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African Soldiers in Action
"…people, especially the youth are no more satisfied with the old order, which admits of little or no progressive adjustments as time goes on."
Editorial in The Comet, edited by Nnamdi Azikwe, 24 Dec 1936.

The period between the world wars was a time of intense political and intellectual change for people in Africa. For Europeans, it was a time of consolidation, during which they tried to build up a more effective colonial administration. The urban population in Africa began to call for more say in how things were run. To make their voices heard new movements and associations were formed. But the political activity engendered by World War One had no sooner built up momentum than a second world war was on the horizon.

The people of Africa put aside their grievances and once more made a crucial military contribution. When the war ended, people felt that having fought for freedom in Europe, they were entitled to it for themselves.

When India gained independence in 1947, the movement towards self-rule became unstoppable. In a space of over 70 years, Britain and France had built up and dismantled the huge machine of colonial rule. Imperialism was a fleeting episode in African history, but one which left an indelible mark on the continent, both economically and socially.


Listen HereListen to Life under Colonialism, the twentieth programme in the BBC landmark radio series The Story of Africa, presented by Hugh Quarshie