On 5th October the Centre for the History of Colonialisms was delighted to celebrate the publication of Dr. Andrew Cohen’s The Politics and Economics of Decolonisation in Africa: the Failed
Experiment of the Central African Federation. A critical examination of the so-called ‘second colonial occupation’ in Africa, Andy’s book draws on newly released archival records to provide a fresh examination of Britain’s central African territories in the late colonial period. Based on a truly impressive amount of original primary research, and a command of its significance in the newly emerging political and economic context of the post-war world, the book puts forward a multi-causal explanation for decolonisation in the region, with particular attention to the decline in global commodity prices (copper in particular), and the political context of white settlement in the region.
Our celebrations began with a lively introduction from Dr. Giacomo Macola, Director of the Centre for the History of Colonialisms, who praised Andy’s work as a colleague, friend and historian – a point enthusiastically seconded by colleagues around the table. We were then fortunate enough to welcome Dr. Kate Law from the University of Chichester who ‘interviewed’ Andy about his work and his book. While disdaining counterfactual questions (and any discussion of cultural history!), Andy gave the assembled staff and students an intriguing insight into his work and arguments, and the audience were pleased to have the opportunity to ask some questions as the talk came to an end. As such, while the sun literally set upon the room (leading at one point to something of a scramble for the lights), the decolonisation of Empire in Africa was discussed and debated with before we retired to communal chat over wine and nibbles. Suffice it to say, a good time was had by all – and Andy’s book, meanwhile, can be purchased here (hyperlink: http://www.ibtauris.com/books/humanities/history/regional%20%20national%20history/african%20history/the%20politics%20and%20economics%20of%20decolonization%20in%20africa%20the%20failed%20experiment%20of%20the%20central%20african%20federation ) for the bargain price of £69!
Many congratulations to Andy on this impressive achievement!