Lagos Historical Review

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Selling the War Abroad: West African Initiatives and the making of British War Propaganda 1939-1945

B Ibhawoh


Studies in British war propaganda during the Second World have focussed mainly on the efforts made at “selling the war at home.” In many of these studies war propaganda in the colonies is seen simply as extensions of the discourses produced in the metroples of Europe. Imperial propaganda was essentially the dissemination of information from the metropole to the colonies. This paper argues that West Africans were not just receivers and replicators of colonial war propaganda. The colonies were also sites for the production of imperial war propaganda and Africans were central to colonial propaganda machinery. Imperial propaganda had to be modified to meet the needs of the colonies and Africans played important roles in this process. The role of Africans in the making of colonial war propaganda is particularly evident in the impact of war propaganda on the politics of decolonisation in British West Africa. Although war propaganda provided an opportunity for Britain to rally the support of her West African subjects against what was presented as a dreaded common enemy, it also provided new opportunities for emergent West African elites to articulate nationalist demands on a world stage drawing on the same discourses of self-determination that underscored British war propaganda.

Lagos Historical Review Vol. 7 2007: pp. 35-56
AJOL African Journals Online