British Native policy and administration in tropical Africa

The separation in 1925 of the Colonial Office into two Departments of State, for Dominions and Colonies, was a turning point in the history of the colonial dependencies, allowing the Secretary of State for the Colonies to concentrate on the problems of the Coloured dependencies. This synchronized with the acceptance by the Government of “trusteeship” throughout the non-self-governing Empire. There has never been a British Native policy, only a series of conflicting policies. Originating under Lugard in Northern Nigeria, there has developed a policy of indirect rule. It involves the Native authorities becoming agents of the Government. Problems of indirect rule concern the functions and relations between the various European civil services. Another is the absorption into the work force of the Native authority. The hereditary right to succession is perhaps the greatest stumbling block to progress. In conclusion, Africans should be trained for duties and obligations of Government and authority. Africa is a rural society, and to hasten democracy in advance of universal education will be disaster. Indirect rule in Tropical Africa is a means to an end—a stage in the evolution of Native society. The British wish to preserve the traditional values of the non-British races, provided they are consistent with Christian ethics, and to use necessities of government to give Africans a share in their own destiny. Privileges, abuses and Native customs inconsistent with progress must be rooted out.