To what extent were colonial pressures primarily responsible for British withdrawal from West Africa in the years (1957-65)?
Colonial pressure was a significant reason accounting for British withdrawal but other factors including a domestic attitudinal and cold war dynamics also played a role; however economic considerations were the likely primary cause for British withdrawal from West Africa. If anything, it was the Suez Canal crisis of 1956 which acted as a catalyst for the whole process.
The apparent increase in nationalism in West Africa became more and more of an issue during the Gold coast riots of 1948 in Accra. This was a clear and obvious sign that the Africans were seeking independence and weren’t content with the British being in what they now referred to as “their” territory. Similar accounts of this type of colonial pressure on British rule in Africa can be observed in Nigeria, and more precisely, in a Nigerian newspaper called “the West African pilot”, which supported very nationalistic views, spoke on behalf of the people and carried out surveys asking people if they would prefer it if Nigeria was independent. This meant that the British were being confronted with cold, hard facts, which simply, couldn’t be ignored. In Nigeria, it was clear that colonial pressures were very significant, this was due to numerous accounts of public outcry for independence and criticism to British rule as a whole. This was especially true for the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (or NCNC), a nationalist party founded in 1944 by Herbert Macaulay which heavily opposed British rule in Nigeria and Cameroon. Following the Gold Coast riots of 1948, a new party was created by Kwame Nkrumah in 1949 to campaign for the independence of the Gold Coast with the motto “self-government now!”.
Traditional Society In West Africa based on Chinua Achebes Arrow of God One of the most highly known African authors today is the Nigerian born Chinua Achebe. Chinua Achebes main focus in his writings was to tell about the African experience, but in a completely different way previous authors wrote. The works of Achebe painted a picture of how life changed for Africans due to the impact of ...
This was again, evidence that the British were becoming less and less welcome in the Gold Coast and, more generally, West Africa as a whole. Following a political trend on the grand scheme of events, the People’s Progressive Party in Gambia (PPP) which was founded in 1959 by Dawda Jawara, supported the exertion of colonial pressure on British rule. It was another adversary that Empire as a whole was being confronted by, the list of dominant figures such as Jawara, Macaulay and Nkrumah was growing, and the British “iron fist” was becoming more and more fragile. And to catalyse the entire situation, Nasser’s speech during the Suez Canal crisis of 1956 inspired many countries to become independent due to his strong words and bold statements such as: “We shall defend our freedom and independence to the last drop of our blood. This is the stanch feeling of every Egyptian.” This indirectly incited many African nations to thrive towards the ideology that independence was in fact a better outcome than being ruled by the “violating countries such as Britain”. This principle of nationalism that was arising in Africa may seem as a primary cause for British withdrawal but economic factors were in fact a much more important factor. This was due to the many financial implications that Britain was being dragged into because of Africa’s monetary instability.
With inflation becoming more and more of a present issue in Africa, it was clear that the war-time commodity boom was well and truly over. Britain was in serious bankruptcy because of the WW2 and maintaining British colonies abroad was simply too much financial effort. Britain had to shift its economic focus onto more realistic target such as Europe as whole, whilst also encompassing the element of trying to control domestic spending. MacMillan’s cost-benefit analysis of 1957 really put the situation into perspective. From the report, it was clear that keeping African colonies was simply not cost-effective and was draining the little money Britain had after the war. On top of this matter, there was a clear and obvious Eurocentric shift and markets had well and truly diverged themselves elsewhere (ie: Europe).
The American Revolution was caused by many different reasons. The main reasons where Mercantilism trade with in the American Colonies, The First Great Awakening, The Great War of Empires, The Proclamation Line of 1763, The Acts passed by British Parliament, The population demographics of the eighteenth-century, The Common sense and the Declaration of Independence. The first reason was the ...
This Eurocentricity led to the creation of unions such as the European Economic Community (EEC) which was founded in 1957 and had the aim to bring about economic integration, including a common market among a variety of European countries. This unification process can also be observed with the foundation of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in 1960 which essentially made trading between (most) European countries much easier than before, making it more appealing to do so, instead of relying on-now- unprofitable colonies in Africa. This, as said by Niall Ferguson, “wind of change” was very clear here because Britain had essentially been trading through its colonies for almost 200 years prior to. This great reform from of a diplomatic and financial stand-point was seen as a step forward and overall modernisation of British morals. That being said, the nuclear age was coming along at a steady pace, Britain was already out-gunned by the two superpowers, whos’ relationship was now degrading. Britain had to act fast in order to keep up with rapid changes in warfare and society overall, but all of this came at a cost, a grave economic blow it would be if Britain didn’t grant independence to more of its colonies, a blow that Britain wouldn’t be able to stand back up again from. Mahatma Ghandi had intuitively said that “once India falls, the rest will follow”, this was true, for India was the crown jewel in Empire, so when it became independent in 1947, it was only a matter of time until the other colonies followed that path. WW2 acted as a catalyst to this situation because of the many economic knock-on effects it had on Britain and soon enough, colonies were going to get their independence.
Yet another, less important factor to this situation, was the strategic aspect. As the Cold War started to kick in, many subliminal bonds were being made between African nationalists and the Soviets. The Soviets supported the nationalist trend and wanted the colonies to prevail in their search for independence. This acted as a deterrent to the British who didn’t want start any conflict with the USSR due its sheer military and financial power, something Britain now had very little of. With the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, countries had more of an influence on each other. The US used NATO as a way to put pressure on Britain and criticised its motives to keep the African colonies, the US deemed the colonies “old fashioned and backwards”. Regardless of whether or not this affected the British views on its colonies, there was certainly a swift change in relation to their moral standing. The foundation of the commonwealth was accurately described by Niall Fergusson as a “shift from imperialism”, the commonwealth which was founded in 1949 unified (most of) the British colonies, offered unity with the colonies and Britain. A sudden change in British attitudes for the better of the colonies (ie: nationalism/independence) could be observed.
There is a certain distinction between the British approach to European integration and that of most other member states. While many European politicians wish to move closer towards a federal Europe most British politicians support a more cautious intergovernmental approach. With this debate already initiated, there still stands the fundamental question of whether or not Britain would benefit from ...
In conclusion, economic considerations were in fact the main reason for British withdrawal from West Africa, this is because the 2nd World War was a major financial setback for Britain and the huddling of African colonies was quite simply no longer an option. This became especially apparent when MacMillan released his cost-benefit analysis in 1957. Following this, the search for independence by the British colonies was a less important factor but still a considerable reason why the British withdrew from West Africa in the years 1957-1965, a catalyst to this factor was Nasser’s speech during the Suez Canal crisis in 1956 which encouraged nationalism. Strategic considerations was the least important factor but the Cold War dynamic is still considered a driving force to the situation, this is best presented when the Soviets involve themselves and encourage nationalism in British colonies.