Africa Before the Year 1940

By the end of World War II in 1945, almost every African country was under colonial rule or administration. 

The importance of four African countries achieving independence before 1940 is a major achievement. 

Liberia, Ethiopia, Egypt, and South Africa roles as pioneering models of resistance, catalysts for subsequent African liberation movements, and potent symbols of African self-governance, encapsulating the ethos of "Africa for Africans."

African countries

Four African Countries, Liberia, Ethiopia, Egypt, and South Africa, Were Independent Before the Year 1940.


Liberia, a nation on the western coast of Africa, declared independence momentously on July 26, 1847. This date marked a significant turning point in history, as Liberia became one of the very few African countries to assert its sovereignty and self-governance in the face of colonial expansion by European powers. 

Notably distinct from many other African nations, Liberia managed to preserve its autonomy and evade the clutches of formal colonization by any European empire. 

This historical context makes Liberia's independence declaration even more significant, as it offers a different narrative in the story of Africa's struggle for self-governance. It serves as a reminder that African agency and the fight for independence took on various forms and paths. Liberia's example continues to symbolize the power of unity, resilience, and determination in pursuing freedom.


Ethiopia, an ancient and culturally rich nation nestled in the heart of the African continent, stands as a remarkable testament to the indomitable spirit of resistance against colonial forces. Throughout the tumultuous colonial era, when European powers were carving up Africa, Ethiopia emerged as a shining example of unyielding sovereignty. 

Its ability to maintain its independence amidst the turbulent currents of colonial expansion and exploitation is an enduring source of inspiration. Despite Italy's brief occupation from 1936 to 1941, which sought to assert control over this resilient nation, Ethiopia's people and leadership never surrendered their determination to preserve their heritage and autonomy. 

The period of Italian occupation was marked by valiant resistance. When the tides of World War II shifted, Ethiopia seized the opportunity to reclaim its rightful place on the global stage. 

With the support of Allied forces, the Ethiopian people rallied under Emperor Haile Selassie's leadership to drive out the occupying Italian forces, reclaiming their sovereignty and rekindling the flames of self-determination. 

Ethiopia's unwavering stance against colonial domination and its triumphant resurgence following World War II solidify its role as a beacon of defiance and a living testament to the enduring power of a nation's will to remain free.


The journey of Egypt toward independence from British control is a nuanced tale of diplomatic maneuvering and evolving aspirations. In 1922, a significant milestone was reached when Egypt was granted limited independence, marking a crucial step towards shedding the shackles of foreign domination. 

However, this newfound autonomy was tempered by the lingering presence of British military forces and considerable influence over Egypt's political landscape. The years following 1922 saw Egypt navigating a delicate path between asserting its national identity and negotiating with the British for a more complete emancipation. 

The endurance of British military presence until 1952 was a constant reminder of the unfinished struggle for full sovereignty. Nevertheless, this extended transition period also matured Egypt politically and cultivated a growing sense of national consciousness. 

The eventual culmination of these efforts occurred in 1952, when the Egyptian Revolution led to the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic, finally ending British military presence and paving the way for a truly independent Egypt. 

The story of Egypt's limited independence and its gradual journey toward complete sovereignty exemplifies the complexities of extricating a nation from colonial dominion and the persistence required to achieve true self-governance.

South Africa

The trajectory of South Africa's quest for self-governance and independence is a complicated history that spans decades and encapsulates both triumphs and struggles. In 1910, a key moment arrived as South Africa transitioned into a self-governing dominion within the British Empire, signaling a step towards independence. 

However, this era was also marked by the ominous seeds of apartheid being sown, a deeply divisive and oppressive system that would cast a long shadow over the nation's future. As South Africa embarked on its journey toward independence, the subsequent decades witnessed a persistent battle against racial segregation, economic inequality, and political disenfranchisement. 

The oppressive apartheid regime formally institutionalized racial discrimination in 1948 and sparked both domestic and international resistance, resulting in fervent calls for justice and human rights. 

The struggle for full independence became intertwined with the broader fight against apartheid until 1994 culminating in a transformative sequence of events that saw South Africa finally break free from colonial ties and discriminatory policies.  

This tumultuous journey reflects the South African people's enduring resilience and unwavering commitment to shaping a more just, equitable, and independent future in the face of immense challenges.

African countries

Liberia, Ethiopia, Egypt, and South Africa inspired other African nations to strive for independence.

African countries started to seek independence and the ability to govern themselves around the late 1950s to the 1960s. This was a time when people in Africa began to stand up for their right to be independent and make their own decisions. 

The fact that four African countries became independent before 1940 is important because it happened much earlier than usual and shows that some African nations could break free from outside control before most others.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, European powers engaged in the Scramble for Africa, where they colonized and controlled vast portions of the continent. 

During this period, most African countries were subjected to colonial rule, exploitation, and oppression. The few countries that gained independence before 1940 represent exceptions to this widespread colonization.

These early independent African countries serve as important models of resistance against colonialism. Liberia and Ethiopia, in particular, stood as symbols of African resilience and the ability to maintain sovereignty despite external pressures. Their stories inspired other African nations to strive for independence.

The struggles and successes of these early independent African countries provided inspiration and lessons for later independence movements across the continent. The experiences of these countries offered insights into strategies, challenges, and negotiations that other nations could use in their own quests for freedom.

The early independence of these African countries had implications beyond the continent. Their stories became part of the global narrative of anti-colonial movements and contributed to international discussions about self-determination and national sovereignty. 

These countries helped foster a sense of African identity and pride by demonstrating that African nations could govern themselves and participate on the world stage as equals.


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