Sub-Saharan Africa 1957: Independence of Ghana
Following World War II, the European colonies in West Africa began demanding self-rule and then independence. The first to succeed was the British Gold Coast, which became the independent Dominion of Ghana in 1957. Meanwhile European imperialism suffered another major blow when the British and French attempted to regain control of the newly-nationalized Suez Canal, but were forced to withdraw in the face of hostile international opinion.
2 Mar–7 Apr 1956 Independence of Morocco▲
In 1953 France exiled the popular Sultan Mohammed V of Morocco to Madagascar, replacing him with the more malleable Mohammed Ben Arafa. However, after two years of increasingly violent Moroccan demands for the sultan’s return, the French backed down and agreed to restore Moroccan independence. On 2 March 1956 the French-Moroccan Agreement ended the French protectorate over Morocco, while the Spanish protectorate over the north of the country was revoked the following month.
20 Mar 1956 Tunisian Independence▲
In 1952 Habib Bourguiba launched a campaign of armed violence against French rule in Tunisia. Unable to reduce tensions, despite imprisoning Bourguiba, the French government eventually relented, granting Tunisia autonomy in June 1955. Following further negotiations, on 20 March 1956 Grand Vizier Tahar Ben Ammar and the French Foreign Minister Chrisitan Pineau signed the Franco-Tunisian protocol, effectively granting Tunisia independence with Bourguiba as prime minister.
9 May 1956 Togoland status plebiscite▲
In 1954 the British government informed the United Nations that it would be unable to continue its administration in the Togoland Trust Territory after 1957. In line with advice from the UN General Assembly, a plebiscite was held under UN supervision on 9 May 1956 over whether the territory would integrate with the British colony of the Gold Coast (future Ghana) or continue as a Trust Territory. Despite opposition from many of the Ewe people—who wished to unify with French Togoland—the vote was 63.9% in favor of integration with the Gold Coast.
29 Oct–7 Nov 1956 Suez Crisis▲
On 30 July 1956 Gamal Abdel Nasser, the pan-Arabist president of Egypt, announced the nationalization of the Suez Canal—until that point run by British and French shareholders—and closed shipping to Israel. In response, the United Kingdom and France engineered an Israeli invasion of Egypt on 29 October, then intervened on 30 October, allegedly as peacekeepers, to secure the Canal. British and French actions drew immediate international condemnation, including from both the Soviet Union and the United States, and they were forced to withdraw a week later.
6 Mar 1957 Independence of Ghana▲
In June 1949 Kwame Nkrumah formed the Convention People’s Party (CPP) to demand the immediate independence of the British Crown Colony of the Gold Coast. By 1956, in response to increasing CPP agitation, the British agreed to concede to Nkrumah’s demands if the CPP could gain a two-third majority in elections in July. The CPP succeeded and on 6 March 1957 the Gold Coast became the independent Dominion of Ghana, the first West African country to achieve independence in the 20th Century.