The ideological scramble for Africa : the US, Ghanaian, French and British competition for Africa's future, 1953-1963
Title: The ideological scramble for Africa : the US, Ghanaian, French and British competition for Africa's future, 1953-1963
Author: GERITS, Frank
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2014
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
The ideological scramble for Africa tells the story of an international competition between the US, France, Ghana and the UK. Against the background of rising Soviet interests, these countries worked to convince leaders and peoples in Sub-Saharan Africa of their pan-African, capitalist and imperial plans. Between 1953 and 1963, Africa’s position in the international system was not primarily determined by the struggle between the USSR and the US. African leaders did not simply play off the Cold war superpowers against each other to extract gains. Kwame Nkrumah, the leader of Ghana, projected his own pan-African ideology to other parts of the continent. What was at stake in this scramble were the so-called ‘minds’ of African peoples. Nkrumah blamed colonialism for instilling non-white populations with an inferiority complex, while policy makers in the West drew on the insights of ethno-psychology to argue that underdevelopment was a psychological problem. To develop men into the modern mindset or, conversely, to create an ‘African Personality’, policymakers relied on education and information media. When other African statesmen were unwilling to support Ghana’s pan-African vision, Nkrumah’s public discourse became more stridently anticolonial, in an attempt to mobilise the African general public. With the atrocities of the Congo crisis in mind, President John F. Kennedy and the Europeans began to see anticolonial nationalism as an emotional response to the tensions that came out of the modernisation process. Western officials therefore decided to modernise the socio-economic structures of ‘emerging’ societies, since psychological modernisation had failed. Those shifting views on African development profoundly influenced the way in which the Bandung Conference, the Suez Crisis, the independence of Ghana, the Sahara atomic bomb tests and the Congo crisis were understood. As a whole, this analysis presents a sharp departure from a narrative in which non-Western actors are depicted as subaltern agents who can only resist or utilise Cold War pressures. It seeks to address the broader question of why pan-Africanism ultimately failed to become a fully developed interventionist ideology, capable of rivalling communist and capitalist proscriptions for African development.
Defence date: 28 November 2014; Examining Board: Prof. Federico Romero, EUI, Supervisor; Prof. Dirk Moses, EUI, Second Reader; Prof. Idesbald Goddeeris, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, External Supervisor; Prof. Sue Onslow, London School of Economics/Institute of Commonwealth Studies.
Type of Access: openAccess