The African continent from post-colonialism to decolonization: An inevitable historical process? Part 1

colonial-bordersBy afalku igectulen 

The colonialism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century destroyed most of the ethnocultural entities of the African continent by making frontier trajectories without any foundation except the “sharing of a cake” between the different colonial powers.

Borders were drawn by soldiers on geographical maps without even setting foot in some areas. Sometimes they just had drawn straight lines by even ignoring geomorphological data. The words of Lord Salisbury, himself one of the great African “cake-shareers”, dispended with comment: “We have drawn to the map the regions where the white man had never set his foot. We have distributed to us mountains, rivers and lakes, barely embarrassed by this little difficulty that we never knew exactly where these mountains, rivers, or lakes were ”

The liberation movements of the beginning of the last century have accommodated themselves to these divisions which have created factitious nations without any homogeneity. However, for the sake of efficiency, the structuring of these liberation movements has taken into account regional specificities (this is the case of the Algerian national movement with the six historic wilayas).

The advent of independence, the new heterogeneous and sometimes antagonistic geopolitical groups, needed to quickly find founding myths to define nations by playing on primary anti-colonialism. Thus “Algeria” opted for an accelerated Arabization to get rid of the language of the former colonizer and an Islamization to the utterance, all with the precious help of “Nasserian Egypt”.

At the Conference of Heads of State and Government of the OAU (Organization of the African Union) in Cairo in 1964, one of the major problems to be resolved was conflicts related to border tracing. Indeed, several conflicts related to disputes on the contestation of borders drawn by colonialism. Other conflicts also concerned the internal borders in these new states stemming from colonialist divisions. At the instigation of the “Monrovia” group, the principle of the intangibility of borders in Africa was decided on 21/07 / 1964.This principle states declared that “all Member States undertake to respect the Existing borders at the time of independence “. This principle therefore prohibits Member States from expressing any territorial claim or wanting to change the colonial route.
For African leaders, this imperative concerns territorial claims from another state, but also aims to stifle the secessionist movements coming from within which could call into question the borders resulting from independence.

At the time of its adoption, some African leaders disagreed. They are known as the Casablanca group.

The President of Tanzania NYERERE (1962-1985) considered that this principle of intangible borders was “a cynical doctrine in its anti-universalism that the right of self-determination can be invoked only once, Against the colonial powers and, in no case, against the decolonized states ”

Part 2

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