17.2 Nationalist Movements in Africa and the Middle East

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.

Photo of African men outside of a mine, with some men standing in mine carts on a track.

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.


  • Explain how Africans resisted colonial rule.
  • Describe the rise of nationalism in Africa.
  • Describe how Turkey and Persia modernized.
  • Understand how the mandate system contributed to Arab nationalism and to conflict between Jews and Arabs.

Key Terms

  • apartheid
  • Pan-Africanism
  • Marcus Garvey
  • négritude movement
  • Asia Minor
  • Atatürk
  • Reza Khan
  • Pan-Arabism
  • Balfour Declaration

Africans Protest Colonial Rule

Exploitation of African Colonies

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.

Protesting Imperialism

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.

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments