African History 5: French West African Independence

Today's video is about French African territories gaining their freedom. There's nothing like a rebellion or two to make you re-think occupying foreign lands. Luckily in France's case, these rebellions did the trick and French African territories gained their independence...mostly without bloodshed. Mostly. 

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World HistoryAfrican History

Transcript

00:20

recovering.

00:21

You don’t go through occupation by an enemy and a major war fought on your soil without

00:25

being left with a serious mess on your hands. [Man with muddy hands]

00:29

So to help rebuild from their occupation, France decided to squeeze the African lands

00:34

they were currently occupying. [France squeezing Africa]

00:36

For France’s African colonies, this final squeeze was the one that…broke the baguette.

00:42

General strikes fired up across West Africa in 1947 and kept on blazing for a decade. [Explosion appears in West Africa]

00:48

Starting in 1954, Algerian communist rebels clashed with police.

00:53

And it got bloody.

00:54

Both rebels and police even set off homemade bombs in civilian areas. [Bomb explodes]

00:58

Mini-rebellions broke out in Cameroon and Mali.

01:01

But the French army stamped them out with concentration camps and targeted assassinations. [French Army removes Cameroon and Mali soldiers]

01:06

Still, these rebellions were a major wake-up call for France.

01:10

The flag of the Algerian Communist Party had the word…pain

01:13

…on it, which means…bread.

01:15

It’s kind of a giveaway that your colonial government is failing if one of the rebels’ [Waiter gives IOU to customer]

01:21

key promises is… actually feeding people.

01:23

In the end, France decided to break up with its colonies…or, more accurately, decided

01:28

to let them break up with France.

01:30

By popular election, a man named Charles De Gaulle became President in 1959. [Charles saluting]

01:35

De Gaulle was a lefty politician who had previously served as commander-in-chief of the Free French

01:40

forces.

01:41

Maybe feeling grateful for the sacrifices of the Free French Africans, or perhaps just

01:46

wanting to avoid another war, De Gaulle drew up plans to let West Africa go free.

01:51

It was like a freedom free-for all.

01:53

Mali…

01:54

Cameroon…

01:54

Togo…

01:55

Senegal…

01:56

Benin…

01:57

Niger…

01:57

Chad…

01:58

The Ivory Coast…

01:59

All became independent in 1960 and 1961, almost entirely without bloodshed or conflict. [African cities highlighted on map]

02:04

The French were definitely not total saints while this was going down.

02:09

They did jerky stuff… like loot all government buildings and take key infrastructure assets, [French looting government buildings]

02:14

such as power generators, on their way out.

02:16

But on the whole, this process was much healthier for everyone than violent rebellions. [Doctor in consultation with patient]

02:22

Imagine that…