1st Edition

Turning Point in Africa British Colonial Policy 1938–48

By R.D. Pearce Copyright 1982

    The Turning Point in Africa (1982) is a significant study of British colonial policy towards tropical Africa during a critical decade, from the complacent trusteeship of the inter-war years to the strategy of decolonization inaugurated after the Second World War. Charting a course through a wide variety of official sources and private papers, the work assesses the importance for colonial policy of the Colonial Office, the Colonial Service, the Labour Party, African nationalists, and of ideological and moral preconceptions. The revolution in African policy is investigated with a wide and yet detailed approach. Special attention is devoted to the effects of the Second World War on Britain and its empire and to the importance of American anti-imperialist pressure on the British Government. The importance of three men – the adviser Lord Hailey, politician Arthur Creech Jones and civil servant Andrew Cohen – receives attention and an assessment is made of their contribution to a policy which, from 1948 onwards, led to a rapid decolonization in large parts of Africa. The significance of this policy is analysed in detail. The British aimed at ‘nation-building’: indirect rule was to be replaced by the forms of English-style local government while rapid constitutional progress at the centre was to be conceded, in accordance with a preconceived model, once powerful nationalist movements had arisen. However, as the book shows, progress at the centre was introduced prematurely and outstripped reform in local government so that progress was not the balanced development the British had wished to see. Decolonization had been given an irreversible momentum by British planning.

    1. Introduction: Complacent Trusteeship of the Inter-War Years  2. The Re-definition of Imperial Principles in International and National Politics  3. Lord Hailey and Colonial Office Thought on African Policy  4. African Governors and the Making of Policy in Africa  5. Creech Jones and the Labour Government’s Imperial Attitudes and Impact  6. The Making of African Policy in the Colonial Office, 1945–48: The End of Indirect Rule and the Planning of Local Government  7. Planning the Transfer of Power  8. Reform at the Centre Overtakes Reform in Local Government  9. Conclusion


    R.D. Pearce