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Native agency in British West Africa: the development of an idea 1835-65, with special reference to Sierra Leone

Farrow, Jill (1974) Native agency in British West Africa: the development of an idea 1835-65, with special reference to Sierra Leone. Masters thesis, Durham University.



The failure of the Niger Expedition of 1841 and renewed consciousness of the health hazards of West Africa led, in the early l840' s, to a revival of the concept of native agency – that is , the idea that Africans should be trained t o undertake responsibility for their own affairs, so that European lives could he spared. The development of this concept, discussed by Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton in 'The Slave Trade' in 1840, was carried out most vigorously by the major British missionary societies in Sierra Leone, the Church Missionary Society (C.M.S.) and t he Wesleyan Missionary Society (W.M.S.), and, to a lesser extent, by succeeding governments. Henry Venn, at C.M.S., put emphasis on education and, while the Fourah Bay Institution was remodelled, a new grammar School was opened in Freetown. In the next decade, a Normal School was founded, experiments took place in cotton growing and boys were sent f o r naval training, to learn various trades, and into medical training in Britain. In the 1850’s and early 1860's, Venn turned to the organisation of the Native Pastorate, an African- run Anglican church, inaugurated in 1861. The Wesleyans, working throughout British West Africa, had continued to encourage primary education and had set up their own college at King Tom's Point in Sierra Leone. A few Africans came to England for training, but most learnt the job of teaching or preaching in Africa and, throughout this period, a vigorous African church and education system thrived, sometimes to the dismay of individual missionaries. The government's contribution to education was smaller and concentrated more on formulating policy and encouraging existing mission-based work than on setting up institutions of their own. The Select Committee of I865 made clear the unwillingness of many officials to spend money on West Africa and pointed out the advances made over the preceding thirty years. Their conclusion was that native agency should soon make it possible for Britain to abandon responsibility for most of West Africa altogether.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1974
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:25

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