Race and Nationalism

Race and Nationalism

Race and Nationalism

Race and Nationalism


Professor Franck has written a splendid study of the development of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in the tumultuous first seven years of its life.

It was born under a most inauspicious star for the majority of articulate, and therefore leading, Africans were opposed to it. They suspected that its real purpose was to hold back African self-government and their suspicions took root quickly among the remainder of their fellow countrymen. Even so, Africans might have been won over to the concept of a Federal system if the Europeans who were in undisputed control of the Federal Government had shown greater insight into African fears and had made a determined attempt to remove them.

Knowing full well that the Africans' fears were so genuinely felt, the Federal leaders should have tried to create an entirely new psychological attitude by declaring at the outset, generously and without reservation, that they had no intention of ending Colonial Office control over Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia until the Africans were able to express a full voice in the affairs of the Federation.

But as Professor Franck shows, the Federal Government followed a directly contrary course. Before the Federation had a chance to attract any loyalty to itself, European politicians were calling for an end to "Whitehall control" and for the grant of Dominion status. They took an early opportunity to alter the franchise that had been agreed with the British Government in 1953 and did so in a manner which the independent African Affairs Board (set up to protect African interests) described as discriminating against the Africans.

Looking back, I believe this was the turning point at which the Africans' sullen suspicions about the true purpose of the Federation hardened into certainty. After this it was too late to win them to the Federal idea, for they became convinced that it was rigged against them. Leaders of the African National Congress, who had the ear of the people, were shunned by Federal Ministers who regarded them, contemptuously, as agitators and, by doing so, cut themselves off even more surely from the great mass of Africans.

Nor has the Federal idea struck deep roots among Europeans. To those in Nyasaland it was no more than a serviceable rampart against the onrush of African nationalism. To many in Southern Rhodesia, it was both an economic milch cow, and a political deadweight, holding them back from independence, whilst Europeans in the rich Copperbelt of Northern Rhodesia . . .

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