Striving for Independence: Africa, India, and
Latin America, 1900–1949
I0. Sub-Saharan Africa, 1900–1945
A0. Colonial Africa: Economic and Social Changes
10. Outside of Algeria, Kenya, and South Africa, few Europeans lived in Africa. However,
the very small European presence dominated the African economy and developed Africa
as an exporter of raw materials in such a way that brought benefit to Europeans but to
very few Africans.
20. Africans were forced to work in European-owned mines and plantations under harsh
conditions for little or no pay. Colonialism provided little modern health care, and many
colonial policies worsened public health, undermined the African family, and gave rise to
large cities in which Africans experienced racial discrimination.
B0. Religious and Political Changes
10. During the colonial period many Africans turned toward Christianity or Islam.
Missionaries introduced Christianity (except in Ethiopia, where it was indigenous). Islam
spread through the influence and example of African traders.
20. The contrast between the liberal ideas imparted by Western education and the realities of
racial discrimination under colonial rule contributed to the rise of nationalism. Early
nationalist leaders and movements such as Blaise Diagne in Senegal, the African
National Congress in South Africa, and Pan-Africanists like W.E.B. Dubois and Marcus
Garvey from America had little influence until after World War II, when Africans who
had served in the Allied war effort came back with new, radical ideas.
II0. The Indian Independence Movement, 1905–1947
A0. The Land and the People
10. Despite periodic famines due to drought, India’s fertile land allowed the Indian
population to increase from 250 million in 1900 to 389 million in 1941. Population
growth brought environmental pressure, deforestation, and a declining amount of farm
land per family.
20. Indian society was divided into many classes: peasants, wealthy property owners, and
urban craftsmen, traders, and workers. The people of India spoke many different
languages; English became the common medium of communication of the Western-
educated middle class.
30. The majority of Indians practiced Hinduism. Muslims constituted one-quarter of the
people of India and formed a majority in the northwest and in eastern Bengal.
B0. British Rule and Indian Nationalism
10. Colonial India was ruled by a viceroy and administered by the Indian Civil Service. The
few thousand members of the Civil Service manipulated the introduction of technology
into India in order to protect the Indian people from the dangers of industrialization, to
prevent the development of radical politics, and to maximize the benefits to Britain and
to themselves. 20. At the turn of the century, the majority of Indians accepted British rule, but the racism
and discrimination of the Europeans had inspired a group of Hindus to establish a
political organization called the Indian National Congress in 1885. Muslims, fearful of
Hindu dominance, founded the All-India Muslim League in 1906, thus giving India not
one, but two independence movements.
30. The British resisted the idea that India could or should industrialize, but Pramatha Nath
Bose of the Indian Geological Service and Jamseji Tata, a Bombay textile magnate,
established India’s first steel mill in Jamshedpur in 1911. Jamshedpur became a powerful
symbol of Indian national pride.
40. In 1918 and 1919 several incidents contributed to an increase in tensions between the
British and the Indian people. These incidents included a too-vague promise of self-
government, the influenza epidemic of 1918–1919, and the incident in which a British
general ordered his troops to fire into a crowd of 10,000 demonstrators.
C0. Mahatma Gandhi and Militant Nonviolence
10. Mohandas K. (Mahatma) Gandhi (1869–1948) was an English-educated lawyer who
practiced in South Africa before returning to India and joining the Indian National
Congress during World War I. Gandhi’s political ideas included ahimsa (nonviolence)
and satyagraha (the search for truth).
20. Gandhi dressed and lived simply; his affinity for the poor, the illiterate, and the outcasts
made him able to transform the cause of Indian independence from an elite movement to
a mass movement with a quasi-religious aura.
30. Gandhi’s brilliance as a political tactician and master of public relations gestures was
demonstrated in acts such as his eighty mile “Walk to the Sea” to make salt (in violation
of the government’s salt monopoly), in his several fasts “unto death,” and in his repeated
arrests and prison sentences.
D0. India Moves Toward Independence
10. In the 1920s the British slowly and reluctantly began to give Indians control of areas
such as education, the economy, and public works. High tariff barriers were erected
behind which Indian entrepreneurs were able to undertake a degree of industrialization;
this helped to create a class of wealthy Indian businessmen who looked to Gandhi’s
designated successor in the Indian National Congress–Jawaharlal Nehru (1889–1964)–
20. The Second World War divided the Indian people; Indians contributed heavily to the war
effort, but the Indian National Congress opposed the war, and a minority of Indians
joined the Japanese side.
E0. Partition and Independence
10. In 1940 the Muslim League’s leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah (1876–1948) demanded that
Muslims be given a country of their own, to be named Pakistan. When World War II
ended, Britain’s new Labour Party government prepared for independence, but mutual
animosity between the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League led to the
partition of India into two states: India and Pakistan.
20. Partition and independence were accompanied by violence between Muslims and Hindus
and by massive flows of refugees as Hindus left predominantly Muslim areas and
Muslims left predominantly Hindu areas.
III0. The Mexican Revolution, 1910–1940
A0. Mexico in 1910
10. Mexico’s geographical location made it subject to numerous foreign invasions and
interventions. Upon independence in 1821 Mexican society was deeply divided; a few
wealthy families of Spanish origin owned 85 percent of the land, while the majority of
Indians and mestizos were poor peasants. 20. Concentration of land ownership increased after independence as wealthy families and
American companies used bribery and force to acquire millions of acres of good
agricultural land in southern Mexico, forcing peasants into wage labor, debt, and
relocation. In northern Mexico, American purchase of land, the harsh living conditions,
and the unequal distribution of wealth also caused popular resentment.
30. In 1910 General Porfirio Diaz (1830–1915) had ruled for thirty-four years. Diaz’s
policies had made Mexico City a modernized showplace and brought wealth to a small