Black Elites Of Africa’s Anti-Colonial Resistance Movements

Black Elites Of Africa's Anti-Colonial Resistance Movements

Africa’s Anti-Colonial resistance movements in the 20th Century can be described as elitist because they were initially driven by the Black elite to overcome the obstacles to their own advancement presented by the colonial system that had conquered pre-colonial Africa which has led to the rise of corruption and decline of Post-Colonial Africa once this class assumed control when Africa was decolonised.

African Class Divisions in Colonial Africa

During the colonial era, African societies were subjected to class distinctions imposed by the colonial powers. While the majority of Africans occupied the lowest rungs of the colonial economy as laborers or peasant farmers, a small Black professional and business class emerged.

Within this colonial African elite were individuals like Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Nelson Mandela, Robert Mugabe, and Kenneth Kaunda, who later spearheaded African Anti-Colonial Resistance Movements of the 20th Century under the banner of African nationalism.

However, these movements initially started as vehicles for the advancement of the Black elite, rather than with the objective of achieving mass independence. Examples include Ghana’s United Gold Coast Convention, South Africa’s ANC, and Zimbabwe’s ZANU (PF).

These African Anti-Colonial Resistance Movements of the 20th Century were, to some extent, responses by the Black elite to their exclusion from full participation in the colonial economy. However, they realized that their numbers alone were insufficient to bring about the social revolution necessary for their full economic participation. Therefore, they recruited the worker and peasant classes, known as the “masses,” under a unifying nationalist narrative.

Black elite

As a result, mass African Anti-Colonial Resistance Movements were formed, which eventually overthrew colonialism in the 20th Century. This co-opting of the lower classes can be seen through the inclusion of trade unions in the movements, as they had the necessary support base to bring about a revolution.

In order to address the urgent need to reverse colonialism, the unifying nationalist narrative glossed over internal class distinctions imposed by colonialism within the Black population.

Post-Colonial African Class Divisions

With the arrival of independence, the divisions within the African Anti-Colonial struggle emerged again as the Black elite, who led the resistance movements, became the leaders of the newly formed post-colonial states. At this stage, questions of individual class mobility, which had been the impetus for the resistance movements, resurfaced.

A Post-Colonial Black middle class emerged, marking the second phase of co-opting a segment of the Black population by the Black elite to maintain the new system that served their interests in a post-colonial Africa.

This has led to the sharpening of class distinctions among the Black population in post-colonial Africa and the emergence of various government styles, ranging from autocratic to democratic. However, these systems have often advanced the interests of the Black elite at the expense of the worker and peasant classes, without fully reversing the systemic inequalities perpetuated by colonialism.

Flaws in 20th Century African Anti-Colonial Resistance and their Impact on Post-Colonial Africa

These flaws in the African Anti-Colonial resistance movements of the 20th Century have had a profound impact on post-colonial Africa. The post-colonial African states have been characterized by corruption and wealth extraction, with the Black elite often benefiting at the expense of the worker and peasant classes.

This can be exemplified by the decline caused by ZANU PF in Zimbabwe and the ANC in South Africa. 

In conclusion, the African Anti-Colonial resistance movements of the 20th Century were initially driven by the Black elite’s aspirations for their own advancement. However, the movements evolved into mass movements that successfully overthrew colonialism. The post-colonial era brought about new challenges and class divisions within African societies.

The flaws in the resistance movements, including the co-opting of the lower classes and the glossing over of internal class distinctions, have contributed to the perpetuation of corruption and inequality in post-colonial Africa.