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  • Cited by 5
  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: September 2010

13 - The Cold War in the Third World, 1963–1975


In 1958, only one year after his country gained independence from Britain, the Ghanaian prime minister, Kwame Nkrumah, delivered a speech before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. In addition to a resolute anti-imperialism, he emphasized that two related imperatives would play a crucial role in shaping the orientation of Africa toward the wider world. First, the tremendous “industrial and military power concentrated behind the two great powers in the Cold War” demanded that the new states of Africa pursue a policy of non-alignment. In Africa, Nkrumah insisted, “the opportunities of health and education and a wider vision which other nations take for granted are barely within reach of our people.” To preserve their impoverished continent from devastating violence, African nations would have to remain apart from the Cold War’s military alliances, rivalries, and strife. Second, Africa would have to seek dramatically accelerated development. Colonial overlords had failed to deliver promised advances, but “now comes our response. We cannot tell our peoples that material benefits and growth and modern progress are not for them. If we do, they will throw us out and seek other leaders who promise more. And they will abandon us, too, if we do not in reasonable measure respond to their hopes. We have modernize.”