Visual History of the World

(CONTENTS)
 

 


HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION & CULTURE

From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Photography
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
Prehistory
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists

 




The Contemporary World

1945 to the present



After World War II, a new world order came into being in which two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, played the leading roles. Their ideological differences led to the arms race of the Cold War and fears of a global nuclear conflict. The rest of the world was also drawn into the bipolar bloc system, and very few nations were able to remain truly non-aligned. The East-West conflict came to an end in 1990 with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the consequent downfall of the Eastern Bloc. Since that time, the world has been driven by the globalization of worldwide economic and political systems. The world has, however, remained divided: The rich nations of Europe, North America, and East Asia stand in contrast to the developing nations of the Third World.



The first moon landing made science-fiction dreams reality in the year 1969.
Space technology has made considerable progress as the search for new
possibilities of using space continues.

 

 


Africa since the Independence of its Nations
 


SINCE 1945
 

 

see also: United Nations member states -

Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad,
Comoros, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea,
Ethiopia,
Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali,
Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal,
Seychelles,
Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

 

The nations of Sub-Saharan Africa that became independent after 1957 have continued to suffer the consequences of their continent's experience of colonialism. The optimism of the early years of independence soon gave way to repeated military coups, violent conflicts, and popular disillusionment with promises to end poverty and improve living conditions. Other problems faced in parts of the region include drought and famines, limited access to drinking water, and the alarming growth of HIV/AIDS since the 1980s. These problems are compounded by authoritarian and frequently corrupt regimes.

 


Decolonization: Background and Problems
 

After World War II, weakened European colonial powers and an increased self-awareness of the native peoples led many African colonies toward self-government. Since independence, however, most have struggled to overcome serious economic, political, and social challenges.

 

Powerful 3, 5 independence movements began forming in the African colonies following World War II, leading to the creation of many new African nations since 1957.

The main reason for the success of the Pan-African movement after 1945 lay in the increased self-awareness of the African nations. World War II, in which troops from many 4 colonies fought alongside their colonial rulers, precipitated the end of European supremacy.


3 Herdsman leads his emaciated cattle through a landscape marked by drought, 1985


5 Members of the Senegalese population demonstrate for independence


4 Senegalese soldiers on the side of
Allied forces, in German captivity, 1940

The development of new forms of 6 Islam, and especially of Christianity, that distinctly differed from the Western forms and were closely tied with concepts of national identity also played an important role.

Most important of all, though, was a rethinking in the approach of the weakened European powers after the war.

The majority of the 2 initiators of African independence came from the groups of native intellectuals and professional elites who had been educated in the colonial motherlands and who admired the functioning administration and material progress they encountered.


6 A group of African Muslim men pray in Senegal, ca. 1950


2 Julius Nyerere, who studied
in England, became the first
prime minister of Tanzania in 1964

They hoped that self-rule would help to create these conditions in the former colonies, too. However, on the threshold of independence, Africa was confronted by problems that were difficult to resolve and were often a legacy of colonialism.

The gap between the educated elite and the 1, 7 illiterate majority of the populace was often vast, and the economies of these nations were intricately bound to the needs of the colonial metropoles.

Furthermore, many of the former colonies were not "nations" as such, but zones of European influence. Abstract borders arbitrarily divided and grouped linguistic and ethnic groups, making it difficult for the inhabitants to identify with the resultant countries. Tribal solidarity and majority-versus-minority struggles often undermined the new democratic structures. An extreme case of societal breakdown was the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. With a colonial legacy of political instability, unclear borders, poverty, and no infrastructure, the odds were against the new states.


1 Famine: Undernourished child in a Sudanese refugee camp


7 Night school for the education
of illiterate adults, Cameroon

 

 


The End of Colonialism
 

From the late 1950s, the colonial powers of Great Britain, France, and Belgium saw their rule in Africa gradually come to an end. Where possible, they sought to retain their commercial interests.

 

The three countries responded in different ways to African desires for independence. The British initially used indigenous social structures and elites in order to "indirectly" administer their colonies cheaply and efficiently. The British slowly resigned themselves to African self-government, although African independence movements forced the pace.

This was the case in 11 Ghana, which became the first independent nation in Sub-Sahara n Africa in 1957.

One after another, colonies became sovereign members of the British Commonwealth: Nigeria and Somalia in 1960, Uganda in 1962, Zanzibar (which joined with Tanganyika in 1964 to form Tanzania) and Kenya in 1963, and Zambia in 1964. Rhodesia and South Africa were exceptions, as the white populations seized power to prevent black majority rule.

France attempted at quite an early stage to grant civil rights to its Sub-Saharan African colonies and thereby to bind them to the motherland.

In 1944, in order to ensure assistance in the struggle against the Vichy regime, General de Gaulle, the leader of the French government-in-exile, assured some of the 13 African leaders that civil rights would be granted to all inhabitants of the French colonies.


11 Kwame Nkrumah waving to the crowd after having become the first president of the Republic of Ghana


13 De Gaulle meets regional leaders
fighting for independence in Brazzaville

In 1946 forced labor was abolished, but as the promised benefits failed to materialize, demands for independence grew louder. De Gaulle's plan for a union of states under French leadership failed.

With the exception of Algeria, the French African colonies—including the 10 Ivory Coast, Guinea, Cameroon, 8 Niger, Senegal, Chad, and the Central African Republic—gained their 9 independence peacefully after 1960; the strategically important Djibouti became politically independent only in 1977.


10 The first prime minister of the sovereign Ivory Coast, Felix Hophouet-Boigny, gives a speech, ca. 1965


8 Independence, Nigeria, 1965


9 Sunset over the Niger River in Bamako,
the capital of Mali

Of the Belgian colonies, the Congo, considered a "model colony," underwent a particularly traumatic decolonization experience via intervention by the United States. Rwanda and Burundi became independent in 1962.

Portugal employed mercenary troops to stifle the independence movements in its colonies, 12 Angola and Mozambique.

Bloody fighting raged through the 1960s, and they did not win their independence until 1975.


12 Civil war in Angola, 1976

 

 

Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah

"Our Way to Freedom," 1961

"The African independence movement, which after the Second World War gained more importance, spread far and wide across Africa like a hush fire.

The clear, echoing cry for freedom... has become a powerful hurricane, that will sweep away the old colonial Africa.

The year 1960 was the year of Africa.

In that year alone 17 African states came into being as proud and independent, sovereign nations."


Kwame Nkrumah, the spiritual leader  of Pan-Afrlcanism and of African socialism

 
 

see also: United Nations member states -

Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad,
Comoros, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea,
Ethiopia,
Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali,
Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal,
Seychelles,
Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

 

 

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