Africa's postindependence leaders are under enormous pressure. They must assume such new functions as the conduct of foreign relations and military defense and must expand developmental activities greatly, all at a time of falling world commodity prices, population explosion, and increasing indifference to foreign aid on the part of the wealthier countries. Local African expectations are rising, even though such requisites for satisfying these aspirations as capital, skills, and initiative remain in short supply. Nationwide linkages and a national identity must be built in the face of quickening ethnic anxieties and inward-lookingness. The functional benefits offered by a continued non-African presence must be secured without causing deep-seated popular frustrations; such frustrations could clearly jeopardize the regime's legitimacy should they become too extreme. The need for schools, hospitals, and welfare activities are juxtaposed against such pressing requirements as the development of power facilities, irrigation schemes, road networks, and industries. The choices are difficult and the demands heavy. No wonder Aristide Zolberg remarks that the “governments with the lowest load capability have assumed the heaviest burdens.”
If these restrictions of international environment and resources did not impose sufficient constraints upon governments as they attempt to cope with developmental needs, their flexibility of movement is further constricted by the pulls of ideology. African countries, fresh from an encounter with powerful, privileged European states, carry over a wide range of liberal commitments into the postindependence period. They are naturally determined to continue the struggle against any remaining manifestations of colonialism on the continent—white settler oligarchies, neocolonialist military and economic arrangements, or politically-inspired alignments with powers outside of Africa. Their leaders proclaim both nationalist and pan-Africanist objectives and call simultaneously for a leveling egalitarianism and rapid economic growth. The extent to which they can reconcile these somewhat overlapping, and even conflicting, goals with the compelling claims implicit in nation-building remains a crucial question with broad implications for regime stability.