‘Why does Africa matter and what should be our aim?’ British foreign policy, the Commonwealth, and the 1965 East and Central African Heads of Missions meeting
This article explores British decolonisation through the lens of the first meeting of Britain’s Heads of Missions (Ambassadors and High Commissioners) in East and Central Africa in May 1965. The meeting gives a unique insight into the thoughts and ambitions of a select group of senior diplomats as they offered their ideas of what policy should be and assessed Britain’s historical and contemporary relationship with Africa. Mid-1965 was a moment when multiple, if limited, options were available as the British government sought to reconfigure relationships and preserve influence in former colonies. The meeting is significant in a number of ways. Firstly, the meeting was an expression of power relations between different government departments in Whitehall, with the Commonwealth Relations Office valuing Africa more than the powerful Foreign Office; secondly, it reinforced the diplomats’ sense of their position as supposed ‘experts’ on Africa, more advanced and rational than the Africans with whom they worked; thirdly, it revealed official beliefs that Britain was the more powerful partner in relationships with Africa, able to exert influence though ongoing bilateral relationships and the Commonwealth.
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- International Relations, Politics and History
Published inBritain and the World
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
- AM (Accepted Manuscript)
Rights holder© Edinburgh University Press
Publisher statementThis is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Edinburgh University Press in Britain and the World. The Version of Record is available online at: http://www.euppublishing.com/doi/abs/10.3366/brw.2022.0388.