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Nationalism can be defined as the desire for Africans to end all forms of foreign control and influence so as to be able too take charge of their political, social and economic affairs. Before 1960 most of Africa was still under colonial control. However, by 1970 most of Africa was independent of European colonialism. Several factors contributed to the rise of African nationalism.

            The loss of independence to foreigners and the introduction of foreign systems of government caused feelings of resistance among rulers and peoples of Africa. Therefore foreign control caused feelings of nationalism.

            There were also unfair colonial policies. Colonial economic policies such as taxation, forced labour and compulsory growing of crops caused discontent among Africans. The suffering of Africans which was also expressed in form of armed resistance in many countries marked the growth of African nationalism.

            The settlement of large numbers of European settlers in different parts of Africa caused growth of African nationalism. Large numbers of Africans were displaced from fertile lands in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, South Africa and many other countries. This caused destruction of African culture, poverty, hunger and other forms of suffering. It also exposed Africans to segregation. This caused the need to fight for political freedom and self determination.

The emergence of the new super powers, that is, USA and Soviet Union, replaced Britain, France and Germany which had failed to protect world peace. The new powers wanted to be free to pursue their trading interests in Africa’s wanted to spread the ideology of capitalism. Also Russia, wanted to spread communism. They therefore put pressure on colonial powers to decolonize. In addition they provided support to liberations movements for example, scholarships for education. They also used their influence in the UN to call for independence of African colonies this encouraged the growth of nationalist movements.

            Also important to note is the improved transport network and urbanization. Improved transport led to concentration of population in mining centers, cash crops growing and processing areas and port cities. This in turn caused urbanization. Many people from different ethnic groups migrated to the towns. People of different cultural backgrounds shared their experiences. They suffered the same problems of racial discrimination, unemployment and poor living conditions. People decided to unite and fight for independence.

            Colonial education also contributed to the rise of African nationalism. As a result of colonial education a group of African elite with anti-colonial sentiments emerged. These educated Africans later became leaders of nationalist movements. They played a decisive role in the mobilization of their people for political independence. They include Nkwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta, Modibo Keita, Mamadou Dia, among others.

            News papers also played a major role. After World War II there emerged a big number of educated elite who founded a number of news papers. The elite used these news papers to expose colonial exploitation and to mobilize the people for the nationalist struggle.

            The influence of decolonization in Asia also played a big role in the growth of African nationalism. The independence of India and Pakistan in 1947 encouraged Africans also to struggle for political independence. Of particular importance was Mahatma Gandhi’s strategy of non-violence. This was borrowed by Nkrumah who called it positive action.  It involved political campaigns, education, newspapers, boycotts and strikes. African nationalists decided to use this strategy, hence promoting nationalism.