The African Representative Council, 1946-1958 : a focus on African political leadership and politics in Northern Rhodesia

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Keet, Dorothy L.
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The British colonialists in Northern Rhodesia, experienced in the discomforting problems arising frost the conjunction of politically-minded1 elites with mass discontent in their colonies, and aware of such embryonic 'middleclass* leadership and mass stirrings in Northern Rhodesia itself during the Second World War and post war years* evolved what had been initially and fundamentally an administrative system of urban(advisory) and rural (Native Authority) councils into a characteristically subtle and flexible political device for the incorporation and containment of the actual - and potential * modern African political leadership in this country. This pyramid of African councils rising through provincial councils to a peak in the African Representative Council was portrayed as* and actually developed into, an increasingly 'democratic* system * both in order to endow it with an aura of legitimacy as representing the voice of the African population of the country and in order to ensure the incorporation therein of the actual local and national leaders of the African 'politically-minded middle-class'. This strategy was manifestly successful, for , from both the rural and urban bases of this pyramid, the range of men enter¬ing and selected upwards by their fellow councillors into the ARC itself was that balance of supposedly *authentic traditional* and actual *modern middleclass1 leadership elements desired by the «colonialists. The Native Authority leaders in the ARC were* how* ever, rather less 'traditional* than the colonialists claimed for* personal characterisation, they belonged to the same urbanised «orwesternised/ educated elite as the non-Native Authority coucillors from both urban and rural areas* In terms of both ^and occupational criteria* the African Representative council membership in fact actually consisted solidly of 'modern middleclass elements'. These 'modern middleclass' elements in , however* proved to be nothing other than petty-bourgeoise aspirant bourgeoise 'born out of* and shaped (or reshaped) by colonial capitalist system, and fully oriented towards and Living for a higher and unfitted place in that system, politically socially and economically.The emergent class character and bourgeois orientation of the African men was, what is more, thoroughly representative of that of African political leadership in general in Northern Rhodesia in that period -not only for the direct reason of the presence amongst then of many of the prominent political figures of the time but because the ARC, in both personnel and political content, was a representative selection and reflection of the broad territory-wide spread of African councillors, them¬selves representative of both the rural *traditional* and urban (and rural) modern African leadership* ^he petty—bourgeois character and bourgeois orientation of African political leadership in Northern Rhodesia reflected similarly a more specific section of that leadership continuum - namely that in and of the African Rational Congress* In so far as there was * duplication of leader¬ship social type, actual personnel, political method and political orientation/participation in colonialist structures, including the A African councils, up to and beyond 1958, the ANC has clearly to be classified with the ARC* Thus the substantive documentation of the Northern Rhodesia African political leadership's class character and bourgeois ideology provided in and by the AHC phenomenon is relevant to the entire Northern Rhodesia African leadership continuum, right down to 1953* As such it is also directly relevant to a definition of African nationalist leadership and nationalism in that period* That nationalism and the nationalist leadership of Northern Rhodesia/Zambia in the post 1958/period, were petty-bourgeois and aspirant bourgeois appears to be indicated by the embracing quality and on-going character of pre 1953 political leadership personnel and characteristics into the post 1958 period down to the present day* Full substantiation however of the petty-bourgeois and bourgeois character of present-day leadership in this country lies outside the scope of the present study*
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