Resolutions of the National Congress of British West Africa

(1920)

Throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century, Britain’s colonial policy of indirect rule in Africa relied on indigenous leaders who served as intermediaries between British governors, the cadre of elite missionary-educated Africans who worked directly for the government, and common Africans. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the British altered their policy by systematically withdrawing support from African elites, who were then replaced by whites. During this period new concepts about Africans’s perceptions of themselves and Europeans arose across the continent, and Africans participated in congress movements that challenged European control. These movements were supported by the intercontinental Pan-African movement, through which African Americans encouraged African peoples to seek independence.

In 1920 the National Congress of British West Africa (NCBWA) sketched on the colonial canvas in some detail various Afrocentric ideas for reform that would...

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Marcus Garvery, who founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association, with branches in West Africa (Library of Congress)

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