White Man: A Study of the Attitudes of Africans to Europeans in Ghana before Independence

White Man: A Study of the Attitudes of Africans to Europeans in Ghana before Independence

White Man: A Study of the Attitudes of Africans to Europeans in Ghana before Independence

White Man: A Study of the Attitudes of Africans to Europeans in Ghana before Independence

Excerpt

This work is the outcome of a series of studies carried out in what was then still the Gold Coast during the years 1952-5. At that period an African Government was already in power, although full independence had not yet been reached.

The main purpose of these studies was to investigate not so much the actual relationships between Africans and Europeans, as the manner in which Africans looked upon white people and how they felt about them. This led on to a consideration of the broader psychological impact made by Europeans and their cultural values; in attempting to explore this, some aspects of the historical background had to be introduced.

In presenting the empirical findings, use will be made of the notion of 'stereotypes', and a few comments about this concept may therefore be helpful. Stereotypes have been described as 'pictures in the mind'; they are simplified representations of complex objects, in the present case mostly categories of people, which are widely held. Stereotypes are not necessarily false, except in the sense of oversimplification; often the criteria of truth and falsehood cannot really be meaningfully applied to them. Knowledge of stereotypes is valuable, as they can be regarded as a kind of map of their holders' perceived social world; and to the extent that such maps fulfil the function of guiding conduct, stereotypes help us to understand behaviour.

The terms 'whites' and 'Europeans' will be employed synonymously, as no distinction between them is normally made in ordinary speech. The word 'African' should be understood throughout as standing for 'Gold Coast African', or for 'Ghanaian' if the reference is to the future.

Lastly, I regret that owing to limitations of space it has not been possible to provide an adequate description of the social context within which the psychological reactions are displayed. The bibliography supplied at the end may go some way towards remedying this shortcoming.

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