Sub-Saharan Africa 1962: Independence in East Africa
Tanganyika became independent of the UK in December 1961; it would merge with Zanzibar one and half years later to become the state of Tanzania. The following year (1962) France accepted the loss of Algeria, the Belgian colony of Ruanda-Urundi was split up to become the independent states of Rwanda and Burundi, and Uganda also gained independence from the UK.
The Two Republic of Congos 1960-64
During this period, Congo (Brazzaville) was called the 'Republic of Congo' and Congo (Leopoldville/Kinshasa) was called the 'Republic of the Congo'. For both the sake of simplicity and to avoid confusion, we always refer to Congo (Brazzaville) as the 'Republic of Congo' and Congo (Kinshasa) - the center of attention in Africa during this period - as simply 'the Congo'.
9 Dec 1961 Independence of Tanganyika▲
The United Nations Trust Territory of Tanganyika gained independence from the United Kingdom, becoming the independent sovereign state of Tanganyika under the leadership of Prime Minister Julius Nyerere. Exactly one year later, the new nation declared itself a republic. Curiously, independence was accompanied by a laughter epidemic, which led to the closing of 14 schools near the Uganda border in early 1962.
1 Jul 1962 Independence of Burundi▲
In January 1959 Mwami (King) Mwambutsa IV of Burundi began advocating for Burundi’s independence from Belgium and the end of the Ruana-Urundi union. The Belgians eventually acquiesced and Burundi’s first elections were held in September 1961, with the multi-ethnic pro-independence Union for National Progress winning over 80% of the vote. However, the following month the popular Prince Rwagasore was assassinated and the murderer accused Belgian colonial officials of involvement in the killing. Nonetheless Burundi gained independence on 1 July 1962 as a constitutional monarchy comprising equal numbers of Hutus and Tutsis.
1 Jul 1962 Independence of Rwanda▲
Facing intense violence between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups in the Kingdom of Rwanda, part of the Belgian-ruled Ruanda-Urundi union, Belgium agreed to the partition of Ruana-Urundi. In September 1961 a referendum in Rwanda voted to end the kingdom and the Republic of Rwanda was declared. Rwanda became fully independent of Belgium with the dissolution of Ruanda-Urundi on 1 July 1962, although unrest in the now Hutu-dominated nation would continue into 1964.
3 Jul 1962 Independence of Algeria▲
Following a UN resolution in favor of Algerian independence, the French government opened negotiations with the FLN. A ceasefire began in March 1962, followed by two referendums on independence. On 3 July, two days after the second referendum yielded overwhelming support for independence, France recognized the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria.
26 Sep 1962 North Yemen Civil War begins▲
On the night of 25–26 September 1962 an Egyptian-backed coup d’état under the command of army officer Abdullah as-Sallal dethroned the newly crowned Imam Muhammad al-Badr of Yemen and declared the Yemen Arab Republic. The Imam escaped to the Saudi Arabian border, where he rallied the northern Shia tribes to his cause, thus beginning the eight-year North Yemen Civil War. Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser immediately recognized the new regime and began landing troops in the country in early October. The Imam, on the other hand, soon found support from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Kingdom.
9 Oct 1962 Independence of Uganda▲
Uganda became independent from the United Kingdom in October 1962, under Prime Minister Apollo Milton Obote; it effectively became a republic (the “Sovereign State of Uganda”) one year later. In January 1964 units of the Ugandan Army mutinied, leading Obote to call in British troops for support and accede to the army’s demands for pay and more rapid promotions. Two years later deputy commander of the armed forces Idi Amin was caught attempting to bank smuggled Congolese gold; facing investigation, Obote suspended the constitution and declared himself president.