After the World War One it became increasingly difficult for Britain to hold on to her Empire. It became clear that:
The Treaty of Versailles (1919) promoted 'self-determination', or the right to rule yourself. It was difficult for Britain to support this principle for other countries, but deny it to countries in its Empire:
There was a strong independence movement in India:
During the Second World War, Africa had made a significant contribution to the war effort. The colonies of Britain helped greatly by providing troops and local resources for the Allied soldiers. This led to local industries being created and local towns and villages became more developed and better educated. Many people even joined trade unions, organisations which helped them to think about their rights when they were working. As a result, many Africans under colonial rule began to think about their rights as people and felt that they deserved the chance to now rule themselves. They saw that they had become important contributors to the war and had developed enough to now have their own government.
Britain faced economic problems because of the cost of the war and it was becoming harder for them to run the Empire. They now had trade agreements with other countries, such as those in Europe and the United States and so did not rely so much on the markets provided by Africa. Therefore, the Empire was beginning to cost more than it was making. What is more, President Roosevelt was trying to encourage Britain to give freedom to its colonies in Africa. Instead of granting them full freedom, Britain began to introduce democracy to local areas within the colonies.
Eventually, nationalists in the African colonies felt that enough was enough and started protesting and rioting against the British. Jomo Kenyatta in Kenya and Kwame Nkrumah in the Gold Coast (now Ghana) led these protests. With all of their money problems, Britain could simply not afford to deal with this as well. Eventually, independence was granted to these colonies and, between the 1950s and 1980s, Britain lost control of all of its colonies in Africa.
The British Empire was dismantled and replaced by a voluntary organisation of former colonies called the Commonwealth: