During the early 1900s, more and more Africans felt the impact of colonial rule. European nations exploited, or took advantage, of their colonies to produce profits for the parent country. Although the peoples of Africa had long tried to resist foreign imperialism, calls for change spread, fueling new nationalist movements.
Throughout Africa, Europeans operated mines and paid Africans low wages to work in them. Here, South Africans are working in a diamond mine owned by a Dutch company.
European governments expected their colonies to be profitable. To do so, they exploited the mineral resources of Africa, sending raw materials to feed European factories. In Kenya and Rhodesia, white settlers forced Africans off the best land. Also in Kenya, the British made all Africans carry identification cards, pay a tax, and live or travel only in certain areas.
Everywhere, farmers were forced to work on European-run plantations or in mines to earn money to pay taxes. Those farmers who kept their own land had to grow cash crops, like cotton, for the benefit of the colonizers instead of food. This led to famines in some regions. Increasingly, African people lost their self-sufficiency and became dependent on European goods.
During World War I, more than one million Africans had fought on behalf of their colonial rulers. Many had hoped that their service would lead to more rights and opportunities. Instead, the situation after World War I remained mostly the same or even worsened.