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Monday, November 3, 1997 Published at 18:42 GMT

Special Report: Africa at 40

Forty years of African history

Nelson Mandela is sworn in as South African President

1957 - Ghana, formerly the Gold Coast, becomes the first black African country to gain independence. President Kwame Nkrumah declares: "From now on there is a new African in the world. That new African is ready to fight his own battle."

1960 - In a speech in Cape Town, South Africa, the British Prime Minister, Harold MacMillan, talks about the "wind of change" blowing across Africa. Elsewhere in the country 69 people die in Sharpeville when police fire into a peaceful protest against pass laws.

1961 - South Africa becomes an independent republic.

[ image: The Sharpeville massacre]
The Sharpeville massacre

1962 - Algeria gains independence following an eight year war against France.

1963 - The Organisation of African Unity is founded by 30 states. Kenya achieves independence with Jomo Kenyatta as its president.

1964 - Nyasaland becomes independent as Malawi with Dr Hastings Banda as the Prime Minister.

1965 - The United Nations imposes an embargo on Rhodesia after the white minority government makes a unilateral declaration of independece.

1966 - Military coups reach an all-time high. There are six including two in Nigeria and one in Ghana which deposes the President Kwame Nkrumah.

1967 - The Republic of Biafra secedes from the rest of Nigeria sparking a civil war. Egypt loses the Six-Day War against Israel which occupies the Sinai Peninsula.

[ image: Colonel Qadhafi]
Colonel Qadhafi

1969 - King Idris of Libya is overthrown in a military coup led by Colonel Muammar Qadhafi. The country is declared a republic.

1970 - Biafra is forced to surrender after Nigeria cuts off supply routes to the breakaway republic.

1971 - In Uganda the commander of the armed forces General Idi Amin seizes power from the President Milton Obote.

1972 - Ethnic conflict in Burundi leads to the death of 150,000 Hutus and 10,000 Tutsis. Asians are expelled from Uganda and their assets seized.

1973 - Egypt is defeated by Israel in the Yom Kippur War but retakes the East bank of the Suez Canal.

1974 - Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia is overthrown by a Marxist-led military coup.

1975 - Portugal grants independence to Mozambique and Angola. In both countries civil wars break out between Marxist and South African backed parties.

1976 - The Soweto riots erupt in South Africa after police shoot at black children protesting against the apartheid regime's education policies. Jean-Bedel Bokassa declares himself Emperor of the Central African Republic.

1977 - France gives up its last territory in Africa as Dijbouti becomes independent. Anti-apartheid campaigner Steven Biko is killed in police custody in South Africa.

1979 - Idi Amin is overthrown in Uganda.

1980 - White minority rule ends in Rhodesia which is renamed Zimbabwe.

1981 - President Anwar Sadat of Egypt is assassinated by Islamic fundamentalists during a miltary parade.

[ image: The Ethiopian famine inspired the Live Aid concerts and records]
The Ethiopian famine inspired the Live Aid concerts and records
1983 - Following the introduction of Sharia or Islamic law in Sudan civil war breaks out between Muslims in the North and Southern Christians.

1984 - The international community mounts a massive aid operation to deal with the famine in Ethiopia.

1985 - A state of emergency is declared in South Africa as civil unrest grows.

1986 - America bombs Libya in retaliation for alleged complicity in international terrorist activities. The President of Mozambique, Samora Machel is killed in an air crash which is blamed on South Africa.

1990 - Nelson Mandela is freed after 27 years in prison. The South African government begins negotiations with the African National Congress. Namibia becomes independent.

1991 - Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam is deposed.

[ image: UN forces arrive in Somalia with media in tow]
UN forces arrive in Somalia with media in tow
1992 - American-led United Nations forces arrive in Somalia to administer humanitarian aid. Civil war resumes in Angola after Unita refuses to accept MPLA victory in free elections. The Algerian government cancels election results after Islamic fundamentalists make gains. Civil war erupts.

1993 - The Nigerian military government halts the transition to democracy by annulling the results of presidential elections won by its rival, Moshood Abiola.

1994 - Tribal rivalries in Rwanda erupt into genocide after President Juvenal Habyarimana's plane is shot down. Hutus massacre hundreds of thousands of Tutsis in a few weeks. About two million refugees, mostly Hutus, flee to neighbouring countries when Tutsi forces advance. Nelson Mandela becomes the President of South Africa as the African National Congress sweeps to power in the country's first free elections. Nigeria's president-elect, Moshood Abiola is imprisoned by the military junta.

1995 - Despite international protests Nigeria executes novelist and environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni tribe activists. It is suspended from the Commonwealth for repeated human rights abuses. Zaire suffers an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

1996 - Kudirat Abiola, the wife of Nigeria's jailed opposition leader, is murdered. Suspicion falls on the country's military rulers.

[ image: President Mobutu]
President Mobutu
1997 - The 30 year reign of Zairean dictator Mobutu Sese Seko ends in May when Kinshasa falls to rebel forces. He dies in exile in September. The new head of state Laurent Kabila promises elections and renames the country the Democratic Republic of Congo. In July Liberians vote for Charles Taylor to become their president in elections which end a seven year civil war. Thousands are massacred in Algeria as political violence escalates. African leaders gather in London to consider 40 years of independence.

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