Until the middle of the twentieth century the history of Africa was not one of a continent acting, but of one acted upon. It was only with the attaining of national sovereignty that the constituent countries of the continent began to achieve some independence of action. Yet independence is not easily won, it is not effortlessly retained; even now, Africans are frequently required to reserve certain areas of decision-making to foreigners, or to relinquish other areas over which they have previously gained control.