Botswana, 1939-1945: An African Country at War

Botswana, 1939-1945: An African Country at War

Botswana, 1939-1945: An African Country at War

Botswana, 1939-1945: An African Country at War

Synopsis

This is the first full study of an African country during World War II. Unusually, it provides both Africanist and imperialist perspectives. Using extensive archival and oral evidence, Jackson explores the social, economic, political, agricultural, and military histories of Botswana. He examines Botswana's military contribution to the war effort and the impact of the war on the African home front. The book focuses on events and personalities "on the ground" in Africa, and also considers Botswana's interaction with and impact upon events and personalities in distant imperial centers, such as Whitehall and the wartime British Army headquarters in the Middle East. The attitudes, aims, and actions of all levels of colonial society--British rulers, African chiefs, military officials, and ordinary African men and women--are likewise studied, thus producing a unique and "total" history of an African country at war.

Excerpt

This book is intended as a contribution to three distinct historiographical fields, and should be of interest to students of African history, imperial history, and the history of the Second World War. It is first a contribution to the history of the former British African territory of Bechuanaland, covering a six-year period of its history in greater depth than has been the case before. Secondly, it aims to deepen understanding of the broader subject of Africa and the Second World War, and thirdly, to contribute to the historiography of African decolonization. It aims to be both regional and imperial in its scope, focusing on events and personalities 'on the ground' in Africa, but also on their interaction with and impact upon events and personalities in distant imperial centres, like Whitehall and the wartime British Army headquarters in the Middle East.

Few studies of Botswana's past have offered the 'total history' approach attempted here. the book highlights the salient features of the former Protectorate's political, social, economic, and military history, at once analysing the motives, thoughts, and actions of elites (both British and Batswana) and those of the common people over whom they ruled. This is done by utilizing the substantial archival material available in Britain and Botswana and blending it with extensive oral material gathered in both countries between 1993 and 1996. It is recognized that African initiatives and actions significantly contributed to the history of the period and that whatever happened in the world they inhabited, Africans had a perspective of their own that should not be ignored by historians. the evidence used points not only to the ability of Bechuanaland's African elite to influence and in some ways dictate colonial policy (often through the British Administration's awareness of what could not realistically be achieved), but also to the capacity of the bulk of the population to think for themselves and devise often effective strategies to counter or accommodate colonial and Chiefly demands.

Oral material allows a unique insight into the ways in which Batswana men and women viewed the war and the power structures under which they lived, and provides glimpses into the very personal experiences of people divided by conflict. Other previously neglected factors also contribute to an appreciation of this period of Botswana's past. For instance, though the ambitious development plans of the British administrators of . . .

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