The New Societies of Tropical Africa: A Selective Study

The New Societies of Tropical Africa: A Selective Study

The New Societies of Tropical Africa: A Selective Study

The New Societies of Tropical Africa: A Selective Study

Excerpt

Director of the Institute of Race Relations

Some three years ago, a director of a firm with widespread interests in Africa came back from a tour convinced that his general managers were faced by a situation entirely different from that in which they had grown up. They had now to live and do business in a nationalist instead of a colonial world. This was not just a change of government; it meant a new kind of society and a new set of values. How could they be helped to make a re-assessment of nearly all their old assumptions?

So important did he think this that he suggested employing several teams of research workers under centralized direction to produce a series of studies of the new African states. But it soon became clear that, quite apart from the practical difficulty of finding enough workers of the right calibre and apart from the speed with which events were likely to overtake them, their labours would not really produce the solution he wanted. The results would be far too massive; the general managers would certainly not have time to digest them and the work of co-ordination would still have to be done. There is no point in recalling all the discussions that then took place; it is enough to say that eventually the Institute of Race Relations was asked to tackle the problem, that a number of other firms agreed to join the first as financial sponsors, and that in the summer of 1959 Mr. Guy Hunter was appointed to be Director of the project. He had unusual qualifications and qualities for the task. He had been Co-ordinator of Studies to the Duke of Edinburgh's Conference and had some previous experience of Tropical Africa; what was almost more important, he had an ability to understand the language of many different specialists, and a sense of the practical. It was obvious that he would need advice from many different worlds, and we were fortunate in securing the help of a guiding committee whose members were:

Sir Jeremy Raisman : Deputy Chairman, Lloyds Bank (Chairman) Sir Jock Campbell : Chairman of Booker Brothers McConnell
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