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To What Extent Were Colonial Pressures Primarily Responsible For British Withdrawal From West Africa In The Years (1957 65)?

1328 words - 6 pages

To what extent were colonial pressures primarily responsible for British withdrawal from West Africa in the years (1957-65)?
Colonial pressure was a significant reason accounting for British withdrawal but other factors including a domestic attitudinal and cold war dynamics also played a role; however economic considerations were the likely primary cause for British withdrawal from West Africa. If anything, it was the Suez Canal crisis of 1956 which acted as a catalyst for the whole process.
The apparent increase in nationalism in West Africa became more and more of an issue during the Gold coast riots of 1948 in Accra. This was a clear and obvious sign that the Africans were seeking ...view middle of the document...

Following a political trend on the grand scheme of events, the People’s Progressive Party in Gambia (PPP) which was founded in 1959 by Dawda Jawara, supported the exertion of colonial pressure on British rule. It was another adversary that Empire as a whole was being confronted by, the list of dominant figures such as Jawara, Macaulay and Nkrumah was growing, and the British “iron fist” was becoming more and more fragile. And to catalyse the entire situation, Nasser’s speech during the Suez Canal crisis of 1956 inspired many countries to become independent due to his strong words and bold statements such as: “We shall defend our freedom and independence to the last drop of our blood. This is the stanch feeling of every Egyptian.” This indirectly incited many African nations to thrive towards the ideology that independence was in fact a better outcome than being ruled by the “violating countries such as Britain”. This principle of nationalism that was arising in Africa may seem as a primary cause for British withdrawal but economic factors were in fact a much more important factor. This was due to the many financial implications that Britain was being dragged into because of Africa’s monetary instability.
With inflation becoming more and more of a present issue in Africa, it was clear that the war-time commodity boom was well and truly over. Britain was in serious bankruptcy because of the WW2 and maintaining British colonies abroad was simply too much financial effort. Britain had to shift its economic focus onto more realistic target such as Europe as whole, whilst also encompassing the element of trying to control domestic spending. MacMillan’s cost-benefit analysis of 1957 really put the situation into perspective. From the report, it was clear that keeping African colonies was simply not cost-effective and was draining the little money Britain had after the war. On top of this matter, there was a clear and obvious Eurocentric shift and markets had well and truly diverged themselves elsewhere (ie: Europe). This Eurocentricity led to the creation of unions such as the European Economic Community (EEC) which was founded in 1957 and had the aim to bring about economic integration, including a common market among a variety of European countries. This unification process can also be observed with the foundation of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in 1960 which essentially made trading between (most) European countries much easier than before, making it more appealing to do so, instead of relying on-now- unprofitable colonies in Africa. This, as said by Niall Ferguson, “wind of change” was very clear here because Britain had essentially been trading through its colonies for almost 200 years prior to. This great reform from of a diplomatic and financial stand-point was seen as a step forward and overall modernisation of British morals. That being said, the nuclear age was coming along at a steady pace, Britain...

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