Dawn in Nyasaland. Guy Clutton-Brock. Hodder & Stoughton. 3/6.
the official policy in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland is that of ‘Partnership’. Apart from the fact that this is supposed to be an entirely different concept to the South African policy of apartheid, partnership has never been officially defined. As a consequence individuals are free to define the term almost as they please. Guy Clutton-Brock’s definition obviously deals with people, not abstractions; it is not partnership between Africans as a group and Europeans as a group which he supports, but partnership between individuals who happen to be Africans, Europeans, or Asians. The fact that there is little need for the term ‘partnership’ as a political concept if this definition is used, accounts for Mr. Clutton-Brock’s statement that the “alternatives are integration in a non-racial society or separation in a race conscious society. There is no middle way which has yet been tried or which appears practicable”. The whole purpose of his book is to express opposition to separation, under whatever guise it masquerades, and to express “a belief in ‘the common man’—that he exists, that he is more important than anything else on earth, that he is in fact the point of the whole Creation”.
This attitude is fundamental to any consideration of affairs in Central Africa, and it is in the light of it that the judgements made must be viewed. Anyone who does not think that Africans are individuals—some good, some bad, but mostly a bit of each like the rest of us—will finish this book without being convinced by the case built up. Yet this book, like any other on this subject, inevitably talks of ‘Africans’, ‘Settlers’ or ‘Europeans’, and ‘Other Races’. This is the result og history, and social, economic and political developments in the territories now encompassed within the Central African Federation. Whatever else, these three territories are race conscious, and every act of government, business or individuals is seen through a filter of racial glasses.
The book describes the background of the Nyasaland opposition to incorporation in the Federation, and the reason for this opposition. The author has visited Nyasaland on many occasions, but his residence is in Southern Rhodesia, where for many years he worked on St. Faith’s Farm, putting into practice his beliefs in co-operative economic and social endeavour. These facts have led him to understand the opposition by Africans to any association with Southern Rhodesia. The book is not a diatribe against settlers—in which classification he includes himself. On the contrary, he shows deep understanding of them and their attitudes: “Those who have settled in Southern Rhodesia form a varied collection of middle class people, neither better nor worse than ordinary people anywhere . . . A new community arising in a virgin land inevitably contains all sorts of people, subject to a wide variety of temptations. They are often uncertain of themselves and of their future, and liable to react to their circumstances irrationally and inconsistently, sometimes with generosity and commonsense, sometimes with fear and stupidity.”
Mr. Clutton-Brock’s understanding, however, is not onesided, and his conclusions are well documented. He shows how the Hilton-Young and Bledisloe Commissions of 1929 and 1939 advised against any form of association which would put Southern Rhodesia in a dominant position over either or both the two Northern Protectorates. With a telling quotation he brings out their belief that federation would lead inevitably to amalgamation—for which the campaign is already starting. The widespread nature of the Africans’ opposition to Federation is stressed too, both historically and at present. It is worth our being reminded of this, although now even the British Government accepts that opposition exists; it merely attributes it to lack of understanding and misinformation.