Book Launch: Africa, Empire and Fleet Street

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The weekly West Africa was well known for over 80 years to West Africans, other Africans, and Africanists of many countries. The history of this magazine touches constantly on the history of Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and The Gambia especially. In a new book Jonathan Derrick, who worked for the magazine in the 1960s and again in the last years before its demise in 2003, studies the origins and early growth of West Africa, founded in 1917.

The founding editor from then until 1947 was Albert Cartwright, whose life and career are recalled in this book. His career included 20 years in journalism in South Africa, where as an editor he was gaoled for a year for accusing the British of planning a war crime during the Anglo-Boer War. Later, as Editor of West Africa, Cartwright showed confident belief in British colonialism, as most British people did then. But he was well regarded by Africans, publishing and sometimes agreeing with their views.

Africa has been independent for half a century, but to cope with the present it is necessary to understand the past, including the colonial past whose effects continue on a large scale. So this study of the leading British magazine dealing with Africa in the colonial era is relevant to Africa today. And the author hopes someone will continue the story to deal with West Africa’s peak years of greatest influence, the years up to independence and the decades following.


Date: 16th May 2018

Time: 2.00 - 4.00pm

Venue: ​​​​​​​​King’s College London, Strand Campus, Room S3.30


Chair: Professor Abiodun Alao

Professor of African Studies at King's College London  and the Programme Director of the African Leadership Centre.


About the Author: Jonathan Derrick

Jonathan Derrick has a BA of Oxford and a PhD of London, awarded for a thesis for the SOAS in the Modern History of Africa, Douala under the French Mandate, 1916 to 1936. He worked on the staff of West Africa weekly in the 1960s and later worked for six years in Nigeria, as Publications Secretary of the Institute for Agricultural Research (of Ahmadu Bello University) and Lecturer in History at the University of Ilorin. Later he worked for eight years for Africa Books Ltd in London, and in editorial jobs with the Central Office of Information and Macmillan. For many years he has worked freelance as a copy editor, proofreader, indexer and translator. Besides articles in magazines and annuals he has published Africa’s ‘Agitators’: Militant Anti-Colonialism in Africa and the West, 1919 to 1939 (2008) and Africa, Empire and Fleet Street: Albert Cartwright and the West Africa Magazine (2017). He is married with one son.


Speaker: Desmond Davies

Currently the London Bureau Chief for the Ghana News Agency (GNA). He is a former Editor of West Africa Magazine in London where he also worked for New African and Africa Now magazines in the 1970s and 1980s, becoming Editor of the latter in 1984.

May 16th, 2018 2:00 PM   through   4:00 PM
King’s College London, Strand Campus, Room S3.30
London, LON
United Kingdom
Phone: +44 (0) 207 848 8645
Phone: +44 (0) 207 848 8644
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