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2.1 External factors

  • The two world wars were the fundamental events that transformed the colonies and exposed the weaknesses of colonial empires. On the one hand, the colonies became aware of the fundamental role they played during the strife and destroyed the image of superiority of their metropolises. On the other hand, they realized that their submission prevented them from developing; They were mere suppliers of raw materials and purchasers of the products produced in the metropolises; Their economy was totally dependent, and they had no freedom to decide. In addition, the world wars produced a social and ideological transformation of the colonies. Colonial combatants assimilated the concepts of freedom, equality, sovereignty, and independence, and claimed them for themselves.
  • The dominating States had promised the granting of higher levels of freedom and access to self-determination and independence as a result of active collaboration in the war.
  • International organizations. The Society of Nations favored the decolonizing process through the system of mandates for the administration of the colonies of the defeated countries in the IWW (Germany and Turkey). The United Nations created the Decolonization Committee (1961) in order to promote decolonization in those countries where it had not yet occurred.
  • The United States and the Soviet Union, although for different reasons, were the first countries to encourage decolonization processes. American President Wilson, in his The Fourteen Points Programme (1918), had already defended self-determination and the principle of nationalities as a way of securing peace after I World War . Moreover, decolonization meant the opening of large markets, where, once the European monopoly was broken, American products could enter. For the Soviet Union, decolonization was a means of facilitating the penetration of Marxist ideology and broadening its orbit of influence.
  • Solidarity between the colonies. The Afro peoples who achieved independence became an element of solidarity, collaboration and help for those who had not yet achieved it, supporting the liberation movements in their anti-colonial struggle.
    • The Bandung Conference (1955), which was the protagonist of the Asian leaders (Nehru, from India; Gamal Abdel Nasser from Egypt, and Sukarno from Indonesia, condemned European domination and appealed to the rebellion against it. Bandung was the starting point for the decolonization of the African continent by stimulating nationalist movements. The final release of the Conference has gone into history by declaring as a basic principle the right of peoples to their self-determination. Colonialism was defined as an evil to be put to an end immediately, and it was condemned as a fundamental cause of the problems of the Afro countries.
    • Pan-Africanism, Pan-Asianism and, above all, the so-called Arabism or Pan-islamism played an important role in the awareness of Afro leaders and peoples. These tendencies constituted the expression of solidarity and Union in their common struggle against colonial rule and in favor of the independence and unity of the two continents. Pan-Africanism, promoted by K. Nkrumah, resulted in 1963 in the creation of the Organization for African Unity (OAU), aimed at promoting and consolidating unity, solidarity and stability in African States. Although its action is very limited and its political organs has a lack of the power of decision, its action has allowed to resolve disputes between African countries without the intervention of foreign powers. Under the direction of J. Nyerere, the OUA advanced in an extraordinary way in the unity of the continent.