‘Nations emerging from long foreign rule generally lack an independent administrative tradition and a social structure within which it is easy to build a class of national administrators… It is true that in some of the countries concerned, the former administering authority has bequeathed a valuable legacy in the form of an efficient administrative apparatus and sizeable cadres of experienced local officials at many levels. But this is by no means generally so. Even where it is, it does not meet the needs of peoples whose awakening has stirred much deeper feelings of hope and endeavor than were felt under the most enlightened colonial regime.’
These reflections by Dag Hammarskjöld—in a paper published in 1956 —testify to the interest that the late Secretary-General of the United Nations took in the emerging nations of the Third World and their future statehood. And it is perhaps significant that they were made at a time when Africa, the last of the Third World continents to be gripped by the drive for independence, began to explore in an exuberant mood the parameters for self-determination. Having been born into a world characterized by an almost unshakeable belief in ‘economic growth’ and ‘progress’, Africa’s first steps towards uhuru were inevitably influenced by the spirit of ‘development’ that had seized the rest of the world. Compared to Asia and Latin America, Africa was viewed as having a special opportunity of making rapid and steady ‘progress’ because it lacked the oppressive social structures and cultural impediments believed to exist on the other two continents.