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West Africa

In the mid-nineteenth century, writes Christopher Lloyd, a young naval surgeon from Orkney played an important part in West African exploration.

The largest of African republics possesses an ancient and composite civilization, writes Peter De Iongh, but the form that the country takes today owes much to two British colonial administrators.

On November 17th, 1874, when Henry Morton Stanley marched away from Bagamoyo on what was to be his greatest exploring achievement, he was retracing his own steps of 1871 along the well-worn caravan route used by Burton and Speke in 1857; by Speke and Grant in 1860, and, writes C.E. Hamshere, many Arab traders before them.

The traditions of organized statehood in the countries of French West Africa stretch back for some fifteen centuries. During the past sixty years, writes Basil Davidson, French influence has greatly strengthened the feeling of federal community that inspires many of the newly evolving republics of the Western Sudan and the Guinea coast.

The Republic of Guinea has been the scene over the centuries of several attempts at state-building. Basil Davidson records how the memory of past achievements strongly influences West Africa today.

J.D. Hargreaves introduces a prophet of nationalism in the coastal countries of West Africa.

Michael Langley writes how, as early as 1620, an English traveller wrote an enthusiastic report on the wealth of the Gambia and its commercial possibilities.

The myth of the “Dark Continent” has recently been exploded by archaeologists. A rich indigenous culture was established long before the coming of the white man. The memorials that it left behind are here described and appraised by Robert A. Kennedy.

Large numbers of West Africans came to Britain to study in the postwar years. Many placed their children in the care of white, working-class families. Jordanna Bailkin describes how it was not just Britain’s diplomatic relationships that were transformed at the end of empire but also social and personal ones.

Raymond Tong describes how Britain's connections with West Africa began four centuries ago, when Wyndham sailed to Benin in search of gold and pepper.

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