Ghana During the First World War

The Colonial Administration of Sir Hugh Clifford

by Elizabeth Wrangham

Tags: African Studies, African World Series

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338 pp  $50.00

ISBN 978-1-61163-360-3
eISBN 978-1-5310-2990-6

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Ghana During the First World War examines a key period in the history of Ghana, then the British colony of the Gold Coast. The focus of this study is the largely neglected economic and administrative impact of global conflict on a vulnerable protectorate. Governor Clifford and his officials could set an agenda but they were not free agents. This was essentially a thinly manned colonial administration, with modest goals, operating on a financial shoestring. It had minimal authority or power to compel. Active and enterprising African subjects were to a large extent makers of their own destiny — whether farmers, clerks, entrepreneurs, professionals, or chiefs.

Wrangham reveals a colonial relationship of considerable interdependency. There was a conditional pre-war acquiescence of Africans in an administration which brought some economic benefit and the promise of welfare and development. But experience of economic hardship during and after the war prompted a critical African reassessment of British rule. Far more was demanded of the colonial presence thereafter, in the years running up to independence. Ghana During the First World War captures something of what living in this period was actually like, for both rulers and ruled, in that time and place. Based on a thorough and wide-ranging study of contemporary records in London and Accra, it also contributes to a wider debate on the nature of British colonialism in Africa.

This book is part of the African World Series, edited by Toyin Falola, Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities, University of Texas at Austin.

"If there were a Leopold von Ranke prize for historical research revealing 'how it actually happened,' Wrangham would be a prime candidate.…Highly Recommended" — CHOICE

"…Elizabeth Wrangham…has produced a meticulously documented and interesting new history of the Hugh Clifford colonial governorship of Ghana. The book is a thoroughly documented case study of an early African colonial endeavor and is meant to be a corrective to broader analyses of colonialism, which are less grounded in specific evidence." — Donna Maier, University of Northern Iowa

"Elizabeth Wrangham has achieved the core goal of historical scholarship; she has presented ample evidence that complicates and challenges previously held notions about the past…Ghana During the First World War gives us an unprecedented, expansive insight into the mind of Sir Hugh Clifford, a man at the center of it all. [Wrangham] has written an excellent study that is accessible and presents a second-to-none engagement of primary sources that greatly enhances our understanding of a key figure in West African history. All scholars interested in British colonial administration of West Africa or the political history of the Republic of Ghana should read this important monograph from and experienced and rightfully distinguised scholar." — African Studies Quarterly