January 5, 2020

1960: Africa’s year of independence

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Africa map.

Africa map.

The year 1960 was to be crucial for Africa: 17 sub-Saharan countries became independent from their European colonisers, 14 of them from France.

Here is a timeline of events in Africa that year:

– January –

– 1: Cameroon, a former German protectorate split between Britain and France after World War I, becomes independent

– 9: Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser launches construction of the Aswan Dam on the Nile

– 9: Zambia independence leader Kenneth Kaunda is released after nine months in jail in the British colony of Northern Rhodesia

– 12: Britain lifts a state of emergency in place in Kenya since 1952, at the outbreak of the Mau Mau rebellion against colonial rule

– 24: The start of Algeria’s week-long uprising by defenders of “French Algeria” in which more than 20 people are killed in clashes with authorities

– February –

– 3: British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan delivers his “Wind of Change” speech in South Africa, criticising apartheid and indicating Britain would not block independence in its colonies

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– 13: France tests its first nuclear bomb in Algeria’s Tanezrouft desert

– 29: An earthquake destroys Morocco’s city of Agadir and kills 12,000-15,000 people

– March –

– 21: Police fire into a demonstration by black South Africans at Sharpeville outside Johannesburg, killing 69

– April –

– 4: Senegal becomes independent from France

– 8: South Africa bans the black opposition African National Congress (ANC) and Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) parties

– 19: Founding of the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) to push for Namibia’s independence from occupying South Africa

– 27: Togo becomes independent from France

– June –

– 26: Madagascar gains independence from France

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– 30: The Belgian Congo is proclaimed independent. The Republic of Congo is later renamed Zaire and then the Democratic Republic of Congo

– July –

– 1: Somalia becomes independent from British and Italian colonial rule

– 11: The Belgian Congo’s mineral-rich province of Katanga secedes with Belgian and US support, unleashing a long series of wars and rebellions

– August –

– 1: Independence from France of Dahomey, today called Benin

– 3: Niger becomes independent from France

– 5: Upper Volta, today’s Burkina Faso, is independent

– 7: Independence of Ivory Coast

– 11: Independence of Chad

– 13: Central African Republic becomes independent

– 15: Independence of the French colony of Congo. The Republic of Congo also became known as Congo-Brazzaville to distinguish it from its neighbour of the same name.

– 17: Gabon becomes independent

– September –

– 10: Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila becomes the first black African to win Olympic Gold, running the marathon in Rome barefoot

– 14: Congo army colonel Joseph Desire Mobutu stages a coup, but later hands power back to the president

– 22: Mali becomes independent

– October –

– 1: Nigeria becomes independent from Britain

– 5: South Africans vote in a whites-only referendum for the country to become a republic, ending its status as a self-governing dominion of the British

– November –

– 28: Mauritania becomes independent

– December –
– 2: The Belgian Congo’s deposed prime minister, independence hero Patrice Lumumba, is arrested. He was later assassinated on January 17, 1961

– 13: Failed coup attempt against Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie

– First Nobel Peace Prize –

The Nobel Peace Prize goes to a black African for the first time in 1960, awarded to South African Albert Luthuli, president of the ANC, for his role in advocating non-violent resistance to apartheid


Vanguard News Nigeria.