On his very first page, James concedes that “change” driven by European imperialism generated conflict in Africa, but he never returns to dwell upon this at length. Instead, he immediately offers what seems like a pat, exculpatory defense: Europeans “believed [change] would benefit them and their African subjects.” This passage sets the tone for much of what follows. “Strange as it may seem, Charles de Gaulle, Mussolini, Cecil Rhodes and Nikita Khrushchev believed that their countries had something of value to offer Africans.” He calls the slicing up of different parts of the continent by its new colonial masters “a dual partnership of physical and spiritual regeneration [that] was appropriate for Africa, which in the popular imagination was depicted as a ‘dark’ continent.”
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