Teacher's Guide: Freedom Now

In the 1940s, Gandhi leads India to freedom, showing the world how the masses could defy their colonial rulers. Within a few years European empires crumble in Africa and Asia. As the new nations cope with the challenges of becoming independent, precolonial ethnic tensions begin to resurface.

Unit Themes and Topics:
economic development
ethnic conflicts
human rights
independence movements
the role of government

Birenda Kaur
(citizen, India)

"When the dawn came [on the day of India's independence], I cannot describe to you how heady that feeling was. It was as though everything was new, the world was new. . . . You felt you could do anything, now that we were free."
photographic portrait of Birenda Kaur


Before Watching

1. Based on Birenda Kaur's quotation and your knowledge of colonial rule, what kinds of changes do you think she hoped freedom would bring?

2. As students watch the program, have them write down how ordinary people's lives changed after independence and the factors that contributed to those changes

After Watching

1. How did people hope their lives would change after independence? In what ways were their hopes realized or not realized? When they gained independence, did they gain freedom? How would you define the difference between independence and freedom?

2. What problems did governments in the newly independent nations encounter? How did the previous years of colonialism contribute to these problems? How did governments try to solve them?


Have students work in pairs to create mock interviews with a political figure involved in independence movements in Africa and Asia. Political figures could include Mohandas Gandhi, Jomo Kenyatta, Patrice Lumumba, Joseph Mobutu, Gamel Abdel Nasser, Jawaharlal Nehru, Kwame Nkrumah, and Ahmed Sukarno. First, have the pairs research the person's life and political accomplishments. Then have them plan and perform an interview in which one person plays a journalist and the other person plays the political figure.

Prepare students to investigate independence movements within the last 20 years in Africa, Asia, and Latin America (e.g., East Timor, Taiwan, Tibet, Puerto Rico) and then complete one or both of the activities below.

a) Assign individual students specific regions and have them identify and research the countries that established colonies there and the countries where recent independence movements have occurred. Then have students mark the locations of colonizing countries in one color and independence movements in a second color on a class map.
b) Have students research a recent independence movement in one of the countries identified on the class map. Then have each student image he or she is a leader of the movement and write and present a speech to followers that includes these topics: the current government, conditions that have inspired the movement, goals of the movement, segments of the population that support the movement, and the current status of the movement. Discuss the similarities and differences among students' presentations.

FOCUS: Journey to Independence

The following lesson focuses on a program segment that traces the experiences of activists, political leaders, and colonists as the struggle for freedom unfolds in India and Africa.

Program Segment
approximately 24 minutes

The beginning of the program

The narrator says, "They knew they'd have to make concessions or risk another rebellion."


Before Watching

1. What might be a country's motives for making another country a colony? How might the political and economic systems of each country be affected? How might the citizens be affected?

2. As students watch the program segment, have them write down the similarities and differences among the journeys to independence in India, the Gold Coast (Ghana), and Kenya.

After Watching

1. How were people native to India and Africa affected by colonialism? How did colonists profit from colonialism? How did they influence the lives of the people? What attitudes toward people native to the countries helped colonists justify colonization?

2. Why did independence movements grow after World War II? How did India's independence influence independence movements in other countries? How do you think the Cold War and the decline of European economic power contributed to the collapse of colonialism?

3. How were tactics used by the independence movement in Kenya different from tactics used by movements in India and the Gold Coast? How did the British government respond to each movement? If you were involved in the Kenyan independence movement, would you support the use of violence? Why or why not?


Have students research the independence movement in a colony of one of the following countries: Belgium, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, or Spain. Colonies might include the Congo, Hong Kong, Algeria, South Africa, or Mexico.

Ask students to answer the following questions in their research: Was political power exercised directly or indirectly through local native authorities? How did the colonizers shape the economy? How did the economy affect people in the colonies? What policies governed education and racial assimilation? If the colony achieved independence, how was it achieved? What difficulties did rebels face? What factors contributed to the success or failure of the movement? What challenges did the post-colonial government face? Discuss the similarities and differences among students' research and create a class chart with the results.

Have students work in teams and research Gandhi's life, work, and philosophy. Ask students to trace his influence on subsequent protest movements in the U.S. and elsewhere. Which groups adopted Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence? How did the use of this tactic affect the outcome of their causes? To present their findings, ask students to choose a protest movement and present a speech as one of the participants or leaders, explaining why their movement has embraced nonviolence.

Program Summary

European control of India.

Use the following information to assist in finding specific segments within the program. The times listed on the left indicate minutes into the program.

01:40 Gandhi campaigns for freedom from British rule. 1930s see mass marches, boycotts, and civil disobedience.

02:30 Post WWII: The beginnings of shifts in power.

02:50 August 1947: India gains independence.

05:50 Fights break out between Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan.

07:10 1948: Gandhi is assassinated.

07:40 European powers, including France and Portugal, are still control many colonies.

10:40 British consider themselves benefactors and are determined to keep African colonies.

14:10 Aspirations of Africans change after WWII, Africans are encouraged by India's fight for freedom.

15:50 Struggle for freedom begins in the Gold Coast.

18:00 1951: Gold Coast holds a general election for a local assembly, marking the beginning of the end of British rule in Africa.

19:00 East African Colony - Kenya - British citizens are determined to remain in the east African colony of Kenya.

20:10 Secret organization of Mau Mau fight the British.

24:20 1956: France and Britain cannot take Suez Canal by force. Nasser proves that Europeans can't continue their rule.

26:05 1957: Gold Coast gains independence and becomes Ghana.

31:50 French colonies attempts integration; offer French citizenship to residents of a select few.

33:00 Algeria refuses to become a part of greater France.

36:10 Full independence from France gained by several colonies.

37:40 Ghana is a nation with new airlines, communications, roads, and schools -- and corrupt politians.

43:30 1960 - Congo (Zaire) gains independence from Belgium.

47:00 British refuse to give up control of Rhodesia.

48:30 1975: Angola and Mozambique find freedom from Portugal.

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