Explain why the newly independent states in Africa suffered so many problems and assess to what extent the problems were of their own making.

The newly independent states of Africa suffered from many problems due to:

  • Tribal differences- The continent is divided heavily on the grounds of ethnicity. There are a large number of tribes which live in a very closed group with loyalty to only their own community. During the colonial rule, they were united by the nationalist struggles, but as soon as the struggle ended they found little incentive in being united and started being loyal only to their own tribe.
  • Economic dependence- African countries, like other Third World countries were very poor. Further, colonial rule had completely destroyed their economy. The function of the colonies was only to supply food and raw materials and finished goods had to be imported. As a result of this, after the colonial powers left the countries still remained dependent on imported goods. They were somehow surviving from export of one or two goods, but due to the fall in world price of their products they became even worse off. They were also heavily indebted with loans from western nations. As a result of this, many countries got an oppurtunity to intervene directly through military force in the countries which they did not like or assumed to have Soviet influence like Angola.
  • Lack of leadership ideas- Many of the rulers of Africa were not aware of the systems of parliamentary democracy and became corrupt. This led to agitations against the government and military coup was used as the only means to remove governments, creating a chaos.
  • Economic and natural disasters- The African countries faced most of the natural and economic disasters of the time. The economic recession of the 1980s led to a fall in exports of metals from Africa and also resulted in severe drought causing crop failures and famines.

Although the problems were mostly a result of recovering from the colonial rule, the countries did have some internal problems that exaggerated the issues. The tribal differences were not something created by the colonial rulers and unity was an essential factor for development. The ignorance of this aggravated problems. The inefficiency of the politicians and their inability to address the problems led to their persistence. There was also more of infighting in the countries that shifted focus from development and allowed foreign powers to contro the economy from outside.

Question for UPSC Mains:
Explain why the newly independent states in Africa suffered so many problems and assess to what extent the problems were of their own making.

Published: March 21, 2017 | Modified:October 15, 2020

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