retain a few colonial possessions in South America and the West Indies. Beginning in the 1960s, these countries became independent-Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago in 1962, Guyana and Barbados in 1966 and Grenada in 1976. Another colony, Suriname, situated to the east of Guyana, which had been under the rule of the Netherlands since the early years of the nineteenth century, became independent in 1975.

Developments in Latin America

Most Latin American countries continued to suffer from most of the same ills as before the war. The emergence of regimes which promised

African countries achieve independence

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African countries achieve independence

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