Chapter 2
CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF AFRICAN RIGHTS PRIOR TO FEDERATION

The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland is composed of three states, called territories: Southern and Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

Unlike such other contemporary federations as the United States, Canada, Australia and Germany, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland does not consist of constitutionally-equal members. Southern Rhodesia is virtually self-governing in its own territorial affairs; Northern Rhodesia is partly so; and Nyasaland is still ruled rather directly by the British Government and its Colonial Office officials. Moreover, the relationship between the three territories and the Federal Government is also not uniform. Southern Rhodesian1 and Northern Rhodesian2 European agriculture, for example, are federal matters while in Nyasaland this subject is, for reasons later to be examined, a territorial matter.3 Again, the enactment of the franchise law in 1957 constitutionally required a concurrent resolutoin of the Legislature of Nyasaland but not of any other territory.4

Legally, there is also a distinction in the status of Southern Rhodesia --it is a colony--and the other two territories which are protectorates. (The historical developments reflected in this distinction are examined later in this chapter.)

These legal-constitutional distinctions between the territories are particularly important because they have their impact primarily in the field of African civil rights. The difference in the legal-constitutional development of the three territories up to 1953 had manifested itself in quite different approaches to the protection of native rights; and this difference, in turn, constituted the biggest gap between the three territories; a gap over which a federal system does not fit easily or comfortably.

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