Wind of Change
Sub-Saharan Africa 1947.043
Africa after World War II, African independence (30 April 1947)
Historical Map of Sub-Saharan Africa
In 1946 the French Fourth Republic replaced the French Empire with the French Union - an attempt to assimilate the French colonies into a 'Greater France'. This was challenged by the Malagasy of Madagascar, who wanted independence within the Union and revolted when their demands were rejected. France crushed the uprising, but this and other unrest in the French world - most notably in Indochina - boded ill for the future of the Union.
Under pressure from Syrian nationalists, the United Kingdom, and the United States, France completed its military withdrawal from Syria on 15 April 1946. Two days later, Syrian President Shukri al-Quwatli declared the independence of the Syrian Republic.
United Nations Trust Territories
When the League of Nations was terminated in 1946, the remaining League of Nations mandates became United Nations trust territories to be administered through the United Nations Trusteeship Council. The council helped ensure that these territories - the Cameroons, Nauru, New Guinea, the Pacific Islands, Ruanda-Urundi, Tanganyika, Togoland, and Western Samoa - were administered in the best interests of their subjects in preparation for independence and majority rule.
With the advent of the Fourth Republic, the French constitution of 27 October 1946 establishes the French Union, bringing an end to the old French colonial system ("French Empire"). The union combined metropolitan France, the overseas departments, and the overseas territories; its aim was to assimilate all these territories into "a greater France, inhabited by French citizens, and blessed by French culture". In reality, all power remained in the French Parliament with only limited representation for the colonies.
South African rule in SW Africa
Following World War II the remaining League of Nations mandates were transferred to the United Nations to become UN trust territories. The only nation to object to this process was the Union of South Africa, which refused to end its mandate over South West Africa or consider the eventual independence of that territory. This created a long-running dispute between the United Nations and South Africa, with the former officially terminating the mandate in 1966 and formally renaming the still-occupied territory Namibia two years later.
Outbreak of First Indochina War
Vietnamese Viet Minh forces detonated explosives in Hanoi, French Indochina, plunging the city into darkness. From here, the Viet Minh attacked French homes and military positions until a French counterattack was able to regain control of the city in February 1947. This battle marked the start of the First Indochina War.
In early 1946 Malagasy nationalists formed the Mouvement démocratique de la rénovation malgache (MDRM) political party to push for Madagascar's independence within the French Union, only for their bid to be severely rejected by the French National Assembly. Despite the MDRM's calls for calm, nationalist revolts broke out in eastern Madagascar on 29 March 1947 and soon took control of much of the country. Initially caught by surprise, the French began their counteroffensive in May, systematically suppressing the uprising in a brutal campaign. As the insurgents were predominantly armed with spears, the campaign proved one-sided, with as many as 100,000 Malagasy rebels dying for the loss of 550 French and 1,900 pro-French Malagasy.