The Impact Of World War Two On Africa



  1. Curriculum.
  2. Introduction.
  3. Brief history on WW2.
  4. Beginning of WW2.
  5. African map before WW2.
  6. Impact of WW2 on Northern and Western hemisphere.
  7. Impact of WW2 on the southern Hemisphere.
  8. Impact of WW2 on the Africa .
  9. African mine strike.
  10. African Independence.
  11. Africans During War.


  • § Grade 12.
  1. Topic 4. Nationalism: South Africa, The Middle East and Africa
  • Rise of African Nationalism.
  • The Middle East.
  • From “Gold Coast” to Ghana.
  1. Topic 5. Apartheid.
  • Outcomes.
  • After reading this textbook the grade 12 leaner must be able to differentiate clearly between the axis and the allies.
  • Must know who were the allies and axis.
  •  Must have a better understanding of how the war began and why it spreaded.
  • Must be able to differentiate the impact of WWII on the Northern and Southern hemisphere of Africa. 


This textbook has been compiled as a revision which furthers our understanding of the impact of World War two on the African continent. To simplify our investigation I will base this presentation on the Northern hemisphere of Africa since it where the War was more direct or physical. In the northern hemisphere I will be focusing on the social, political and economic impact of ww2 on specifically Tunisia and Libya. Since the topic is impact of ww2 of Africa the southern and western African hemisphere will also be touched on. This textbook is relevant for Grade 12’s under topic 4 Nationalism and topic 5 Apartheid. This textbook can be used by anyone in terms of gender. In compiling this textbook deferent approaches were used in research to minimize being bias and prejudice.

                                                                                      Brief history on WW2 

                                                  The beginning of World War II

The beginnings of World War II were spread in the Treaty of Versailles which ended World War I. Crippled economically by the terms of the treaty and the Great Depression, Germany embraced the fascist Nazi Party. Led by Adolf Hitler, the rise of the Nazi party mirrored the ascent of Benito Mussolini’s fascist government in Italy. Taking total control of the government in 1933, Hitler remilitarized Germany, stressed racial purity, and sought “living space” for the German people. In 1938, he annexed Austria and bullied Britain and France into allowing him to take the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia. The following year, Germany signed a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union and invaded Poland on September 1, beginning the war. The largest and bloodiest conflict in the modern history that lasted from 1939 to 1945. This conflict spanned across the world and this resulted in the splitting of the world’s countries in to two military alliances, the axis (Germany) and the allies (USSR). The allies included the United States of America, Britain, France, Portugal and Spain. The Axis consisted of Italy and Japan. The war was predominantly fought in Europe and across the Pacific to Africa.   

  • Allies were anti-Germans who promoted the alliance as seeking to stop wars aggression being waged by the western and eastern powers associated with the axis also they wanted to protect the world from the evil of Fascism and Nazism.
  • Axis believed in Nazism and Fascism. The Axis promoted the alliances as a part of a revolutionary process aimed at breaking the hegemony of plutocratic-Capitalist western powers defending civilization from communism. The axis occupied large parts of Africa, Europe, Asia and the Pacific Island.

The impact of world war 2 on Africa.

The impacts of world war two was not experienced the same in the African continent. Some Countries were more physically engaged in this war while others weren’t that much involved. Looking at the countries found in the northern hemisphere like morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt where most of the wars were fought. These countries experienced the impacts of world war two more intense due to the fact that most of the wars were fought in the northern hemisphere. Only the northern counties experienced the operation compass on the 10th of June 1940. The results of these impacts lead to the northern part of Africa gaining their independence much earlier than any other countries found in Africa.

Operation Compass was the first major Allied military operation of the Western Desert Campaign during World War II. British forces attacked Italian forces in western Egypt and eastern Libya in December 1940 to February 1941. The operation was a complete success. Allied forces advanced from inside Egypt to central Libya suffering very few casualties and captured 115,000 Italian prisoners. The Italians lost hundreds of tanks and over a thousand each of artillery pieces and aircraft.

Before world war two Libya was an Axis and after world war she became a member of the allies. In 1960 huge deposits of oil were discovered in Libya and in 1969 a group o junior officials organized effective coup d’état. Most of the western countries also gained their independence due to ww2 but they gained it much later then the northern countries. Ghana (Gold Coast) was among the first western African countries to become independent in the late 1950’s. The educated elite, together with the few black teachers, lawyers, clergyman and journalists began to speak and founded political movements in order to gain independence. Countries with small white populations, independence came without bloodshed Ghana, Uganda and Cameroon.

One of the reasons to why there were fewer whites found in the western part of Africa is that the western part of Africa is towards the Centre of Africa and that where the equator is. This means that there are a lot of dry areas also there are a lot of damps which results in diseases like malaria. The western countries of Africa are famously known for having malaria.

Most of the countries found in the southern hemisphere were colonial settlers which means a large population of whites were found there. This resulted in them having to gain their independence much later due to white resistance.  For example apartheid (South Africa) which ended in 1994 was a system which favored whites only and it was regarded as white resistance. Also Namibia gained their independence in 1990 that due to the large amount of white population they had.

Apartheid was a system of racial segregation enforced through legislation by the National Party governments, who were the ruling party from 1948 to 1994, of South Africa, under which the rights of the majority black inhabitants of South Africa were curtailed and Afrikaner minority rule was maintained. Apartheid was developed after World War II by the Afrikaner-dominated National Party and was practiced also in South West Africa

 In September 1939, the World War 2 broke out in Africa. People within the African continent were divided as to whether they should or should not join the war. Due to the fact that most African countries were still under colonialism they had to fight for their colonizers. South Africa was still a British colony at that time and the war caused a split in South African politics. The war had a huge social and economic effect on South Africa. Gold and mining remained the biggest industry in Africa. Manufacturing had begun to expand significantly due to the world war two and the need of other supplies. The number of people employed in the manufacturing industry, especially Black men and White women increased by 60% between 1939 and 1945.

The financial costs of the World War 2 were met by taxes and loans. The cost of the war effort was approximately around 600 million pounds. At the end of the war Africa experienced supply shortages as a result of the return of thousands of soldiers. After the war, majority of the ruling parties lost a lot of support e.g. the National Party In SA. People believed that it was incapable of dealing with the post-war problems

In the 1940’s most African countries were characterized by political and social resistance campaigns due to the fact those soldiers who went to fight outside the African hemisphere got a different perspective of the whites. They became exposed to other things e.g. those soldiers who went to fight for white democracy and freedom saw how whites were living and that changed their perspective on viewing the whites because in Africa the whites were seen as the superior race and the African believed the myth that no white man is poor.  Soldiers began to resist and some argued that why should I give my life to keep Europe and America free, when I am not free in my country?”.

The 1946 African Mine Workers Strike

The number of African people living in towns nearly doubled in the 1940s, eventually outnumbering White residents. Most of these migrant workers had to live in shantytowns or townships on the outskirts of the cities, and living and working conditions were appalling. Many new trade unions were born during the 1940’s.  As a result, workers wanted higher wages and better working conditions. By 1946, there were 119 unions with about 158 000 members demanding to be heard. The African Mineworkers Union (AMWU) went on strike in 1946 and 60 000 men stopped work in demanding higher pay. The police crushed the protest, shoot 12 people dead, but the workers had achieved their purpose in exposing and challenging the system of cheap labour.

  • Activity
  • List some of reasons why Africans began to resist Colonialism after the WW2.
  • Using your own knowledge and research why do you think the number of employment in Manufacturing increased?
  • Did WW2 result in Africa gaining their independence? If yes/no explain your answer.
  • Activity.
  • Using the map and your textbook in an essay form explain why the Northern, Western and Southern Countries  of Africa gained their independence differently.  (1/5 Pages)
  • Africans in the Northern part of Africa where many of the Wars (WW2) were fought. 
  • Africans in the northern hemisphere activating the missiles.

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