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After World War I, African struggle for independence against colonial rule gained momentum. The new forms of
struggle against colonialism had regional variations. The self-help or welfare associations and the political parties
of this period, the Wafdists in Egypt and the Neo-Datsur in Tunisia are treated separately were at the forefront of
the anti-colonial struggle at this age. African self-help associations demanded the restoration of the expropriated
lands to the natives. Emergent political parties mobilized Africans for national independence. All prepared the
ground for the more determined national liberation movements of the past World War II in Africa. Examples of the
different forms of struggle are treated in the following pages.


The Kikuyu are one of the largest communities of Kenya. The Young Kikuyu Association was a native association
organized by African workers in urban areas and white farmlands. Their common stand against British colonialism
brought Africans together. The British chose the Kenyan highlands for white settlement. The land formerly
belonged to the Kikuyu had been given to white settlers. The kikuyu became hostile to British colonialism and
white settlers.


The Kikuyu Association (KA) was the earliest anti-

colonial association in Kenya. From 1920 to 1921,
Harry Thuku, a former telephone worker, worked
as a secretary there. However, he was more
interested in action-oriented measures to address
the rising economic challenges facing Kenyan
Africans, realizing that the organisation was
becoming heavily political and thus ill equipped to
achieve the association's original objectives of
economic emancipation. In 1921, he stepped
down from his position at the Kikuyu Association.
Kenyan Africans were suffering economic
difficulties, and the Europeans who were now in
control of vast swathes of the local economy
wanted to further cut Native African wages on the Fig. 1 the Kikuyu community
pretext of reviving the colony's economic position. Harry Thuku later found the Young Kikuyu Association (YKA).


The Young Kikuyu Association (YKA) was formed in Kenya on 10 June 1921, as a break away organisation from
the Kikuyu Association (KA). In July 1921 it was renamed the East Africa Association (EAA). Harry Thuku, who had
previously been secretary of the KA, felt that the KA was not demanding enough from the British Authorities in
Kenya and that grievances should be sent directly to London.
Harry Thuku became the leader of the EEA. It became Nairobi's first modern political organisation. It drew its
members from many tribal groups, however, because of its location most of the members were Kikuyu. The
association was formed in order to protect whatever little rights the Africans had and to continue the struggle
against British colonial rule. A major demand was the return of lands expropriated by white settlers. The British
reacted violently. They took repressive measures, and imprisoned Harry Thuku, in 1922.


The Kikuyu Central Association (KCA), led by James Beauttah and Joseph Kang'ethe, was a political organisation in
colonialKenya formed in 1924/5 to act on behalf of the Kikuyu community by presenting their concerns to
the British government. One of its greatest grievances was the expropriation of the most productive land by British
settlers from African farmers. Most members of the organisation were from the Kikuyu tribe.

KCA was formed after the colonial government banned the earlier Young Kikuyu Association founded by Harry
Thuku and the East African Association. Jomo Kenyatta, later the first president of Kenya, joined it to become its
General Secretary in 1927.

After his release in 1931, Harry Thuku became the president of the KCA in 1932.

The Kikuyu Central Association was banned in 1940 when World War II reached East Africa. Some fighters of the
later Mau-Mau still understood their struggle as continuation of KCA and even called themselves KCA.

The end of World War II, however, saw the new type of African organisation that went beyond tribal boundaries
with the rise of the Kenya African Union that later was to become KANU.


This was a native association established in the period the two world wars in
Uganda. Prior to the advent of colonialists to Uganda, several Kingdoms had
been formed. Ankole, Buganda, Bunyoro and Toro were the well-known. The
name “Bataka” was drawn from the ancient history of the people of Buganda.
Bataka had been the title used by clan heads that ruled the people of Buganda
in ancient times. This was before the emergence of Bugandan Kingdom under
the rule of Kabakas (Kings).

In the process of colonialization in Buganda, Christianity and its missionaries

played a considerable role. Evangelization was carried on by European
missionaries since the early 1880’s. The missionaries who had been successful
in converting court officials faced serious opposition from the people in1882.
The rebellions were directed against the Kabakas and the missionaries.
However, the European presence helped to control these rebellions. The British
declared a protectorate over Uganda in 1900. The Bugandans were then
converted in mass to Christianity. The Bugandan rulers (the Kabaka and his
Fig. 2 Kabaka Edward Muteesa II
chiefs) became accomplices in consolidating British colonialism in Uganda.

The 1900 Buganda Agreement had created a class of landowners/landlords who had, by 1926, grown from 3,700 to
about 10,000 as a result of sales and inheritance.

On the other hand, the cash-crop economy introduced by the colonial administration had created a peasant class
that worked the land and grew the crops that supported the economy.

Naturally, the landlords sought to benefit from the activities that took place on the land that they owned. First,
they imposed a land rent (Busulu) on the tenants for use of the land. However, as peasants grew wealthier from
producing more, especially cotton, the landlords sought to cash in on this, too.

In 1900 there was an agreement between the British and the Ugandan chiefs, the Kabaka. This agreement came to
be known as the Buganda Agreement. By the agreement, the chiefs were allowed to represent the people in the
colonial assembly known as the Lukiko.

The 1900 Buganda Agreement had created a class of landowners/landlords who had, by 1926, grown from 3,700 to
about 10,000 as a result of sales and inheritance.

On the other hand, the cash-crop economy introduced by the colonial administration had created a peasant class
that worked the land and grew the crops that supported the economy.

Naturally, the landlords sought to benefit from the activities that took place on the land that they owned. First,
they imposed a land rent (Busulu) on the tenants for use of the land. However, as peasants grew wealthier from
producing more, especially cotton, the landlords sought to cash in on this, too.

The Buganda Lukiiko, which was comprised – and primarily represented the interests of the chiefs and landed
gentry, introduced Envujjo, which required the tenant to hand over a percentage of the cotton grown on the land
to the landlord.

The tenant peasants were now required to pay the Busulu and the Envujjo on top of the Poll Tax that had been
introduced to replace the Hut Tax.

This created a sense of injustice for it meant that a landlord with many tenants paying him a rent and a tithe only
paid as much, per head, as his poorer tenants.

In the inter-war period, group of young and educated Africans began to oppose the Lukiko and the Government of
the Protectorate of Uganda. They were both against being represented by the Kabaka and the chiefs known as the
Lukiko. To coordinate their struggle, they formed the Bataka Association. The Bataka association was a party of the
common people, and became prominent, especially in 1947-78.



Anti-colonial struggle guided by political parties had been the experience. In some parts of Africa after World War
I, anti-colonial struggle in some parts of Africa began to be led by political parties.

In South Africa capitalist economic sector had developed earlier than in

the rest of Africa. Political awareness of the workers led to the
establishment of political parties to guide and coordinate their struggle
against white minority rule. In South Africa racial discrimination, minority
rule and economic oppression had embittered the black majority.

The South African Native National Congress (SANNC) was formed on 8

January 1912 at the Waaihoek Wesleyan Church in Bloemfontein to work
for the rights of the black South African population. John Dube, its first
president, and poet and author Sol Plaatje were among its founding
members. The organisation became the ANC in 1923 and formed a
military wing, the Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation, also known
as MK) in 1961-to struggle against apartheid.

The ANC won significant concessions from big business owners. The ANC
greatly influenced those workers from other parts of Africa that went to
South Africa as migrant labourers. When these labourers returned to their Fig.3 the logo of ANC
countries, they took with them the idea of organized struggle for both democratic rights and independence from
colonial rule. Such was the case, for instance, with those workers that came from Basutoland (Lesotho) and

ANC also has been the ruling party of post-apartheid South Africa on the national level since 1994, including the
election of Nelson Mandela as president from 1994-1999.


In 1918, a Gold Coast lawyer, J.E. Casely Hayfork founded the NCBWA which spread to Nigeria in 1920. This
congress demanded that Africans should participate in the government to have a saying in the local affairs.

One of the major demand of this body was the issue of granting elective principle in Nigeria. After the congress
was constituted, it sent a delegation to London, to present a petition stating its demand to Lord Milner, the then
secretary of state. The journey to London was an exercise in futility. The members were accused of self-
centeredness and that they represent no one but the educated class. The colonial office also argued that West
Africans are not yet ripe for representative institutions and it would amount to foolhardiness allowing them this.
However, Sir Hugh Clifford when setting up the legislative council made a recommendation for granting of elective
representation and this was granted by the new secretary of state of the colonies,Winston Churchil. Nigeria, then
became the first country to adopt this principle.
Note: when the elective principle was granted, only those earning £100 which was then a large amount of money,
can vote.


The Wafd (meaning delegation in Arabi) party was an Egyptian nationalist movement that came into existence in
the aftermath of World War I. Though it was not the first nationalist group in Egypt, it had the longest lasting
impact. It was preceded and influenced by smaller and less significant movements which evolved over time into
the more modern and stronger nationalist Wafd Party. One of these
earlier movements was the Urabi Revolt led by Ahmed Urabi in the
early 1880s. This uprising was fought against the ruling powers of the
Egyptian Khedive and European interference with Egyptian
affairs. Saad Zaghlul, the future creator and leader of the Wafd Party,
was a follower of Urabi Pasha, and participated in his revolution.

In 1919, the Wafdist leaders headed by Saad Zaghlul Pasha led a

delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference and demanded
Egyptian independence. The British responded by deporting Zaghlul
Pasha and other key figures to Malta, the Mediterranean island
colony of Britain. These deportations caused the opposite effect to
that the British had hoped. Though they tried to keep it quiet, word
spread and eventually led to a strike of law students. This strike
became a demonstration with chants including "Long live Saad. …
Long live Independence". This started the revolution of 1919 and in
the following days many more began to strike and the government
and courts shut down entirely. The British then released Saad Zaghlul
and his followers to create a rift in the Wafd leadership. In reaction
Fig.4 Saad Zaghlul Pasha
they further unified the party and the strikes continued.

Pressed by these circumstances the British recognized Egypt’s independence in 1922. However, the British troops
did not evacuate Egypt until 1956. Therefore, the Wafd Party, which until 1922 had some legal problems with the
British, was formally founded in 1923. They developed a constitution in the same year.


The Neo-Datsur Party which was a successor of the Datsur Party

(which means Party of the Constitution) was formed with the major
goal of winning the independence of Tunisia from French colonial
rule. It was founded in 1934 under the leadership of Habib Bourgiba
(who later became the first president of independent Tunisia, in

Independence of Tunisia from France was negotiated largely by the

Neo Destour's Bourguiba. The effective date was March 20, 1956.
The next year the Republic of Tunisia was constituted, which replaced
the Beylical form of government. Tunisia became a one-party state,
with Neo Destour as the ruling party under Prime Minister and later
President Habib Bourguiba.

Note: The Beys of Tunis were the monarchs of Tunisia from 1705,
when the Husainid Dynasty acceded to the throne, until 1957, when
monarchy was abolished. The last monarch of these dynasty is
Mohammed VIII al-Amin
Fig.5 Habib Bourgiba
Later the Neo Destour party was renamed the Socialist Destourian Party (PSD in its French acronym) in 1964, to
signal the government's commitment to a socialist phase of political-economic development.


All the above mentioned struggles were non-militant. Riff communities of Morocco were exceptional. This was an
armed struggle carried out without a political party but under a leader named Abd el-Kerim. He declared the
Republic of the Riff in 18 September 1921.

In the same year Abd el-Kerim organized a revolt against Spanish rule in 1921. By 1924 he had driven the Spanish
forces from most of their Moroccan territory. He then turned upon the French. France and Spain agreed in 1925 to
cooperate against Abd el-Krim. More than 200,000 troops under the French marshal Henri Philippe Petain were
used in the campaign, which ended victoriously in 1926.

It gained its independence later on 1956.

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