*Includes pictures *Includes accounts *Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading *Includes a table of contents The modern history of Africa was, until very recently, written on behalf of the indigenous races by the white man, who had forcefully entered the continent during a particularly hubristic and dynamic phase of European history. In 1884, Prince Otto von Bismark, the German chancellor, brought the plenipotentiaries of all major powers of Europe together, to deal with Africa's colonization in such a manner as to avoid provocation of war. This event—known as the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885—galvanized a phenomenon that came to be known as the Scramble for Africa. The conference established two fundamental rules for European seizure of Africa. The first of these was that no recognition of annexation would granted without evidence of a practical occupation, and the second, that a practical occupation would be deemed unlawful without a formal appeal for protection made on behalf of a territory by its leader, a plea that must be committed to paper in the form of a legal treaty. This began a rush, spearheaded mainly by European commercial interests in the form of Chartered Companies, to penetrate the African interior and woo its leadership with guns, trinkets and alcohol, and having thus obtained their marks or seals upon spurious treaties, begin establishing boundaries of future European African colonies. The ease with which this was achieved was due to the fact that, at that point, traditional African leadership was disunited, and the people had just staggered back from centuries of concussion inflicted by the slave trade. Thus, to usurp authority, to intimidate an already broken society, and to play one leader against the other was a diplomatic task so childishly simple, the matter was wrapped up, for the most part, in than a decade. During World War II, when Roosevelt and Churchill met at what came to be known as the Atlantic Conference, Churchill’s pleas for U.S. manpower and aid were accepted, but only under clear conditions. If the United States was to come to the aid of Britain, it would be for the purpose of defeating the Germans and the Japanese and not to support the insupportable institutions of empire. Britain and, by extension, France and Portugal, the only remaining major European shareholders in foreign empire, would have to commit to decolonization as a basic prerequisite of substantial U.S. assistance. The French too were a major imperial power with a great deal to lose from such a monumental change, but their view of the global chessboard was somewhat different. France lay under German occupation, and an armistice had been signed on behalf of the French nation by Marshall Philippe Pétain, commencing the era of Vichy France. In London, meanwhile, the firebrand French General Charles de Gaulle urged a continuation of the resistance, believing the French mainland to be only a small part of the picture. France was much more than just France. De Gaulle established the Free French movement in Britain, based on the loyalty and the ongoing Free French control of a majority of her overseas territories. The Free French movement and the Free French army based themselves in Francophone Africa.
The saga of the Free French movement would impact the war in both North Africa and Europe, but most specifically, it would serve to radically redefine the French view of itself and her relationship with her overseas territories.
Most importantly, it would set the tone for a style of decolonization very different from the British. Colonizing and Decolonizing Africa: The History and Legacy of European Imperialism across the African Continent examines the turbulent history of imperialism across Africa and the consequences it has had.