28 Pages

Some Origins of Nationalism in East Africa 1

ByJ. M. Lonsdale

Historiographical contioversies surrounding revolutions and other periods of rapid political change are concerned in part with the interactions of the 'spontaneous element' of popular initiative and the 'conscious element' of direction and control by intellectual and political leadership. In the inter-war years, the period of local focus, political argument had centred on the allocation of resources to the localities and the distribution of the ensuing benefits within them. There was the initial period in which the administrations were establishing themselves, finding or creating political communicators, points of contact with the subject people. The Kenya government continued to 'encourage ' migrant labour until dissuaded by the Colonial Office. The varied political focus employed by Africans was an index both of the changing nature of the colonial pressures and of the social confidence of their leaders. Failure on the political front accelerated the desire for internal social reform, with the aspirant new social communicators demanding political roles.