Africa’s Anti-Colonial resistance movements in the 20th Centrury can be described as Elitist because they were a tool used by the Colonial African Black Elite to overcome the obstacles to its own advancement that were presented by the Colonial System that had conquered Pre-Colonial Africa.
African Class Divisions In Colonial Africa
African Anti-Colonial resistance movements in the 20th Centruy were against a background of Colonially imposed Class distinctions amongst Africans themselves.
Whilst the majority of Africans under Colonialism were either labourers or peasant farmers occupying the lowest rungs of the Colonial economy, there remained a sliver of a Black Professional and Business class.
Amongst these Colonial Africans were the Teachers, Doctors, and Lawyers like Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Nelson Mandela, Robert Mugabe and Kenneth Kaunda who would go on to spearhead the African Anti-Colonial Resistance Movements of the 20th Century that achieved African Independence under the banner of African Nationalism.
However, these African Anti-Colonial Resistance Movements of the 20th Century did not initially start out with the objective of achieiving mass independence, rather they began as vehicles for the advancement of the small Black elite.
Examples are Ghana’s United Gold Coast Convention, South Africa’s ANC, and Zimbabwe’s ZANU (PF).
Such African Anti-Colonial Resistance Movements of the 20th Century were at least in part a response by the Black elite to their exclusion from full participation in the Colonial economy.
However, the Black elite were too few in number to bring about the Social Revolution that would allow their full participation in the African Economy on their own, and so by necessity, the Black elite recruited the ‘Masses’ of the Worker and Peasant Classes under the banner of a unifying Nationalist narrative.
The result was the creation of a Mass African Anti-Colonial Resistance Movement that was able to overthrow Colonialism in the 20th Century
The co-opting of the lower Black classes into the African Anti-Colonial Resistance Movements of the 20th Century can be seen by the extension of the Black elite movements in various African Countries to include the Trade Union Movements which had the necessary support base to bring about a Revolution.
In order to deal with the urgent need to reverse Colonialism, the unifying Nationalist narrative glossed over internal Black class distinctions imposed by Colonialism.
From this point onwards, the African Anti-Colonial Resistance Movements of the 20th Century gradually acquired sufficient momentum to overthrow the Colonial system.
The African Anti-Colonial Resistance Movements of the 20th Century were portrayed as a Monolithic Black ‘Mass struggle’ with little consideration being given to how the African Anti-Colonial Resistance Movements of the 20th Century had actually been birthed, as well as how they had glossed over the internal Black class distinctions would come to haunt Post-Colonial Africa after independence.
Post-Colonial African Mass Mythology
The arrival of independence meant the divisions in the African anti-Colonial struggle now had to be reckoned with as the Black elite that formed the core of the Black Intelligentsia which had led the African Anti-Colonial Resistance Movements of the 20th Century emerged as the leaders of the newly formed Post-Colonial States.
At this stage, the questions of individual class mobility that had sown the seeds of the African Anti-Colonial Resistance Movements of the 20th Century emerged once again and this time, the Black elite was able to advance its interests free from the restrictions imposed by Colonial Rule.
A Post-Colonial Black middle class was also created, and this can possibly be understood as the second phase in co-opting a segment of the Black population by the Black elite in order to maintain the new system that now served its interests in a Post-Colonial Africa.
The result has been the sharpening of class distinctions amongst the Black Population in Post-Colonial Africa, as well as the emergence of a range of government styles ranging from fully autocratic to democratic, all of which have advanced the interests of the Black elite at the expense of the Worker and Peasent classes without fully reversing the systemic inequalities perpetuated by Colonialism.