West and East Africa: Aftermath of the Partition

  • Ronald Hyam


In South Africa the Liberals thought that an imperial problem of long standing had been profoundly aggravated by the Unionist government. But they were also disturbed by the multiplication elsewhere in Africa of entirely new formal responsibilities which resulted from the partition of Africa in the previous twenty years. The colonial office by 1905 had acquired responsibility for Northern and Southern Nigeria, Nyasaland, Uganda, Kenya and Somaliland. The ministers who were now in power had, on the whole, been no more than mere observers of the partition. None of them liked it. It was to them irrational and undesirable. Gladstonian Liberals were not, of course, in all circumstances rigidly anti-expansionist. Campbell-Bannerman expressed their feelings accurately in 1899:

We do not shrink from adding to it [the empire] if duty or honour compels us; but we abjure the vulgar and bastard imperialism of ... provocation and aggression ... and of grabbing everything even if we have no use for it ourselves.... I should be sorry to set any limit to the governing capacity of our people and race, but at the same time, it is with no small relief and satisfaction that we must see ... the partition of Africa pretty well brought to an end.1


High Commissioner International Obligation Unionist Government Military Expedition Colonial Office 
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  1. 1.
    CB, Speeches 1899–1908 (1908), p. 10,9 Mar 99.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    For some further reflections on the partition see R. Hyam, “The partition of Africa: a review article”, Historical Journal, vii (1964), 154–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 1.
    Northcote himself thought the expedition “most shockingly mismanaged” (see J. M. Lonsdale, A political history of Nyanza 1883–1945, Cambridge Ph.D. dissertation (1964), p. 132).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ronald Hyam 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald Hyam
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CambridgeUK

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