Many Western-educated Africans criticized the injustice of imperial rule. Although they had trained for professional careers, the best jobs went to Europeans.

Inspired by President Woodrow Wilson's call for self-determination, Africans condemned the colonial system that excluded them from controlling their own lands. During the 1920s and 1930s, a new generation of leaders proud of their unique heritage struggled to restore Africa for Africans. Protests and opposition to imperialism multiplied. Some of this new generation turned to socialism or the writings of Marx and Lenin.

While large-scale revolts were rare, protests were common. In Kenya, the Kikuyu people protested the loss of their land to white settlers and denounced forced labor and heavy taxes. In the 1920s, Ibo women in Niberia revolted against British policies that threatened their rights. The British eventually ended the “Women's War” with gunfire.

A Policy of Segregation in South Africa

Between 1910 and 1940, whites strengthened their grip on South Africa. They imposed a system of racial segregation to ensure white economic, political, and social supremacy. New laws, for example, restricted better-paying jobs in mines to whites only.

Blacks were pushed into low-paid, less-skilled work. South African blacks had to carry passes at all times. They were evicted from the best land and forced to live on crowded “reserves,” which were located in dry, infertile areas.

Other laws chipped away at the rights of blacks. In one South African province, educated blacks who owned property had been allowed to vote in local elections. In 1936, the government abolished that right. The system of segregation would become even stricter after 1948, when apartheid (uh PAHR tayt), a policy of rigid racial segregation, became law.

Yet South Africa was also home to a vital nationalist movement. African Christian churches and African-run newspapers demanded rights for black South Africans. In 1912, they formed a political party, later called the African National Congress (ANC), to protest unfair laws and demand a change to South Africa's white government. Their efforts had no immediate effect, but the ANC did build a framework for political action in later years.

A Rising Tide of African Nationalism

In the 1920s, a movement known as Pan-Africanism began to nourish the nationalist spirit and strengthen resistance. Pan-Africanism emphasized the unity of Africans and the people of African descent worldwide. Among its most inspiring leaders was Jamaica-born Marcus Garvey. He preached a forceful, appealing message of “Africa for Africans” and demanded an end to colonial rule. Garvey's ideas influenced a new generation of African and African American leaders.

The Pan-African Congress

African American scholar and activist W.E.B. DuBois (doo BOYS) organized the first Pan-African Congress in 1919. It met in Paris, where the Allies were holding their peace conference.

Delegates from African colonies, the West Indies, and the United States called on the Paris peacemakers to approve a charter of rights for Africans and an end to colonialism. Although the Western powers ignored their demands, the Pan-African Congress established cooperation among African and African American leaders.

Photo of a street with a railroad track running down the center, with men, women, and animals crossing the track. Women are carrying items including baskets on their heads.

Opposition to imperialism grew among Africans in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1929, Ibo market women in Nigeria demanded a voice in decisions that affected their markets. The “Women's War” soon became a full-fledged revolt.


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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