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In this tutorial, we are going to identify the major effects of the Second World War on nationalism in British West Africa. Specific examples will be drawn from the Gold Coast (Ghana).
What if you are not a WASSCE candidate in Ghana? Maybe you are a student in Nigeria, The Gambia, Liberia or Sierra Leone. You need not to worry at all.
Please use the same points with examples from your own country.
The effects of the Second World War on nationalism in British West Africa
1.Formation of political parties
The political parties that were formed after the Second World War served as training grounds for the nationalist leaders. Examples were the United Gold Coast Convention (U.G.C.C) and the Convention People’s Party (C.P.P.) which were formed in 1947 and 1949 respectively. The parties also educated the people on the evils of colonialism and by so doing succeeded in awakening the political consciousness of the people.
2. Africanization of the Civil Service
The persistent demands of the nationalists led to a gradual but steady inclusion of Africans in the civil service.
3. Militant demand for self-government
After the Second World War, a new breed of nationalists emerged across British West Africa. These radical nationalists were not interested in participating in the political process of their respective countries as usual. Instead, they were interested in using radical means like strikes and demonstrations to back their demands for independence.
This raised the tempo of the nationalist struggle. Examples were the 1948 riots in the Gold Coast and positive Action declared by Kwame Nkrumah in 1950.
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4. Constitutional Reforms
The British gave the Africans greater say and representation in government after the Second World War. In the Gold Coast, for example, the new constitutions that were introduced in 1946, 1957 and 1954 attest to this fact.
5. Development of the Franchise and Universal Adult Suffrage
Another significant development in post World War II nationalism in British West Africa was the development of the franchise. One of the demands of the nationalists was electoral reform. The constitutions that were introduced after the Second World War provided such electoral reforms which eventually led to the granting of Universal Adult Suffrage.
6. Rapid growth in political awareness
Social, political and economic developments following the Second World War helped to create political consciousness and social awareness in both urban and rural areas
Africans instantly became aware of the negative effects of colonial rule. Examples were the racial discrimination in the civil service, control of the import and export trade by foreigners and the role of traditional rulers who became powerless appendages to the colonial apparatus. These were highlighted in newspapers such as the Accra Evening News which was the mouthpiece of the Convention People’s Party in the Gold Coast.
7. Attainment of internal self-government
Internal self-government was achieved in the Gold Coast in 1954. Kwame Nkrumah, who was the leader of the majority party in parliament, became the Prime Minister. He presided over an all-African cabinet who were collectively responsible to the legislature and not to the governor as had been the case under previous constitutions.
8. Attainment of political independence
In the Gold Coast, for example, following the attainment of internal self- government in 1954, massive pressure was brought to bear on the colonial authorities to eventually grant independence to the country on 6th of March 1957. Ghana’s independence also quickened the tempo of decolonization on the African continent.