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This Day in History: 06 January, 1960

This Day in History: 06 January, 1960

Harold Macmillan, prime minister of Great Britain, began his now-famous tour of Africa, which became to be known as the 'winds of change' tour, on January 6, 1960.

The tour came to be known by this phrase in part because it signaled a change in British policy towards its Africa colonies, but also because of Macmillan's use of the phrase in his address to the South African Parliament in February 1960.

In that speech, Macmillan stated that "The wind of change is blowing through this continent. Whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact."

This showed an understanding of times from the newly elected Conservative government. The end of the Second World War saw a change in sentiment towards colonial territories, leading many to believe that ruling these territories was more trouble than the associated glory of ruling them. Coupled to this was a rise in nationalistic ardour and desire self-determination from the colonies themselves.

In 1957, Ghana, then known as the Gold Coast, was granted independence from the United Kingdom, with Kwame Nkrumah becoming the first president.

The phrase "the winds of change" was first used by Macmillan in his speech in Accra, Ghana. But it gained media attention when he used the phrase in his address to the South African Parliament, mostly due to the stony reception his words received from his audience.

Those words seemed to be prophetic, as the winds of change that blew through the continent saw Britain grant independence to many of it colonies, leading to the collapse of the British Empire.

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