Visions of freedom and prosperity accompanied the transition to independence. Some visions, based on the Western world, led to private-sector models of further development, others to »African socialism«, to a state-planned economy or were looking for a third way. In terms of foreign policy, membership in the United Nations meant the first opportunity to articulate one’s own interests in front of the world. Attempts to unify the continent in the Organization of African Unity (OAU) served to better represent their voices. Culturally, the regained freedom led to universities of their own, to the development of literature, film, music and art.
The greatest task was the creation of national unity and the development of an efficient administration and economy. Institutionally, the political challenge required the establishment of a functioning democratic system, respect for the constitution and the separation of powers, the beginning of national legislation, the establishment of a judiciary and police force, and the development of an education, health and communication system geared to national needs. A sense of togetherness, national solidarity and the acceptance of state authority had to be anchored in the thinking of the citizens beyond regional and ethnic loyalties. Building the economy required increasing self-sufficiency and growth that could create income and jobs.
The political and economic visions failed repeatedly: cultural and ethnic heterogeneity was politicized and led to internal political conflicts, secession and civil wars (Biafra / Nigeria, Eritrea, Sudan); the economic development failed; National debt, impoverishment, unemployment, rural exodus and intensification of the distribution struggles were the result. Even in countries with rich natural resources such as the Congo (Kinshasa) or Nigeria, it was not possible to establish efficient political and economic structures. The military staged a coup in almost all states against abuse of power and corruption by politicians, the introduction of unitary parties, against regional and ethnic thinking, mismanagement and nepotism, but could not solve the problems. Structural adjustment programs by the World Bank and the IMF have reduced the state’s share in the economy, but exacerbated the social problems. Wars of independence (Angola, Mozambique, Northern Rhodesia, Namibia and the Republic of South Africa), civil wars (Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Algeria) and interstate wars (Uganda – Tanzania, Congo) cost millions of lives, caused huge flows of refugees, spread hunger, disease and poverty and created a climate of violence and lawlessness. These problems were exacerbated by the spread of AIDS and its demographic and social consequences, by the ongoing emigration of qualified workers and by the intensification of the distribution struggle based on ethnic and religious premises.
After the end of the East-West conflict, new political approaches led to a wave of democratization. Regional forms of cooperation such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) or the South African Development Community (SADC), the further development of the OAU into the African Union (AU), the adoption of the “New Partnership for Africa’s Development” (NEPAD) should promote the political and economic consolidation of the continent serve. Also the “African Charter of the Rights of Men and Peoples” (Human Rights) was born of the spirit of renewal. The greatest signal of hope came from the peaceful replacement of the apartheid state by a democratic system and the assumption of a leadership role by the new Republic of South Africa under Mandela and Mbeki.
The continent’s grave problems remained the fragility of the state, the threat to national unity and the stagnation of the economy. They had escalated into state failure in Somalia and genocide in Rwanda (1994), caused a civil war in Ivory Coast (2002) and the war (1997) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in which several African states, multinational companies and warlords were involved, triggered and threatened other states such as Rwanda, Burundi and Sudan (especially the Darfur region). In addition, there were disputes over the land question in southern Africa (especially Zimbabwe and Namibia), especially in Algeria and Nigeria, Islamic fundamentalism, in Sudan – as in Ivory Coast – the civil war and in a growing number of countries international terrorism (Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania). Poverty and war also caused countless people to flee to their neighboring countries or Europe.
In order to limit the flow of migrants to Europe, 57 African and European countries adopted an action plan in Rabat in July 2006. the fight against trafficking in human beings and illegal migration as well as increased development aid. In recent years, the People’s Republic of China’s economic influence on the continent has grown. The Beijing regime intensified relations with many countries, especially to meet the growing Chinese demand for raw materials. In Lisbon in 2007, representatives of the EU and the African states adopted a strategy paper to create a basis for future cooperation. In 2009, at special summits in Tripoli and Kampala, the African Union passed resolutions aimed at to improve the possibilities for conflict resolution and to build effective protection and legal guarantees for the large number of inner-African refugees. Nevertheless, the political and economic situation in many African countries remained precarious (for example in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Zimbabwe, in Somalia, in Sudan and in Chad). In 2010, as a country located in southern Africa according to countryaah, South Africa was the first time an African country was able to host the World Cup. In 2011, social unrest and mass protests (“Arab Spring”) brought about regime change in Egypt and Tunisia. In Libya, the protests against the ruling regime escalated into armed conflicts, in which NATO also intervened with air forces to protect the civilian population and which ultimately led to the end of Gaddhafi’s rule. On July 9th In 2011, South Sudan proclaimed independence. In the period that followed, the political situation in the countries affected by the upheavals of the “Arab Spring” remained unstable. In 2013, France intervened militarily in Mali, and there was an overthrow in the Central African Republic. In the same year, the army in Egypt appointed the president elected in 2012 Exit M. Mursi. In order to take a coordinated action against the growing threat posed by the Islamist terrorist militia Boko Haram, Benin, Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria and Chad decided to set up a multinational reaction force within the framework of the African Union in 2015. In Libya, the expansion of the Islamic State and ongoing military clashes between rival militias prevented internal stabilization. In Zimbabwe, the army took political control in November 2017, and President Mugabe was forced to resign.