Many of these one-party governments became repressive, and some liberation leaders became dictators. Dictators often used their positions to enrich themselves and their supporters at the expense of the nation.
Over the course of many years, African nations gained their independence from European powers.
What do the dates on this map tell you about when nations gained independence?
In many nations, unsuccessful policies or corrupt governments led to civil unrest. This in turn, led to military coups (kooz). A coup, or coup d'état(koo day TAH) is the forcible overthrow of a government. Some coup leaders became brutal tyrants. Others tried to end corruption and improve conditions. Military leaders usually promised to restore civilian rule. But in many cases, they only surrendered power when they were toppled by another coup.
By the 1990s, many African nations were moving away from strongman rule. Africans organized and demanded democratic elections. In some countries, independent newspapers came out, with their editors risking arrest for their publications. Religious leaders spoke out for greater freedom. Outside pressures also played a role. Western governments and lenders, such as the World Bank, demanded political reforms before granting loans needed for economic development.
In response, some governments allowed opposition parties to emerge and lifted censorship. In nations such as Nigeria and Benin, multiparty elections were held, unseating long-ruling leaders.
Even after African nations won independence, colonial powers and foreign companies often retained control of businesses and resources in these former colonies. Many new nations remained dependent on their former colonial rulers for aid, trade, and investment.
The new nations were also buffeted by the Cold War. Both the United States and the Soviet Union competed for military and strategic advantage through alliances with several African countries. The United States, for example, backed Mobutu Sese Seko, the dictator of Zaire (now called the Democratic Republic of Congo). It wanted to counter Soviet influence in nearby Angola. During the 1970s, the United States backed Somalia, while the Soviet Union supported neighboring Ethiopia. Both African countries were important because they controlled access to the Red Sea, a vital world shipping route.
Why did one-party rule often lead to repression and tyranny?