Algeria vs ghana - Decolonization


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A description and comparison of the decolonization processes in Algeria

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Algeria vs ghana - Decolonization

  1. 1. Algeria vs. Ghana DECOLONIZATION
  2. 2. Decolonization “The process of granting independence to a colony; refers particularly to the period after WWII when European colonies in Africa an Asia achieved independence. “ Taken from Choices Taken from PPT lecture
  4. 4. Background ALGERIA GHANA COLONIZER France Britain TYPE OF COLONY Settler colony  France’s “backyard” Colonial protectorate until 1874 (used mainly as a strategic trade region) TIME UNDER COLONIAL RULE 1830 to 1962 1850 to 1957 TYPE OF RULE Direct rule Indirect rule TRADE Farming of wheat and production of whine Extraction of palm oil, gold, ivory, cocoa INITIAL RESISTANCE
  5. 5. Life as a colony GHANA •British allowed African colonial leaders to take the roles of colonial administrators  collaborative elites •Introduced new techniques and procedures to increase trade and maximize control (railroads) •Trade: encouraged farmers to grow cocoa, which soon became one of the top exports •Cause for frustration: profits from trade were now British and Africans had a weak presence in the government'Selling Indian corn in the streets of Cape Coast Castle'
  6. 6. Dissatisfaction in the Gold Coast •Ghana’s relationship with Europe had brought up a generation of merchants, traditional leaders, and professionals (doctors, lawyers, teachers) who where in contact and understood Western culture and politics •Ultimate government power was held by the British governor and population felt like they had no political role because of the indirect rule system •British counter argued that they did allow the traditional leaders to voice the people’s opinion in the government  collaborative elites •Dissatisfaction led the professionals to turn to newspapers, petitions and appeals as a fight for their rights Gayatri Spivak: the subalterns have no voice Spivak argues that during the time of decolonization, the subalterns, or the colonized, had no power to speak up against their oppressing colonialists. In Ghana, most of the population had no voice in the politics of the country. The traditional leaders that the British claimed spoke for them were actually collaborative elites who were expected to keep British colonial interests in mind. The Africans were only about to gain a louder voice later on in the 19th and 20th century when the number of educated Africans in Ghana began to grow. The means of newspapers became extremely important in Ghana so that the “subalterns” were able to speak and be heard.
  7. 7. Life as a colony ALGERIA •French invaded because they wanted to increase trade, spread their culture and religion, and respond to diplomatic tensions with the Algerian ruler •Administrated the country as province, not colony •Wide range of European settlers migrated and became farmers, mostly for wheat and whine •Cause for frustration: by the 1930s, deep segregation between Algerians and settlers could be noticed. French though to have a superior culture and saw the Algerian Muslims as “primitive” “Aerial view from 1935, showing the juncture of the casbah (on the right) and the French quarters (on the left). The intersection is marked by Boulevard Gambetta (now Ourida Meddad), the Grand Theater, and Place d'Ari stide Briand (now Square Port Said).”
  8. 8. Deeper into Algerian segregation… •Muslim Algerians were to be called “subjects” unless they stopped believing in and following Islamic rules, only then would they be acknowledged as citizens •If the “subjects” were caught ill-mouthing the French government or mistreating colonial officials, they were to receive harsh punishment •1930s: • Colonial policies divided Algerian land allowing settlers to buy out most of the fertile land • Extreme migration to France and Algeria’s towns and cities by Muslim Algerians looking for jobs in settler farms for low wages  country was overcome with poverty, hunger, and malnutrition Gayatri Spivak: the subalterns have no voice Spivak argues that during the time of decolonization, the subalterns, or the colonized, had no power to speak up against their oppressing colonialists. In Algeria, the European settlers – in a population of about one million – used their political advantage to suppress the native population. Besides the constant racism, discrimination, and continuous disadvantages the “subjects” were faced with, the French also made it difficult for them to become “citizens”. They opposed any attempts to increase Muslim rights.
  9. 9. Deeper into Algerian segregation… •Racism and discrimination allowed an informal segregation to be enforced and kept Algerians away from certain places in the city  by 1936: out of 4.5 million people, only 2,500 Muslim Algerians became “citizens” • Many Algerian did not accept French rule, but many viewed themselves as French too •European settlers were deeply fond of Algeria and perceived it as their homeland. Unlike French politicians, settlers usually wanted nothing to do with Muslim Algerians and depraved them of their rights as citizens. Benedict Anderson: imagined communities “*the nation] is imagined as a community, because, regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship. Ultimately, it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willing to die for such limited imaginings.” In Algeria, although ruled by the French by centuries, Muslim Algerians were not able to assimilate with the Europeans. Especially because of the threat the French posed to their religious habits, eventually Algerians created an imagined community which brought people together in spirit of revolution. For the settlers, their imagined community was one that did no include the original inhabitants of the land they colonized. This community allowed them to think that they were the superiors and held the right to rule over the Algerians.
  10. 10. World- System Theory • Britain • France Core • India • South Africa Semi- Periphery • Ghana • Algeria Periphery High profit consumption goodsCheap labor and raw materials High profit consumption goods Cheap labor and raw materials
  11. 11. Non-violent resistance in Ghana •Africans began forming political parties, such as the National Congress of British West Africa (made up of representatives from Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Gambia) and began forming religious, ethnic, and literary societies  but only a minority was involed •The majority of the population supported traditional leaders, who although obligated to gratify British requests, did organize resistance in the best interests of Ghana • 1937: traditional leaders organizes a boycott of selling cocoa to foreign companies, disturbing heavily the economy •Although this system seemed to put educated leaders of political parties and traditional leaders against each other, around the 1930s and 1940s they united forces in name of a revolution and eventually independenceBoycott and protest organized by traditional leaders
  12. 12. Violent resistance in Algeria •Resistance stemmed from religion, it “allowed Algerians to assert an identity and cultural pride outside of the colonial system” (Choices 41) •French wanted to suppress uprisings through suppressing religion  rebellion in 1871 led to decrees censoring Arabic as a foreign language, regulating pilgrimage to Mecca, and controlling Islamic schools •1920s and 1930s: various nationalist groups formed in Algeria and France •1940s: groups were demanding independence, even by force if required •The Algerian War began in 1954 and lasted eight years Scene from the movie Battle of the Algiers, which depicts the guerrilla warfare during the Algerian independence
  13. 13. Ghana: Explanations International Explanations: • WWII: Africans who returned from the war and were presented with unemployment and economic difficulties joined the political parties to put pressure on the colonial government • AJP Taylor Continuity Theory because of the nationalistic ideals and decolonization murmurs all over Africa, Ghana also began entertaining the idea National Explanations: • Creation of the UGCC, United Gold Coast Congress, in 1947. A joined group of traditional leaders, wealthy business men, and professionals that were appealing for self-government and gradual development. • There was a cause for national commotion when Kwame Nkrumah split from the UGCC to create the CPP, Convention People’s Party, calling for immediate self- government. Metropolitan Explanations: • Economic distress and inability to pertain in an active political role in the government made educated professionals extremely unsatisfied, which began to rile up an nationalist ideal to strive for independence. Eric Hobsbawm: recrudescence of local interests and ideals According to Steven Kemper, “Hobsbawm speculates that nationalist movements derive from ‘middle peasants’ seeking to preserve a threatened way of life and their own advantage or that the state mass produced tradition for the sake of its own legitimacy.” In Ghana, new ideas of a betterment in living conditions for the population is occurring, especially for those familiar and educated in Western culture. These former peasants or middle class now want something more for themselves and the an opportunity in self-government to ameliorate their lives and that of the people. This new-found nationalism stems from their own desire for improved lives mixed with nationalist and decolonization ideas flourishing all over Africa at the time.
  14. 14. Algeria: Explanations International Explanations: •WWII Algerian nationalist groups made use of the end of fascism to set up movements voicing their aspiration for the end of colonialism •1954: France lost the nine-year war in Indochina and was facing revolutions in Tunisia and Morocco too. The Algerians saw this as a sign and opportunity to also rise up against the European empire.  AJP Taylor Continuity Theory National Explanations: •Violent revolts by the Algerians that targeted European settlers were rebutted by the massacre of Algerian citizens by the French police. Soon enough, the deaths became a reason for national outrage and the thirst for independence. •The creation of the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) led the country into the Algerian War, which put Algerian militants against the French army, white settlers, and anyone who stood in name of France. Metropolitan Explanations: •Algerian population was being discriminated against and had no right to speak in front of the government or in any political role. Ideologically, the dissatisfaction gave birth to intense and violent nationalism which motivated people into risking their lives for independence.
  15. 15. Finally independent GHANA •1950: CPP began upholding strikes and demonstrations for immediate self-government, some of which turned violent •Kwame Nkrumah was arrested and released a year after and elected into the legislative council as “leader of government business”(somewhat like a prime minister) •Over next five years “political reform gradually led to a new government in which power was held by elected Africans.” (Choices 29) •Many opposed the CPP centered government that was being built •1956: British called for another election to ensure CPP still had majority support the had 57% of the votes •March 6, 1957: Gold Coast became the independent state of Ghana with Kwame Nkrumah as prime minister
  16. 16. Finally independent ALGERIA •FLN and French massacres of each other were under extreme international criticism • Most infamous example of the guerrilla warfare that happened between both forces was in the capital, Algiers, from 1956 to 1957 and which resulted in “one million Algerian casualties and tens of thousands of settlers and French soldiers dead” (Choices 42) •Ceasefire with the FLN was negotiated in March, 1962 • Violence continued even after the ceasefire between settler groups and the FLN leading into thousands more deaths •Algeria gained independence: July 3, 1962 •Elections were held and the first Algerian president was chosen: Ahmed Ben Bella
  17. 17. Further Insight Frantz Fanon: nationalism is paradoxical to liberation “National identity, while vital to the emergence of a Third World revolution, paradoxically limits such efforts at liberation because it re-inscribes an essentialist, totalizing, fetishized, often middle-class specific understanding of “nation” rather than encouraging a nuanced articulation of an oppressed people’s cultural heterogeneity across class lines.” Fanon argues that real liberation will never be able to exist as long as there is nationalism. The concept of nation, even in the new governments of Algeria and Ghana at the time, proved themselves again to be class-centric such as the CPP in Ghana who’s centralization was already being contested at the time. A.G. Hopkins: decolonization is a process of globalization “the study of decolonization need to be extended beyond Africa and Asia to include the old dominions. The subject needs to become truly global because, to complete the argument, decolonization was a response to changes in the process of globalization after the Second World War.” Both in Ghana and Algeria the process of decolonization was deeply affected by the international setting of the time. The end of the second world war inspired nationalist movements in a global scale and eventually began the decolonization process in Africa, in which one country followed the other’s example in getting rid of the colonial government. The global status quo has to be considered when discussing decolonization, for example, if it were not for the various wars and uprisings from French colonies at the time, maybe Algeria would not have had influence and encouragement to lead an uprising of such proportion. The same goes for Ghana, who had one of its triggers be the fact soldiers returning from the battlefield of WWII seemed to be greatly dissatisfied with the situation and confident in themselves to act for change.
  18. 18. Algeria vs. Ghana: So what? • the process of decolonization of Algeria and Ghana were extremely different • Algeria: province + previous direct rule + violent resistance • Ghana: protectorate + previous indirect rule + non-violent resistance • To analysis of the two cases should be done separately, there should also be a careful analysis between the two colonizers, Britain and France, who were key in the outcomes of both occasion • Independence was eventual for both countries and was bound to happen because of the status quo at the time • But in France’s case, international influence was one of the main reasons for them to allow independence, much more than Britain, because the tragedy in Algeria was being watched very close by the international society