In 1960, several countries in sub-Saharan Africa obtained their independence

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During the year 1960, 17 African colonies obtained their independence. The future has looked different for each new country, as Radio-Canada reports noted at the time.

The year of emancipation

When History (…) tries to define our time – the post-war period in particular, the 1945-1960 period – roughly speaking, we will say, "It was the time of decolonization, it was the years of Africa's emergence, a new continent was born.

Aimé Césaire, 1961

The end of the Second World War in 1945 gave an irresistible breath to the decolonization movement.

In the 1940s and 1950s, from the Maghreb to Southeast Asia, several territories obtained their independence.

1er January 1960, in Africa, Cameroon was the first to acquire sovereignty that year.

Conference recorded by Radio-Canada, December 10, 1961

On December 10, 1961, Radio-Canada recorded a lecture on African decolonization given by Aimé Césaire at the Maison des Étudiants canadienne de la Cité universitaire in Paris.

Although native of the West Indies, Martinican Aimé Césaire is considered an important spokesperson for the decolonization of French-speaking black Africa.

In the excerpt that we present to you, Aimé Césaire outlines certain elements, as well as certain dates, of the philosophical approach which brought the French African colonies on the road to independence.

Once the latter is acquired, the countries of Africa will experience various more or less fortunate fates.

A Republic of Guinea that is retreating

Guinea was one of the most prosperous French colonies in Africa. It is full of natural resources.

On October 2, 1958, preceding the other French possessions in black Africa, it obtained its independence.

Its founder, Sékou Touré, is quick to turn away from the West and draw closer to communist countries, especially the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China.

Camera 58, December 14, 1958

The show Camera 58 presents us on December 14, 1958, an account of the international correspondent Dostaler O’Leary on the state of Guinea a few weeks after its independence.

The report is narrated by Jacques Fauteux.

The tone may seem a little paternalistic and condescending to us. But it still describes a reality.

Guinea is retreating economically now that it has allied itself with the communist bloc.

In 2019, the United Nations Human Development Index placed the Republic of Guinea at 174e rank out of 189 countries.

A peaceful Republic of Senegal

On April 4, 1960, Senegal obtained its independence from France.

Camera 60, November 13, 1960

Radio-Canada international correspondent Dostaler O’Leary visits the young republic and reports for Camera 60 a report broadcast on November 13, 1960.

Senegal was, proportionately, pampered by the French colonizer.

The images and comments recorded by the international correspondent show us a relatively prosperous nation which has the infrastructure to prepare for its future.

Today, Senegal is one of the most stable countries in Africa.

In 2019, the United Nations Human Development Index placed the Republic of Senegal at 166e rank out of 189 countries.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo ravaged by violence

On June 30, 1960, the Belgian colony of the Congo wrested its independence from Brussels.

From 1885 to 1960, the Belgian Congo suffered a brutal, predatory and retrograde colonial rule.

At the time of independence, there were no lawyers or doctors of African origin in the Belgian Congo.

International news, January 1, 1961

A report presented to the emission International news 1er January 1961, and of which Gaétan Barrette is the narrator, shows that the Belgian Congo sinks into violence almost immediately after having obtained its freedom.

The richest provinces declare their independence from the young republic already bankrupt. Political violence is plaguing the country.

Gaétan Barrette also mentions the name of Colonel Mobutu in this report.

Mobutu Sese Seko will be president of the Republic of Congo from 1965 to 1997.

He will continue his counting at an accelerated pace.

In 2019, the United Nations Human Development Index placed the Democratic Republic of the Congo at 179e rank out of 189 countries.

An organized Federal Republic of Nigeria

Nigeria is today one of the African countries best prepared to shoulder its responsibilities. British universities have given it 25,000 graduates and the administration can count on 37,000 native civil servants.

Richard Garneau, 1961.

1er October 1960, it was the turn of Nigeria, the most populous of African colonies, to gain sovereignty from the United Kingdom.

Camera 60, October 9, 1960

October 9, 1960, Camera 60 presents an account of the independence ceremonies of the new country as narrated by Richard Garneau.

These are very elaborate ceremonies that celebrate the new country. These show the great diversity of Nigerian populations.

The narrator also points out how the British colonizer left a legacy of a structured civil service and an educated African elite that will help the newcomer get off on the right foot.

Today, the Federal Republic of Nigeria is Africa's second largest economy after South Africa.

In Africa, the cycle of independence ended when Namibia gained sovereignty from South Africa in 1990.

In addition :

  • In 1960, the anthropologist-filmmaker Jean Rouch delivers his thoughts
  • Aimé Césaire, mythical literary figure of anti-colonialism
  • Pan-Africanism, this great African dream reborn
Even more from our archives

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