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In the Congo, for example, Joseph Mobutu took a strong anti-communist position and was subsequently rewarded by Western powers.It mattered little that in 1960 he helped orchestrate the coup that removed and ultimately brought about the murder of Patrice Lumumba, was among the most anti-democratic leaders on the continent, and siphoned Western aid and revenue from the nation's natural resources into personal accounts.Through the process of decolonization that began, in most African territories, at the close of World War II, African leaders gained greater political power under European rule.
"The growth of national consciousness in Africa is a political fact," Macmillan said, "and we must accept it as such. I believe that if we cannot do so we may imperil the precarious balance between the East and West on which the peace of the world depends." He cautioned Western nations to change their behavior toward Africa to prevent the continent from falling under the sway of the East.
Back to top It was this fear of Soviet influence in Africa, particularly on the part of the United States, that created such a major problem for African nations.
When decolonization began, there were reasons for optimism.
The year 1960 was heralded throughout Africa and the West as "the Year of Africa" for the inspiring change that swept the continent.
And it is surely not purely by chance that the hand or the eye of Moscow is discovered, in an almost stereotypical way, behind each demand for national independence, put forth by a colonial people.
Early in the decolonization process, there were fleeting moments in which the emerging African and Asian nations did seek to shift the political paradigm away from the Cold War's East-West dichotomy.
Along these lines, in his speech on the occasion of Kenya's independence from Britain in 1963, Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta (in power from 1964 to 1978) declared: The aim of my government which starts today is not to be pro-left or pro-right.
We shall pursue the task of national building in friendship with the rest of the world.
These seventeen nations joined the United Nation's General Assembly and gave greater voice to the non-Western world.
Fully recognizing the potential for the remarkable change that African independence could bring to global politics, on February 3, 1960, Harold Macmillan, prime minister of Great Britain from 1957 to 1963, delivered his famous speech, "Wind of Change," to the South African parliament.