The African Commonwealth

  • Krishnan Srinivasan


British statesmen were always anxious to portray London’s concessions to the colonies in respect of national self-determination in the most favourable light, as a projection of the highest stage of political theory, and to demonstrate how well the Asian and African colonies had absorbed the values of Westminster. Moreover, claimed the British, thanks to their enlightened colonial order, the new leaders in the former colonies could now administer a defined country and not merely a motley aggregation of ethnic groups, tribes, castes and regions. Intellectuals associated with The Round Table professed that Britain had a moral duty to disseminate the benefits of the rule of law and free political institutions within the Empire, thereby turning it by gradual stages into a multiracial Commonwealth. Macmillan claimed that self-government had been the intention behind colonial rule from the very beginning, and that independence was only the last installment of a graduated and anticipated advance in the constitutional programme.1 Meanwhile, the British government was determined to orchestrate the process meticulously and outbreaks like the Mau Mau in Kenya from 1952 to 1956 were firmly suppressed before they were succeeded by the later political transactions towards independence.


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  1. 32.
    Hyam and Louis, The Conservative Government and the End of Empire, 1957–1964, p. xxx.Google Scholar
  2. 89.
    Hyam, The Labour Government and the End of Empire, 1945–1951, p. xxiii.Google Scholar
  3. 111.
    Ashton and Louis, East of Suez and the Commonwealth, 1964–1971, p. xxxvi.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

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  • Krishnan Srinivasan

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