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From Head-Loading to the Iron Horse

Railway Building in Colonial Ghana and the Origins of Tropical Development

by Komla Tsey

International development has its origins in the histories of nineteenth and early twentieth-century European colonisation. What happens when a leading colonial power decides to transform a model tropical colony, relying on head-loading of goods as the predominant form of transport, into a modern market economy on the back of the greatest British industrial ingenuity of the time - railways? In this meticulously researched book, Komla Tsey brings to light the historical origins of a wide range of issues confronting present-day international development researchers and policy-makers, such as technology transfer, wealth creation versus equity of access, and ways to evaluate the benefits of development work, especially across cultures. In the context of the early twenty-first-century international investment interests in resource-rich Africa, Tsey argues, forensic historical research is required to determine the precise nature and scale of the financial and humanitarian injustices committed by British colonialists during the construction of major public works projects. More than providing opportunities to take possible legal actions for reparations, this research should also serve as a reminder to present-day African policy-makers and their international and local business partners that the injustices and blatant abuses of power of the past should never be repeated.

ISBN 9789956728992 | 258 pages | 229 x 152 mm | B/W Illustrations and Maps | 2013 | Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon | Paperback



“This study provides important and relevant lessons in international development and is recommended for those working in this field.”

Dennis Trewin, former Australian Government’s chief statistician is consultant to the forthcoming State of the Tropics Report Series

“This book is a must for anybody interested in development policy and practice in Africa and elsewhere”

Dr Ato Kwamena Onoma, Department of Political Science Yale University, USA

"In twelve chapters of crisp, clear prose, Tsey lays out the extent to which the railways (and harbours) in the Gold Coast benefited Britain, its manufacturing base, its engineers, and, even, since engines in the Gold Coast ran on British coal, its miners."

Leeds African Studies Bulletin



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