Nationalism of Asia and Africa

By: Justin Samuels, Matthew Thomas, and Ali Vazquez

Early Nationalism

After World war 1 Africans began to implement new ideas about freedom and nationalism in the west. Missionary schools began teaching these ideas. Eventually Africa began performing reforms to utilize these ideas.

Early Protests and Harry Thuku

People began performing protests against the British because of the taxes they were having to pay. One of the main people leading these protest was Harry Thuku, who was arrested. People stormed the jail where he was being held. The authorities fired into the crowd of people and ended up killing 20. Because of this Thuku was sent into exile.

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Harry Thuku

Conflicts with the Italians

There was conflict in Libya because of the italian rule in the 1920s. Guerrilla warfare was used against the Italians. These tactics allowed them to defeat the Italians multiple times. The Italians were infuriated by this and established concentration camps and used modern weapons to stop the revolt. The movement ended with the death of Omar Mukhtar.

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Omar Mukhtar

New Leaders in Revolution

Many new leaders started to appear. However, many of the leaders were educated in the United States. Du Bois was a leader in the movement that was created in order to make Africans aware of their cultural heritage. Garvey was a Jamaican who lived in Harlem, New York City, encouraged unity for all Africans. This movement became known as Pan-Africanism. He wrote the Declaration of the Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World. This work had a major impact on african leaders. Jomo Kenyatta, Léopold Senghor, and Nnamdi Azikiwe were all major leaders in the fight against colonial rule in Africa. This was not achieved until after World War II.

Marcus Garvey speech
The History of Pan African Movement

Mohandas Gandhi and His Protests

The movement for Indian independence was a major feat in the battle against the British. Mohandas Gandhi was one of the greatest leaders in this movement. He was so looked up to that his people called him “Great Soul” or Mahatma. In order to protest he would lead massive groups of people in nonviolent protesting. He used a tactic called civil disobedience. This meant that he would refuse to obey laws considered to be unjust. The British could not take this protesting anymore, so the used violence against the protesters. Gandhi stopped the protests for while and was later arrested for his actions. In 1935 their protests were successful with the passing of the Government of India act. This act allowed indians to have a greater role in the government process of India.

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Gandhi Spinning Cotton

The Salt March

However, this was not enough for some including Gandhi who had been released from prison. He continued his civil disobedience and nonviolent protests. One of his main protests was when he told everyone to refrain from buying any sort of government provided services or products. Britain responded by increasing salt tax and made laws prohibiting the Indian people from getting their own salt. Because of this, Gandhi lead the Salt March, where him and many other people went to the sea and gathered their own salt. During this act, Gandhi and many other members of the INC were arrested.

Footage - Gandhi - 1930 April, #02
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The Salt March

The Split of Religion in the Movement

The movement was eventually split into two parties. One was on Gandhi’s side and was religious. The other was identified with Nehru and was secular. These two parties caused problems in the path to India’s independance. Muslims also became frustrated with the dominance of the Hindu in the INC and determined that the Islamic people were in danger. Eventually a separate Muslim state was formed called Pakistan.

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Nationalism in Asia

Following the example of the West, Japan started to see successes in their social and economic sectors. Their industry developed making Japan a more modernized place.

In Japan, one of the largest industry groups known as Zaibatsu controlled a lot of the Japanese industrial sectors. Led by help from the Government, this caused a major inflation, and an economic crisis emerged, featuring large amounts of underpaid workers and food shortages due to large populations. In the search for a solutions to the problem, many people objected to the way Japan was using Western ideas, leading to the idea of taking over Asia with force.

The U.S., noticing Japan's behavior, grew concerned with Japan moving into new territories, as it wanted to keep Asia open for trading. So the United States called a conference in the hopes of earning the cooperation of Japan and other Asian countries. The conferences proved successful.


Communism began to spread throughout the world. A new group was formed called the Comintern, a worldwide organization of Communist parties dedicated to the spread of world revolution. There was a Comintern headquarters in Moscow, which trained agents who were sent out to different countries in order to spread Communism. This caused almost every colonial society in Asia to have a communist party. The successfulness of these parties varied. Some were able to cooperate with other parties, but most were completely unsuccessful. However, there was one communist party that thrived in Vietnam. This part of Vietnam was trained by Ho Chi Minh in the 1920s.

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Communist Emblem


Essential Questions

How different would the world be if communism succeeded?

Why do you think Gandhi wasn't afraid of the British?