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Fascism in Africa refers to the phenomenon of fascist parties and movements that were active in Africa. Due to the status of Africa as an area of colonialism during the inter-war period fascist movements rarely developed. However the ideology was not unheard of whilst European fascist powers were active colonialists.


South Africa

South Africa's status as an independent country dominated by the white minority meant that it shared a number of characteristics with Europe whilst also having an insitutionalised form of racism in the apartheid system. As such it proved a fertile ground for the development of group's inspired by European fascism.

Nazism found an audience in the country, with pro-Nazi elements organised by Louis Weichardt in 1932 under the name South African Gentile National Socialist Movement, a group that soon became known as the Greyshirts. Although the group enjoyed some support and continued after the Second World War they never became sufficiently important for the government to take action against them. The other main fascist group was the Ossewabrandwag (OB), founded in 1939, a group also inspired by Adolf Hitler. The two differed however as the Greyshirts emphasised Aryan race rhetoric and so organised amongst the various white immigrant communities whilst the OB were specifically for Afrikaner only.[1] A third, more minor group, the New Order, emerged in 1940 under the leadership of former cabinet minister Oswald Pirow. After the Second World War Pirow became an important figure in neo-fascism, working closely with Oswald Mosley, Nation Europa and A. F. X. Baron.[2] Nazi Germany sought to encourage such activity with former Olympic boxer Robey Leibbrandt active as an agent for the Abwehr during the war.[3] The Nazi Party itself also organised until it was outlawed in 1936.[4]

In the post-war era far right groups that are sometimes characterised as being fascist or at least fascist-related include Eugène Terre'Blanche's Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging, the Herstigte Nasionale Party, the Boerestaat Party, the Vereniging van Oranjewerkers and the coalition Afrikaner Volksfront.

North Africa

North Africa has also seen activity that has sometimes been identified as fascism. The high level of movement between France and French North Africa meant that political ideas travelled between the regions and as early as the 1890s the proto-fascist Antisemitic League of France was active in Algiers.[5] It was not until later however that indigenous versions began to emerge. In 1930s Egypt the Young Egypt movement, known as the greenshirts, became important. They followed the models of fascist groups in Europe and praised Italian fascism and Nazism, although they largely supported exisitng elites.[6] Within the Egyptian Army General Aziz Ali al-Masri (1878-1965) was noted for his fascist sympathies, to the extent that he was dismissed as Chief of Staff in 1940. Masri deserted the army and attempted to link up with the Afrika Korps but was arrested before he could escape.[7]

In Italian Libya Benito Mussolini sought to gain popularity by presenting himself as a defender of Islam and he formed a Libyan Arab Fascist Party to which indigenous people were admitted.[8] This was not the case in Ethiopia, where resistance was much fiercer and fascism did not take root.

It as at times been argued that the regimes of Gamal Abdel Nasser and Muammar al-Gaddafi, with their emphasis on ultra-nationalism, the leadership principle and anti-Semitism might be classified as fascist. However Stanley G. Payne has argued that this is not the case because in the case of Nasser there was a total absence of anti-communism (which is central to fascism), in the case of Gaddafi he emphasised the Islamic nature of his regime unlike the secularism of fascism and in both cases there was a distinct lack of any coherent ideology, fascist or otherwise.[9]

East Africa

Like North Africa, the east of the continent saw some early development amongst white immigrant communities. A number of pro-fascist aristocrats, including Josslyn Hay, 22nd Earl of Erroll and Gerard Wallop, 9th Earl of Portsmouth, made their homes in Kenya during the 1930s. Although too few in number to form any meaningful political grouping they nonetheless maintained close links to the British Union of Fascists, of which most had been members.[10] Other white settlers organised pro-Nazi groups in Rhodesia during the Second World War.[11]

Amongst the indigenous people fascism in its true ideological sense is unheard of. Parallels have frequently been drawn between Hitler and Uganda's Idi Amin[12][13] and it has been claimed that Amin's admiration for Hitler was so great that he even intended to build a statue of him.[14] However from an ideological standpoint he shared little or nothing with proper fascism, sharing only cruelty and anti-Semitism with Hitler.[15]


  1. ^ Christoph Marx, 'The Ossewabrandwag As a Mass Movement, 1939-1941', Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Jun. 1994), p. 208
  2. ^ G. Macklin, Very Deeply Dyed in Black - Sir Oswald Mosley and the Resurrection of British Fascism after 1945, New York: IB Tauris, 2007, pp. 84-5
  3. ^ "Sidney Robey Leibbrandt 1913 - 1966". Leibbrandt Archive. Retrieved July 20, 2006.  
  4. ^ Roger Griffin, The Nature of Fascism, 1993, p. 158
  5. ^ Stanley G. Payne, Fascism in EUrope, 1914-45, 2001, p. 45
  6. ^ Payne, A History of Fascism, pp. 353
  7. ^ Yaacov Shimoni & Evyatar Levine, Political Dictionary of the Middle East in the 20th Century, 1974, p. 250
  8. ^ Payne, A History of Fascism, pp. 352
  9. ^ Payne, A History of Fascism, pp. 515-6
  10. ^ R.J.B. Bosworth, The Oxford Handbook of Fascism, Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 499
  11. ^ Griffin, The Nature of Fascism, p. 165
  12. ^ 'The Hitler of Africa'
  13. ^ Idi Amin Dada: Hitler in Africa
  14. ^ Idi Amin
  15. ^ Robert O. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism, 2004, p. 191

See also



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