Courtesy Reuters

Free Africa and the Common Market

It is already clear that the most serious obstacles to Britain's entry into the Common Market lie not so much in any direct clash of economic interest between Britain and Western Europe as in the difficulty of transforming and modifying the vast web of Britain's external trading commitments. A loose, worldwide, pragmatic association has to be shrunk, without too much damage, into a close, contractual relationship. For extra-European communities, the squeezing and pinching threaten economic disturbance and political resentment and nowhere perhaps do the problems seem more daunting than in independent Africa where, by a chance of history, the confrontation of Commonwealth and Common Market is physically most direct and potentially most disruptive.

A glance at the map of Africa shows the physical entanglements. Into the solid bulk of ex-French West Africa clutch the fingers of the English- speaking communities-Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria-and, one should add, Liberia. In the Cameroons, an ex-British and an ex-French territory have come together in an uneasy federal association. Down to Katanga, the French speakers prevail. But across from them, on the other side of the continental divide, independent Tanganyika may well be the first member of a new, wide, English-speaking association in East Africa.

These intermingled territories cannot ignore each other. However inchoate and undirected, the sense of African unity is already a strong political force. The new nations, most of them desperately weak, have come to independence in an age dominated by vast federal structures-by the United States, by the Soviet Union, by the ambition if not the fact of a United Europe. And even were the idea of common markets and political associations not fashionably in the air, African leaders would still feel the gap between the frailty of their fledgling and fragmented independence and the giant communities abroad. Their post-colonial status and the continuance of Western colonial control on their southern frontiers only increase their sensitiveness. Dr. Nkrumah may not be accepted as a leader of continental scope. But few

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