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Ending British Rule in Africa: Writers in a Common Cause (review)
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Reviewed by
Polsgrove, Carol. 2009. Ending British Rule in Africa: Writers in a Common Cause. Manchester, U.K., and New York: Manchester University Press. 186 pp.

Ending British Rule in Africa, authored by Carol Polsgrove, Indiana University professor emerita, can appropriately be dubbed a sequel to the author's earlier publication, Divided Minds: Intellectuals and the Civil Rights Movement. In both books, she has drawn on manuscripts and archival collections that other scholars have left untapped. Some of the major actors (or characters) in the earlier book are close friends or allies of the precolonial and postcolonial African nationalists.

It is ironic that, as Professor Polsgrove has superbly demonstrated, the major critics and even opponents of British colonial rule resided in London. Among these colonial nationals were Kwame Nkrumah (Gold Coast, now Ghana), I. T. A. Wallace Johnson (Sierra Leone), Jomo Kenyatta (Kenya), and several others, who teamed up with astute and committed political intellectuals from Caribbean nations, including C. L. R. James and Eric Eustace Williams (Trinidad and Tobago), T. Ras Makonnen (formerly called George Thomas N. Griffith, of British Guyana), and George Padmore (previously called George Nurse, also of Trinidad).

As amply shown in this book, these leaders felt that colonial rule must end. Their call for the political independence of their homelands came to a head on the eve of World War II. They were writers with a common cause, free of the clutches of colonialism and imperialism.

Apart from the series editor's introduction (p. ix), a preface (page xi), a list of abbreviations (p. xviii), a select bibliography, copious notes at the end of each chapter, and a detailed index, the book is divided into seven chapters, which provide lucid topical discussions. They are, in order: "Misery Laid Bare," "Generals without an Army," "Writing while the Bombs Fall," "A Constant Stream," "Strategist, Publicist," "Acts of Betrayal," and "Their Own Histories." As readers discover in the pages of this publication, the colonial subjects, the citizens of the colonies, found freedom of speech in European capitals and America—but, understandably, not in the colonies. All the named nationalist leaders from the colonies played major roles in what has unfolded in Ending British Rule in Africa, but their hardworking coordinator or networker was Padmore, who "moved though time and place collecting talent for his anti-colonial publishing campaign" (p. xi).

This book tirelessly traces the development of this publishing community, from its origins during the U.S. and Comintern years of Padmore up to the time of Ghana's independence, when the name of Gold Coast was changed to Ghana, on 6 March 1957. As clearly shown, this publication goes a long way toward extending the knowledge of its readers, researchers, and classroom users, especially where social movements, history, diasporic studies, and other useful subject areas are concerned. It is highly recommended. [End Page 161]

Dorothy V. Smith
Dillard University