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These seventeen nations joined the United Nation's General Assembly and gave greater voice to the non-Western world.Fully recognizing the potential for the remarkable change that African independence could bring to global politics, on February 3, 1960, Harold Macmillan, prime minister of Great Britain from 1957 to 1963, delivered his famous speech, "Wind of Change," to the South African parliament.
Western powers viewed African independence through the lens of the Cold War, which rendered African leaders as either pro-West or pro-East; there was little acceptable middle ground.
Naïvely, most African leaders believed that they could navigate the political land mines of the Cold War through political neutrality.
And it is surely not purely by chance that the hand or the eye of Moscow is discovered, in an almost stereotypical way, behind each demand for national independence, put forth by a colonial people.
Early in the decolonization process, there were fleeting moments in which the emerging African and Asian nations did seek to shift the political paradigm away from the Cold War's East-West dichotomy.
Culturally and politically, however, the legacy of European dominance remained evident in the national borders, political infrastructures, education systems, national languages, economies, and trade networks of each nation.
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Ultimately, decolonization produced moments of inspiration and promise, yet failed to transform African economies and political structures to bring about true autonomy and development.
Although Western European powers granted aid to African nations, they also coerced governments to support their agendas and instigated and aided coups against democratically elected governments.
They also fomented civil unrest to ensure that governments friendly to their Cold War agenda remained in power and those that were not were removed by political machinations or assassination.
Yet the nations and regions of Africa experienced it with varying degrees of success.
By 1990, formal European political control had given way to African self-rule—except in South Africa.