Decolonization in very simple terms refers to the collapse of colonialism and the subsequent establishment of authority in the countries being colonized (Duara, 2004). In Africa and other Asia countries which bore the brunt of the modern colonialism the word independence better captures the attainment of self rule immediately after the First and Second World War Generally, the word decolonization has come to be associated with the post-colonial period of the modern time and in particular immediately after World War One and Two.
It is not a coincident that it is so but it is because of a combination of factors that triggered the two wars that ultimately made colonization untenable thereby triggering an accelerated process of decolonization (Duara, 2004). Here are some of these reasons
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The fact that majority of local leaders from most of these countries that were being ruled by foreign powers had already received western education from these countries that were colonizing them meant that there were an elite that was waiting in the wings to take over from these foreign leaders in the event that they succumbed to the popular call for their departure from the local population (Thomas, 2007. In fact most of these colonies already had a leadership that was demanding independence either through peaceful means or through violent means which at the time bordered on incitement of the masses.
The kind of discontent that they created was at times too much for the colonizer who had already came out of a war (either First or Second World War) that had exhausted the finances that they would have used to maintain their grip on these colonies. Most other colonizer immediately after the war were unable to control these colonies (Thomas, 2007), this is better demonstrated by the Dutch request for assistance from the United Kingdom to build in Indonesia a bridgehead which it desperately needed but it could not build solely due to its financial situation after the World War One (Thomas, 2007).
It is also due to financial constraint that were occasioned by high spending during the war that prompted countries like the United Kingdom to introduce a indirect rule policy which was comparably less expensive because of the way it used the local administrative units and heads instead of importing leaders from the United Kingdom. The economic models was fact changing making the maintenance of colonies less lucrative as compared to the period before the First World War (Koos, & Granata, 2008).
Colonies were important and profitable before the WW1 because among other things they provided cheap labor & law materials, market for the manufactured products from the colonizing countries and sources of recruiting soldiers in times of wars, however all that had changed with the end of the war, there were no more war that looked imminent, and the sovereign of states had been given new meaning by the protagonists in the war which also benefited the occupied states by default. Lastly and mostly the economic model had drastically changed after the war making colonies generally unprofitable (Koos, & Granata, 2008).
Debate was also going on in the mother countries on the merit of keeping the colonies and it seemed like those opposed to maintaining these colonies were winning the argument. Among the reason that they were advancing against keeping colonies was the human rights abuses that they were being accused of perpetuating in those colonies, opportunity cost of maintaining them among other convincing arguments against further maintenance of colonies (Thomas, 2007). In a sense the decision to let go the colonies enjoyed broad support within the mother countries.
There was also the issue of the severe death toll that had been occasioned by both wars (WW1 & WW2). Each of the European country that was directly or indirectly involved in either of the wars had suffered a lot in form of soldiers and finances that not a single one was ready to commit some more resources in form of soldiers or funds to a cause like colonialism (Thomas, 2007). This was because each of those countries needed each and every penny that was available in rebuilding their economies that had been battled by the wars.
For instance, a country like Germany was devastated in the First World War such that it could not continue with colonization. It had even been restrained from any military expedition outside its border not to mention the financial burden that it was to suffer in rebuilding some countries that it was accused of destroying (Thomas, 2007). In a nutshell both of these wars led to a lot of poverty on the mother nations of the colonizers and a state of bankruptcy on these countries thereby developing a state of extreme nationalism in most of them.
There were even cases where colonies declared their independence as their colonizers concentrated on their individual problems, others sensing the weakened colonizers’ armies upped their military resistance against them and in the process forced these colonizer to allow the to govern themselves. References Duara, Prasenjit, (2004). Decolonization: Perspectives from Now And Then. Rutledge: New York. Thomas, Martin, (2007). European Decolonization. London: Ashgate. Koos, A. Cheryl, & Granata, A. Cora, (2008). The Human Tradition in Modern Europe, 1750- To the Present. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.
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