Experimentation, Consolidation and Deadlock in British Africa

Part of the Themes in Comparative History book series (TCH)


One of the outstanding characteristics of European empires in Africa during the decade after 1945 was how little they were affected by the backwash from the demise of colonialism in Asia. R. Robinson and J. Gallagher pointed out some years ago that Europe’s acquisition of African territories in the latter part of the nineteenth century was simply ‘scraping the bottom of the barrel’ following more important seizures elsewhere;1 but any expectation that when the barrel of empire began to be emptied of its Asian contents in the late 1940s the African flotsam would be simultaneously ejected proved to be misplaced. In fact the late 1940s and early 1950s were the heyday of African empire, when it seemed to have a coherence and dynamic of its own. This coherence and dynamic was merely the reflection of the passing utility which Africa appeared to have for western Europe in its struggle for post-war economic survival; by the mid-1950s the appearance had faded because one set of metropolitan crises had, as we shall see later, been replaced by another. But these fissiparities were not evident at the time. ‘Development and welfare’ was the theme of the moment circa 1950, and it seemed that within this framework Euro-African relationships were bound to become tighter, not looser, over time.


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5 Experimentation, Consolidation and Deadlock in British Africa

  1. 1.
    R. Robinson and J. Gallagher, ‘The Imperialism of Free Trade’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser. vi, i (1953) 15.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See N. J. Westcott, ‘Sterling and Empire: The British imperial economy 1939–51’, Institue of Commonwealth Studies (London) Seminar Paper, January 1983.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    The following account of events in the Gold Coast up until 1954, and that in Part Iv continuing the story up to Ghana’s independence in 1957, is largely based on Dennis Austin, Politics in Ghana, 1946–60 (Oxford, 1964).Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    and Richard Rathbone, ‘The transfer of power in Ghana, 1945–57’, thesis submitted for the degree of doctor of philosophy in the University of London, 1968.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    A recent biography is David Rooney, Sir Charles Arden-Clarke (London, 1982).Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    Nigerian developments in this period are excellently introduced in J. S. Coleman, Nigeria: Background to Nationalism (Berkeley, 1960).Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    Keith Hancock, Smuts: The Fields of Force 1919–50 (Cambridge, 1968) pp. 492–510.Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    See Newell M. Stultz, Afrikaner Politics in South Africa, 1934–48 (Berkeley, 1974).Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    These campaigns are outlined in Gwendolen M. Carter, The Politics of Inequality: South Africa Since 1948 (London, 1974) pp. 302–39.Google Scholar
  10. 9.
    For the birth of the Central African Federation see Robert Blake, A History of Rhodesia (London, 1977) pp. 243–83.Google Scholar
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    and Prosser Gifford, ‘Misconceived Dominion: The Creation and Disintegration of Federation in British Central Africa’ in Prosser Gifford and Wm Roger Louis (eds) The Transfer of Power in Africa: Decolonization 1940–60 (Yale, 1982), pp. 387–426.Google Scholar
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    David Goldsworthy, Colonial Issues in British Politics 1945–61: From ‘Colonial Development’ to ‘Wind of Change’ (Oxford, 1971) pp. 208–9, 214–30,306–10, 366–70.Google Scholar
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    Sir Philip Mitchell, African Afterthoughts (London, 1954) pp. 227–44.Google Scholar
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    Jeremy Murray-Brown, Kenyatta (London, 1972) pp. 232–3.Google Scholar
  15. 13.
    For the urban origins of Mau Mau see Rob Buijtenhuis, Essays on Mau Mau: Contributions to Mau Mau Historiography (Leyden, 1982).Google Scholar
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    This causal sequence is particularly evident in the Tanganyikan case. See G. Andrew Maguire, Towards ‘Uhuru’ in Tanzania: The Politics of Participation (Cambridge, 1969) pp. 112–59.Google Scholar
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    F. D. Corfield, Historical Survey of the Origins and Growth of Mau Mau Cmd. 1030 (London, 1960).Google Scholar
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    For an informative biography see Charles Douglas-Home, Evelyn Baring: The Last Proconsul (London, 1978).Google Scholar
  19. 17.
    Some suggestive insights into the political culture of white settlers in Kenya may be culled from Negley Farson, Last Chance in Africa (London, 1949).Google Scholar

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© R. F. Holland 1985

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