25 OCTOBER 1930, Page 38

Constructive Imperialism

The East African Problem. By J. H. Driberg. (Williams and Norgate. 2s. 6d.)

Ma. MOBERG has performed a considerable service to the Empire in writing this little book. It is a most constructive and solidly informed piece of writing on the vexed and critical question of our East African possessions.

The booklet is an attempt, in its author's own words, " to create a body of informed opinion, to replace the uninformed emotionalism, which is now the sole currency of many who profess an interest in the government of the subject races." It is essentially the work of a scientist, a technical anthro- pologist, urgently calling the attention of our rulers to the contribution which scientific knowledge, and scientific know- ledge alone, can make to one of their perplexing problems, and warning them of the disasters which beset their steps if these steps arc taken blindly without scientific insight. By chance, by our own energies, by the internal trouble of other nations, we have been given enormous tracts of the world's surface, which are inhabited by peoples in an earlier stage of development than the races of Western Europe. The supreme question which faces us to-day is that of whether we are up to the job of running this vast dependent Empire. Already the experience has taught us that we are quite certainly not up to it unless we call in the aid of modern ethnography, anthropology, and biology to our assistance. Running through Mr. Driberg's work is the constant appeal to put away emotionalism and to realize fact. The childish emotionalism of the imaginary Englishman, who prides himself on his ignorance of the manners and customs of all communi- ties other than the English public school, and considers that the problem of the contact of two opposing cultures can be solved by the same methods as those by which the prefects kept order amongst the lower boys, is no less and no more disastrous than the emotionalism of the sentimental philan- thropist, who thinks that nothing else is needed except to prohibit the native institutions, such as polygamy, &c., which are not approved of in his local garden suburb.

Only knowledge can save us from disaster, for, as Mr. Driberg fully recognizes, we cannot leave the natives alone :-

" It is not possible to disregard the fact that the world is much smaller than it was, and that Africa has its part to play in the development of world resources. Africa has a duty to the world, and our own colonists who are assisting in this development at the invitation of the local governments have also a claim on our con- skim. t ion."

Yet, apart from any considerations of right and wrong, if we rape the indigenous cultures of Africa, long before the natives can possibly assimilate our utterly different and infinitely more complex civilization, we shall leave them with nothing and produce not peace, but a desert.

Mr. Driberg's most constructive conclusion is really a very simple one. It is that we should train our administrators in ethnographical and biological science. It is almost in- credible to think that at present we do the barest minimum in this direction. As Mr. Driberg puts it :—

Our administrators also require education no less than the African. A soldier has to go through a rigorous schooling at Wool- wich or Sandhurst, but the infinitely more difficult task of adminis- tering primitive peoples is supposed to be a divinely inspired gift the secret of which is open to any European with a university degree. It is time that this fallacy were knocked on the head, and the Dutch Government has led the way by insisting on a five year's course for probationers. During this period the candidate is taught all that he should know about the tribes with thorn he will have to deal, their languages, history, social organization, law, religion and so on. The result is that administrators know what they are doing, can appreciate the native point of view, and are less likely to introduce any revolutionary change detrimental to native welfare."

At present our administrators get only a bare year after they have left the University :—

There is only one possible solution. Our future administrators,

like our soldiers, require specialized instruction extending over a period of four years. There are two ways, by which this can be secured. The first is by the provision of an institution' comparable with Woolwich or Sandhurst, to which they would be admitted bs examination, and from which they would have to qualify for service in one of the protectorate governments. The second way would ho to institute an appropriate honours course at one of the universities, only successful candidates in which would be admitted to Cho service."

Of these two alternatives Mr. Driberg prefers the honours course at one of the recognized Universities to the special

ethnographical institution, as likely to produce a wider, more philosophical and less narrowly scientific type.

Altogether, we cannot too highly recommend this little book as a real contribution to constructive Imperialism,