THREE times in history has an empire sloughed off into independence from the British Isles: America first, then the four white Dominions, lastly the four new Asiatic nations. Now attention is directed toward the fourth and last empire, which lies almost wholly within the tropics and mainly in Africa. It is to Africa that Britain must look for that field for investment, source of raw materials and expanding market which she needs in order to survive, and she must win it quickly from the swamps and forest and highveld of the last continent to be pioneered.
The drive to "open up" this treacherous and fascinating land has in fact begun. Nor is Britain the only nation concerned. France, Belgium and Portugal have big stakes in Africa's future and are turning more to development, as yet with very limited coördination and in pursuit of at least three different policies. But the fundamental fact is the same. For centuries, indeed millennia, Africa slumbered. Held in their rigid tribal mold, men lived as their ancestors before them, neither striving after nor desiring change. Now the mold is broken, the old ways are dying, and African man is suddenly conscious of a new, bewildering, turbulent world and faced with the colossal task of building a new society from the ruins of the old. Seldom in history, if ever, has change struck at a continent so swiftly and with so little mercy, allowing no time for adjustment and no room for compromise, and confronting the four western nations with the obligation so to shape their policies as to bring material prosperity to the land and spiritual hope to the people. Can it be done? That is today's enigma in Africa.
We must note first that we are dealing here only with that half of the continent lying within the tropics. North Africa was opened up 2,000 years ago by the Romans and still forms part of the Mediterranean world. South Africa was colonized over a
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