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The Africa of 1960: Social Fragmentation and Economic Disruption - Essay Example

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The Africa of 1960: Social Fragmentation and Economic Disruption

This essay will begin with a brief social and economic description of Africa in 1960 before attempting to identify what role certain events in Africa's history played in creating the conditions of Africa in 1960.
As an initial matter, when describing Africa in terms of its social and economic structures at the time, it is important to note that there were many inherited philosophies and organisational mechanisms. Independence did not eliminate the influence of so many years of colonial domination; quite the contrary, traditional notions of social organisation and economic ideology had been forgotten to some extant and replaced by the foreign preferences and behaviors. From the point of view of social organisation, for instance, clan-like allegiances had been replaced, in part, by ideological and religious allegiances (Routes to Independence, 2003: np). Both political and social leaders, as well as aspirants for power, rallied around philosophical platforms based upon capitalism or Marxism. Granted independence, social groups began to align themselves with leaders devoted to a sort of African self-determination based upon ideas borrowed from the Soviet Union at the expense of those previously implemented by the colonialists. Moreover, these ideas were often promulgated by military leaders of the period. Social and political legitimacy rested with heroes of the revolutionary struggle. These so-called heroes were often poorly educated, the product of violent struggle, and hardly disposed to perpetuate the forms of social organization previously championed by the colonial powers. In short, from a social point of view, the contradictions of the year 1960 are all too clear in hindsight. Traditional forms of social organization had been replaced by inherited structures and a new governing elite was advocating Marxist principles in conflict with existing social realities. In this way, Africa can best be described as having been in an impossible position socially. Immediate and violent struggles ought to have been predictable.
This had significant effects on the economy of Africa. There has never been any question that the African continent is rich in natural resources; to be sure, countries remain keen to gain access to these resources even today. In 1960, however, the inherited economic structures were based upon imperialism and the colonialists' notions of free trade. There was an underlying philosophy of private entrepreneurship and free markets. The conflict arose because Africa development at the time was being equated with state development. Natural resources became the province of the state, the states were increasingly of the opinion that these resources were necessary to stave off enemies both domestic and international, and corruption and violence were used by competing state factions to secure these resources. The Africa of 1960, in short, had in place the economic structures necessary to participate meaningfully in international economic circles; instead, the leaders chose to withdraw and to nationalize industries and resources. Again, just as social organizations were fragmented, the economies of African nations were similarly disrupted and fragmented. If some considered 1960 to be a year of ...Show more


Harsh realities, occasioned by historical truths, have often dampened the fondest wishes of Africans. While academics and governments today talk of debt relief for African nations, the year of 1960 was little different in terms of attempting to revitalize a continent facing economic crises, social fragmentation, and administrative decay…
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The Africa of 1960: Social Fragmentation and Economic Disruption
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