15 Police Stud.: Int'l Rev. Police Dev. 90 (1992)
The Resilience of the British Colonial Police Legacies in East Africa, Southern Africa, and West Africa

handle is hein.journals/polic15 and id is 100 raw text is: The Resilience of the British Colonial
Police Legacies in East Africa,
Southern Africa, and West Africa*
James S. E. Opolot, Texas Southern University,
U.S.A.

Abstract
Attainment of independence in the 1960's by
former British colonies, possessions, or ter-
ritories in East Africa, Southern Africa, and
West Africa meant, among other things, oppor-
tunity to try new ideas in policing. Unfor-
tunately, the new indigenous police policy
makers and administrators did not have the
training nor the experience police innovations;
even if the political climate was right, rather
they relied upon existing colonial policies and
practices, tendencies which continued well into
the early 1990's.
INTRODUCTION
Questions about the colonial legacies, what has
been left of colonial policies and practices, con-
tinue to be raised in the early 1990s in the
former British colonies, protectorates, and
possessions in, for example, East Africa,
Southern Africa, and West Africa. These ques-
tions have been focused on agriculture, eco-
nomics, education, law, commerce and in-
dustry, etc. For those interested in police
forces, their questions have centered upon pur-
poses of policing, legitimacy of the police
forces, problems in the police forces, and
lessons to be learned from past and current ex-
periences in police work, especially in the face
of what appears to be strong competition be-
tween attributes of the colonial police model
and those of the amalgam elements of policing
in the one-party state and/or military regimes.
The increased attention to those questions is
linked to the realization of the wind of change
relative to political pluralism or multi-party
elections as evidenced in the former East Euro-
pean countries during the late 1980s.
In an effort to account for the persistence of
colonial legacies, including the police model or
90

policies and practices in the parts of Africa in
question, I have chosen to focus on five
themes. First, I attempt to stress the impor-
tance of the political frameworks within which
police forces were developed and continue to
exist. Here it is essential to understand how
the theory and practice of successive govern-
ments influenced the nature, successes, and
problems of the police forces.
The interface or lack thereof between policy
analysis and social science relative to the
evolution and the continuing existence of the
police forces is the second theme. Here atten-
tion has to be paid to the role of the community
of social scientists in policy analysis or in the
creation of paradigms of policing, at least dur-
ing the colonial era.
The key elements of the British colonial
police model constitute the third theme. Such
elements include administration and civil ser-
vice and bureaucracy.
Transition between the colonial era and the
post-colonial era constitutes the fourth theme.
Here it is important to note that political in-
dicators for the end of the former era were in
the making although patterns differed from
one British colony protectorate or possession
to another in East Africa, Southern Africa and
West Africa.
Policing in decolonized political frameworks
forms the fifth theme. This is a subject which
is less understood than policing during the co-
lonial era even though it requires more atten-
tion than ever before, expecially now that
Africa is experiencing political revolution dur-
ing the early 1990s. Particular attention needs
to be paid to renewed calls for new models of
government including policing.
Each of these themes is treated within a
broad chronological context which surveys

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