An American Quarterly Magazine called DISSENT has published a special number about Africa. I dissent emphatically from almost all its judgments about the East and Central African territories, and I should be astonished if that were not the attitude of anyone who really knows the territories between Southern Rhodesia and the Sudan inclusive. Quite a number of the writers have only a very superficial knowledge. The first article, entitled “Africa finds its Voice,” is by a Mr. Stanley Plastrik, of whom I have never heard in connection with any aspect of African affairs. He has some strange notions. For example, he is of the opinion that the West has for two centuries treated Africa as “an object of derision.” I was unaware of it. There have been some derisory books about Africa—more often than not from the U.S.A.—but I should have said that the overwhelming majority of Europeans who have lived in East, Central, or West Africa have quickly acquired a real affection for the African.
Mr. Plastrik asserts that the Colonial Powers have “painfully and fanatically resisted each step” in the emergence of Africa as an historical reality. What records of the past three-quarters of a century he has read, if any, I cannot imagine; and if he has kept even the most superficial touch with events in the past decade he will scarcely deny that Great Britain, at any rate, has been engaged in rapidly, many people think much too rapidly, accelerating the advancement of Africans, not in resisting it. He is rash enough to write that the Sudan obtained its independence by “conquest!” That will be news to the British forces then in the country, including the admirable and loyal Sudan Defence Force. Independence was not wrested from Great Britain by force, but granted prematurely by Mr. (now Sir Anthony) Eden in an absurd attempt to appease the Egyptian dictator Nasser, who imagined that this southerly neighbour would promptly accept his sway.