The Economic Origins of 20th Century Decolonisation in West Africa
Johannes W. Fedderke
Pennsylvania State University - School of International Affairs
University of Pretoria - Department of Economics
University of Cape Town (UCT)
August 4, 2010
This paper argues that the pattern of decolonisation was a logical consequence of the nature of human capital transfers from the colonisers to the elites of the former colonies, and this shaped the strategic interaction between these two groups. Where the educational practice emphasized the notion of assimilation, the system generally tended to produce elites that depended highly on the coloniser for their livelihood, hence necessitating a continuation of the imperial relationship even after independence was granted. On the contrary, where the practice emphasized the strengthening of the "solid elements" of the countryside, the system tended to produce a bunch of elites that were quite independent of the coloniser and consequently had little to loose from a disruption of the imperial relationship at independence. The results of the model shed light into why the French decolonisation process in West Africa was generally smooth and transited from colonialism to neo-colonialism whereas British decolonisations in West Africa were generally antagonistic, often culminating in complete independence from England. The paper contributes to existing knowledge by providing an alternative explanation of 20th century decolonisation, archored on human capital transfers, an approach which unifies both the Eurocentric and Afrocentric perspectives.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 34
Keywords: Decolonisation, Human Capital Transfers, Eurocentrism, Afrocentrism, West Africa
JEL Classification: C7, F54, I2, N17
Date posted: March 10, 2010 ; Last revised: September 1, 2010
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