Sir George Goldie and the Making of Nigeria

By John E. Flint; Gerald S. Graham | Go to book overview

PREFACE

To the general public the name of Sir George Goldie is almost unknown. Yet he was the man who revived the chartered company as a method of acquiring and ruling territory, added the most populous of all the tropical African colonies to the British Empire, and contributed vital techniques to British adminiltrative policies. Few Englishmen know nothing of the life of Cecil Rhodes, yet in many ways Goldie pioneered in West Africa the road which Rhodes was to take in the south. That Goldie's name is largely unknown is almost entirely a result of his own efforts. Before his death he systematically destroyed all his papers, forbade his children to write anything about him or assist anyone who wished to do so, and threatened to haunt them after his death if they disobeyed him. Confronted by the ashes of his papers and the prospect of visitations from his uneasy ghost, it is perhaps not surprising that no historian has been eager to write the history of this man and his works. To date, only one person has attempted to convey a picture of his enigmatic character. Dorothy Wellesley, Duchess of Wellington, was a child when first she met Goldie, who discerned in her an unusual sensitivity and perception and talked to her in a way which was later to give her an extraordinary insight into his mind. These impressions she set down in 1934 in her book Sir George Goldie, Founder of Nigeria. Stephen Gwynn, who had known Goldie in a less intimate way as a journalist, contributed an introduction which was not without disclosures. But this book cannot be regarded as definitive, or even as serious history. It is written in a spirit of indignant defence of Goldie; it ignores his opponents and enemies, and presents, in near-poetical terms, merely one facet of Goldie's many-sided life as interpreted by one who was still enthralled by his almost hypnotic personality. It should be treated, as I have tried to treat it, as a document.

Dorothy Wellesley's book, and a few articles scattered here and there, remained the sum total of what was known of Goldie's life

-vii-

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