In their search for nationhood since World War II, many peoples of Asia and Africa have discovered that independence from western rule is only the first and perhaps the easiest step. Once the foreigner has gone, the larger problem looms of creating a viable political society. Divisions and competitive strivings held in check when outsiders controlled affairs are suddenly released. Ethnic, religious and regional differences, that seemed less important so long as colonial administrators ruled, boil up after independence and more often than not come to dominate the loyalties and inspire the ambitions that move men in politics. To their dismay, responsible leaders find themselves heading not the homogeneous, modern nation state they dreamed of before independence, but a congeries of separate groups. The simple, unifying purpose of the independence struggle fades away, leaving a host of contradictions and cleavages.
Indonesia is wracked by repeated resistance to Jakarta. Burma has been beset by periodic insurrection, supported in part by regional and ethnic hostility to Rangoon. The nightmare of India's Nehru is the growth of regional and linguistic differences. Imminent disintegration of the ex-Belgan Congo dramatizes the extreme case.