Courtesy Reuters

SHORTLY after Sir Winston Churchill remarked that he had not become the King's First Minister in order to preside over the dissolution of the British Empire, the voters relieved him of that responsibility; he is alive to see a successor not merely presiding over that dissolution but eagerly speeding it up, the sails of his party set to catch the full force of the wind of change. By the end of 1962 it is unlikely that any part of Africa will remain under the control of any white-skinned race, except the Union of South Africa, alone and isolated, and perhaps the Portuguese provinces of Angola and Mozambique which, unlike the territories until so recently controlled by France, Britain and Belgium, have had some 400 years of European government.

Empires have broken up before--according to Toynbee, well over 20 have come and gone--but never, it is safe to say, so quickly and with so little bloodshed. Within the last five years, some 23 separate countries formerly under French or British rule have gained their independence, or are just about to do so, almost without the firing of a shot or even an exchange of insults--on the contrary, with goodwill and compliments all around. In these often despondent days, this is something to put to the credit side of the twentieth century.

The wicked colonial oppressor, in fact, has been getting out just as fast as he can. This hotfoot exit has made embarrassing the task of those determined to build and sustain a myth of the ruthless white tyrant hanging on to power, and a matching myth of the gallant freedom-fighter wresting it from him--an illusion so necessary to an emergent nation's self-esteem. Mythologists have had to do the best they can with a few mishandled parades and displays of colonialist pique, as when the French removed telephones and typewriters after Guinea had opted out of the French Community. But the more realistic nationalist leaders have punctured the balloon by speaking of their departing overlords as human beings who, in the words of Nigeria's Premier, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, acted "first as masters, then as leaders, and finally as partners, but always as friends."

It is in West Africa that the path to independence has run, by and large, so smoothly. In the east and center of the continent it has been uneven, remains dangerous and is not yet fully traversed. Instead of a relatively homogeneous population of Blacks, these countries embrace a mixture of races. Whites, and in some cases Browns, have been settled there for several generations. They consider that they have as much right to be regarded as Africans as have the Negro/Bantu races, and that the economies of their countries, built upon the enterprise and capital of Europeans rather than upon the subsistence farming of peasants, will collapse if they are forced out.

These are the so-called multi-racial countries. I shall attempt briefly to survey their immediate past, glance at their present and suggest some possibilities ahead. One of the great unknowns, the joker in the international pack, is the nature and political expression of what President Nkrumah of Ghana has called "the African personality." Non-Africans who guess about it stick their necks out even farther than commentators on the European or American scene. Peering into the fog, the observer can do no more than describe the shapes that loom ahead as he sees them, leaving every man to interpret them as he can.

II

A useful starting-point is the conspicuous difference between the progress towards independence made in Tanganyika on the one hand and in Kenya on the other. These two East African neighbors have much in common. Although Tanganyika was a German colony from 1884 until its conquest by the Allies in 1917, then became a mandated territory of the League of Nations and subsequently a trust territory of the United Nations, both countries have been under British colonial tutelage for over 40 years. They are loosely linked (together with Uganda and Zanzibar) by the East Africa High Commission in a merger of economic services like railways, posts and telegraphs, customs and taxation. Their coastal districts share a history of previous Arab rule, their interiors one of constant wars and raids between tribes far more primitive than those of West Africa.

In both countries, there has been settlement by Europeans. Their important plantation industries are European-owned. In both, Indians and Pakistanis have a near-monopoly of the retail trade, own most of the city real estate and occupy a key position in the economy. But Tanganyika is to gain its independence next December after a peaceful and orderly transfer of power; whereas Kenya--in trade, wealth and social services the more advanced country--was for four years torn by the bloody Mau Mau revolt, costing several thousand lives and some $150 million in cash, and today is far from peaceful and settled; nor has any date yet been fixed for independence.

Why have these two countries, apparently so alike, advanced in such a different manner towards the same goal? Among a number of reasons, two stand out. In Tanganyika, white farmers have been fewer, more scattered, less secure in their land and politically less powerful than in Kenya; they have therefore acquiesced more readily in their own political submergence under Black rule. Chance provides the second reason: the accident of leadership. In Julius Nyerere, Tanganyika has found a wise, sincere, moderate and yet inspiring leader who has been able to unite the 120 or so different and distinct tribes that make up its heterogeneous population. In Kenya, no leader of Nyerere's stature has emerged.

The only way to unite tribes jealous and suspicious of each other has been to whip up their hatred of a common enemy; and the White settler has been there to distort and magnify into the image of this common foe. Politics in Kenya have therefore been shot through with a racial bitterness lacking in Tanganyika. Now that the time has come to form a government from politicians of all three races, Kenya's atmosphere is poisoned. Tolerance, a slender plant at all times, has been wilting away. There is no unity either between the Africans, whose tribal differences have been carried over into political organizations, or between the three races. And without at least a modicum of unity, you cannot form a government.

In desperation the disunited Kenya Africans have turned to a curious figure who has, in the last ten years, congealed into a myth. This is Jomo Kenyatta, the 70-year-old convicted organizer of the Mau Mau revolt. The odd thing about Kenyatta is that he belongs not to the new wave of westernized, college-educated politicians more at home in a television studio than up a palm tree, but to the dark, tribal past of Africa. "Burning spear" is his other name; the frontispiece to his book on his own tribe, the Kikuyu, depicts him fingering a spear and clad in a leopardskin. He was a boy of ten before he ever saw a European--a missionary doctor who saved his life by operating for a spinal disease. Later he entered politics and for 15 years lived in England, aside from two trips to Moscow, pressing the cause of African freedom.

Within two years of his return to Kenya in 1946, his fellow-tribesmen were taking the secret and obscene Mau Mau oath to murder Europeans and drive them from Africa. Open warfare, conducted by gangsters who used revolting tortures to terrorize their fellows into collaboration, broke out in 1952 between his tribe, the Kikuyu, and the colonial government. Kenyatta was sentenced to seven years imprisonment. Now to Kenya's 6,000,000 Africans he has become a symbol of freedom, the only man they believe can create among their jealous tribes a unity that even Tom Mboya, the bright young travelling salesman for African nationalism, has failed to bring about.

But most British civil servants and White farmers, and some anti-Mau Mau Africans, will not accept as national leader the man they hold responsible for Kenya's greatest tragedy, and for the depravity of the ritual with which it was invested. Since 1958, he has been kept under a form of house arrest. In this sense it is Kenyatta--and not a White refusal to accept Black rule--that stands at present between Kenya and its freedom, just as it is Kenyatta, in nationalist eyes, who alone can achieve the unity essential if Kenya is not to become another Congo. Elections held on a wide suffrage last February have put a majority of Africans, for the first time, into the country's parliament, but the majority party has refused to form a government. While a coalition between the African minority party and some Europeans has resulted, political instability has reduced confidence almost to the vanishing point; capital has fled the country, the value of investments has declined by 62 percent, unemployment is growing and much that has been built up in the last 40 years seems in jeopardy. Such a state of affairs offers to the forces of disintegration, so tragically at work in the Congo, another point of entry. And behind these forces of disintegration lie the forces working to defeat and expel Western influence from Africa.

III

Present uncertainty and fear of future trouble prevail also in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, formed in 1953 to strengthen and develop the economy of the three constituent countries[i] and to provide the world with a working model of racial partnership. African leaders in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland opposed federation from the start, on the ground that it was a device for perpetuating indefinitely the rule of the Whites in Southern Rhodesia. It was the hope of British statesmen--both political parties were involved--that the economic advantages of federation would in time win them over, and that such practical effects of partnership as the founding of a multiracial university, a greatly improved health service and a common voters' roll for Blacks and Whites, would convince them that the best hope for Africa lay not in strident Black nationalism, but in racial coöperation.

Last year, a large commission was appointed to inquire into how the Federation had worked, and to advise all the governments concerned on the next step. The Monckton report, published last fall, made depressing reading for those who had staked everything on the success of what had come to be regarded as the last chance in Africa to work out a genuine partnership between the races. Broadly speaking, the Commission found two things. First, that the economic advantages everyone had hoped for from the federation had been realized. Federation had brought capital investment, expanded trade, new industries and good prospects for better living standards among Black and White alike. Second, that none of this had influenced African opinion, which had steadily become more anti-federation until it had reached a stage the Commissioners described as pathological. African nationalists identified federation with White domination, and especially with the racial policies of the all-White government of Southern Rhodesia, and so they wanted federation scrapped.

Nationalists do not speak for all Africans. Some supported federation, and still do; there are African ministers in the government; but their influence has waned. Partly by means of intimidation, partly by the pressure of outside events, a majority of Africans appear to have rejected the multi-racial ideal in favor of undiluted Black nationalism. The Commission's report presented a regretful picture of an ideal of racial partnership that was virtually dead; yet it did not recommend the winding up of federation. The Commissioners outlined a plan to continue an association between the three British Central African states, but to narrow this down to economic matters, leaving each country free to go its own way politically, save for a common defense and foreign policy. In fact they hoped that by jettisoning a lot of the cargo, the ship itself could--possibly--be saved.

With the great majority of Africans in both Nyasaland and in Northern Rhodesia implacably against federation, and even the Whites in Southern Rhodesia--by now thoroughly alarmed at the prospect of Black domination--hostile or at best lukewarm, one might well ask what has kept it from immediate dissolution. The answer lies in one man. The most powerful political figure in Central Africa today is Sir Roy Welensky, the genial, bland, outspoken and single-minded ex-pugilist, ex-locomotive engineer, son of a penniless Jewish immigrant from Poland and an Afrikaner mother, who rose via the trade unions to become Prime Minister of the Federation. Welensky is probably the most hated and the most adulated man in Central Africa. I have seen crowds of Africans burning his portrait while they stamped with rage; the White miners of Northern Rhodesia's copperbelt will rise to cheer his name and to volunteer in vigilante groups to fight his battles. For, as they see it, his struggle is nothing less than that for White survival--Africans say White domination--in Africa. He is the chief architect of federation. To secure it he founded the United Federal Party which is now in office, and he has convinced the British Government that the Federation must be kept going at all costs--save that of sacrificing finally African goodwill throughout the continent.

It would be wrong to dismiss Welensky's motives as merely personal. It is true that he has ridden to power on federation and that if it crashes, he will crash too. But he is convinced that partnership between Black and White can be made to work, that here in Central Africa this will be proved or disproved, and that if it fails, not only will the Whites be run out of Africa, but the Blacks will be self-condemned to a tragic collapse of all their hopes of advancement. At the best the end of federation, he believes, would spell the end of capital investment and development, the worsening of poverty, and goodbye to many schemes of education and training for a richer life. At the worst, it could bring about "another Congo"--the collapse of law, order and administration, and a return to the standards of the jungle. For African nationalists lack the three Es--education, experience and equipment--needed to keep their countries from confusion and decline.

Last year the sight of thousands of fleeing Belgians, some wounded and some raped, flown out by the Royal Rhodesian Air Force and passed through emergency camps, did nothing to diminish the fears of the Whites that the end of federation would mean the end of civilization in this part of Africa. It is the core of Welensky's position, and of his party's policy, that political control must be kept in "civilized hands." These hands need not be White. The United Federal Party is, in theory anyway, multiracial. Since federation was established, many apartheid practices in Southern Rhodesia have been modified or abolished. But only people who are "civilized" are to be allowed to vote.

To measure civilization in an individual is a task to confound the deepest philosophers. Politicians roughly achieve it, at least to their own satisfaction, by a qualitative franchise. A citizen must pass certain tests in order to vote. These tests include literacy in English and a combination of a minimum income and level of education. Both Blacks and Whites must pass these tests; at present, the standard is so set that at the last federal election only 2,000 Africans got themselves on the common roll, as against 90,000 Europeans. More Africans could have qualified had they bothered, and as education snowballs more and more will qualify for the roll, until eventually Africans outnumber Europeans. This, the Europeans say, will be perfectly all right so long as the Blacks are "civilized."

The Blacks will have none of this. They believe that, as more Africans qualify, the tests will be stiffened, so as to maintain indefinitely a White preponderance. In any case they are in no mood for waiting. The sense of haste and urgency, the intolerance of even small delays, is impossible to realize unless it has been experienced at first hand. Talks on constitutions to achieve a freedom that may be expected to last a thousand years will founder on proposals to delay their completion by six months. Pie in the sky is not for today's Black nationalists. They want pie, and plenty of it, here and now. In political terms they want universal suffrage immediately.

Throughout non-free Africa, "one man one vote" is now a rallying-cry possessed of all the emotional appeal, and more, once summoned by such a phrase as "Remember the Alamo." I have heard it chanted like a magic incantation by thousands of tribesmen, and by women with babies strapped in slings on their backs who could not understand a word of English. But they understand "one man one vote" to mean the end of being pushed around by people of an alien race and culture, the restoration of their self-respect. That they may well get pushed around far more ruthlessly by men of their own race and culture does not, at the moment, bother them. They do not care for economics. They do not really even care for politics. When it comes to putting a mark on a piece of paper they cannot read, they are not troubled about the platforms of political parties. They are concerned merely to record, in this new fashion, their loyalty to a man: perhaps a father-figure, perhaps the modern image of the chief for whom respect is inborn and essential. They vote for Kenyatta, for Nyerere, for Banda, for Nkrumah, for Nkomo, for whoever is the man of the hour and the time. And it is useless to talk to them about economics or, it would seem, with few exceptions, about partnership and multi-racialism. Naked racialism, Black racialism, is on the rampage in Africa and to stem it needs more than the strength of Hercules, or even of Sir Roy Welensky.

IV

During the past 20 or 30 years both France and Britain have striven to introduce into their African dependencies the concept of democracy. The cry of "one man one vote" from end to end of the continent suggests a brilliant success. This is indeed partly true. The idea of voting for representatives, which everywhere at first had almost to be forced on the people, has caught on to a dramatic extent. Elections, parties, votes, slogans, parliaments, universal suffrage, all these are part of the equipment of every newly independent state. On the surface, democracy looks like a healthy, well-rooted specimen successfully transplanted from Europe to Africa. And in places it is thriving more happily than anyone had a right to expect. But in Russia also there are elections, parties--at any rate one party--votes, slogans, parliaments and universal suffrage. The framework is all there. It is the spirit that is lacking; and this is the case also in some, already, of the new African states. It is likely soon to be the case in others. Transplanted trees may stand for some time after the sap ceases to run.

The story of Ghana is already familiar. Within a year of independence, President Nkrumah had swept away the careful safeguards for minorities set up by the departing British. Within another year, the effective members of the parliamentary opposition were in jail. All outward opposition to Nkrumah's régime has been suppressed under laws enabling the government to jail anyone it likes without trial for five years. There is plenty of free speech if you support the government party--very little future if you do not.

Yet it would be a mistake, I believe, to see Ghana in the same light as a Communist satellite such as Hungary or Poland. The set-up may be similar--it would be out of the question for Nkrumah's party to be voted out of office--but Ghanaians have never had the sort of system we understand by democracy, and there is no reason to suppose that they have ever wanted it. Under Nkrumah's brand of dictator-democracy they are getting a good deal of what they do want: prosperity, prestige, panache, a feeling of going places and of cutting a figure in the world. If they are also getting a good deal of corruption and some tyranny, there is no evidence that they mind these things very much. Everything has its price, and this probably seems to most Ghanaians a light one. They are at last getting the Volta project and over $300,000,000 in foreign loans, and that is worth a cross in the right place on a piece of paper now and then. So is the pride and pageantry of a leader who has put their country on the television screens of the world. If it had been an African crowd that had seen Caesar wave aside the crown of laurels in the Roman Forum, I doubt if they would have applauded. But they would have cheered him to the echo if he had put it on.

A trend toward dictatorships cannot be regarded by the West as a happy outcome of half a century of colonialism. At the same time it would be unrealistic, I suggest, to expect anything else. In an established democracy we take a good many things for granted. These include an overriding loyalty among the mass of citizens toward their country and its rulers; a willingness to live at peace under whatever government is freely elected, even if it is one you dislike; and tolerance toward minority points of view. For thousands of years the people of Africa have been divided into thousands of tribes--each with its separate language, faith, customs, territory and tradition--most of them jealous and suspicious of their neighbors. Fifty or sixty years of colonialism have only blurred the edges of these deep divisions. After a brief colonial interlude, tribalism is emerging as the major problem of an independent and partially balkanized Africa.

In a tribal society, the citizen's first loyalty lies toward his tribe and its leaders. In modern terms he votes for a fellow-tribesman, not for a member of a rival group. He is not prepared to accept, without the use of force, government by other tribes; he is not prepared to be persuaded to a different tribal point of view. Political parties tend to follow lines of tribal divisions. In such conditions, democracy as we know it simply cannot, and does not, work. Of course tribalism is fading--education is slowly bleaching its color and strength. But the process is uneven. Belgian withdrawal in the Congo revealed it in a virtually pristine condition; tribe fought tribe and they are still doing so. In Ruanda-Urundi it has twice exploded in the last few years into open warfare; in Kenya it is preventing the formation of a truly representative government; in Uganda it is holding up an overdue independence.

But in Nigeria an Ibo Governor-General, Dr. Azikiwe, presides with all-round approval over a federation embracing his people's traditional enemies, the Yoruba and Fulani. In Ghana, an ancient enmity between the Ashanti and the coastal groups no longer threatens the republic's unity. The methods followed in these two countries illustrate two ways in which tribalism may be overcome: in Nigeria by a federation which grants to each ethnic group a large measure of internal self-determination,[ii] and in Ghana by the strong-arm methods of a central party controlled by the president. The first method is compatible with democracy, the second obviously is not.

From this we may perhaps draw the firm conclusion that, after independence, tribalism will lead either toward authoritarian rule or toward separatism. In both cases there are obvious dangers. Separatism can be made the basis for a federation only where the units are large enough to develop into viable states. In Nigeria there are over five million Yoruba-speaking people, as many in the Ibo community, and perhaps six or seven millions in the Hausa language group. These units are amply big enough to form self-governing states within (or even without) a federation. It is where the units are too small, or too mixed up with others, to allow a federal form of government to develop that trouble must arise.

Although education, plus the nationalist movement in politics, is drawing people out of tribalism, there is at work also a counterrevolutionary force which may tend to revive rather than to bury tribal differences. There is one aspect of nationalism that glorifies the African tradition, the African past; that reminds its followers of the lost empires of Songhai, of Mali, of Axum, of Monomotapa; that looks back to the African arts of dance and sculpture; that seeks the roots of "the African personality." These roots were tribal, and it is only in the tribe that Africans can trace their cultural heritage.

So it would be facile to assume that tribalism has been all but swept into limbo by education and the pan-African ideal. Undoubtedly this pan-African vision currently inspires most of the leading Black nationalists. The more sober, like Nyerere, see it primarily as a means of countering the economic and political dangers of the balkanization of Africa which has already followed the folding up of two colonial empires. The more flamboyant see in pan-Africanism the means by which the Black races will expel the White race from the whole of Africa, and become a power to be reckoned with in the world: a great bloc of united, forward-moving peoples who will be listened to with respect in Moscow, Peking, New York and London.

Such pan-Africanists have no time at all for the multi-racial approach that still forms the basis of official policy in East and Central Africa. In their view, any Whites who remain in Africa must stay as the hired servants of Black masters. Some will be needed for a number of years, but as crash programs of training in all the skills of modern society proceed, these numbers will dwindle rapidly. When Africans are fully trained, they will take over all branches of government, commerce, industry and teaching, and there will be no need for any Whites at all, except as tourists.

Such an extreme view is held only by a small handful of nationalists; but then, it was only a small handful of nationalists who led the mass of Africa's 230,000,000 people to the brink of the promised land. It would be a mistake to underestimate either their strength or their dedicated resolve to rid the continent of its Whites. In this they have been, and are, helped and supported by the United Arab Republic and, behind that, by the Communist and anti-Western world.

The extent of such support is as difficult to estimate as its effectiveness. That the Russians are in Africa is of course a fact: they are there in some force, as experts, and advisers, in Egypt, in Guinea and elsewhere; they are there as a financial power, expressed through loans, in several other countries, including Ghana; above all they are implanting themselves as an idea in the minds of a large number of African students at present enjoying free training and concentrated indoctrination in a number of Iron-Curtain countries, from Peking to Prague, and from East Berlin to Moscow.

The number of such students cannot be accurately told, but it runs well into thousands and is growing rapidly. Every one of these graduates will return to a country avid for the services of trained men and women, each to a position of influence and prestige. The Russians, still more perhaps the Chinese, are in no great hurry; they are prepared to let the fruit ripen on the tree. There have been failures, of course. Nigerians have returned from the Friendship University in Moscow disgusted with the poor conditions, the harsh discipline and the lack of freedom, compared with the treatment they received at the hands of their colonialist oppressors. But there will also be successes. The real challenge will not come until a sufficiency of these trained young men and women have returned to countries by then, no doubt, embroiled in the troubles that flow from lack of experience, money and experts. The Communists are looking ahead five, ten, even fifteen years. In the meantime non-alignment, the new doctrine of the independent states, suits them very well.

V

Three bodies now exist to provide for consultation among the emergent nations, and to help freedom-fighters in countries still in the grip of colonialism. These are the Afro-Asian Solidarity Conference, supported by President Nasser and in receipt of Russian advice and money, with headquarters in Cairo; the All African Peoples' Conference started by President Nkrumah and run from Accra; and the Conference of Independent African States. We may expect in the immediate future to see an intensification of their efforts to sweep White control from its last African strongholds--namely, the Portuguese colonies, Southern Rhodesia and the Union of South Africa. The virtual expulsion of Dr. Verwoerd's South Africa from the British Commonwealth last March may well mark the start of a major onslaught on that country's Afrikaner government and its policy of apartheid. If one thing unites all these diverse newly independent states it is an implacable, irreversible hatred for this policy and this government. Even the moderate Nyerere has declared a rigid boycott of all things South African. Nkrumah now obliges every South African in transit through Ghana to sign a document repudiating apartheid. If he refuses, the aircraft in which he is travelling may not land. Virtually all the airfields in the continent may soon be closed to South Africa's aircraft, all harbors to its trade and all commercial avenues to its export goods.

The existence among the South African Bantu of an underground movement planning a nation-wide uprising against the Whites is no mere back-velder's nightmare. This rising would be timed to coincide with direct intervention by the independent African states. Nearly every new African country of any size has already started to build up an army and an air force on modern lines. As yet these forces are small, but they are growing. Nor can one discount rumors of troops secretly in training. An all-out military attack against South Africa, Mozambique and Angola by an alliance of free African states, using small but modern forces equipped by powerful outsiders, and timed to coincide with a widespread anti-White rising, is not such a very remote possibility. It is almost certainly being discussed, even planned, today in Cairo, Conakry, Accra and other African capitals.

It would hardly be possible for such a race-war to be waged without intervention by non-African powers. Nor would it be possible for the Western powers passively to watch Africa drift, jump or topple from its uneasy and precarious perch of non-alignment into the Russian-Chinese camp. Strategically, economically, Africa is too big a stake to let go.

If Africa is to be a cold war battlefield, as it already is and will increasingly become with this racial bomb ticking plumb in the middle, it would seem disastrous for the Western powers not to work in harmony. Yet coöperation between them is wholly inadequate, and the temptation to play one another off in order to secure some temporary advantage sometimes proves irresistible.

The anxiety of the Kennedy Administration to back the big black horse in Africa is understandable and justified. Too many worn-out, knock-kneed old animals destined to fold halfway down the course have carried American money. No sensible person can be other than delighted that this mistake is not, it would appear, about to be made again--although there will be some awkward moments ahead in, say, Ethiopia, before the matter is resolved.

But it is one thing to express American sympathy and support for African nationalism and quite another to do so by attacking America's partners in NATO who have had the practical and exceedingly delicate task of de-colonializing their vast inherited empires. American information services have played the Communist game by pursuing a propaganda line that roughly runs: "We got rid of King George's redcoats--now it's your turn, and we're here to help in your freedom-struggle." In fact, at times American propaganda has been accused of being almost indistinguishable from that of the Russians and of President Nasser. Such protestations anger the United States' allies without really impressing the Africans, whose leaders have reached a stage of sophistication where they judge America by what she does in Mississippi, not by what her representatives say in Lagos, Cairo, Salisbury or Nairobi. In short, it is one thing to back the right horse and quite another to scramble onto the bandwagon.

American aid for underdeveloped countries is already percolating, as yet hesitantly, through this vast continent; it can be expected to increase in volume, speed and effectiveness. At present the channels through which such aid may come are too confused and sometimes too clogged. No one would wish to see a torrent of dollars rain down upon just and unjust projects alike, nor is a Dutch auction between the Eastern and the Western powers to gain nationalist favors a desirable development. Aid in Africa is hedged in with many formidable difficulties and complexities and the approach at present is too fragmented, too piecemeal and too little coördinated among the partners in the Western alliance.

If a mass attack by the Western nations on the problems of the underdeveloped countries is to become (as some anticipate) the great challenge, opportunity and adventure of the second half of the twentieth century, two needs are paramount. The first is for top-level planning and assessment of priorities. What do the new African states really need, and need most urgently? How can their different needs be tied in together? (This assessment would cover such matters as education and technical training.) The second is to coördinate, again at top level, the policies of the nations concerned and their parts in the campaign. That Belgium, one of the NATO powers, should have acted as she did in the Congo, without any consultation whatever with allies who have been seriously embarrassed by the consequences of her acts, seems in the highest degree irresponsible. This irresponsibility was displayed not by the Belgians alone. One of the reasons behind their panicky withdrawal was the constant sniping at colonialism in which some of her NATO partners had indulged. And now an overspill from Congo anarchy is disrupting Angola. If no man is an island, still less is any African country.

In retrospect, it will surely seem little less than suicidal for the Western nations to meet the forces released by one of the great revolutions of history with so little preparation, so little consultation, so little planning and thought and, at times, so little sense. What is surely needed is some permanent machinery among the nations of the Western alliance to consult, to pool ideas, to plan a strategy for the cold war in Africa. This has to be fought, whether we like it or not. It might as well be fought effectively, not at half-cock.

We have NATO to concert our military effort to contain the forces of Communism. We need now a new civil body to concert the efforts of the free world to bring aid to Africa in an orderly and productive fashion, and to help her inexperienced peoples to develop not only their land and industries but themselves, and in such a way as to avoid the disasters of race-hatred, continental warfare and internal tyranny. These are not bogeys: they are dangers at once very real and very close. If the West stands by and lets Africa succumb to them, the free world may have lost the last trick but one.

[i] Southern Rhodesia, a self-governing colony with an all-White government; Northern Rhodesia, a British Protectorate with a mixed Black/White government; and Nyasaland, also a British Protectorate, with an African majority.

[ii] Nigeria became independent only on October 1, 1960, and cannot yet be said to be out of the tribal woods. It is a federation of three regions, Northern, Western and Eastern, each of which has a separate government, but strong forces are at work to split all of these regions into smaller units on tribal lines. If this should happen, a break-up of the whole federal structure could occur.

  • ELSPETH HUXLEY, author of "The Flame Trees of Thika," "White Man's Country," "Race and Politics in Kenya" and other works, including several novels
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