As we saw in Chapter 26, Europe’s dependence on Africa during the Second World War helped change the attitude of Britain and France, the main colonial powers, towards their African colonies. The economic value of the French and British colonies had been clearly revealed and this was reflected in the development strategies for the colonies in the postwar period. A new factor entered the scene from 1945 and this was the United Nations (UN). From its inception in San Francisco in 1945, the UN adopted an anti-colonial stance, under pressure from the new superpowers, the USA and the Soviet Union, who were now shaping ‘world opinion’. To this was added the voice of the newly decolonising states, notably India (independent from 1947). It soon became apparent to Britain and France, the major colonial powers, that a loosening of external control would be necessary in Africa. In contrast, Belgium and Portugal, the ‘minor’ colonial powers, tried to ignore the trend and had no plans at this stage for any significant changes. The Belgian attempt to catch up in a hurry in 1959 was to have dire consequences for the people of the Belgian Congo.
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