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Labour Review, February–March 1960

Ade Olu

Central Africa

Dawn in Nyasaland. By Guy Clutton-Brock (Hodder Pocket Books, 3s. 6d.).

From Labour Review, Volume 5, No. 1, February–March 1960, pages 15-19.
Transcribed & marked up by Ted Crawford & D. Walters for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL) in 2009.

The dawn breaking in Africa is very romantic. But not in Nyasaland, where the African’s communal life is being broken up by the change ‘from communal land-holding to a complete system of individual tenure … to a peasant farming structure operating in a market economy’. Through federation his land plot is reduced. Infertility sets in.

The federationists are transferring Europe wholesale to Nyasaland. The African is deprived of his traditional social security. In Europe such degeneration of a full social life is replaced by the welfare state. In Africa it is planned for him to go to the industrial city to provide cheap labour. Western capitalists are encouraged to invest profitably. The profit is that of the money-owners and the highly-paid, semi-skilled European immigrants.

Guy Clutton-Brock’s book not only analyses the basis of the Central African plan and disturbances but contains facts and figures that must be known by anyone interested in the colonies. One discovers sanguine truths like the utilizing of profits from beer parlours for municipal development. The laws are over-coded in the name of the rule of law. Partnership means the enterprising African joining in a society where the measure of personality is the possession of wealth and property. Land values inflate. He loses all wealth and personality. There are instances of Welensky outdoing Verwoerd, like the proscription of the South African National Congress in Rhodesia.

The Nyasalanders know these facts. They also know they lose economically from federation. They lose their human dignity, by the carrying of passes on their persons.

One might disagree with Clutton-Brock on occasion, as when he shows how Christianity was betrayed in Africa. From the early history of colonialism Christianity was meant to deceive the people. But one cannot help respecting the manner in which he sums up the issue at stake in colonial Africa. It has been appropriately summed up by Sir Roy Welensky himself: ‘It is time we took a stand on the issue of whether civilization is to remain here. That is whether you and I, as Europeans, are to remain, and whether on that basis this federation is to go forward…’

From Mr. Clutton-Brock we learn what that civilization is—capitalist exploitation and denial of a full social life.
Ade Olu.

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