East African Students in a (Post-)Imperial World

  • Timothy Nicholson
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Childhood book series (PSHC)


In April 2012, staff at the British National Archives made headlines worldwide when they released part of the formerly secret cornucopia of files associated with the end of the colonial empire in Kenya. These files revealed British concern that Barack Obama, eponymous father of the American president, and other Kenyan students studying in the United States, might ‘fall into the wrong hands’ and associate with anti-colonial organizations (from the late 1950s and early 1960s).1 Although it was the group studying in the United States that received the most attention at the time, East African students of the late colonial and early independence periods travelled to three continents in search of university education. With some assistance from family, friends and teachers, they worked to take advantage of newly available resources such as scholarships, travel assistance and educational opportunities made available by long-standing British connections in the region and rising Cold War competition. Focusing on students from Kenya and Tanzania,2 this chapter highlights the life experiences of these students as they studied abroad in the English-speaking world.


Oral History Overseas Student African Student Late Colonial Eastern Bloc Country 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 3.
    John Darwin, The Empire Project: The Rise and Fall of the British World System, 1830–1970 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Tony Ballantyne, Webs of Empire: Locating New Zealand’s Colonial Past (Wellington: Bridget Williams Books, 2012);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Zoe Laidlaw, Colonial Connections, 1815–1845: Patronage, the Information Revolution and Colonial Government (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005);Google Scholar
  4. Alan Lester, Imperial Networks: Creating Identities in Nineteenth-Century South Africa and Britain (London: Routledge, 2001).Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    For example: Gary Baines and Peter Vale (eds), Beyond the Border War: New Perspectives on Southern Africa’s Late-Cold War Conflict (Pretoria: Unisa Press, 2008);Google Scholar
  6. Sue Onslow (ed.), Cold War in Southern Africa: White Power, Black Liberation (Abingdon: Routledge, 2009);Google Scholar
  7. Vladimir Shubin, The Hot ‘Cold War’: The USSR in Southern Africa (London: Pluto Press, 2009):Google Scholar
  8. Gary Thomas Burgess, Youth and the Revolution: Mobility and Discipline in Zanzibar, 1950–1980 (PhD thesis, Indiana University, 2001).Google Scholar
  9. 5.
    Martin Lynn (ed.), The British Empire World in the 1950s: Retreat or Revival? (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2005).Google Scholar
  10. 6.
    Jordanna Bailkin, The Afterlife of Empire (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012).Google Scholar
  11. 8.
    Alcinda Honwana and Filip de Boeck (eds), Makers and Breakers: Children and Youth in Postcolonial Africa (Trenton: Africa World Press, 2005).Google Scholar
  12. 9.
    Helene Charton-Bigot, ‘Colonial Youth at the Crossroads: Fifteen Alliance “Boys”’, in Andrew Burton and Helene Charton-Bigot (eds), Generations Past: Youth in East African History (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2010), 84–107.Google Scholar
  13. 11.
    Corinne A. Krazt, ‘Conversations and Lives’, in Luise White, Stephan F. Miescher and David William Cohen, African Words, African Voices: Critical Practices in Oral History (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001), 142.Google Scholar
  14. 12.
    David William Cohen, Stephan F. Miescher and Luise White, ‘Introduction’, in White, Luise, Stephan F. Miescher and David William Cohen, African Words, African Voices: Critical Practices in Oral History (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001), 15–16.Google Scholar
  15. 14.
    Brian Cooksey, David Court and Ben Makau, ‘Education for Self-Reliance and Marambee’, in Joel D. Barkan (ed.), Beyond Capitalism and Socialism (Boulder: Lynne Reinner, 1994), 204.Google Scholar
  16. 15.
    Lene Buchert, Education and the Development of Tanzania, 1919–1990 (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1994), 64–65.Google Scholar
  17. 16.
    Kenyan Education Department, Education Department Annual Report, Education Department Triennial Survey, 1958–1960 (Nairobi: Government Printer, 1960).Google Scholar
  18. 19.
    Tepilit Ole Saitoti, The Worlds of a Massai Warrior: An Autobiography (New York: Random House, 1986).Google Scholar
  19. 30.
    Wangari Maathai, Unbowed: A Memoir (New York: Anchor, 2007), 74.Google Scholar
  20. 35.
    Jacqueline C. Woodfork, Culture and Customs of the Central African Republic (New York: Greenwood Press, 2006), 141;Google Scholar
  21. Also see Laura Edmondson, Performance and Politics in Tanzania: The Nation on Stage (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007).Google Scholar
  22. 38.
    Young-Sun Hong, ‘“The Benefits of Health Must Spread Among All”: International Solidarity, Health, and Race in the East German Encounter with the Third World’, in Katherine Pence and Paul Betts (eds), Socialist Modern. East German Everyday Culture and Politics (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008), 183–210.Google Scholar
  23. 40.
    These statistics are compiled from United States Information Agency, African Students in the US: Basic Attitudes and Aspirations, and Reactions to US Experiences (Washington, DC: Office of Research) A.S. Livingstone, Overseas Students in Britain (Manchester: University of Manchester Press, 1960), 58.Google Scholar
  24. 46.
    U.S. Information Agency, African Students in the US: Sources of Information About America and Attitudes Towards the Mass Media (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1964), 26.Google Scholar
  25. 53.
    Phelps-Stoke Fund, African Students in the United States: A Handbook of Information and Orientation (New York: Phelps-Stoke Fund, 1957).Google Scholar
  26. 54.
    For a personal account on this issue see Barack Obama, Dreams of My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (New York: Crown Publishers, 2004), 125; for British government views see, for example, J.C. Morgan, ‘Sir Robert Armitage’, 22 February 1957, Do35/5347/9, TNA.Google Scholar
  27. 55.
    Nico Slate, ‘Introduction: The Borders of Race and Nation’, in Philip E. Muehlenbeck (ed.), Race, Ethnicity and the Cold War: A Global Perspective (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2012), ix.Google Scholar
  28. 56.
    For the new literature of this idea, see Mary L. Dudziak, Cold War, Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011)Google Scholar
  29. Thomas Borstelmann, The Cold War and the Color Line: American Race Relations in the Global Arena (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003).Google Scholar
  30. 57.
    Walter Bgoya, ‘From Tanzania to Kansas and Back Again’, in William Minter, Gail Harvey, and Charles Cobb Jr (eds), No Easy Victories: African Liberation and American Activists Over a Half Century, 1950–2000 (Trenton: Africa World Press, 2008), 103.Google Scholar
  31. 60.
    Cranford Pratt, The Critical Phase in Tanzania, 1945–1968: Nyerere and the Emergence of a Socialist State (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1976), 128.Google Scholar
  32. 62.
    Daniel Branch, Kenya: Between Hope and Despair, 1963–2011 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011).Google Scholar
  33. Also see Oginga Odinga, Not Yet Uhuru: The Autobiography of Oginga Odinga (New York: Hill and Wang, 1967).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Timothy Nicholson 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timothy Nicholson

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations