Decolonization and Revolution

From 1945 and beyond, leaders have selected different paths to affect change. Some encouraged independence through violence, peaceful actions, diplomacy, and the commitment of their struggling nation. Others sparked revolutions by appealing to the peoples’ needs. Through policy, and sometimes uniting a people, trailblazers changed the face and structure of their nation. A column from a journalist during the time period would help to see a broader perspective during such varying and exciting time. Decolonization, revolution, and nation building are all goals of any effective leader willing to make a change.

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Spanning from 1945 to 1975, countless independence movements have changed societies across the globe, led by leaders and organizations who all yearned for better. The “Declaration Against Colonialism,” adopted by the United Nations, took a firm stand on the demise of colonialism. The document petitioned for a definite end to colonialism and encouraged self-determination, stating that all human beings have a right to their own societal and political choices. Such a statement coming from an organization comprised and backed by countless nations surely stands its ground. The United Nations, supporting the end of colonialism, inspired countries to strive for freedom through the organizations obvious power. It also displayed the end of a colonial era, seeing as though many colony-yielding nations were members of the UN. (Doc 1). Ho Chi Minh, Vietnamese nationalist, too felt the need for freedom. Minch expressed the Vietnamese’s determination to end French colonization in their country. Minch made it clear that violence would be condoned and encouraged to win this battle. Ho Chi Minch embodied Vietnams’ fighting will for a separation and willingness to shed blood in the process. (Doc 2).

In a similar suit, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya shared his hate for colonialism and his approval of violence. He claims that Kenya belongs to its inhabitants, not colonizers who held his people back. Kenyatta believed that the only way to approach self-rule is through bloodshed. (Doc 6). Mohandas Gandhi of India had a quite parallel approach. From an excerpt written by him, it is seen that Gandhi believed the path to independence was paved with nonviolence and self-sacrifice. Gandhi in many ways led Indians to Independence. Even after his death, he was a guiding light for those who coveted an India without the British. (Doc 3). Kwame Nkrumah, leader of Ghana’s independence, expressed his goal dismay for colonialism. He saw the system as contractual and exploitive to his country. He calls the independence movement “the greatest awakening ever seen on this earth”. By portraying colonialism as a heinous and abusive practice, Nkrumah led Ghana to independence. (Doc 5). A letter from the British monarchy as a response to colonial independence would give insight as to whether they see themselves as negatively as their colonies do.

In South Africa, China, and Cuba, social and political revolutions pioneered by inspiring people occured. Nelson Mandela, speaking on his fight against apartheid, conveyed his commitment to the cause. Mandela dreamed of a South Africa where equality and democracy was not a scarcity. Unfortunately, his reality at the time was far different. Nelson Mandela was willing to die for the cause. His dedication inspired others to continue to fight for justice in South Africa. This infectious determination is was enabled Mandela to lead the campaign for termination of this policy. (Doc. 4). In China, Mao Zedong led his country to the communist revolution. In a speech he delivered, he vocalized a goal to build faith in the party. The method applied by Zedong focused on uniting China under one belief in order to implement communist ideas in the country, widely changing the country’s structure. (Doc 7). At his defense trial, Cuban revolution leader Fidel Castro appealed to those struggling in his country. He spoke to those who hoped for a brighter future and who have been betrayed by their country. By addressing their battle, Castro urged them to fight for a better Cuba. His relentless and undying commitment ultimately granted Castro his wish for a revolution. (Doc 8). An additional document consisting of a diary entry from a Chinese citizen during the communist revolution would create a clearer vision as to how convincing Mao Zedong truly was.

Some modern leaders look more inward as to their nations’ policies and people to affect change. Hosni Mubarak, former President of Egypt, aimed to unite his country and better certain systems to strengthen the nation. When
in a hard and confusing time, Mubarak provided Egypt with a steady guiding hand. In the midst of this chaos, instead of addressing the questions and wants of the people, Hosni Mubarak demanded they offer themselves to supply the needs of their country and support their leader. This mindset calmed Egyptians as Mubarak reopened Egypt to the Arab world, tried to reaffirm the constitution and judicial system, and tackled social issues. (New Leaders of Nations #1).

Former prime minister of India Narasimha Rao was first questioned by the Indian people as to his ability to lead. This was turned around as he implemented many policy changes in India. India, fairly unfamiliar with outside involvement, now encouraged foreign investment. Rao’s programs for economic growth and investment, both foreign and Indian, faced opposition from possible disorder. However, Rao’s use of intellectual thinking and a new, open India, aided his decisions. A documentary depicting evolving countries as they face modern challenges would be helpful in grasping what qualities leaders who create change possess.

Those who create ripples of change in their societies all have varying methods and roles. Some strive for revolution, others independance or policy reboots. It is important to keep in mind that each situation creates unique circumstances; some changes require new methods. To further understand which methods are suitable for particular situations, letters from different leaders who have created change would be helpful.

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