King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
Hidden voices of Empire

Shifting views

A photographic scene of a model farm in colonial post-war East AfricaA model farm in colonial post-war East Africa built to English designsIn his 1951 article in the Uganda review entitled ‘Ngogwe Improvement Area’, long-term District Officer in Uganda, ACA Wright, provides one of the most detailed accounts of individual African responses to development yet discovered in the periodicals. 

Over several pages, he details the progress of a single Ugandan farmer – Mr Musoke – and his wife towards more westernised agricultural methods on the advice of a local development officer.

Firstly, he moved his cattle to his own field and built a calf-house to prevent deaths of the infant animals. Later he was persuaded to clean up the accumulating dung and use it to fertilise his banana and coffee crops.

Finally, producing more milk than he could sell, he joined ‘the local Bukunja Livestock Farmers’ Association, whose President, Danieri Sebowa, was an old friend’, enabling him to ‘make a satisfactory milk contract, while through the same channel he obtained supplies of salt and cotton seed waste at favourable rates.’

At every turn, Mr Musoke is depicted as initially reluctant to adopt these unfamiliar farming practices but he was ultimately rewarded for his efforts. In multiple instances, he and his wife were stated to be ‘happy’ with the results - although the Musokes do not have the opportunity to put their own views across in print, Wright’s article is not an outlier.

In fact, it is a particularly specific example of an otherwise very common narrative within the periodicals: a shift in popular opinion from reluctance (discussed later) to acceptance, or outright celebration.

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