Courtesy Reuters

The British Problem in Africa

THE Gold Coast elections of February 1951 have sent a shock right through Africa, or at least that Africa which lies south of the Sahara. To white men who have made their home in the African continent the shock has come as a perhaps only half-formulated question: "Is this the beginning of the end for us?" And every African who has heard the news--a number no one can exactly estimate--has felt a thrill of joy, and of the sudden, almost incredulous hope: "Is this the beginning for us?"

There can be no doubt that the first assumption of ministerial office by elected Negroes in a British colonial territory makes 1951 an important date in the political history of Africa and a very proper date at which to take stock. For this event in the middle of the century means that Britain is committed in act as well as in word to the speedy promotion of self-government in her African colonies. It is just 50 years, from the occupation of the interior, since British rule over these territories began; and it is not a very bold speculation to believe that they may become fully self-governing nation-states by the end of the century. It almost seems as though future African writers of history books may thus be able very neatly to sum up the first half of the twentieth century as the age of imperialism, and the second as the age of liberation.

When, however, our glance is extended from the Gold Coast to the rest of Africa, or even if it is confined to British territories, the possibility that African self-government will spread surely and smoothly appears much less certain. Developments in Asia, which may give cause for optimism to some who are anxiously looking for reasons for optimism in the stern conditions of the day, are not easily comparable with those of Africa. Even if they were, the great issues in Asia are far from being decided in favor of the West. The two

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