Foreign Affairs: 100 Years
A New Americanism
Why a Nation Needs a National Story
AFTER the Congo and Algeria, the next trouble spot in Africa is likely to be the British-controlled Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Flanked on the south by Dr. Verwoerd's racist Republic of South Africa, on the east and west by Dr. Salazar's undeveloped provinces of Mozambique and Angola, and on the north by strife-torn Congo and self-governing Tanganyika, it is a major battleground between the protagonists of white rule in Africa and the surging tide of African nationalism. On the eve of a Constitutional Conference which will determine the shape of events in the immediate future, racial tensions have mounted dangerously. The riots in Southern Rhodesia last summer and the repressive legislation which followed, the Monckton Commission report calling for fundamental changes in the Federation, and the British decision to grant legislative majorities to the Africans in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland have all contributed to a sense of grievance in one group or another.
Rhodesian Europeans seeking to rally support for Sir Roy Welensky, the Federal Prime Minister, are putting stickers on their car windows bearing a large letter "W" (for Welensky--or possibly White supremacy). Their comparatively few white opponents apply the stickers upside-down, showing an "M" for Macmillan, Macleod and Monckton. But by far the strongest opposition to Sir Roy Welensky within the Federation comes from Dr. Hastings Banda, the Nyasaland leader of the Malawi Congress Party, and Mr. Kenneth Kaunda, leader of Northern Rhodesia's United National Independence Party, who want to secede from the Federation.
In the Federation, there are in general three schools of thought. First, there are those who want Federation to proceed basically unchanged but with minor alterations to the prompt attainment of full independence. The chief spokesman of this opinion is of course Welensky. Sir Edgar Whitehead, the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, agrees, but under pressure from the more segregation-minded Opposition adds that Southern Rhodesia may choose to secede if full independence is not granted. Secondly, there are those who think that Federation is economically of such importance to the three territories that they are willing to pay a considerable price politically to maintain it. Variations in this body of opinion range from those who want to see a liberal white government in which Africans play an increasingly prominent part to those who advocate a black federal government with safeguards for white interests. Considerable weight has been added to this opinion by the far-reaching recommendations of the Monckton Commission, presented in October. In brief, the Commission recognized the need for economic ties among the three territories, but advocated increased representation of Africans in the 59-member Federal Parliament, the right of a territory to secede after a further trial period, the return of certain powers to the territorial governments and the need for a wider territorial franchise, especially in Southern Rhodesia. The third viewpoint, which is held strongly by the Africans themselves, is that the present Federation must be broken up.
It is clear that the Federation cannot continue in its present form without widespread and severe violence, comparable in scope if not in character to the Mau Mau Emergency in Kenya. Hostility to Federation among Africans, particularly in the two Northern territories, is intense and not altogether unfounded. It is built on and buttressed by the mistakes of the Federal Government in the last seven years, the speeches of its leading spokesman and the actions of its officers.
The first major failure was in the implementation of the policy of partnership or multi-racialism on which the Federation was founded. After seven years, senior positions in the Federal Civil Service are still occupied exclusively by whites; there is only one African Parliamentary Secretary in a Cabinet of nine men; the Federation's government-owned airline employs Africans only as janitors, drivers and the like; and, with the exception of doctors and some nurses, the principle of equal pay for equal work is by no means honored, even by the Government. In matters for which the territorial governments are responsible, discrimination is still extreme, especially in Southern Rhodesia, aptly referred to as the "nigger in the woodpile" of Federation. There the Civil Service can be entered only by Europeans (an amendment has been promised); residential segregation is so sharp that even the African Cabinet Minister could not be accommodated in the white suburbs where other Ministers live; African businessmen cannot trade in the center of the main towns; passes are still enforced; wages are disproportionate; cafés and restaurants are closed to non-whites. Several breaches in the color bar have been made in respect of common services in post offices, in trains and at airports, and at the University College at Salisbury. But the fundamental issues of the land and the vote have not been tackled, although the evils of the land policy in Southern Rhodesia have at last been acknowledged by an investigating committee of the legislature.
The major blow to African hopes of partnership came in 1955 when the Federal Government rejected a motion by an African Federal Member of Parliament from Northern Rhodesia, Mr. Dauti Yamba, to the effect that discrimination should be outlawed in public places. Sir Roy Welensky, speaking for the Government, said the solution to this apparent human problem could be found only in economic progress--a point of view he has reiterated on many occasions. At about that time, a Cabinet Minister, pressed by angry white farmers at a meeting in Bindura to state whether partnership meant an alteration of the status quo, likened it to the partnership of a donkey and its rider--obviously with the same goals, travelling on the same road, but not equals.
As a result of segregation and the absence of communication between the two races, particularly in Southern Rhodesia, the Federal Government has been out of touch with African opinion, and Federal Ministers out of touch with African leaders. Although Dr. Banda, Mr. Kaunda and Mr. Joshua Nkomo, all Presidents of the largest African political parties in their respective territories, have discussed the Federal situation variously with Mr. Macmillan, Mr. Macleod and other British M.P.s, they have not exchanged a single word on the same problems with Sir Roy Welensky or his strong Cabinet colleagues, Sir Malcolm Barrow and Mr. Julius Greenfield. None of these Federal Ministers has had an African in his home for an evening, although Sir Roy has an "open stoep" for all his old friends in the all-white Rhodesia Railway Workers' Union, and others, most Sunday afternoons. It is important to emphasize this human aspect which has been so sadly neglected in Federal affairs, hampered as they are by law and traditional prejudices. Confidence and understanding, so necessary in negotiating a new constitutional agreement, cannot be achieved in such circumstances.
In 1957 a further blow was dealt to African confidence in federation when the Federal Government enacted a franchise law, the intent of which was obviously to keep power in the hands of 3.7 percent of the population, namely the whites. (There are 300,000 Europeans and 8,000,000 Africans in the Federation.) By setting high income and educational qualifications, it has been possible to keep 97 percent of the Common Voters' Roll in white hands, although it is supposedly non-racial. Africans see no possibility of ever having a decisive influence on this roll, for as their wages rise and education becomes more widespread they have no doubt that the qualifications would be raised, as has been done in Southern Rhodesia twice in the last ten years.
Africans throughout the Federation cannot see why such stringent requirements should be set for them, when in India illiterate men and women vote by symbols, and in Nigeria they vote merely by throwing a stone in a bucket below a party symbol they recognize. White Federal politicians lay much emphasis on the need for voters to be responsible and civilized, but Africans interpret this as a mere device to deprive them of political power and influence--the more so as these arbitrary standards of civilization and responsibility can be raised whenever the white man feels his political control is threatened.
Last but by no means least important, Africans in the Federation cannot and will not crouch in submission with arms folded when all around them they can see their fellowmen governing themselves. The advent of Ghana, Nigeria and other states as free and independent nations, represented at the United Nations, and of Tanganyika as a self-governing state, is obviously an exciting idea to every African. Southern Rhodesia boasts of the highest literacy rate south of the Sahara; it has more than 100 universitytrained Africans. But, paradoxically, it has not a single African in its 30-member legislature, and not one has entered the Territory's Civil Service in the 37 years since self-government was granted to Southern Rhodesia. This applies even to the Department of Native Affairs which looks primarily after African interests.
Americans often ask whether the Federation has trained Africans who can do better than the Congolese, if given self-rule. In Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, which are British Protectorates, the Colonial Office policy of "African Paramountcy" has led to a more serious effort to train Africans for the Civil Service. There are now several Africans in top executive posts, and four are in the Executive Councils (Cabinet). It is Southern Rhodesia that is perpetuating conditions similar to those of the Congo before June 30, although it has the largest number of Africans equipped for administrative responsibility.
The third and most popular viewpoint toward Federation--that of unqualified opposition--stems from the Africans' fear that the policies and attitudes of Southern Rhodesian whites will be permitted to dominate the larger political association. In principle, Africans certainly do not want Africa to be balkanized. Kwame Nkrumah, the leading exponent of Pan-Africanism, said recently, "African States must federate and survive, or remain divided and disintegrate." George Padmore's books preach endlessly about the dream of a United States of Africa. The objections to the present Federation are not, then, based on opposition to the concept of unity but on the understandable dislike of the retrogressive racial policies of Southern Rhodesia. The Monckton Commission established this point beyond doubt. It discovered that the most vocal critics were those Africans from the north who had visited Southern Rhodesia to find work, and had been forced to carry passes on big tobacco farms owned exclusively by white settlers.
The economic argument for Federation is, however, a valid one, although many Nyasas and Northern Rhodesians do not want to admit it lest they weaken their strong political position. If the Federation were broken up, the economic consequences would be extremely grave, except perhaps for the Northern Rhodesians. In unity, Northern Rhodesia's coppermines, Southern Rhodesia's growing industries and Nyasaland's labor force complement each other's needs. The Kariba Dam has been built at a cost of nearly $660,000,000 which must be repaid by the territories either jointly or singly if the Federation is broken up; customs tariffs for manufactured goods have been lowered; and direly needed transportation is being expanded on a Federation-wide basis.
If more development money is to be found, the confidence of monetary institutions like the World Bank, the largest investor in Africa, will have to be maintained, and if possible increased. It is hard to imagine how this can be done if the Federation breaks apart entirely. Further, we will have lost the opportunity to plunge straight ahead with the development of what is one of the very few states in Africa with a broadly based industrial economy. The pressing problems of unemployment, low wages, health, transportation to exploit more natural resources, and lack of technical skills--problems which will be with us even at the end of the century, regardless of political status--would be accentuated if the Federation is dissolved.
What the forthcoming London Conference must agree to is that Africans shall have a decisive political influence in the Federation. Three measures are required. First, the franchise must be made broad enough so that Europeans no longer predominate at the polls. If universal adult suffrage is rejected, the purpose could be accomplished by establishing six years of education as the only voter qualification. Second, a Bill of Human Rights should be enacted to ensure the safety of the person and property of every individual in the Federation. Such a Bill would be of immediate advantage to the Africans, but in the long run it will be of tremendous advantage to the Europeans. Under this provision, the individual territorial governments would be compelled to outlaw many forms of racial discrimination which now exist. Third, the two northern territories, which have already been assured African majorities, should be placed in a position of political equality with Southern Rhodesia so that they can object effectively to arrangements they find restrictive and distasteful. One bargains best from a position of strength.
A Federation in which Southern Rhodesian Europeans were no longer dominant in the Federal Assembly and Cabinet, in which the obvious economic advantages were combined with a universal (or broadly qualified) Federal franchise and civil rights for all--such a Federation would, I believe, be acceptable to African opinion, even in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
What chances of success has such a plan? Nil, at present, because of massive resistance from the Europeans of Southern Rhodesia who are afraid of losing their jobs, land and general position of privilege. Politicians like Sir Roy and Sir Edgar have gone far to promise the white electors that there will be "no retreat" and "certainly no sell-out." Several African Uncle Toms support them in this contention, thereby giving the tough line a semblance of African support. For its part, the British Government is afraid of a Boston Teaparty on the Zambezi or Lake Nyasa. Yet it knows that, unless the plan emerging from the London Conference is far-reaching, Africans will reject it out of hand, thereby threatening a more prolonged and violent "teaparty." Soon Dr. Banda and Mr. Kaunda will have Legislative Council majorities. They will then be in a position to resist effectively Federal connections with race-conscious Southern Rhodesia.
Who, then, can initiate the drastic constitutional reforms so necessary even to begin meeting the mounting aspirations of the African people? The answer, of course, is the British Government. It must act decisively and courageously if violence is to be avoided and if today's moderate African leadership in the Federation is not to be replaced by more radical men, who may even lean to the East. Fortunately, Mr. Macmillan and Mr. Macleod enter the difficult negotiations with one big advantage--the confidence of the African people; Dr. Banda has repeatedly poured glowing praise on the Colonial Secretary, who has clearly had the Prime Minister's full support. Further, in recent months when Belgian policy in the Congo has been under heavy fire, British colonial policy has benefited by comparison and has frequently been praised. After Mr. Macmillan's high-flown declarations about colonialism in reply to Mr. Khrushchev in the United Nations, the British Prime Minister cannot now afford to do less than his utmost to save the situation in Central Africa.
A showdown with Welensky and Whitehead seems inevitable. In the final analysis, the resolution of the Federation problem depends entirely on the ability to deal with the Southern Rhodesian Europeans, who form the strongest single political force in the country, electing as they do both the Federal and Southern Rhodesian Governments. If they feel that the changes being made are too drastic, they will attempt to secede. However, the fear that Southern Rhodesia might join the Union of South Africa is unfounded. This threat is being used by Europeans as a stick with which to beat the British Government into acceptance of their policies. But it is out of the question, particularly since South Africa voted to become a republic. Afrikaaner domination would be as objectionable to most Southern Rhodesian Europeans as black domination. Furthermore, it is quite improbable that South Africa would agree to add a hostile English-speaking bloc and 2,250,000 rebellious Africans to its already acute racial problems. The most that Southern Rhodesia can do is to try to go it alone.
The 200,000 Europeans of Southern Rhodesia are now engaged in a last-ditch struggle for the maintenance of white supremacy. The all-white administration and legislature have sent police to occupy the African townships, 20 lives have been lost, and 550 Africans have been arrested under an increasing volume of security legislation which has led to the resignation of the Federal Chief Justice, Sir Robert Tredgold. Rhodesian-born and widely respected, Sir Robert may lead a new liberal political party; one hopes that his fate is not that of Garfield Todd, a former Prime Minister who is now in the political wilderness. It will take far more than a Tredgold, a Todd or further African rioting to convince Rhodesian whites to make the necessary concessions. Only the British Government can accomplish this, and to do so it may have to go so far as to remind Sir Edgar Whitehead and his colleagues that it still has powers to suspend the Southern Rhodesian constitution, as was done in recent years in Malta and British Guiana.
Yet many fears of the consequences of an African majority are groundless. It cannot be overemphasized that Africans do not intend to drive Europeans away or dispossess them arbitrarily. The doctrine of "Africa for the Africans" has long been abandoned, and replaced with "one man one vote" or--more tellingly--"government of the people, by the people and for the people." We know that each skilled European who comes into any part of Central Africa creates eight jobs for Africans. Therefore, no African Prime Minister in his proper senses would squeeze Europeans out lest he be faced with a grave unemployment problem. Contrary to the alarmists' view, Europeans will be encouraged to stay in the Federation and others will be urged to come, as has been the case in Ghana where the white population has doubled since independence. Dr. Banda, who was painted as an archenemy of Europeans, now wants Europeans to fight the next election under the banner of his own party; Mr. Kaunda could be expected to behave in the same way once his goals are achieved in Northern Rhodesia. The struggle is against the régime, not against Europeans; Africans ask only for equality--at the ballot box, on the land and in terms of opportunity. Only then can the much-publicized concept of a multi-racial state succeed in Central Africa.