The Geopolitics of Decolonization: Great Britain and Somaliland, 1950-1960

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1 INDEX Acknowledgments p.4 Note on orthography p.5 List of acronyms p.6 List of maps p.8 Introduction p.10 Objective of Research p.10 Theoretical Considerations p.12

State of the Literature and Archival Sources p.16

Thematic Organisation of the Chapters p.20

Chapter 1: The beginning of a new British policy in Somaliland (1950-1953)


An excursus in the Development of the British Colonial Policy p.23 Towards self-government in the colonies: the debate inside the

Colonial Office (1938-1947)


African nationalism and decolonization: the post war dynamics (1948-1953)


A premise on the Somaliland Protectorate p.34

The first stage of decolonization in Somaliland p.37

The regional context: Ethiopia p.42

Neighbourhood relations with the Italian Somalia and the French Somaliland


The British in the Protectorate: indirect rule and administrative problems


Political parties: dynamics and relations p.69

Somaliland welfare and the economic sector p.75

Chapter 2: Regional and global influences in the Somaliland Protectorate (1954-1956)


The 1954 Haud Agreement p.85

Impact of the Suez Crisis in Somaliland p.102

Local politics and constitutional reform in the British Protectorate


Local politics: the clan between rivalries and affinities p.123


2 Planning financial assistance to the future Somali state p.128

Preparing independence: diplomatic consultations at regional level p.136

Introducing a Modern Constitution p.153

The north/south dynamics towards unification p.156

Political developments in the French Somaliland p.168

The Egyptian penetration p.170

Colonial rule and its legacy in the economic sector p.173

Chapter 4: The Final Rush to Independence (1959-1960) p.177

Macmillan and the end of the colonial system in Africa p.178

The last phase of British Policy in Somaliland p.180

Local Politics in 1959 p.194

The PSNM p.205

Political alignments and clan interests: union behind the corner p.219

Concluding remarks p.232

Bibliography p.240


3 To Christian and Dante




It would be impossible to express my gratitude to each one of the persons that have been important, when not fundamental, to the development of this thesis. Therefore, I will make a collective thanks to all of them saying that without their help, assistance, suggestions, advice, comments, and critics this work would have never seen the light.



Note on orthography:

In the transcription of Somali and Arabic words the author has opted for doubling aa, ee, oo to represent long vowels. The forms conventionally used by I.M. Lewis in his “A Modern History of Somalia”1 have been used for Somali proper names while for what regards selected quotations drew from archival sources the original versions has been reported as they were found in the documents, mainly the British at the National Archives, London.




List of acronyms and abbreviations

Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization (AAPSO)

Amministrazione Fiduciaria Italiana (AFIS)

Azienda Monopolio Banane (AMB)

British Broadcasting Company (BBC)

British Military Administration (BMA)

Colonial and Development Act (CDA)

Colonial Development Fund (CDF)

Colonial Office (CO)

Colonial Research Council (CRC)

Development and Welfare Act (C.D.&W. Act)

Empire Resources Development Committee (ERDC)

Federazione Bananicoltori della Somalia (FEBAS)

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Foreign Office (FO)

Forthern Frontier District (NFD)

Great Somali League (GSL)

Her Majesty’s Government (HMG)

Hisbia Dighil Mirifle Somali (HDMS)

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)

Legislative Council (Leg.Col.)

Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG)

Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI)

National United Front (NUF)

Occupied Enemy Territory Administration (OETA)

Pan Somali National Movement (PSNM)


7 Reserved Area (RA)

Società Agricola Italo-Somala (SAIS)

Società Agricoltori di Genale (SAG)

Società Azionaria Concessionari Agricoltori (SACA)

Somali National League (SNL) Somali Transport Company (STC)

Somali Youth League (SYL)

Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development (SUNFED)

United Arab republic (UAR) United Nations (UN)

United Nations Advisory Council for Somalia (UNACS)

United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) United Somali Party (USP)



List of maps

The Colonial Horn of Africa

Harriett R. Blood and Greenhorne and O'Mara prepared the maps, which were drafted by Tim Merrill and reviewed by David P. Cabitto (Library of Congress)


9 Distribution of Somali Ethnic Groups




This study aims at providing an extensive analysis of the process of decolonization which characterized the British Somaliland between the 1950 and the 1960. A focal point of research deals with the formation of modern political institutions among northern Somalis during the transition from a protectorate subject to colonial rule to an independent republic joining amalgamation with the Italian Somalia. This thesis follows a chronologic order: the first two chapters explore the British colonial experiments and the regional turmoil until 1956 (1950/54; 1954/56); the third and the fourth chapters examine diplomatic strategies, political designs, and the building of a state apparatus up to 1960 (1956/1958; 1959/1960). This introduction clarifies the main subjects of investigations, explains the purposes, methodologies and sources supporting the thesis, and anticipates the elaboration on possible implications emerging from the discussion.

Objectives of the research

The decision to investigate historical implications of the British decolonization in the Somaliland Protectorate stems from the need to fill a gap in the academic literature concerning this topic. What hits a scholar approaching to the classic historiography on the Somali-lands in the late colonial period is the scarcity of available material dealing with the case of the British Protectorate. On the contrary, Italian Somaliland under AFIS has been made subject, in the course of time, to a minute investigation, particularly by Italian scholars. Recently, a monograph2 has added further details to the knowledge of Italian patterns of political decolonization in Somalia and this represents an important step towards the definition of the historical roots behind the political disintegration that recently has characterised the country. Alike British Somaliland, neither the French Somaliland, nor the Northern Province of Kenya have attracted much interest of scholars engaged in the study of the dynamics of regional transition from colonial to independent states after the Second World War in the Horn of Africa. Perhaps, more concern has been raised in the case of the Ogaden, the Somali-inhabited area in Ethiopia, which is inscribed in the never-ending dispute between Ethiopia and Somalia. However, a crucial aspect distinguishes British



11 Somaliland from all other territories: only the Protectorate was incorporated into the Italian Somaliland to form an independent Republic. The different course of its experience has strongly impacted on its integration with the southern region and, for this reason, has contributed to the creation of the preliminary conditions for political instability.

In late colonial times Somaliland became the vehicle of British interests in the area which, as my research aims at demonstrating, have culminated during the 1950s and provoked a change in the United Kingdom’s unselfish colonial attitude. Political reforms, introduction of a welfare system, the transfer of power to Somalis, as well as measures to increase economic development were all part of a new project. This process was directly proportional to external pressures commanding new priorities in the definition of British strategies. According to this, the political “decolonization” of Somaliland should be re-read and its significance re-assessed to better comprehend the regional dynamics and the incidence of international interests in the making of an independent Somali state.

As mentioned above, the reason behind the selection of this research topic mirrors a substantial gap in the academic literature. For instance, historiography on the late colonial Somalia shows diffuse ignorance on the role of the British Somaliland in the configuration of a Somali Republic; historians’ perspective for the great majority has been dealing with the legacy of Italian colonialism rather than on the mixture of colonial practices, external biases, and transnational linkages which actually were involved in the development of the Somali state. Secondly, the character and purposes of the British presence in Somaliland in the 1950s have not been thoroughly inquired so far; instead, their consideration is an essential premise to detect and correctly elucidate the British choices pertaining to diplomatic agreements, negotiations with neighbouring states, and mediation with other powers in the region. Correspondingly, this study considers how the British shaped their policies of decolonization in Somaliland amongst arduous contrasts at central level. Finally, three additional topics have been scrutinized that refer to modalities of British interaction with the Protectorate: first, the process of class formation and Somali relations with colonial rulers; second, the patterns of communication, alliance, and rivalry among Somali parties which have weaved certain political forces to others, inside and outside the British territory; third, the inner aspects and outer pressures on the process of unification of the Somali-lands before independence.

My contribution to research aims specifically at re-considering available studies under the light of an inclusive perspective. Consequently, arguments discussed in this study try to stimulate questions and produce hypothesises upon negligibility of the British Protectorate in


12 the Somali historiography. Then, making a large use of the British archival sources, this analysis helps to scrutinize endogenous factors which have led the British to prefer certain colonial strategies more than others. According to this, in the background stands the long-lasting debate between the Foreign and Colonial Office, and the Treasury, often contrasting with the colonial Government in Somaliland. Hence, an insight of the central decision-making provides several tools to gauge the relevance of the Protectorate and to re-dimension its irrelevance in the whole game of British influence in the Horn of Africa. Furthermore, this study asserts the substantial difference in the Somali reactions to diverse colonial practices, the British and Italian that, conversely, have been often superficially associated by historians. A re-evaluation of the Protectorate is also proposed in terms of its participation in the creation of the Somali Republic. When addressing the subject of amalgamation and integration of the Somali regions in 1960, historians usually align with the idea that a political system centred in Mogadishu collapsed ten years later partially as a consequence of the overwhelming problems of territorial unification. Therefore, the origins of Somali clan-based and regional antagonism are profoundly examined and re-framed. Finally, this work tries to reappraise the way in which Somalis have accepted or fought against imposition of substantial changes in their traditional society and how this has affected the modern institutional system emerged after independence.

Theoretical considerations

Certainly, this effort is meant not only to describe historical events in details but also to provide some kind of critical understanding of the way Somalis have adapted to the colonial project of modernization of their political society towards the end of the colonial period.

To achieve this purpose, I drew some methodological considerations from Mahmoud Mamdani’s theory on the problems of democracy and governance in the transitional phase from colonial to post-colonial state in Africa. In his Citizen and Subject, he states that major debates on this topic highlights two factors behind the question of democratization in Africa: one is that of political economy implying development as a key to democracy; the other is the civil society, intended as the basis of a general prescriptive theory, whose absence or weakness in Africa have undermined the building of solid democratic institutions.3 Both political economy and the civil society are central in my analysis of the Somali case.


Mamdani M. (1996), Citizen and Subject. Contemporary African and the Legacy of Colonialism, Princeton, Princeton University Press, p. 295.


13 Nevertheless, the binary opposition between the urban and rural sphere in Somalia recalls what Mamdani stresses about the fallacy to use only these two categories to explain the African experience; civil society and political economy are mainly urban phenomena and their centrality marginalise the rural element. To the contrary he emphasizes the rural/traditional component that he reckons was incorporated in the praxis of colonial domination. The issue of the “native question” developed consequently and was manipulated by colonial rulers4 who cemented it after independence. Mamdani ventures into the legacy of indirect and direct rule as patterns of domination in the colonies. Indirect rule was functional to the subordination of colonial subjects to the new authority representing a continuation of the traditional leadership legitimated by customary law and raised to power by European colonizers; direct rule defined the exclusion of colonized subjects from citizen rights guaranteed by civil law in a differentiated form of power which framed the civil society.5 Accordingly, post independence governments tried to overcome this status choosing one of the two alternatives: either preserving the customary or abolishing it in the name of modernization.6 In Somaliland the first option prevailed and overlapped with one exceptional feature marking relations between the Somalis and their colonizers in a duality of tradition and modernization: the clan.

In the British Protectorate the clan was instrumental to the technology of power7 employed by rulers over colonized people; and this perfectly complies with what Mamdani’s defines an efficient ruling strategy put in practice by colonizers through the reshaping of the tribal leadership (and its creation where non-existent like in Somaliland) as a newly imposed hierarchy.8 The experiment of manipulation of traditional leadership in Somaliland was not successful because the population refuted authority attached to traditional leaders; moreover, the presence of a tiny but potent urban class increased the degree of complexity of the social ground with which the British rulers had to confront. This aspect constitutes a first exception to Mamdani’s model.9 It can be assumed that in Somaliland neither native authorities concretized, nor the formation of a strong educated elite did. In the absence of a consolidated experience of indirect rule in the Protectorate, an imperative loomed on the colonial government in the mid 1950s: either to choose between an urban bourgeoisie or the bogus 4 Ibidem. 5 Ibidem, p. 298. 6 Ibidem. 7 Kapteijns L. (2011), p. 8. 8 Mamdani M. (1996), p.17. 9

According to the Mamdami’s model this process was generally accomplished and thus influenced the development and subsequent deterioration of the state with its transformation into a “bifurcated state” as a consequence of the racialization of the civil society and the failed detribalization of political institutions.


14 native authorities to inherit the government and the political prerogative after independence. Given the pace of institutional advancement undertaken by the British in the late 1950s, time was not enough to build an inclusive process of political development from the bottom. At the same time, an urban petite bourgeoisie made of merchants and traders got involved in politics to preserve its economic benefits: its purpose was not the exclusion of the traditional sphere from the political life, but rather the exploitation of clan and kinship ties to extend support and reinforce their popular consensus. This is a second exception to Mamdani’s theory. After independence political leaders neither championed tradition nor even opposed it (as initially happened in the south with the Somali Youth League). Simply, they constituted a hybrid class politically influent that belonged to the civil society. It must be stressed that mutations in the socio-economic background during colonial times definitely enabled the Somali petite bourgeoisie to take advantage of changed conditions that encouraged them to fill the vacuum of missing root-based associations and political consciousness. When the British realized it, any experiment with indirect rule was definitely interrupted.

The rise of a middle class from a pre-colonial civil society10 and its capacity to permeate the political arena is strictly connected with the mechanism of social adaptation that, to some extent, was tuned by the clan. The clan was the protagonist in this evolution being the Somali society deep-seated in the principle of agnation. To this regard, what became centrepiece in a controversial debate among academics is whether the clan, considered in his structural immanence, has been as much decisive as unchanged in the Somali history, or if, like other factors, it has been altered by outside influences (colonial domination, commodization of the pastoral economy, degradation of the local environment) which have contributed to change the local context. Because of its weight and complexities, the clan’s role in the Somali society has been questioned both as its core pillar and in his nature of social archetype. On this predicament two streams of thought on Somali epistemology have divided experts: Abdi Samatar and Lidwien Kapteijns together belong to the first stream which has taken distance from the dominant theory assumed by the leading scholar in Somali studies, Ioan M. Lewis, and the academic tradition which followed after him. Samatar and Kapteijns have given different names but similar interpretations to the notion of historicity and a-historicity applied to the concept of clan: kinship and clan are, on the one side, models


With “pre-colonial civil society” it is meant a society where, the lack of labour diversification along with scarce resources, the basic level of social stratification, and a high degree of pervasiveness of the political sphere have guaranteed the preservation of a homogenous social amalgam whose elements were not independent from the community that revolved around a categorical imperative: their own survival.


15 on which the Somali culture has been assimilated and, on the other, the lens scholars have used to decipher the negative epilogue of the Somali political experience after independence (in its politicized form called “clanism”). What Samatar delineates as the “traditionalist theory”,11 Kapteijns labels the “Lewisian paradigm”.12 They respectively recognize that clanship has been addressed as a natural, self-evident category13 while instead – they argue - it originates in the colonial consensus between the British and Somali people concerning which shape the traditional society should be given and which version should be subsequently recorded, reproduced, and nurtured by Ioan Lewis’ anthropological study.14 The static and excessively simplistic reading of the social history by “traditionalists” is criticized by Samatar for their non consideration, and sometimes exclusion, of important factors like economy, religion, gender, family ties, and, according to Kapteijns, the impact of colonialism on the pre-colonial society. Ioan Lewis himself initially regarded in his Pastoral Democracy the Xeer, the social contract, as complementary to clanship, save for when he asserted in the following pages the preponderance of agnation and the subordination of all other sources of political conduct (to be found in the social contract, marriage, neighbourliness, etc...).15

As a result, the “transformationist” theory affirms the need to recognize socio-economic alterations triggered by historical events and to produce a systematic reassessment of corresponding changes in the Somali social structure.16 On the one hand, Samatar focuses on economic changes (in terms of commodization of pastoral products or the passage from “communitarian” to “capitalist pastoralism”) and the transformation of the state into the bone of contention for political elites in a stagnant economy.17 On the other, Kapteijns analyses the use of clan as a notion subordinate to the historical context in which people gave it ever-changing meanings18 and functions.

Carrying out my research I tried to maintain a neutral position considering all theories without prejudices. However, the process of investigation has finally shaped my personal view whose affinities with the historical approach proposed by Samatar and Kapteijns is discernible. Somehow, I was influenced by Lewis’ theoretical construct whose occasional


Samatar A.I. (1992), “Destruction of State and Society in Somalia: Beyond the Tribal Convention”, The Journal of

Modern African Studies, Vol. 30, No. 4, pp. 628.


Kapteijns L. (2011), “I.M. Lewis and Somali Clanship: a Critic”, in Northeast African Studies, Vol. 11, No. 1, p. 3.


Kapteijns L. (2011), p.3; Samatar A.I. (1992), “Destruction of State and Society in Somalia: Beyond the Tribal Convention”, The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 30, No. 4, p. 629.

14 Kapteijns L. (2011), p. 8. 15 Kapteijns L. (2011), p. 9. 16 Samatar A.I. (1992), p. 626. 17 Samatar A.I. (1992), p. 634. 1818 Kapteijns L. (2011), p. 14.


16 historicity brought me to propend for the opposite theory. A encountered further difficulties in reading Lewis works because of his twofold status of both a researcher on Somali anthropology and of subject of research in himself: to this regard a peculiar insight is offered by the British Archives where his research experience between 1954 and 1956 is relatively well-documented.

Besides, kinship, clan, and agnation are concepts germane to other questions discussed in order to problematize the constitutional development, institutional transplantation, and the evolution of the Somali political system under the British. An interesting opportunity to elaborate on these issues is given by Abdi I. and Ahmed I. Samatar in their bid to explain the nature of the Somali post-colonial state19 within a general discourse on “African development”. They contend that a problem with the Somali state lays in the configuration of the Somali civil society where no overarching social classes can be found and whose key components, the state and merchant classes, are extremely fragmented. They hold that the British helped to institutionalise the wedge between the mercantilist colonial state and the production and reproduction of material life,20 a disconnection which has remarkably mounted in the post-colonial era. Specially under the British, the emergence of the urban class following the intensification of trading networks was vital in the process of estrangement of the state (defined as a Janus faces institution) 21 form the pastoral producers (who represent the great bulk of the civil society). On this aspect I disagree with Samatar: though it is true that, once assumed political offices, merchants exploited their role and isolated themselves from the local producers, the same was not valid for relations with their parental group to whom they always remained attached in the north. On the other side, I support Samatar’s thesis which, describing tradition, civil society, labour division, and the capitalization of pre-colonial economy, constantly comes up with recurrent evidences of connections between the colonial and the post-colonial state naturally intended as consecutive stages of the same process. This is plainly true, but what remains to be understood are implications behind this neat portrait which need to be questioned and deconstructed in order to verify the empirical dimension of its coherence. This is what I intend to discover through my historical research.

State of the Literature and Archival Sources


Ahmed I. Samatar, Abdi I. Samatar (1987), “Material Roots of the suspended African State”, in The Journal of

Modern African Studies, Vol. 25, No. 4, pp. 669-690.


Ahmed I. Samatar, Abdi I. Samatar (1987), p. 677.



17 In this section I make reference to those studies which deserve to be mentioned for their contribution to the whole academic literature on Somalia as well as their importance for this thesis. They are listed according to two categories: the first one constitutes a conceptual premise to my research and it comprises the anthropological works written by Ioan M. Lewis. Lewis studies furnish a means to understand the Somali society and a prism through which to look in order to pursue a reliable interpretation of the local background and primary sources. In his publications22 Lewis discloses the mechanisms of the Somali society based on a complex genealogical structure where a segmentary lineage system defines the pillars of human relations through the pattern of patrilineal descent from common ancestors. He distinctly illustrates an intricate milieu characterized by harsh environmental conditions of mere subsistence for individuals depending for their livelihood on the community where they reside. In the Somali culture, the dependence of corporate groups on mutable alliances secured by a code of conduct (the social contract) completely substitutes the role of individuals as conceived in the Western society. After 1950, political concepts imported by Western powers supplied colonizers with administrative tools and ideological principles essential for the construction of modern states in Europe but inconsistent with the Somali context.

An historical premise has also been essential to lay the basis for investigation. Charles Geshekter’s article on the market oriented-economy and the shaping of political organizations in British Somaliland opened a crucial debate23 on the configuration of modern anti-colonial movements and the process of class formation in the Eastern Horn of Africa before 1950. The author considers a circumstantial time range where he analyses British patterns of domination, the modification of the local economic relations, and the birth of anti-colonialism in Somaliland during the first fifty years of 1900. His commitment to explore the dynamics of political aggregation originating from the birth of what he calls a “resistance movement” promoted by a middle class of traders has given real inputs to formulate further questions on the development of a government elite, deriving from this embryonic bourgeoisie, destined to lead Somaliland after independence.

Another category of scholars can be mentioned who have conducted important research on the decolonization of the Somali-lands. Three of them are in my view the most relevant and


Among the most important: Lewis I.M. (1957), The Somali Lineage System and Total Genealogy: a General

Introduction to Basic Principles of Somali Political Institutions, Hargeisa; Lewis I. M. (1961), A pastoral democracy:

A study of pastoralism and politics among the northern Somali of the Horn of Africa, Oxford, Oxford University Press; Lewis I. M. (1965), A Modern History of Somaliland: from Nation to State, London; Lewis I. M. (2002), A Modern

History of Somalia, Oxford, James Currey.


Geshekter C. (1985), “Anti-colonialism and class formation- the Eastern Horn of Africa before 1950”, in


18 each of them offers his contribution within his academic field. First of all, the scholar who better depicts the Somali socio-economic background in the 1950s. Here we found again the name of Abdi Ismail Samatar who wrote a milestone in 1989 titled The state and rural transformation in Northern Somalia, 1884–198624. In his volume he traces the roots of economic underdevelopment found in the colonization, commodization, creation and expansion of the bureaucratic state in Somaliland (and Somalia after unification) from the early establishment of the British Protectorate to the apex of the Somali economic crisis in the 1980s. Using a theoretical frame drawn from diverse political and economic theories of development, state and class formation, Abdi Samatar brings out a punctual excursus of the historical roots of the economic crisis contemporary to his writing (1980s). His analysis describes effects of the colonial era in the political economy that altered the Somali pre-capitalist modes of production until the national economy became dominated by merchant’s capital at state level and in the private sector; this was much true – he adds - were trading networks were more developed, that was in the north. His work reminds a sort of continuation of Geshekter’s research and, for this reason, it has been of the greatest value for this thesis.

The second scholar, Jama Mohamed has been able to illustrate a wide historical panorama much precious to every scholar interested in the British Protectorate, especially if compared to the southern region. Jama Mohamed, thanks to his versatility,25 was committed to explore several neglected issues, like health and political ecology during colonial times but his publication most relevant to this thesis deals with the international aspects of Somaliland’s decolonization between 1954 and 1960.26 In this article the author argues that decolonization was a local/regional process rather than a global one; likewise, agreed chronology which generally places the beginning of decolonization around the 1940s, in his interpretation of the Somaliland case should be postponed of a decade. Jama Mohamed displays a brief and incisive scrutiny of external factors weighing on the Somali path towards independence, though he leaves to the margins other significant issues that I consider truly decisive: on the one side internal dynamics (Somalis-to-Somalis); on the other, the local responses to foreign interferences (British, Italians, Ethiopians, and Egyptians).


Samatar A.I. (1989), The state and rural transformation in Northern Somalia, 1884–1986, Madison, University of Wisconsin Press. See also: Samatar A.I. (1985), “The predatory state and the peasantry: reflections on rural development policy in Somalia”, in Africa Today, Vol. 32, No. 3, pp. 41-56; Samatar, A.I. (1992), “Social Classes and Economic Restructuring in Pastoral Africa: Somali Notes”, in African Studies Review, Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 101-127.


Jama Mohamed (1999), “Epidemics and Public Health in Late Colonial Somaliland”, in Northeast African Studies, Vol. 6, No.1-2, pp. 45-81; Jama Mohamed (2007), “Kinship and Contract in Somali Politics”, Africa, Vol. 77, No. 2, pp. 226-249; Jama Mohamed (2004), “The Political Ecology of Somaliland”, in Africa, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 534-566.


Jama M. (2002), “Imperial Policies and Nationalism in the Decolonization of Somaliland, 1954/1960”, in English


19 Somali reactions to colonization are investigated by Saadia Touval in her Somali Nationalism,27 a political analysis which draws the development of a national consciousness in Somalia in a historical perspective looking across the roots of nationalism and the formation of modern political parties and institutions in the five territories in which the Somali people were split at the turn of the century. Saadia Touval makes some observations on the problem of territorial partition and the complicated unification of the Italian and British territories. The creation of a Somali nation, not only a state, with a shared cultural and political identity is one of the main subjects of the book which probably has the virtue to stimulate more questions than those it is able to answer.

The literature review for my research would never be complete without quoting that corpus of publications unfolding the main features of the British late colonial praxis and its transformation into a difficult set of decolonization policies. My hypothesis derives from the oddity of the Somali case as a colonial asset compared to the rest of the British Empire. The Protectorate has always been defined the “Cinderella of the Empire” for its low economic and strategic profile and, consequently, it has not attracted much curiosity among experts concerned with decolonization and the liquidation of the British Empire. Great Britain’s concerns in the Horn of Africa are still partially unexplained, at least for what regards the phenomenon of state formation in the region and the increased instability after 1960. The literature review has focused on the development of the British colonial policy28 and the contradictions behind structuring a theory of decolonization29 aimed at converting an


Touval S. (1963), Somali Nationalism: International Politics and the Drive for Unity in the Horn of Africa, Cambridge, Harvard University Press.


Cohen A. (1959), British policy in changing Africa, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul; Constantine S. (1984), The

Making of the British colonial Development Policy, 1914-1940, London, Totowa, N. J., F. Cass; Flint J. (1983), “Planned Decolonization and Its Failure in British Africa”, in African Affairs, Vol. 82, No. 328, pp.389-411; Goldsworthy D. (1971), Colonial issues in British politics 1945-1961: from 'colonial development' to 'wind of change', Oxford, Clarendon Press; Jennings I. (1956), The approach to self-government, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press; Lee J.M. (1967), Colonial development and good government: a study of the ideas expressed by the British

official classes in planning decolonization 1939-1964, Oxford, Clarendon; Lord Hailey (1938), An African Survey, London, New York, Toronto, Oxford University Press; Lord Hailey (1979), Native administration and political

development in British Tropical Africa, Nendeln, Kraus Reprint; Lugard F. (1922), The Dual Mandate in British

Tropical Africa, Edimburgh, London, W. Blackwood and Sons; Pearce R. (1982), The turning point in Africa: British

colonial policy, 1938-48, London , F. Cass; Pearce R. (1984), “The Colonial Office and planned decolonization in Africa”, in African Affairs, Vol. 83, No. 330, pp. 77-93.


Porter B. (1996), The lion’s share: a short history of British imperialism, 1850-1995, New York, Longman; Stockwell S. (ed.) (2008), The British Empire: themes and perspectives, Oxford, Blackwell; Lynn M. (2006), The

British Empire in the 1950s. Retreat or Revival?, Hampshire, Basingstoke, New York, Palgrave Macmillan; Louis W.R., Robinson R. (1994), “Imperialism of Decolonization”, in Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Vol.2, No. 3, pp. 462-511; Louis W. R. (2006), Ends of British imperialism. The scramble for empire, Suez and

decolonization, London, New York, I.B. Tauris; Louis, W.R. (1978), Imperialism at Bay: the United States and the

Decolonization of the British Empire, 1941-1945, Oxford, Oxford University Press; Louis W. R., Owen E. (2002), A

revolutionary Year: the Middle East in 1958, Washington D.C., Woodrow Wilson Centre Press; Gifford P., Louis W. M. (eds.) (1988), Decolonization and African independence: the transfer of power, 1960-1980, New Haven, London,


20 expensive and obsolete formal rule into an informal sway on the vulnerable self-governing countries after independence.

The greatest part of archival sources used for this study has been consulted at the National Archives and the British Library in London. The selection of primary sources has immediately addressed the collection of diplomatic correspondence, interdepartmental secret communications, and bilateral consultations between the British and other powers involved in the region. Unfortunately, material available at the archives does not comprise the whole of the documents produced in the Protectorate; it is estimated that a sizeable section of miscellaneous papers generated by the colonial Government in Hargeisa has remained in the capital of what is today the unrecognised Republic of Somaliland after withdrawal of the British in 1940s. Luckily, a large segment of them is recorded in copies and conserved at the National Archives whose most important sections, those related to the Colonial Office, Foreign Office, and the Cabinet papers, have been closely inspected. Anyway, the challenge to reconstruct history of British Somaliland in the late colonial times is at a very first stage: this attempt forms ipso facto a preliminary effort that calls for additional research when archives in Hargeisa will be catalogued and open for public consultation.

A supplementary integration to primary sources comes from the Italian archives in Rome.30 To this regard, I am particularly indebted to Antonio Morone who divulged the outcomes of a research based on Italian archival documents in his book31 L’Ultima Colonia. Come l’Italia è Tornata in Africa. In his monograph he proposes an accurate analysis of the Italian attitude towards the constitutional development under AFIS and the relation between Italian functionaries and the Somali political parties. His work has prompted many ideas and cues that unleashed from the confrontation the case of the British Protectorate and that of the Trust Territory of Somalia. It has encourage me to undertake a comparative and inclusive view of the diverse strategies of decolonization which have taken place in Somalia and to avoid a poor and hermetic, but easiest, reading of historical events.

Thematic organization of the chapters

The thesis is divided into four chapters displayed in a chronological order. Each chapter comprises two parts: the first one analyses the broad dynamics (international implications,

Yale University Press; Hargreaves J. D. (1996), Decolonization in Africa, London, New York, Longman; Gallagher J. (1982), The decline, revival and fall of the British Empire, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.


Italian sources hve been consulted at the Archivio Storico del Ministero degli Affari Esteri (ASMAE) and the Archivio Centrale dello Stato (ACS) in Rome.



21 regional priorities, national policies and ideologies) that brought the British to plan the decolonization process in Somaliland whose peculiarities are explored in the second part. In general the second part has been given more space in each chapter than the first for it deals with the local context and it elaborates at length on the socio-political features characterising the northern Somali scenario.

The first chapter describes the years between 1950 and 1953. Earlier to this period the British had already cumulated enough experience about implications of decolonization around the Empire; therefore they had knowledge of many strategies to grant self-government to colonies preserving the Crown’s interests after withdrawal. To the opposite, they were fundamentally ignorant of the local society in Somaliland, a territory they were ruling since 1884 with scarce interests and poor commitments. Towards the end of the 1940s they were compelled to introduce a modern state machinery in order to proceed faster with decolonization; to this purpose they pushed forward constitutional progress without adapting their policies to the local context. The chapter looks into the Somali socio-political environment and how colonizers dealt with it; in the same way, it explores a variety of experiments undertaken by the British to propel constitutional advancement. The second chapter concentrates on a later period when the signature of the Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement, ceding the Haud and Reserved Area to the Ethiopian Empire in 1954, and the outbreak of the Suez crisis amplified British concerns in the area. These events tipped over Somaliland’s strategic value as never before and hardly impacted on the local environment.

The third chapter look into the thorny years between 1956 and 1958 when the British designed plans to evacuate from Somaliland; at that time, fears of a growing influence of enemy powers in the Horn of Africa pushed forward the Foreign Office to hypothesise, and eventually support, amalgamation with the Italian Somaliland to preserve Western influence in the region and simultaneously relieve the Treasury from the burden of financial assistance to a sovereign Somaliland; the fourth chapter focused on the rush to independence with the implementation of political reforms, the transfer of power to Somali parties, and the setting up of institutions based on the Western model (1959/1960). Finally, some concluding remarks present outcomes of the research reflecting on the rationale behind the British policy in Somaliland in connection with the formation of the first Somali Republic.



Chapter 1:



An excursus in the development of the British colonial policy

Before the outbreak of the First World War the British policy towards colonial development was dominated by the idea that imperial aid should serve the purpose of metropolitan recovery. To this extent, Joseph Chamberlain, Secretary of State from 1896 to 1903, recommended a broad strategy for commercial expansion in which the Central Government should manage development programmes: this way it was thought that funded individual schemes could foster private investments in the colonies. As a consequence, the rates of colonial exports increased as well as the capacity of the Empire to make available raw materials in the international markets. However, when it came the First World War altered the scene: commodity prices inflated and the depression of colonial exports resulted from a reduction in the demand for goods and the drying up of public capitals destined by the British Government to the overseas territories. The colonies got involved in military operations supplying ordinary troops with human forces, strategic bases, sea stations and airfields: key roles in supporting respective motherlands and providing valuable assets in the war strategy. Food crisis and unemployment spread all around the Empire exacerbating the economic depression. Colonial resources were intensively exploited by the British who suspended economic assistance until the end of hostilities.

Nevertheless, in 1916 the Empire Resources Development Committee (ERDC) was formed. Through the ERDC the Government attempted to formulate broad plans for colonial development in the interest of the British economy by strengthening partnership with private enterprises. The ERDC experiment failed miserably because of the Treasury’s obstruction to release sufficient resources. However, as a consequence, a debate opened up on whether colonial assistance should be held on a public or private form. Against the ERDC stood supporters of the principle of trusteeship who protested against state-led development of imperial estates. In particular, philanthropic associations tended to absolve colonial rule when compatible to humanitarian missions and when it did not undermine native cultures and traditional forms of production. This view was generally shared by the Colonial Office and by those intellectuals and civil servants who sustained the paramountcy of native interests. Among them Lord Lugard played a central role. In Lugard’s view colonial economies should be modernized but not subverted, and local administrators should preserve inhabitants from the impact of private enterprises. It was better to safeguard African societies instead of developing them. To this aim, Lord Frederick Lugard published in 1922a book


24 titled “The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa” 32 on the base of his experience as colonial Governor in Nigeria. According to Lugard:

Let it be admitted that (…) Europe is in Africa for the mutual benefit of his industrial classes, and of the native races in their progress to a higher plane; that the benefit can be made reciprocal, and that it is the aim and desire of the civilized administrations to fulfil this dual mandate.33

He also theorized the system of indirect rule that Margery Perham – one of his fervent supporters - defined as “a system by which the tutelary power recognizes existing African societies, and assists them to adapt themselves to the functions of local government.”34 The extensive use of native authorities was a crucial factor in this strategy of domination35 that appreciated the role of native chiefs as an integral part of the colonial administration. Two sets of rulers, British and natives, working at different levels in the same Government appeared complementary to each other.36 The British policy sought to make an instrumental use of the African societies thus avoiding too committing practices of administration. Nonetheless, indirect rule could be considered also a philosophical doctrine:

The fundamental hypothesis behind it was the conception of societies as living organisms, adapting themselves spontaneously to the environment. The indirect rulers wished to stop the disruption of tribal societies by the European presence; and yet at the same time they wished to encourage tribal institutions to adapt to the new facts of life. There was a continuous conflict between these two incompatible features of the indirect rule tradition. Change was to be stimulated and yet somehow remain organic.37

In the following years a dilemma became central in the discussion: political modernization, together with economic development, should be pursued either supplanting traditional institutions or living them to their natural evolution towards progress.

In any case, for the time being, political advance was still in the background of British priorities. The main concern laid with economic recovery. The short-lived market boom that followed the first stage of reconstruction misled many politicians who expected an immediate decrease in the rates of inflation. On the contrary, inflation soared and the


Lugard F. (1922), The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa, Edimburgh, London, W. Blackwood and Sons.


Ibidem, p.617.


M. Perham (1935), “Supplement: Some problems of Indirect Rule in Africa”, Journal of the Royal African Society, Vol. 34, No. 135, p. 4.


Lee J.M. (1967), Colonial development and good government..., p. 44.


Ibidem, p. 203.


Pearce R. (1984), “The Colonial Office and planned decolonization in Africa”, in African Affairs, Vol. 83, No. 330, p.8.


25 situation alarmed both the Government and the Exchequer until a solution was found in a systematic cut of expenditures to attain fiscal reduction. The colonial development policy was equally affected:

It is true that after the war some imperial aid for colonial development was provided, but the new projects [...] followed ad hoc traditional lines of before the war. The broadly-conceived schemes of colonial development to create a self-sufficient empire and increase the assets of the British economy were ignored.38

To cope with these challenges, Sir Leopold Amery, Secretary of State for the Colonies from 1924 to 1929 patronized the creation of two important institutions: the Colonial Development Fund (CDF), reluctantly financed by the Treasury which invited colonies to submit grant proposals, and the Colonial Research Council (CRC) which settled policy aims combining governmental and university funds. With support from the CRC, the CDF sought to boost progress in the colonies to foster imperial trade through the delivery of grants-in-aid. Those grants were not embedded in wide schemes for development but rather issued (as before the war) on an ad-hoc basis under strict conditions.39 Small-scale programmes crippled because of inflexible requisites mandatory to apply for colonial assistance. Despite expertise provided by the Colonial Research Council, a comprehensive reform of the Colonial Office was yet to come and the lack of coordination between the Central and Colonial Governments prevented a successful implementation of imperial projects.

When Europe fell in the grasp of the “Great Depression”, a strong recession jeopardized British efforts. People perceived Labours’ discourse more sensitive to social justice. In 1929 the Labour Party won elections riding the wave of the rising social tensions. Commodity prices fell and monetary devaluation enhanced expectations on the Government to elaborate a viable solution to the financial downturn. All at once, Labour leaders became attracted by imperial theories of cooperation. They needed to solve the strains of internal unemployment and, in line with previous logics, they turned back to the strategy of colonial development. A bipartisan approach dominated the Parliament in the name of national good, though a leftist trend distinguished the Labour colonial policy which put forward the first Colonial and Development Act in 1929. This Act, agreed also by Conservatives, aimed at solving the problem of British manpower providing funds to the colonial governments and giving


Constantine S. (1984) The Making of the British Colonial..., p.56.


The Treasury delivered a limited number of grants subordinate to a stringent selection (one of the pre-requisites was the obligation to spend part of the money in Great Britain) and rigid accountability.


26 contracts to British firms.40 A Colonial Development Committee was charged with the coordination of wide programmes financed by the state to furnish overseas jobs to British citizens. The Committee was simply asked to maximise profits earned from the colonies (protectionist theory) and limit industrial expansion to contain natives exposure to European exploitation (humanitarian theory).41

The impact of the C.D. Act could never be as incisive as it was expected to be in the absence of a thorough programme of reorganization inside the Colonial Office. The unification of Colonial services and the professionalization of its permanent staff behind geographic boundaries were the two goals of the 1930s reform. The set up of regional departments and the appointment of special advisers to the Secretary of State can be mentioned among the most relevant changes. In 1933 the new Colonial Regulation was issued to allow the British Government to determine colonial schemes for development and participate in the definition of local policies (so far an exclusive prerogative of colonial administrators). Moreover, it could exert a closer supervision on the staff selection and control transfers to the colonies directly from London. Thanks to the administrative reshuffle, a great responsibility pertained to the Secretary of State in his duty to instruct colonial policies. The settlement of colonial policies was for the most part in the hands of external and technical highly skilled advisers. The reform responded to both national priorities and the growing international pressure. The masses demand for an abrupt end of colonialism laid in the background of geopolitical changes whose effects promised to threaten irremediably the British imperial status. Starting in 1931 with the Japanese occupation of Manchuria, passing through Italian invasion of Ethiopia (1935), the outbreak of the Spanish Revolution (1936), and the German invasion of Poland (1939), the United Kingdom sought appeasement with other powers while tensions outside Europe piled up. Italian and German ambitions nurtured humanitarian activists that denounced rights violation in the colonies. The aggravation of the socio-economic conditions unleashed riots among peasants, farm workers and miners, scattered from the West Indies to Northern Rhodesia, and amplified the natives’ political consciousness. At the same time:

The notion that British colonial administration ought primarily to preserve colonial people from too harsh a collision with western values and economic changes seemed to be an excuse for tolerating


Lee J.M. (1967), Colonial development and good government : a study of the ideas expressed by the British official

classes in planning decolonization 1939-1964, Oxford, Clarendon, p. 44.


In 1929 two approaches emerged in the Labour party. A “protectionist” stream sought to tackle the need for economic advance in the colonies with a domestic-centred approach giving prominence to British recovery; the second, a “humanitarian” school of thought supported the promotion of a domestic-oriented economy without undermining the right to independence and the protection of local institutions in the colonies.



stagnation, even regression (…) Demands therefore grew for a more constructive form of trusteeship which would repair the neglect, stimulate economic recovery and improve social conditions.42

Towards self-government in the colonies: the debate inside the Colonial Office (1938-1947)

The very beginning of the Second World War (1938) represents a watershed in the British colonial policy and produced a significant reformulation of the colonial policy. The reason behind this effort was the need to predict post-war political dynamics and to settle a strategy aimed at guaranteeing British imperial control. Several positions collided in the Parliament:

(…) there was who preferred to stress the need (...) that small national entities could not stand alone thus hinting at a future Commonwealth or the postponement of self-government. There was also some who thought (...) that dependencies should be given the opportunity to achieve self-government, who, moreover, tried to put forward a new doctrine, that of partnership rather than trusteeship which nevertheless implied permanence and time.43

Constitutional progress and self-government were at stake and their impact should be modulated on the level of political consciousness reached in every colony. Each case was different but, as John Flint remarks, before 1938 indirect rule was still pivotal in the broad colonial praxis:44 the development of modern political institutions was curbed by the compromise reached with traditional leaders. By then, time was ripe for the Colonial Office to confront with the African avant-garde, the educated élites, who persistently called for constitutional change.

Malcolm MacDonald’s mandate at the Colonial Office (May, 1938-May, 1940) was decisive to push forward this revolution. He took a bold and constructive interest in the empire, wishing not simply to deal with problems piecemeal as they arose but to plan for the future.45 He believed that “detribalization” should become the British supreme objective while the business of social change46 would simultaneously drive to the formation of social classes


Constantine S. (1984) The Making of the British colonial Development Policy, 1914-1940..., p. 232.




Flint J. (1983), “Planned Decolonization and Its Failure in British Africa”, in African Affairs, Vol. 82, No. 328, pp. 389-411.


Pearce R. (1984), “The Colonial Office and planned decolonization in Africa”..., p. 79.



28 (peasants, merchants, intellectuals) which was to be supported in the implementation of a democratic system of government (the so called “Westminster model”).

In 1938 Lord Hailey was commissioned by Malcolm MacDonald an empirical study of the African continent to investigate the features of the colonies and make a prospect for the local political advancement.47 Hailey’s position, as regards indirect rule, was not totally complacent. He thought that the primacy of tribal chiefs should be reconsidered along with the need to modernize local institutions. Tribal authorities were not immutable. On the contrary, they could be educated to modern systems of political representation and were imagined complementary to the educated élite of young Africans. Few years later Lord Hailey was commissioned another study to explore the potential for political progress in Africa, with reference to the relations between indirect rule and political advance;48 in 1940 the “Native Administration and Political Development in Tropical Africa” secretly circulated in the Colonial Office.49 The contrast with Lord Lugard’s thesis was noticeable. Lord Lugard’s first sustained the absorption of native authorities into the legislative councils, and second their medley with the educated intelligentsia to form a progressive system of political representation. On the contrary, Lord Hailey defended the idea that the foundation of a Parliamentary system was not compulsory in Africa. Local societies should be left free to create a political model suitable to their cultural and social qualities. In general, Lord Hailey raised doubts about capacity of the native authorities to hold representative functions in a pattern of modern institutions. He then suggested the opportunity to form an intermediate body where they could join the process of representation through the selection of candidate to the government.

Looking forward (Hailey’s Survey) argued for “constructive” trusteeship rather than the static system of minimal government and non-intervention. It anticipated the colonial reform of wartime era and the “postwar transfer of power.” Looking backward, it distilled the inter-war generation’s discussion of such African problems as “race, culture, primitiveness, and what would later be called colonial dependency.” Hailey believed it inevitable that Africans at some distant point would master their own destinies.50


Lord Hailey (1938), An African Survey, London, New York, Toronto, Oxford University Press.


Pearce R. (1982), The turning point in Africa..., p. 48.


Lord Hailey, Native Administration and Political Development in British Tropical Africa (Confidential, Colonial Office, London, 1940–2).



29 Hailey pushed forward a new concept of constitutional change in Africa that was consequent to the decline of British supremacy overseas. A prospect to lose the Empire loomed on Great Britain and was further justified by American intrusion in colonial affairs.

During the war British and Americans’ main purpose was to defeat the Axes powers. However, divergences in ideas of post-war settlement were vivid and were exacerbated by the fact that Great Britain was showing a skyrocketing dependence by the US and that American tactics was bringing them to acquire numerous bases and strategic assets in African and Asian territories in order to prepare their predominance in peace times.51

Anti-colonial proclivities were consistent with American leadership in the liquidation of the European empires and this led to the consolidation of the U.S. appeal. President Roosevelt’s insisted on Great Britain’s withdrawal from the colonies and asked for a clear timetable for their independence. Roosevelt pursued the internationalization of the colonial question (initiated in 1919) imposing a system of international accountability to secure the transition toward self-government.

Suffering American pressure in 1943 the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Sir Oliver Stanley (November, 1942-July, 1945) declared that the goal of the future British policy should be self-government in the frame of the Empire. To this purpose the Treasury softened its rigidity on expenditures for colonial development with the ratification in 1940 of the first Colonial Development and Welfare Act (C.D.&W. Act). 52

The addition of the term welfare was both the recognition of the extent of poverty in the tropical colonies revealed at the end of the 1930s and an acceptance of the large welfare element in the expenditure under the 1929 Colonial Development Act. The 1940 Act permitted expenditure of £5 million per year for ten years of development and welfare projects plus £500.000 per year with no limit on research schemes.53


Pearce R. (1982), The turning point in Africa..., p. 30.


“It seems likely from the timing of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act of 1945 that one of the strongest incentives for investing the money was to appease American opinion. But the act was more than an exercise in public relations; fear of America anti-colonialism had strengthened the arm of British politicians and officials who had previously lacked the financial sinew to carry out imperial good intentions.” Gifford P., Louis R. (1988), “The United States and the liquidation of the British Empire in Tropical Africa, 1941-1951”, in Gifford P., Louis W. M. (eds.),

Decolonization and African independence : the transfer of power, 1960-1980, New Haven, London, Yale University Press, p. 39.



30 The C.D.&W. Act faced many challenges since its establishment that was in times of war when Great Britain could not afford to fund projects without military correlation. Capitals’ allocation depended on individual applications from the colonies whose amount was curtailed during the conflict as a consequence of the shortage of trained personnel and technical equipment. Most of expenditures concentrated in transport and communications, agriculture, veterinary, house and land improvement. The percentage of aid earmarked to welfare increased while research spending remained low. The total allocation under the 1940 Act stood around £8 million out of a nominal available of £18.750.000. The Colonial Office judged it a disappointing performance.54 Subsequently, the C.D.&W. Act was extended on Stanley’s request for other ten years starting from 1946 and the funding enhanced to £20 million per year.

The upgrading of the C.D.&W. Act corresponded to a period of bi-partisan reform. The Government drafted a policy document, “A Tentative Plan for Constitutional Development”, that prepared the road to self-government for the colonies following Hailey’s scheme. As an exception, the model contemplated the introduction of educated élites to the local government and the election of an unofficial majority to the Legislative Councils. In the same year, Arthur Creech Jones, Head of the Reconstruction Committee in the Labour Party, drew up a document, titled “The Colonies”, that fully addressed the needs for change. It included long term economic plans, health and education improvement, an equitable redistribution of wealth, gradual elimination of colour bars and discrimination, but also specific indications on budget administration and sources of finance. It also made a timid reference to self-government. During the post-war period the British Government looked cautiously but with determination at the institutionalization of the native authorities and their inclusion in the process of democratization. This meant that Hailey’s plea was finally set aside. A huge anomaly threatened to undermine the new sets of colonial policy: by that time the role of the African chiefs was still pivotal in the British colonial praxis but obsolescence of the system of indirect rule was by that time generally recognised.

African nationalism and decolonization: the post war dynamics (1948-1953)

In the aftermath of the conflict the Colonial Office was harassed by national (press, lobbies, public opinion) and international (American and the United Nations) forces urging immediate responses to the demand for independence in the colonies. New elections were



31 held in 1945 and, as expected, the Labour Party returned to power forming a new Government charged with the duty of reconstruction. Clement Attlee was nominated Prime Minister. Post-war pressures for internal issues called for Government’s exclusive commitment. The balance of payment was hardly beaten by the war55 and for the first time in history Great Britain became a debtor country. United States and Canada provided for British financial safety to overcome the budget deficit while plans for nationalization were undertaken to restore welfare and social services.

The marginalization of colonial matters did not prevent Arthur Creech Jones, Secretary of State for the Colonies (October,1946/February, 1950), from continuing the process of profound transformation in the colonial policy. Creech Jones was sensible to human progress and social justice; equally, he affirmed that political advance was not feasible without a viable economy to sustain it. Prompted by these motivations, in 1948 the Government delivered the Overseas Resources Development Act which created an economic machinery designed to help “build up good living conditions”56 in the colonies. The Overseas Food Corporation and the Colonial Development Corporation were established to manage large-scale investments that in turn exasperated social disparities giving further stimulus to the formation of nationalist movements.

Nationalist movements wanted constitutional development to be hastened in order to reach independence as soon as possible. By then, the British Government was in a corner over concession of political autonomy to appease local agitations and Creech Jones decided to accommodate nationalists’ demand to avoid antagonizing the aspiring leading class. Two years later in May, 1947 a special Committee was set up to which belonged Sydney Caine57 and Andrew Cohen, senior officials who circulated a report in the Colonial Office concerning the democratization of African governments from the bottom. The report represented a drastic revolution. Advisers to the Colonial Office ultimately concluded that there could be no resolution of tensions – international, metropolitan, and colonial – without a quick transfer of power. The transfer of power (Africanization) was meant to sustain British influence through African agents.58 Thus, awareness on the need to prepare colonial administrations for a rapid democratization brought to light the Local Self-Government Circular Despatch that proclaimed the death of indirect rule and its substitution with local


For a detailed analysis of the British national politics in the post-war period see Sked A., Cook C. (1979), Post-war

Britain: a political history, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books.


Goldsworthy D. (1971), Colonial issues in British politics 1945-1961..., p. 17.


Sidney Caine, Head of the Colonial Office African Department, and Andrew Cohen, Assistant Under-Secretary for Colonial Affairs, were two of the most influential figures inside the Colonial Office in this period.





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