Africa De-Colonization Timeline


Democratic Republic of the Congo

Congo Free State

1885 - 1908

The Congo Free State was ruled by the King of Belgium, without any regulation. The state, almost landlocked and rich with resources, was a kleptocracy, or ruled by a leader in order to enrich itself at the expense of the population. King Leopold exploited resources at the expense of the population, including ivory and rubber (!!).

Treaty of Berlin


European Congress to divide Africa for colonial rule, disregarding any tribal divisions.

Belgian Congo

1908 - 1960

After the international scene caught wind of the economic exploitation and questionable practices by King Leopold, Belgium took control over the territory as a country, name it the Belgian Congo. It was run more straight-forwardly, and stressed economic development, creating a lot of infrastructure (to export goods). They placed no importance in developing any notions of self-rule or education. They developed a "evolue" class of natives who they considered more developed and so-called more European.

Congo's Path to Autonomy

1958 - 1960

In 1958, the Movement nationale congolaise gained strength, and worked to unite all of the Congo in independence, not just one tribe or region. In 1959, pressure began to build in support of decolonization. In 1959, the Leopoldville Uprising illustrated this building sentiment. Future Prime Minister Lumumba was jailed in this protest, and partial independence was granted in the same year. In 1960 the Brussels Round Table Conference outline plans for independence, with no help in creating democracy.

May 1960 Elections and Lumumba

May 1960

In May 1960, the first elections are held in the Congo. Patrice Lumumba (1925-1961), a former postal worker and leader in the Movement Nacionale Congolaise, won the highest percentage of the vote (25%) and won the most powerful role in the country, Prime Minister. His rival won the second highest amount of votes, Joseph Kasavuba and therefore became President. It was an uneasy coalition.

Crises for new Prime Minister

June, 1960 - 1961

In the first months of his term as Prime Minister, Lumumba is met with many crises. Less than a month into his term, the army mutinies in the beginning of July. The province of Katanga, resource rich, recedes from the country, with the support of Belgium for resources. Lumumba appeals to the UN for a stronger approach in the conflict, but is denied, as well as from the United States, without wealth, help or powerful allies. He goes to the Soviet Union for aid and they fear the Congo is "going red." In August, another resource rich region recedes and the political leadership coalition falls apart and Lumumba is confined to his house. He tries to escape and is captured and killed by Belgian and Kataganese officials. The CIA was complicit with the plan.

Joseph Mobutu and Zaire

1965 - 1997

After the coup of Lumumba, Joseph Mobutu appeals to the West to be put in power. Thus begins his 32 year long reign of power. A member of the Congolese military, journalist, Mobutu was named chief of staff of the military and then as supreme leader of the country. He was very sympathetic towards the West. He renames the Congo "Zaire" to summon a sort of authentic Africanness and changes his own name and way of dress to invoke a feeling of being an "African Leader." he used this to justify his own power. Rampant cronyism defined his rule, and appropriated foreign assets and companies to his friends in the political elite. The infrastructure developed during the Belgian Congo is neglected and money is spent of ridiculous personal indulges while Zaire is ranked lowest in the world. He cracked down on dissent, while he maintained friendly relations with the US, including Nixon, Regan, and Bush. In 1989 the cold war ends and ties are cut. In 1994, the Rwandan genocide sends Hutu refugees into neighboring Zaire and works to make him look good. Mobutu was more sympathetic with the Hutus,and looks the other way as war criminals and engineers of the genocide stay in camps and continue to commit violence against the Tutsis. In 1997 Tutsis rise up and Mobutu is driven out of Zaire, from the help of neighbors, but dies in 1997. Laurent Kabila is named leader, but dies in 2001.

Democratic Republic of the Congo and African World War

1998 - 2004

After Kabila is in power, Zaire is renamed Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the African World War, in part to gain control of resource rich Congo commences during the power vacuum. In 2001 the father Kabila dies and son is put into power. In 2006, there was a hope for free and fair elections for Congo, but was crushed and continued into the 2011 elections. Rebel groups continue to vy for power and the power vacuum continues. Violent M23, working to gain control, is backed by Tutsi Rwandans. The wars are profitable, and made up of child soldiers, fueled ethnic tensions, control of natural resources, and soldiers are payed by ravaging and pillaging villages.


German Colonial Period

1899 - 1916

Historically, Rwanda is divided into two prodominant groups, the Tutsis (15%) and the Hutus (84%). The Tutsi were stereotypically cattle herders, while the Hutus were stereotypically farmers. Though these divisions were highly overlooked and extrememly mixed, as colonial powers dominated, they heightened these cultural differences as a division.

Belgian Control

1919 - 1962

The Belgians amplified the stereotypical divisions between the Hutus and the Tutsis, fostering divisions as part of their divide and conquer strategy. They favored the Tutsis historically, because they believed them to be more "European," though these differences were largely constructed. Towards the middle of the 20th century, the international community started to criticize the Tutsi favoritism, and the government switched to Hutu Empowerment in 1957. As the century progressed, Belgian accepted that the tides were changing and Rwanda would have independence. So without any preperation and with ethnic tensions growing, Rwandan independence came in 1962.

Rwandan Indepence


With Rwandan independence, ethnic tensions rose. In 1963, the Tutsi king was exiled and a Hutu president put into place. In 1973, President Kayibanda was put into power, the president who would rule during the genocide. During his power, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, children of Tutsi Rwandan exiles entered back into Rwanda and countered the Hutu militia groups.

Initial Peace Negotiations


In 1993, there were Peace Negotiations with the President and Tutsi groups to negotiate power sharing. However, President Kayibanda was sympathetic to the Hutu militia groups, the Interhamew including, and people questioned his true commitment to the negotiations.

Interhamwe UN informant


A UN leader was in Rwanda and had an Interhawe informant reveal the group's plans for violence. The man told the UN, but the UN was ineffectual, and told the man to tell the Interhamwe about the informant and the information he was sharing. INEFFECTUALITY.

Failures of International Leadership and politicized word

April 1994 - July 1994

The UN and international community was largely criticized for their actions during the genocide. The UN secretary Kofi Annan was largely crticized for being ineffective and ingnoring the horrors in Rwanda. The US President Bill Clinton was similarly ineffective because Rwanda was not considered important, there were no international "Interersts." The word genocide was not used because it would have invoked international treaties.

RPF defeats Hutu militias and following years

July 1994 - 2014

The RPF, lead by Paul Kagame, defeated the Hutu militias in July of 1994. This put Kagame into power, and is largely known for his leadership in increasing the national GDP hugely. There's been criticism regarding his authoritarian regime with no press freedom and preferential treatment towards the Tutsis.

South Africa

Establishment of Refreshment Station


The South African Cape was first introduced to Europeans because in the long voyage around Africa, the Portugese, Dutch and French Hugenots needed a place to stop and get resources. They were first very friendly with the Africans, predominately Khoikhoi and San people, and created a new "race" of people by mixing with the Europeans. The Dutch were the first to establish a proper colony, and became the "Afrikaaners."

Napoleonic Wars, British Seized


During the Napoleonic Wars, when Napoleon seized the Netherlands, the British used the power vacuum to seize South Africa. Under the new Britsh control of Cape Town, the Afrikaaners moved Northward (The Great Trek 1836) to establish the Orange Free State and Transvaal regions.

British Control of Northern South Africa


The British defeated the Dutch for Control of the Northern states of South Africa after a long history of annexation.

Anglo-Boer War

1899 - 1902

The British wanted full control of South Africa, and the Anglo Boer war secured this. It also created a dangerous precedent of concentration camps of the Boer people. It created The Union of South Africa in 1910, in which the English controlled the economy and politics, while they went along with the racist programs the Afrikaaners felt so strongly about.

Acts leading to apartheid

1910 - 1948

Leading to the Afrikaaner political control of the country, many racist acts led up to the securment of apartheid. This included the Union Act of 1911 which limited migration to the cities or representation in parliament. The 1913 Native Lands Act evicted Black Africans from their land and restricted land for the majority of the country.

Daniel Malan Prime Minister

1948 - 1954

Leading up to 1948, the Afrikaaners began to unite politically, and as the European majority, gained the majority politically. They left the economy to the British, as they wanted, and began to contrust the apartheid. In 1948, the National Party elected Daniel Malan who was Prime Minister from 1948-1954, a pastor of the Dutch Reform Church. He introduced affirmative action in favor of whites, secured state owned resources and claimed that apartheid was divinely inspired. Verwoerd was the Minister of National Affairs during the end of his term and was the main orchestrator.

Laws constructing apartheid

1948 - 1970

Prohibiton of Marriage Act 1949
Population Registration Act 1950

Hendrick Verwoerd

1958 - 1966

Hendrick Verwoerd (1901-1966) was born in Amsterdam, had a PhD in mass psychology, and openly admired the Nazis and Hitler. He was the minister of National Affairs from 1950-1953, and during his term as prime minister, constructed apartheid. He introduced a series of laws that systematically stripped people of color of their citizenship and divided a country through hypothetically legal means, as the only voting population were the Europeans.