The Change in British Policies and Attitude Toward Africa Between 1938 and 1948

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The Change in British Policies and Attitude Toward Africa Between 1938 and 1948

The conclusion of the Second World War heralded a new phrase in World History. The devastation of War saw many European states crumble economically; a climate of increased American economic dominance is apparent, and the end of British economic prominence is marked by the 1944 Bretton Woods conference/agreement. Everywhere attitudes were changing. American disdain for imperialism and the flagging success of previous administrative methods of indirect rule caused a re-evolution of policy and attitudes toward Empire and particularly in Africa. In a key speech in July Malcolm Macdonald, Secretary of State for the
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This coincides with growing public dislike for imperial pursuits, with Fascist nations becoming increasing associated with imperial gain. The actions of Mussolini in Abyssinia and Hitler’s continued requests for colonial concessions during appeasement, cemented aversion of empire and racism, many liberal minded Britons currently held. John Flint speaks of an “almost total reversal”[3] in attitudes of the Colonial office, from previously existing mind-sets of the 1920 and 1930’s. Before 1938, the philosophy of in-direct rule, had been the norm in much of British African and existed unabated; “as did the economic doctrine, sacrosanct in the Treasury, that colonies should live off their own resources”[4]. This approach to Africa had been favourable due to its economic benefits, as it was undoubtedly the most cost effective way of maintaining Empire in British African. Moreover this type of rule frowned upon the emergence of educated Africans, the existence of classes, and even urbanisation. Such western social staples were considered as undesirable in Africa and viewed as the unfortunate by-products of imperialism and were in effect “alien in spirit and even in nationality to African itself”[5]. However, the afore mentioned change in attitude, coupled with the growing lack of confidence in the system of indirect rule, saw previous objectives and

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