Striving for Independence: Africa, India, and
Latin America, 1900–1949
Sub-Saharan Africa, 1900–1945
Colonial Africa: Economic and Social Changes
Outside of Algeria, Kenya, and South Africa, few Europeans lived in Africa. However,
the very small European presence dominated the African economy and developed Africa
as an exporter of raw materials in such a way that brought benefit to Europeans but to
very few Africans.
Africans were forced to work in European-owned mines and plantations under harsh
conditions for little or no pay. Colonialism provided little modern health care, and many
colonial policies worsened public health, undermined the African family, and gave rise to
large cities in which Africans experienced racial discrimination.
Religious and Political Changes
During the colonial period many Africans turned toward Christianity or Islam.
Missionaries introduced Christianity (except in Ethiopia, where it was indigenous). Islam
spread through the influence and example of African traders.
The contrast between the liberal ideas imparted by Western education and the realities of
racial discrimination under colonial rule contributed to the rise of nationalism. Early
nationalist leaders and movements such as Blaise Diagne in Senegal, the African
National Congress in South Africa, and Pan-Africanists like W.E.B. Dubois and Marcus
Garvey from America had little influence until after World War II, when Africans who
had served in the Allied war effort came back with new, radical ideas.
The Indian Independence Movement, 1905–1947
The Land and the People
Despite periodic famines due to drought, India’s fertile land allowed the Indian
population to increase from 250 million in 1900 to 389 million in 1941. Population
growth brought environmental pressure, deforestation, and a declining amount of farm
land per family.
Indian society was divided into many classes: peasants, wealthy property owners, and
urban craftsmen, traders, and workers. The people of India spoke many different
languages; English became the common medium of communication of the Western-
educated middle class.
The majority of Indians practiced Hinduism. Muslims constituted one-quarter of the
people of India and formed a majority in the northwest and in eastern Bengal.
British Rule and Indian Nationalism
Colonial India was ruled by a viceroy and administered by the Indian Civil Service. The
few thousand members of the Civil Service manipulated the introduction of technology
into India in order to protect the Indian people from the dangers of industrialization, to
prevent the development of radical politics, and to maximize the benefits to Britain and