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Capitalism and Nationalism at the End of Empire: State and Business in Decolonizing Egypt, Nigeria, and Kenya, 1945-1963

Capitalism and Nationalism at the End of Empire: State and Business in Decolonizing Egypt, Nigeria, and Kenya, 1945-1963

Robert L. Tignor
Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 432
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    Capitalism and Nationalism at the End of Empire: State and Business in Decolonizing Egypt, Nigeria, and Kenya, 1945-1963
    Book Description:

    The two decades that followed World War II witnessed the end of the great European empires in Asia and Africa. Robert Tignor's new study of the decolonization experiences of Egypt, Nigeria, and Kenya elucidates the major factors that led to the transfer of power from British to African hands in these three territories. Employing a comparative method in order to explain the different decolonizing narratives in each territory, he argues that the different state policies toward the private business sector and foreign capital were the result of nationalist policies and attitudes and the influence of Cold War pressures on local events.

    Using business records as well as official government sources, the work highlights the economic aspects of decolonization and weighs the influence of nationalist movements, changes in metropolitan attitudes toward the empire, and shifts in the international balance of power in bringing about the transfer of authority. The author concludes that the business communities did not play decisive roles, adhering instead to their time-honored role of leaving political issues to colonial officials and their nationalist critics. Tignor also finds that the nationalist movements, far from being ineffective, largely realized the primary goals of nationalist leaders that had been articulated for many decades.

    Originally published in 1997.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7300-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. INTRODUCTION Perspectives on Decolonization
    (pp. 3-24)

    At the end of the fifteenth century the European states embarked upon a quest for global dominance that saw little pause until the close of World War II. Each century seemed only to deepen and intensify Europe’s involvement in non-European affairs until, in the late nineteenth century, in conjunction with the partition of Africa, the European powers had established their formal colonial rule over the African and Asian continents. Although Asians and Africans were active agents in this reorientation of world power, as either facilitators or resisters, it was not until 1945 and after that the men and women in...


    • CHAPTER 1 Egypt, 1945–1952
      (pp. 27-61)

      Egypt, more advanced economically than the other two British-dominated territories featured in this study, was juridically independent and even enjoyed representation at the United Nations in 1945; nonetheless it was occupied by a large British military force. Despite the country’s many barriers to economic development, not least of which was a limited resource base of land and raw materials and a dangerously high rate of population growth, the Egyptian economy was more diverse and Egypt had a stronger and more autonomous set of economic institutions and pressure groups than did Kenya and Nigeria. Not only did it have a small...

    • CHAPTER 2 Contradictions in a Mixed Economy, 1952–1956
      (pp. 62-95)

      The four years leading from the military coup d’etat to the nationalization of the Suez Canal Company witnessed confused political and economic probings and reflected the uncertainty of the new military leaders in economic affairs. Seeking to consolidate power and to appeal to as large a spectrum of groups as possible, the military regime delivered contradictory messages to the ruling elements as well as the rank and file. Its populism and identification with the poor tilted the regime toward social transformation, most obviously in the land reform and redistribution program and labor legislation. But the government counterbalanced this leftist orientation...

    • CHAPTER 3 Prelude to the Nationalizations: Case Studies of Business-Military Tensions, 1952–1956
      (pp. 96-113)

      The Egyptian military elite had no certain economic policy as the fateful year of 1956 began. It judged its efforts to mollify foreign capital and enlist domestic capital in the country’s development efforts as only partially successful. Within the inner counsels of the military, opinion was deeply divided on the role that private capital should play. A circle of advisers, best exemplified by Wing Commander Gamal Salim and the oil government technician Abu Zayd, resented the powerful position of foreign capital and wanted the regime to enlarge the powers of the state. These individuals made their anticapitalist and antiforeign-capital attitudes...

    • CHAPTER 4 The Rupture, 1956–1961
      (pp. 114-156)

      The Suez War of 1956 is an oft-told story. A legion of scholars has pored over the newly opened British and U.S. diplomatic archives, leaving, so it would seem, little to add.¹ Yet, the economic dimensions of the story have received scant attention despite the fact that for Anglo-Egyptian relations and especially the evolution of the Egyptian private sector the consequences were profound. The Suez invasion turned the regime’s ambivalence toward British and French capital into enmity and led to the expulsion from Egypt of large numbers of British and French nationals and Jews, whose involvement in private business was...

    • CHAPTER 5 Enlarging the Public Sector, 1956–1961
      (pp. 157-192)

      If unforeseen events enabled an opportunistic regime to engineer the first, and in many ways most decisive takeovers of the private sector in 1956–57, deep-seated ideological drives and political ambition became dominant in the final destruction of private initiative and the rise of the omnipresent state. To be sure, circumstance still played a role. The regime shaped its ideology in a growing disillusionment at the performance of the private sector. The breakup of the United Arab Republic in September 1961 offered another opportunity for the military junta in Cairo to rage against real and imagined opponents and to blame...


    • CHAPTER 6 The Political Economy of Nigeria and the Great Debates, 1945–1951
      (pp. 195-229)

      The Nigeria of the immediate postwar era offered striking contrasts with Egypt. Not only did the British regard the country as one of their poorest African colonial possessions, albeit one with undoubted economic potential, but its private sector did not have the solidity and long experience that the Egyptian private sector had. Because of the country’s vast geographic size and its ethnic and religious diversity, the territory lacked overarching institutional unities, save those supplied by the colonial overlords. Nigeria had virtually no indigenous, countrywide organizations, even at the elite level. The nationalist movement had yet to crystallize, and labor and...

    • CHAPTER 7 The Vision Undermined, 1951–1956
      (pp. 230-260)

      In each of the three countries surveyed here, the second period in the era of decolonization—the early to mid-1950s—witnessed decisive challenges to the prevailing strategies based on mixed economies and a supportive relationship between state and private enterprise. Only in Kenya, however, did the ruling elite manage to deflect criticism from radical groups, and there only because of the determination of the economic elite in the face of a political and military challenge from the Kikuyu underclasses. In contrast, the Egyptian ruling military junta shifted the balance of economic power from the private sector to the state following...

    • CHAPTER 8 The Road to Independence, 1957–1960
      (pp. 261-290)

      In 1957 the western and eastern regional governments gained their self-government, and in the following year the northern politicians demanded that self-government be granted to them in 1959, with a complete termination of colonial jurisdiction to follow by 1960. The final tactic available to the British for delaying the transfer of power—the proclivity of the northern elite to prefer colonial rule over independence—abruptly disappeared; the British had no alternative but to succumb to this accelerated timetable for political independence.

      As soon as the main groups in Nigeria learned of the decision to grant independence in 1960, all of...


    • CHAPTER 9 Development and the Kenyan Private Sector, 1945–1952
      (pp. 293-326)

      The economic and political future of Kenya was a complex and clouded issue in 1945 and remained so until the very moment of independence. Certainly no colonial administrator believed the country ready for political independence or economic autonomy in 1945, and few at that time would have deemed it possible to achieve that result by 1963. The political economy of Kenya reflected the colony’s racial hierarchy and historical legacy, especially in contrast to the political economies of Egypt and Nigeria. To begin with, Kenya’s large-scale private sector had a relatively large number of limited liability companies (in Nigeria, a few...

    • CHAPTER 10 Mau Mau and the Private Sector, 1952–1959
      (pp. 327-350)

      The challenge to Kenya’s development vision, which occurred in roughly the same time frame as the challenges in Egypt and Nigeria, came unequivocally from subaltern communities. Nowhere was the threat to the timetable of decolonization and the agreed-upon formulas of economic growth more rooted in the frustrations and ambitions of the lower segments of African society than within the Aberdare forests and Mt. Kenya, where a small band of disgruntled and dispossessed Kikuyu freedom fighters posed a severe military and political challenge to British authority.

      Although the colonial administration in Kenya had feared African protest and violence, the Mau Mau...

    • CHAPTER 11 Stemming the Flight of Capital, 1960–1963
      (pp. 351-386)

      Kenya entered the third and last phase of the transfer of power, 1960–1963, with its private sector more secure than it was at similar stages in Egypt and Nigeria. Through the efforts of the British military and the financial and political sagacity of Ernest Vasey, the Mau Mau subaltemist threat to Britain’s development vision had been thwarted. For many of the later commentators on Kenya, then, the final arrangements for the transfer of power to African leaders reflected the success of British decolonizing policies. In contrast to Egypt and Nigeria, a pro-Western successor regime with a relatively intact and...

  9. CONCLUSION Themes and Variations
    (pp. 387-400)

    During the nationalist campaign for the independence of the Gold Coast, Kwame Nkrumah proclaimed that Africans should seek the political kingdom first; his counterpart in Nigeria returning from the constitutional conference in London in 1955 exulted that the British had handed Nigeria its independence on a platter of gold. Both perspectives stressed the primacy of politics and the ease with which independence seemed to be coming. Yet, not long after this prized political independence was achieved, Nkrumah, noting aborted pan-African dreams and failed economic programs, grumbled that political independence had been a sham triumph. Africans he opined, had exchanged colonial...

  10. Bibliographical Note
    (pp. 401-404)
  11. Index
    (pp. 405-420)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 421-421)