We’re conspicuously zealous now

There certainly are some progressive ideas among the Europeans. They include the idea of material prosperity, of medicine, and hygiene, and literacy which enables people to take part in world culture.

But so far the Europeans who visit Africa have not been conspicuously zealous in imparting these parts of their inheritance to the Africans, and seem to think that the only way to do so is by police discipline and armed force. They speak as if it was somehow beneficial to an African to work for them instead of for himself, and to make sure that he will receive this benefit if they do their best to take away his land and leave him with no alternative. Along with his land they rob him of his government, condemn his religious ideas, and ignore his fundamental conception of justice and morals, all in the name of civilisation and progress.

That’s Jomo Kenyatta in Facing Mount Kenya, written shortly after he finished his graduate studies at LSE. Thirty years later, he would lead Kenya to Independence.

If Africans were left in peace on their own lands, Europeans would have to offer them the benefits of white civilisation in real earnest before they could obtain the African labour they want so much. They would have to offer the African a way of life which was really superior to the one his fathers lived before him, and a share in the prosperity given them by their command of science. They would have to let the African choose what parts of European culture could be beneficially transplanted, and how they could be adapted.

The next line, sadly, proved somewhat less prescient than the previous.

He would probably not choose the gas bomb or the armed police force, but he might ask for some other things of which he does not get so much to-day.

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