The product of eleven years of research, this first major history of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, 1953 - 1963, (supplemented by Lord Blake's masterly foreword) is based on Sir Roy Welensky's unique private papers. So comprehensive are they that, when the official documents are released in the nineteen-nineties, historians are unlikely to discover much to alter this definitive work.
An assiduous collector, Sir Roy added to his hundreds of files of personal correspondence, complete sets of Federal and British minutes, memoranda and dispatches. Skilfully blending these with abundant other material (British, Federal and territorial Hansards, newspaper and public reports, biographies, other private collections and interview with the chief protagonists), Dr J.R.T. Wood has written incisively on the tortuous efforts, since 1894, to unify the three territories of Northern and Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The architects of this last British Imperial experiment in Africa had conflicting motives. Britain wished to ease her Colonial burden an to provide a liberal counter to Afrikaner extremism. The Rhodesian and Nyasaland Europeans sought freedom from British control and to secure self-government on their own terms. Both sides ignored African opinion.
Dr Wood describes in precise detail the brief but significant life of the Federation, the euphoria when her Government assumed power, and its achievements - the greatest being the mammoth Kariba hydro-electric scheme. He reveals the abrasions between the five Governments and their leading personalities as the Federal Cabinets of Lord Malvern and Welensky attempted to circumvent British and territorial policies which might rend the Federal fabric. Hampered by the Federal Constitution's strict limitations and by growing African nationalist unrest, lead in the main by Banda and Kaunda, they failed in this task.
The Welensky Papers is excellently complemented by Dr Wood's new history So Far and No Further! Rhodesia's Bid for Independence during the Retreat from Empire 1959-1965.