White British Diasporas in East and Central Africa: Resources for Study and Future Heritage Provision

White British Diasporas in East and Central Africa: Resources for Study and Future Heritage Provision

Alistair G. Tough (University of Glasgow, UK)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3137-1.ch006


This chapter offers a reflection on the experience of writing a biographical study of one White British family resident in East and Central Africa over the greater part of the twentieth century. It offers also some tentative generalisations on the subject of White British diasporas in East and Central Africa and heritage provision for them. Questions of class and classification in the colonial services and in the commercial sphere are discussed. The difficulties that arise in studying people who served in the lower echelons of the colonial services—which the author characterises as the ‘warrant officer' class—are considered and potentially useful source materials are identified. This discussion is illustrated with particular reference to the Carr family. The role of memory institutions in Africa is discussed in relation to White British diasporas and it is argued that provision for this group is currently neglected. The potential for ancestral tourism is briefly explored.
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Class And Classification

Within the ranks of the Colonial Civil Service a key distinction existed between those who might be characterised, in the terms used by the armed forces, as commissioned officers and those who were effectively warrant officers. Characteristically, the commissioned officers entered the Colonial Administrative Service or the higher ranks of the technical branches of the colonial service. This part of the service was recruited in the United Kingdom via the Colonial Office, its members were entitled to regular home leave and retirement to the UK was standard practice for them (Furse, 1962). In contrast, the lower ranks of the colonial technical and support services were usually recruited via the Crown Agents for the Colonies or locally. Their leave and pension entitlements were often less generous. However, the boundary between the commissioned officers and the warrant officers was porous. Especially in times of expansion, as Baker has demonstrated, promotion to the more responsible and privileged positions was both possible and even commonplace (Baker, 2003).

The Colonial Administrative Service included in its ranks: District Commissioners (DCs) and Provincial Commissioners (PCs); Agricultural, Educational, Forestry and Medical Officers; graduate engineers; and, generally speaking, those with degrees or public school education. The colonial technical and support services included: sanitary officials; lower grade public works overseers; merchant marine services; senior prison staff; game rangers; compositors; nurses; and a range of others.

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