Sanders of the River was written by Edgar Wallace in 1911. This was the height of Edwardian power culminating in positive ideas about The British Empire and the role of Britain in 'civilising' its colonies. This book was written firmly in that context. It makes for very uncomfortable reading in the twenty first century, but it still offers a valuable insight into what many people thought was the way that British administrators should run their colonies.Sanders is one such caricature of the British Colonial Administrator responsible for keeping the peace along a stretch of river in deepest, darkest Nigeria. The character was probably based on the career of the Frederick Lugard who was basically responsible for the creation of the Northern Nigeria and implementing a subtle but firm form of indirect rule. The stories are certainly evocative of a disappeared imperial outpost and nicely illustrates how large areas of the empire were administered with such a miniscule bureaucracy. It also shows how British power could be called upon if absolutely necessary, although the budget constraints and motives of the Colonial Office are very cynically.
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