The Overstretched Superpower
Does America Have More Rivals Than It Can Handle?
"Il est permis de supposer cependant que peut-être un jour l'Europe, expulsée de l'Asie, ou s'étale en ce moment toute son activité industrielle, par l'envahissement progressif et intense de la race jaune, trouvera son dernier point d'appui en cette Afrique qui, de nos jours seulement, ouvre ses sécrets si longtemps gardés, et la nation la plus forte sera celle qui aura su prévoir cet avenir." -- Lieutenant-Colonel Gallieni, "Deux Campagnes au Soudan Français," 1891.
UNTIL the last twenty-five years the continent of Africa, as far as the white man is concerned, has not only been Dark, but in vast areas it has been Deserted. East Africa was occupied only in 1895, and although the French, Dutch, and British maintained trading posts along the West Coast for several centuries, it was only in 1900 -- 1902 that the British annexed the Gold Coast and declared a protectorate over Northern Nigeria; it was only in 1914 that the French succeeded in pacifying the Ivory Coast.
To-day Africa may no longer complain of neglect. European and American capital is pouring into the continent with an intensity probably unequalled in the history of any other "backward" continent. The hundred million or so natives who occupy this territory have been obliged to adjust themselves within the short space of a quarter of a century to the devices of an industrial civilization which has been slowly built up and unconsciously absorbed by the white man during the last three or four hundred years. This sudden impact has created social problems of the most serious nature. Native peoples, hitherto living a relatively stable life, have suddenly become mobile. The demands of European Governments and employers for porters and for laborers have induced, in many cases by fraud and duress, the male population to leave their families and villages often for months at a time. After travelling on foot for several weeks without adequate food and shelter, they arrive at a labor center to work continuously under a climate and a discipline to which they are unaccustomed and to live in artificial labor camps where they are often obliged to eat strange and improperly prepared food. As a result of this turmoil, the simple life of the native has been destroyed, his family has become disorganized, and his resistance to disease has declined. Despite medical care, the death rate in European labor centers is high. Moreover, the opening up of the continent has led to the introduction of new maladies, such as tuberculosis, and to the extension of old diseases, notably sleeping sickness, which hitherto had been localized. The power of the white man has shaken the authority of the chief and destroyed the respect of the native for the rules of conduct which previously held the tribe together. Despite the efforts of missionaries, the natives as a whole have not adopted a new code. The result is that parts of Africa to-day hover on the brink of anarchy; and throughout vast areas of the continent there is a feeling which, though it cannot be scientifically established nevertheless firmly persists, that since the European occupation the native population has actually declined.
Realizing the seriousness of this collision between European industrialism and primitive society, certain governments in Africa have deliberately adopted a colonial policy which will soften the rudeness of the impact and gradually prepare their populations to adapt themselves to a new régime. There are other governments in Africa who, unmindful of this problem, and eager for quick returns, have adopted policies which are hastening the dissolution of the continent. Into the details of these two conflicting systems we cannot go.[i] The point needs to be emphasized, however, that the solution of the problem must be international.
In a speech to the French Colonial School in 1922, M. Albert Sarraut, Minister of Colonies, declared that "world interest, little by little, is directed toward the colonial field, and the control of the League of Nations over mandated territory is the first expression of a future state of affairs which, in the increasing solidarity of world life, will place the management of colonizing peoples, if not under the investigation at least under the vigilant observation of the other countries."
The forty-odd political units in Africa do not live unto themselves alone. The policy in one unit is closely watched by the others. The more questionable a policy is the more desirous become its advocates, seeking for companionship against criticism, to fasten this policy upon neighboring territories. Thus the Congo Free State induced the French Congo to install the concession system; and the Government of Kenya is now urging the Government of Tanganyika to adopt the policy of white settlement. Each system of native policy in Africa has its proselytes. If one government ignores the interests of the natives in one part of Africa, the same logic will tempt other governments to emulate its example. Eventually Africa will be all slave or all free.
The importance of an international solution of the African problem was recognized by the Powers of Europe in signing the Act of Berlin of 1885 and the Act of Brussels of 1890. But while the latter Act provided for measures to combat the Arab slave trade in East Africa and for the restriction of the arms and liquor traffic, neither of these acts attacked the fundamental problems created by the entrance into the continent of European industrialism. Except for an article defining in broad terms the obligation of a colonial government toward its native wards, the Act of Berlin was chiefly interested in securing equal opportunities for European traders and missionaries. Important progress was made following the World War, however, in Article 22 of the Treaty of Versailles and in the Mandates drawn up upon the basis of this article and applied, as far as Africa is concerned, to Tanganyika, Ruanda-Urundi, South-west Africa, Togo and the Cameroons. These Mandates definitely prohibit all forms of forced labor except for public works and then only in return for adequate compensation; and they oblige the mandatory powers to protect natives from abuse and fraud by the careful supervision of labor contracts and the recruiting of labor. Moreover, in the framing of laws relating to the holding or transfer of land, the Mandatory Power must take into consideration native laws and customs and respect the rights and safeguard the interests of the native population.
These two provisions in regard to labor and to land are fundamental to the existence of native society. While the Mandates Commission has had difficulties in securing the enforcement of these provisions, nevertheless the contrast between conditions in mandated territory and in adjoining colonies is noticeable and justifies the belief that if progress is to be made, obligations in regard to land and labor should be accepted by all of the colonial powers in Africa.
Following discussion in several Assemblies, and the work of an Anti-Slavery Commission, the 1926 Assembly of the League of Nations approved a slavery convention, Article 5 of which reads as follows:
The High Contracting Parties recognize that recourse to compulsory or forced labor may have grave consequences and undertake, each in respect of the territories placed under its sovereignty, jurisdiction, protection, suzerainty or tutelage, to take all necessary measures to prevent compulsory or forced labor from developing into conditions analogous to slavery.
It is agreed that:
(1) Subject to the transitional provisions laid down in paragraph (2) below, compulsory or forced labor may only be exacted for public purposes.
(2) In territories in which compulsory or forced labor for other than public purposes still survives, the High Contracting Parties shall endeavor progressively and as soon as possible to put an end to the practice. So long as such forced or compulsory labor exists, this labor shall invariably be of an exceptional character, shall always receive adequate remuneration, and shall not involve the removal of the laborers from their usual place of residence.
(3) In all cases, the responsibility for any recourse to compulsory or forced labor shall rest with the competent central authorities of the territory concerned.
In comparison with the provisions in the Mandates, the Slavery Convention presents a number of weaknesses. Compulsory labor may be exacted for public purposes, whether essential or not, and it need not be paid. Moreover, compulsory labor for private purposes under the above conditions is tolerated until each government, within its discretion, decides to abolish it. The Convention does not give any attention to the activities of the large recruiting organizations which scour hundreds of miles in Africa for laborers, such as the Native Labor Corporation in South Africa, the Witswatersrand Native Labor Association operating in Mozambique, the Southern Rhodesia Labor Bureau, or the Bourses du Travail in the Belgian Congo.
Nevertheless, after signing the Slavery Convention, the Portuguese Government, which alone of the governments in Africa legally obliged natives to work for private employers, enacted a decree (No. 12,533 of October 23, 1926) which declares that forced labor is permitted only when "absolutely indispensable for the public good, and in very urgent cases." In commenting on this decree, the Director of Native Affairs in Portuguese East Africa recently stated that this decree "is the result of agreement arrived at in the League of Nations."[ii]
The Portuguese Government is entitled to a great deal of credit for this action. But it should be pointed out that, whether in Portuguese or in Belgian, French or British territory, compulsory labor has at one time or another been imposed by extra-legal and indirect means. The best methods of doing away with these and other practices are presumably being discussed by the committee on native labor recently established by the International Labor Office.
While the League of Nations has made progress in restricting forced labor outside of the mandates, it has not yet attacked the problem of safeguarding the rights in native land. While it is a maxim of international law that a succeeding government should respect private property, in establishing control over Africa the European powers found that except in a few instances property was communally held, and many of them assumed that such rights were too primitive to respect. A native subject cannot, under existing international law, invoke his "rights" as against the government to which he owes allegiance. Consequently, a number of governments in Africa have freely alienated lands owned by natives under customary law. If this process continues, the African population will become landless -- serfs of European owners.
Since the alienation of land involves one of the most fundamental attributes of "sovereignty," its international control presents many difficulties. Both the British and American Governments protested against the excessive alienations of the Congo Free State on the ground that they violated the commercial liberty provisions of the Act of Berlin. But the Free State replied that liberty of commerce was different from the liberty to alienate property, a sovereign right which the Act did not pretend to control. The Act of Saint Germain, revising the Act of Berlin in 1919, acknowledged the contention of the Belgian (and of the French) Government by declaring (Article 4) that "Each State reserves the right to dispose freely of its property and to grant concessions for the development of the natural resources of the territory . . ." As a result of this article, the governments of Africa, except in the mandates, may as far as international law is concerned freely alienate native lands to Europeans. The insertion of a proviso found in the mandates that in alienating land each government should respect native customs and interests, would seem to be essential if the physical basis of a native society is to be preserved.
Of much less importance than land and labor is the question of alcohol, which has been the object of a number of international treaties, the last of them signed at Saint Germain in 1919. This Act prohibited the importation and sale of "trade" spirits into central Africa. "Trade" spirits consist usually of a cheaply prepared
rum or gin, put up in small bottles, for native consumption. The term does not cover spirits consumed by Europeans. Before the war, at least, "trade" spirits also contained injurious foreign materials and a high degree of fusel oil. At one time nearly half of the revenue of the West African colonies came from duties on "trade" spirits manufactured largely in Holland and Germany. Both the French and British Governments originally interpreted the term "trade" spirits, prohibited in the Convention of 1919, to include Dutch gin -- a drink consumed only by natives. Because of the depreciation of the franc, duties on ordinary liquor became much lower in French than in British territory. Taking advantage of this situation, traders imported large quantities into French ports and smuggled them across the British frontier in the interior. Believing that they were losing trade by this procedure, irritated at the delay of the French Government in ratifying the Act of Saint Germain, and pressed by Dutch interests, the British Government adopted a new interpretation of "trade" spirits in 1921, which readmitted Dutch gin to the West Coast. The French thereupon followed suit in Togo, Dahomey and the Ivory Coast -- territories covered by open door agreements. Elsewhere they still prohibit foreign spirits. Whether or not the British Government in readmitting Dutch gin has violated the Convention of Saint Germain is difficult to say. The only difference between the situation today and before the war is that the duties on spirits have been increased to 25 shillings a gallon, which may or may not take Dutch gin out of the category of spirits of a "low" price which the Convention intended to prohibit.
There is a good deal of feeling in France, Belgium, and Portugal that spirits should be outlawed for white and native alike in Africa. If these Powers, who favor a policy of wines and beers, should propose a treaty abolishing spirits in West Africa, the British Government which has defended this traffic in the past would find itself in a difficult position.
In the field of medical work and education another type of internationalism is developing. In East Africa the British Government employs a large number of Indians as sub-assistant surgeons; in the Belgian Congo nearly half of the medical service is composed of Italian doctors; while in French West Africa the Government employs a large number of Russian physicians. It would be an act of international good-will, and an act which would relieve an existing shortage of personnel, if the mandatory governments in Africa would invite German and Italian doctors, engineers, scientists, and educators to work in their territories.
The Health Committee of the League of Nations is already studying the international problem of sleeping sickness in Africa. Various governments have recently blessed the establishment of an unofficial organization, the International Institute of African Languages and Culture, which is seriously studying the social institutions of the continent. Its international nature is shown by the fact that it has a German and a French director and that it is supported in part by American funds. The studies of the Phelps-Stokes Fund of New York as well as discussions of the international missionary Conference held at Le Zoute, Belgium, in September, 1926, have made important international contributions to African education.
These international efforts have been directed toward promoting native welfare. If disputes over Africa are not to arise, the interests relating to capitalists and to missionaries of outside nations, whether they hold colonies or not, must also be guaranteed. With this end in view the Act of Berlin laid down elaborate provisions in regard to freedom of trade and went so far as to prohibit all import duties in the conventional basin of the Congo. While the Convention of 1919 removed this prohibition, it still maintained the principle of non-discrimination or the open door, a provision also inserted in the African mandates (except in Southwest Africa). In a treaty of 1898 the French and British Governments likewise agreed to the open door for thirty years in their territories on the West Coast of Africa. As a result of these agreements, and of domestic policy, the British colonies in Africa today do not impose differential duties, except in one or two exceptions such as the differential export tax on tin in Nigeria. Apart from these exceptions foreigners stand on the same basis as Englishmen in matters of trade. The same situation prevails in the Belgian Congo, the southern part of French Equatorial Africa, the two French Mandates of Togo and the Cameroons, and in Dahomey and the Ivory Coast. In the remainder of French and Portuguese territory tariff discriminations exist. Partly as a result of the open door in the Belgian Congo, and despite the exchange, only 56.04 percent of the imports into the Belgian Congo in 1925 came from Belgium, while in Togo only 20.5 percent of the imports in 1924 came from France. In the Cameroons the percentage was a little higher -- 43.6 percent. If Germany and Italy are allowed freely to trade in the various territories of Africa, there will be no economic reason why they should be given colonies. The opponents of the German and Italian colonial movement could serve their ends best as well as attract the support of disinterested opinion if they advocated the negotiation of an open door treaty applying to every colony on the continent.
A somewhat different type of internationalism is developing in connection with communications and ports. Certain territories are entirely land-locked -- such as the two Rhodesias, whose best port is Portuguese Beira. Vast areas of the Belgian Congo find that it is easier to reach Europe via the Sudan, Tanganyika, Beira or even Portuguese Angola than via the Belgian port of Matadi. The mines of South Africa also rely upon the Portuguese port of Lourenço Marques. In order to guarantee the use of the railways and ports in foreign territories, a number of freedom of transit treaties have been made. In 1909 the Governments of South Africa and of Portugal entered into an elaborate convention regarding the use of the Lourenço Marques harbor. In 1921 the British Government granted the Belgian Government (which in return evacuated Tanganyika west of Tabora) freedom of transit across this mandated territory and leased it harbor facilities at Kigoma and Dar-es-Salaam. In the summer of 1927 the Belgian Government negotiated with Portugal to secure similar rights in the port of Lobito Bay which will soon be served by the Benguela Railway.
Despite the existence of the open door in trade, it is the practice in British colonies to purchase supplies for the construction of railways and other public works from British concerns, although they often may be purchased more cheaply elsewhere. In some cases the alienation of land in Kenya has been restricted to British subjects. In the Congo concessions, the government usually inserts a provision that half of the Europeans employed on the enterprise must be Belgians and that half of its material must be purchased in Belgium. Although the Belgians have relied heavily upon British and American capital for the development of their mines, it is difficult for a small concern, without Belgian connections, to obtain a mining concession. Likewise Liberia's grant of a million acres to the Firestone interests, in spite of a constitutional provision prohibiting the holding of property by foreigners, may violate the open door in view of the fact that land not occupied by natives and accessible to the sea is strictly limited. These various practices in territories professing to follow the open door lead many Germans and others to believe that in certain cases the open door is more nominal than real. At present, the obligations in regard to the open door lack precision in such matters as land and mining concessions, and no international body interprets these obligations.
Missionaries, among the first of which were Livingstone, Mackay, and Grenfell, entered the continent of Africa before governments, and their rights were guaranteed without distinction of nationality or religion in the Act of Berlin of 1885. As a result of this guarantee and of missionary zeal a total of about 6,300 Protestant missionaries and 11,700 Catholic missionaries are at work in Africa to-day.[iii]
Especially since the expulsion of the German missionaries, the great majority of the Protestant missionaries in Africa are English or American. While most of them will be found in British territory, the largest single group, about 700 missionaries, will be found in the Belgian Congo, and nearly 300 will be found in Portuguese East Africa and in Angola. Although the French have been more successful in excluding them, nearly 50 Protestant missionaries are in French West Africa and more than a hundred in Equatorial Africa. There are also about 110 Protestant missionaries in the French Cameroons. Despite the fact that most of these missionaries strenuously attempt to conform to the wishes of the authorities, the fact that they are Anglo-Saxon and that they have not hesitated to criticise administrative abuses has prejudiced their position in Latin territories.
In the Convention revising the Act of Berlin signed in September, 1919, an important qualification to the right of religious liberty was inserted to the effect that this right could be restricted when necessary for the maintenance of public security "or as may result from the enforcement of the constitutional law of any of the Powers" concerned. Apparently under the authority of this proviso, the exact meaning of which is not clear, the French and Portuguese Governments have imposed severe restrictions upon missionary work. In Loanda no mission may be established without a previous license of the Governor-General and mission schools must use Portuguese to the exclusion of the native language. Missions cannot establish an out-station or school unless the native in charge has obtained a letter of identity from the administrator which will not be issued unless the native speaks Portuguese. The Governor-General may abolish any mission if it "becomes harmful to the interests of the National Sovereignty."[iv] The Portuguese Government also requires European missionaries engaged in educational work to secure a Portuguese certificate commonly called "segunda grau", which American missionaries obtain after a residence of eight or ten months in Portugal. Likewise the government requires in theory foreign medical missionaries to obtain a Portuguese medical decree. It seems that only one such missionary has received this degree. At present, however, the government allows medical missionaries to practice among natives by sufferance. The same rule in regard to the licensing of missions and the necessity of educational and medical certificates is followed in French territories. Neither the French nor the Portuguese allow foreign missionary societies to become incorporated or to hold land. While land may be held in the name of an individual, this system creates many inconveniences.
The French also prohibit mission schools to use the native language. In 1921 they attempted to enforce this prohibition upon the American Presbyterian Mission in the Cameroons. But partly following the intervention of the American State Department, and the signature of the treaty of February 13, 1923, granting Americans the right, among other things, to "open schools" in the mandates, the French agreed to suspend the law prohibiting the use of the native language for three years. Although this period has long since come to an end, the French Administration has made no move to enforce the law. Nevertheless, the situation is unsatisfactory since the law may at any time be applied. Missionary activity in both Portuguese and French territory seems to rest upon the discretion of local administrators instead of upon international guarantee. To realize the intention of the authors of the Act of Berlin, a supplementary treaty might provide that missionary societies should have the right to become incorporated, hold land, and use the native language in schools. Such an agreement might also provide for the reciprocal recognition of educational and medical diplomas.
In certain respects, the Belgian Congo has been more liberal toward foreign missionaries. It grants missionary societies "civil personality" and authorizes them to hold land. It allows and encourages, as does the British Government, missionaries to use the native language in their schools. On the other hand, the Belgian Government follows certain policies which it is difficult to reconcile with the principles of the Act of Berlin. It employs as teachers in government schools Catholic teaching congregations, such as the Pères Salésiens who place clerical instruction at the head of the curriculum and who hang crucifixes in the class room. The Congo budget makes an annual grant to Catholic missions of several million francs by virtue of the Concordat between Leopold II and the Vatican in 1906. In 1926 the Congo adopted a policy of granting educational subsidies of an additional three million francs to "national" missions. As there are no Belgian Protestant missions in the Congo proper, these sums go entirely to Roman Catholic missions. This policy strengthens natives in the belief -- which is advanced by many priests -- that Catholicism is the favored religion of the territory.
Following Belgium's example, the Portuguese Government enacted a decree on October 23, 1926, accepting the "coöperation of the Portuguese Catholic missions." The government agrees to grant annually 1,350,000 escudoes to these missions to train missionaries; while it agrees to pay the salaries and to grant a pension to Portuguese Catholic priests. The decree states "that the general program of the national missions is to defend the interests of the Portuguese colonial empire . . ."
This discrimination against foreign Protestant missions is bound to create ill-will among missionaries on the spot, while it would appear to conflict with the provisions of the revised Act of Berlin which obligates both Belgium and Portugal to favor religious institutions "without favor of nationality or of religion." Such is the opinion of a semi-official commentator on Congo constitutional law.[v]
The convention which revised the Acts of Berlin and of Brussels in 1919 provides that at the end of ten years a new conference to discuss the problem of Africa shall be called -- which will be presumably held in 1931.[vi] At this time an opportunity will be given to discuss the desirability of extending international obligations with a view to, (1) the preservation of what is worthwhile in native institutions, and safeguarding native rights in land and labor; (2) the more specific and extensive application of the open door in trade and missionary enterprise.
Of equal importance to the acceptance of these obligations is the establishment of some international machinery to secure their observance. Twenty years ago vital differences arose over the definition of the obligations of the Act of Berlin which led to an offer of arbitration by the British and American Governments. But Belgium and France both rejected the offer, and as the convention itself contained no such obligation, these differences were never settled. A step forward was taken in the Saint Germain conventions which provided for arbitral decision in accordance with the League of Nations covenant, and in the mandates and in the Slavery Convention which provide that such differences should be decided by the International Court of Justice. The importance of this procedure was illustrated in the Mavrommatis case relating to the British mandate in Palestine.
As a rule, however, the judicial means of defining and securing the enforcement of international obligations in regard to administrative policy is not entirely satisfactory. One government is not likely to haul another government before an international court because of the alleged violations of the rights of a few missionaries or traders, especially when it has political questions of importance pending with the other government. Except in the case of atrocities of long duration, no government will invoke the obligations of an international treaty on behalf of the native population of a foreign territory where it is alleged that these obligations are being violated. Consequently some less formal and less legalistic system must be established -- a system which individuals, as well as governments, may employ in their own behalf. Such a system was established by the Treaty of Versailles in the Mandates Commission which scrutinizes the administration of the mandated territories. In this task it is aided by an Annual Report from each mandatory power. If international obligations in regard to the non-mandatory parts of Africa are to be defined and observed, the establishment of machinery similar to the Mandates Commission seems necessary. In view, however, of the present temper of the mandatory powers, it is practical only to establish a commission with advisory functions. Whether or not such an agency is created, each colonial government should agree to present to the Secretariat of the League an Annual Report as to the measures taken to carry out its treaty obligations. At present the world is uninformed as to colonial affairs. The French colonies publish no Annual Reports; the British colonial reports are merely statistical summaries of the colonial Blue Books; the report on the Belgian Congo is usually two years out of date when it appears. The contrast is great when one turns to the remarkably full reports presented by the mandatory powers to the Council of the League.
The difficulties in extending international obligations and the establishment of administrative machinery in regard to the continent of Africa should not be minimized. Either openly or by implication strong opposition to existing obligations is frequently expressed. The Governors of British East Africa recently passed a resolution expressing their regret that the mandatory system did not allow any system of Imperial Preference being developed in East Africa. Belgian writers frequently protest against the open door restrictions upon the Congo, while French writers urged the termination of the open door in Dahomey and the Ivory Coast upon the expiration of the Franco-English agreement in 1928.[vii]
It is this same school of writers which expresses such indignation and fear in regard to the German and Italian colonial movements. Apparently they desire to make out of each colony a national preserve from which foreign poachers should be rigorously excluded. Neither the British Dominions nor the French Government have been captivated by the criticisms of the Mandates Commission. And what is most heart-breaking of all, the British Government, which in certain respects was the author and chief advocate of the mandates system, has through Mr. Amery and Sir Austen Chamberlin gone out of its way to minimize the distinction between mandates and colonies and to criticise the Mandates Commission.
While much of this hostility toward international control is due to pure nationalism, the mere entrance of foreign capital and missionaries into territories belonging to weaker states, such as Belgium and Portugal, and their dependence upon foreign system of transport have created genuine fears of annexation. The copper mines of the Congo to-day rely upon railways and ports that are partly in British and partly in Portuguese territory. A fascinating game of international politics has been played in connection with some of these communications, notably the Benguela Railway, which when completed in 1930 will run from Lobito Bay in Portuguese Angola across the Congo into the Katanga -- a distance of 2,100 kilometers, of which 800 kilometers is in Belgian and 1,300 in Portuguese territory. This railway has been constructed by a company really controlled by the Tanganyika Concessions, Ltd., a British Corporation. In order to increase its capital and apparently for political reasons, it is understood that these interests in 1914 carried on negotiations with Germany with a view to giving Germans a participation of sixty million marks in the Benguela enterprise. About the same time the British and the German Governments also secretly drafted a convention which divided the Portuguese colonies into spheres of influence, placing the northern part of Mozambique and Angola under German control, and the southern parts under British control.[viii] This draft agreement provided that in case the Portuguese Government did not give the necessary protection to German or British interests, the German and British Governments would after consultation take any measures deemed necessary to protect these interests each in its respective sphere.
When the knowledge of this agreement leaked out, it disturbed not only the Portuguese but the Belgians who had heard of the dream of a German Mittel-Afrika. While subsequent events dissipated this dream, the presence to-day of England in Tanganyika and Rhodesia, and the imperialistic pronouncements of South African statesmen have led many Belgians to direct their fears against the British Empire.
In order to finance construction work of the Benguela Railway at the end of the World War, Mr. Robert Williams of the Tanganyika Concessions, Ltd. attempted to float a loan of three million pounds in London, under the Trade Facilities Act which authorizes the British Treasury to guarantee the payment of loans to be employed on undertakings which will promote employment in the United Kingdom. This guarantee would lessen interest charges materially. But General Smuts, when Prime Minister of South Africa, protested to the British Government against this loan on the ground that the Benguela Railway would compete with the South African Railways. When General Hertzog became Prime Minister he withdrew these objections. Mr. Williams has now secured his loan and the road is nearing completion.
While the Benguela route is shorter to the West Coast from the Katanga than any other route, except via Beira, and while the port of Matadi is already over-crowded, many Belgians nevertheless are afraid of the Benguela route on the ground that it will be a British controlled railway serving a Portuguese port. Their fears were increased by a speech of Mr. Robert Williams in 1921 to the effect that the British could use the Benguela Railway as a route to Egypt or India in case the Mediterranean and Suez should be blocked in time of war.[ix] Largely for this (political) reason, the Belgian Government is now pushing the construction of the "B. C. K." Railway, linking the Katanga with Kinshasa via the Kasai.
Similar difficulties over communications have disturbed the relations between Portuguese East Africa and the Union of South Africa. In 1922 the Smuts Government served notice on Portugal terminating the convention of 1909 under which the Union of South Africa enjoyed the use of the port of Lourenço Marques, and under which it secured the right to recruit Portuguese natives for the Transvaal mines. In negotiations for a new agreement the Smuts Government demanded the establishment of a harbor board which, according to the Portuguese, would give South Africa control over the port and terminal facilities. Despite pressure which included the suspension of the entrance of Portuguese natives into the Union and taking off dining cars from the Lourenço Marques train upon entering Portuguese territory, the Portuguese stood their ground and the convention was not renewed. On his way home from the Imperial Conference in 1926 General Hertzog stopped off at Lisbon in the hope of removing differences of opinion. But no convention has as yet been signed, apparently because the South African Government still insists upon control over the terminal facilities of Lourenço Marques. The Portuguese declare, with a good deal of justification, that this port is one of the best administered in Africa, and they believe that the South Africa demand is animated by political motives. They do not feel kindly toward South Africa, also, because of its failure to keep its promise to construct a railway from Johannesburg to the Swaziland border. Portugal built its section of this road some years ago, but it cannot profitably operate it until the South Africa section is completed. The demands frequently expressed in Rhodesia for some control over the port of Beira have added to Portugal's fears.
Moreover, the mere presence of British trading firms, and American and British capital and missionaries, in French, Belgian, and Portuguese territory has introduced a foreign influence which has been disturbing to sensitive souls. In the Belgian Congo only 61 percent of the European population is Belgian; and until recently half of the European population in the copper region of the Katanga has been non-Belgian. The belief is frequently expressed that the salaries of Protestant missionaries is paid by their respective governments! The preamble to the Portuguese decree of October 5, 1926, subsidizing Portuguese Catholic missions, frankly says that foreign missionary organizations have not had "the Portuguese soul" and that in many cases they have served aims unfavorable to Portugal. Foreign missionary agencies have even "been found out to be hotbeds of intrigues" not only among natives but in Europe and North America, resulting in the enunciation of statements hostile to Portugal. They have been guilty of "cavilling foreignisme."
All of these fears, to one who believes that the pre-war diplomacy has been abandoned, seem unreal. There is reason to suppose, however, that the pre-war method of thinking still persists in Africa. There is a fear, which may indeed be the result of a guilty conscience, that the lusty nation of South Africa, animated by the old dogmas of Cecil Rhodes and the patriotism of the Boers, may at some date make trouble for its neighbors, and that a German or an Italian dictator may, under the guise of protecting nationals, occupy African soil. In the eyes of many colonial powers the only result of extending further privileges to foreigners in their colonies would be to increase the hold of the stronger powers and pave the way for intervention. These fears are, no doubt, exaggerated, but they make good trading points. Until they are removed, it is doubtful whether further progress toward international control can be made. They can best be removed by extending to the colonies of Africa some form of territorial guarantee through the negotiation of an African Locarno. In return for accepting the obligations outlined in the first part of this article, the colonies of Africa might receive the assurance of the European powers, South Africa, and the United States that as far as these powers are concerned these colonies shall not be the objects of aggression.
Despite the fact that the United States holds no territory in Africa there are historic, humanitarian and material reasons in favor of its association in any international effort to promote African welfare. The ancestors of the twelve million negroes in the United States were torn from the African continent -- a fact which perhaps has placed this country under a greater debt to the black continent than any country in Europe. Explorers having American connections, such as Stanley and Chaillu, were among the first to open up the center of Africa. For more than a hundred years the United States has taken a paternal interest in the Republic of Liberia. Representatives of the United States signed the Act of Berlin of 1885 and while President Cleveland did not present it to the Senate out of fear of foreign entanglements, the United States did ratify the Act of Brussels of 1890, subject to a Senate reservation. In 1919 the United States signed the African conventions negotiated at Saint Germain. In the following years it signed treaties securing Americans equal rights in the mandated territories -- treaties which have been ratified.
For some reason the State Department has not sent to the Senate the Saint Germain conventions, one of which provides for the open door for traders and for missionaries in Africa and the welfare of the African populations, and another for the prohibition of trade spirits. As yet the United States is not a party to the recent League of Nations Slavery Convention. In view of American missionary interests and of the American negro population, it is desirable that the United States Government ratify these agreements. When one witnesses the growing investments of American capital in the African continent, this action seems more imperative than ever. Liberia has recently granted Mr. Firestone a mammoth concession, and the Portuguese are at present endeavoring to float large loans in the United States. The object of both Liberia and Portugal is as much political as economic. They wish to play American influence against the possibility of European and South African aggression. It is important for the United States to realize the complications in which it may become involved. It is even more important for the United States to coöperate in placing under some form of control the entrance of large investments which, if misguided and uncontrolled, may make havoc with the native population. A step in this direction would be the creation of new consular posts in central Africa. At present this government maintains consuls only in Loanda, Monrovia, and Dakar on the West Coast, and in Nairobi and Lourenço Marques on the East. The establishment of new posts, manned by experienced officers, instructed to study carefully the social conditions of the territory before passing favorably on investments, would give the Department information which it lacks at present. Their officers might even be instructed to inspect labor conditions on enterprises where American capital is invested.
Sooner or later Africa will follow the way of the Orient. In the African's struggle to become free, he will be assisted by the American negro, who furnished the money, if not the leadership of the Garvey movement, and who to-day supports the more conservative Pan-African Congress. The Gold Coast Leader, an African newspaper, recently declared (July 17, 1926), in commenting on the weakness of the League of Nations, that "in the face of all this the world is thinking and thinking desperately. Some think white, some think black, others think yellow. It is essential that the black man should think black. In the struggle for a place in the sun no one is going to look after you unless you look after yourself . . ." The extremist activities of the native Industrial and Commercial Union in South Africa, under the leadership of Clements Kadalie, the large number of politico-religious movements, such as the Thuku episode in Kenya and the Kimbangu trouble in the Congo, are further indications that the black man is lifting his head.
It will be futile if the white governments in Europe and America attempt to stamp out the negro's aspirations. The intelligent governments in Africa to-day are attempting to train their populations so that eventually, even if after a hundred years, they may be able to govern themselves. If the governments of Europe and of the United States would coöperate in giving places of employment in Africa to skilled American negro doctors, artisans and teachers, the American negro population might become interested in the constructive problem of gradually elevating the continent of Africa to its place in the family of continents instead of supporting anti-racial and revolutionary movements which will be as disastrous to blacks as to whites.
[i] They are discussed in the writer's report to the Committee on International Research of Harvard University and Radcliffe College, entitled "The Native Problem in Africa," to be published in two volumes by Macmillan in November.
[ii] Lourenço Marques Guardian, June 1, 1927.
[iii] The Protestant figure is taken from the "World Missionary Atlas," New York, 1925, p. 76; the Catholic figure is taken from the Revue de l'Exposition Missionaire Vaticane, Milan, 1924-1925, p. 644. Of the 11,700 Catholics about 2,800 are priests, 1,690 lay brothers, and 7,100 nuns.
[iv] Decree no. 77, December, 1921, enacted by the High Commissioner for Loanda, Norton de Mattos.
[v] M. Halewyck, "La Charte Coloniale," Brussels, 1910, Vol. I, p. 191. In the Panama Canal tolls controversy, the British Government stated that "If the United States exempt certain classes of ships from the payment of tolls the result would be a form of subsidy to those vessels which His Majesty's Government consider the United States are debarred by the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty from making." Foreign Relations of the United States, 1912, p. 486.
[vi] The convention was ratified by France in 1921.
[vii] Cf. P. Daye, "L'Empire Colonial Belge," Brussels, 1923, pp. 623, 630; O. Homberg, "La France des Cinq Parties du Monde," Revue des Deux Mondes, February, 1927, p. 689.
[viii] The text is published in "Die Grosse Politik der Europaischen Kabinette," 1871-1914, Berlin, 1926, Vol. 37, p. 66.
[ix] Cf. R. Williams, "The Cape to Cairo Railway," Journal of the African Society, July, 1921.