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Capitalism and Nationalism At the End of Empire: State and Business in Decolonizing Egypt, Nigeria, and Kenya, 1945-1963
Capitalism and Nationalism At the End of Empire: State and Business in Decolonizing Egypt, Nigeria, and Kenya, 1945-1963
By Robert L. Tignor
Princeton University Press, 1998, 419 pp
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Twenty-five years ago a fashionable theory held that imperial powers relinquished political control in Africa only after ensuring that neocolonial economic ties were firmly in place. Revisiting this theory in a masterful comparative study of decolonization in three former British dependencies, Princeton historian Tignor, after exhaustive research in colonial and company records, finds that political concerns dominated economic concerns after decolonization. In Egypt, where Britain retained a large military presence after World War II, geopolitical interests predominated right up to the Suez crisis of 1956. Opposition by business was overridden, and economic costs to both Britain and France proved unexpectedly high. In Nigeria and Kenya, efforts to guide postwar developments in directions favorable to metropolitan investors were problematic and often haphazard. A 1946 decision in Nigeria to create commodity marketing boards unintentionally removed the most powerful mechanism of capital accumulation from the private to the public sector, helping to thwart the emergence of an indigenous capitalist elite. In Kenya, uncertainties generated by the Mau Mau revolt discouraged outside investment in the 1950s. Thereafter, political considerations remained uppermost as African nationalist pressures drove colonial authorities toward independence negotiations in which, Tignor argues, neither foreign nor local business were key players.