. 7
( 12)


and Tunisia. In a real sense, the French only withdrew from these
protectorates with the object of being better able to hold Algeria.
In October 1954, the Algerian nationalists formed themselves into
an organisation called the Front de la lib´ ration nationale (FLN).
Three weeks later, the revolt was launched on 1 November, All Saints™
Day, a date which had been deliberately chosen for its signi¬cance to
the Catholic pieds noirs. The war lasted for nearly eight bitter years
and was conducted in classic guerrilla style. The FLN ¬ghters never
numbered more than about 40,000, but they were supported and
supplied by a vast civilian population. Their surprise attacks on the
farms and installations of the pieds noirs were deadly enough to
strain the resources of the French army, which at the height of
the insurgency numbered 200,000 troops. There were times when
the rebels seemed to be almost vanquished, but they regrouped in the
safe havens provided by the Tunisians and always returned to the
attack. The Egyptian triumph in the Suez Canal crisis was a great
encouragement to them, and helped to keep open their supply lines
for Russian and Chinese arms. The Suez crisis also paved the way for
the return to French politics of General de Gaulle. The French people
needed a strong ruler to rescue them from disastrous overseas ad-
ventures, and they were at last prepared greatly to increase the pres-
idential powers. During his election campaign, the general promised
victory in Algeria. He visited Algeria, ending all his speeches with the
phrase ˜Vive l™ Alg´ rie fran¸ aise!™ No sooner was he in power, how-
e c
ever, than he started to pursue his ˜politique de l™artichaut™ “ his arti-
choke policy “ of stripping off, leaf by leaf, the strong combination of
242 Africa since 1800

right-wing generals, embattled settlers, and reactionary administra-
tors who had de¬ed the peace-making efforts of all his predecessors.
These die-hard Frenchmen had set up the Organisation arm´ e secr` te
e e
(OAS), which from 1961 onwards waged a campaign of terror in
Algeria and in France. A cease-¬re was ¬nally arranged with the FLN
at Evian in 1962, by which time older leaders like Ferhat Abbas had
been pushed aside by younger, more radical men. The crucial issue
of full independence from France remained unresolved until the last
minute, but was ¬nally conceded. More than 18,000 French soldiers
and some 10,000 pieds noirs, and an estimated 1 million Algerians,
had died in the war. The con¬‚ict had had elements of tragedy. In spite
of the oppression and hatreds engendered, the relationship between
France and Algeria, between Algerians and Frenchmen, had been
exceptionally close, and the revolt when it came was almost like a
violent quarrel between members of a family. In some respects, at
least, the rift took a surprisingly short time to heal.
After a short period of civil war, during which most of the 1 mil-
lion French settlers left the country, Muhammad Ben Bella emerged
as the strongman of independent Algeria and became the country™s
¬rst president. He was a popular but impulsive leader, with a liking
for abstract and authoritarian solutions for his country™s problems.
The FLN as an organisation did not survive the end of the ¬ghting.
Political power in Algeria tended to polarise around the leaders of
powerful civil or military in¬‚uence groups. Under the leadership of
Ben Bella, Algeria achieved a prominent position in the Pan“African
movement and in the affairs of the Organisation of African Unity. As
one of the few African countries to gain independence by violent rev-
olution, it was only to be expected that Algeria would adopt sweeping
socialist policies to cope with the many problems left by the long war
with France. Ben Bella was an outspoken critic of all manifestations
of neo-colonialism and was particularly hostile to the European mi-
nority governments of southern Africa. He aligned himself closely
with Russia and with its communist allies, especially Cuba. Yet de-
spite embittering memories of the recent struggle, Algeria retained
many links with France. Several thousand French technicians were
employed in the exploitation of the oil of the Algerian Sahara, and
thousands of young Frenchmen served for short periods as teachers
in Algerian schools in lieu of military service in France.
Road to Independence: North and North-East Africa 243

In spite of his international prestige, however, Ben Bella™s position
within Algeria soon became less secure. The civil war which had fol-
lowed the winning of independence had left wounds in many parts
of the country, particularly among the freedom-loving Berbers of
Kabylia, whose attempts at opposition had been ruthlessly crushed
by Ben Bella. Many other Algerians resented his dictatorial methods.
There was also the fact that he had spent most of the Algerian war
in a French jail and consequently had never really won the con¬-
dence of the former ¬ghters of the FLN, who disliked taking orders
from one whom they regarded as a non-combatant. It was the for-
mer commander of an FLN army group who later became Ben Bella™s
minister of defence, the dour and puritanical Colonel Boum´ dienne,
who, feeling his own position threatened by the president, staged an
almost bloodless coup d™´ tat in 1965, which toppled him from power.
The new government represented a compromise for Algerian poli-
tics. It contained members of Ben Bella™s former administration, as
well as army leaders and representatives of other sectional interests.
Internal problems were given more attention than under the regime
of his predecessor, and Algeria henceforward pursued a less extreme
and less expensive foreign policy. The coup d™´ tat led to the inde¬-
nite postponement of a much-heralded conference of the Afro“Asian
countries, which was to have been a second Bandung and which was
to have been held in Algiers in June 1965. China and other countries
of the extreme left refused to attend, claiming that there were too
many deep divisions among the Afro“Asian states for such a meet-
ing to produce useful results. Within Africa, the mantle of extremist
interventionism was soon to pass from Algeria to the more erratic
shoulders of Gaddaªs Libya.
EIGHTEEN. The Road to
Independence: (2) Africa from the
Sahara to the Zambezi

T he roots of Black African nationalism reach in many directions
back into history. One powerful impulse was the growing eth-
nic awareness of the descendants of the African slaves in the New
World, which was proclaimed by activists such as Marcus Garvey
with his slogan ˜Africa for the Africans™, and Edward Blyden, who set-
tled in Liberia in 1850, with his idea of the African personality. Even
more in¬‚uential was the Pan“Africanist doctrine of William DuBois,
who organised Pan“African Congresses in the 1920s and 1930s.
Many Africans from British colonies who were studying in Britain
and the United States were caught up in the excitement of these
ideas and schemes. Another powerful strand in the web of African
nationalism was that stemming from European socialism and
communism, which, especially after the Russian Revolution, were
vehement in denouncing the colonial system. Africans who went to
Europe discovered in socialism, and in particular in Marxist com-
munism, techniques of political action which appeared well suited to
their needs, a call to heroism in a world struggle, and a promise of fu-
ture freedom and prosperity. And in Europe, of course, there was the
pervasive and heady example of nationalism in practice, an exam-
ple which was already spreading through colonial lands in Asia like
To see how these complex strands were woven together to produce
the political activity that resulted in independence, we can look for an
example at the early career of Kwame Nkrumah, which is so well told
in his autobiography, Ghana. Nkrumah was born, probably in 1909,

Road to Independence: Africa from the Sahara to Zambezi 245

the son of a goldsmith of the Nzima tribe in the south-western corner
of the Gold Coast. Nzima people had long been active in the com-
merce of the west coast. Nkrumah was educated at a Roman Catholic
mission school and then at the great secondary school at Achimota,
near Accra. He thought of the priesthood and eventually became a
mission teacher, but this did not satisfy his ambitions. In 1935, with
the help of an uncle working in Lagos and with the encouragement
of the Nigerian nationalist, Dr Azikiwe, he went to the United States.
There he spent ten years, ¬rst studying and then teaching at Lincoln
University in Pennsylvania. He read widely and has said that the
writings of communists and socialists did much to in¬‚uence him in
his revolutionary ideas and activities, ˜but of all the literature that I
studied, the book that did more than any other to ¬re my enthusi-
asm was the Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey™. In 1945,
Nkrumah left America for London and there met for the ¬rst time
the West Indian journalist George Padmore, who became one of his
closest friends and advisers. The two men played a prominent part in
the Fifth Pan“African Congress held at Manchester in that year. The
majority of delegates at this congress were Africans, although it was
presided over by DuBois, then seventy-three, the ˜Grand Old Man™ of
the movement. In Padmore™s words, DuBois ˜had done more than any
other to inspire and in¬‚uence by his writings and political philosophy
all the young men who had forgathered from far distant corners of
the earth™.1 The congress adopted strongly worded resolutions con-
demning colonialism: ˜We are determined to be free. We want edu-
cation. We want the right to earn a decent living, the right to express
our thoughts and emotions, to adopt and create forms of beauty. We
demand for Black Africa autonomy and independence. We will ¬ght
in every way we can for freedom, democracy and social betterment™.
At the congress, and later in London, Nkrumah worked closely with
Jomo Kenyatta and had meetings with Africans from the French
territories, such as Senghor and Houphou¨ t-Boigny. At this stage,
most of the political activity among Africans took place in London
or Paris, and not in Africa itself. It was then that the foundations of
a continent-wide movement were laid. ˜The political conscience of

George Padmore, Pan-Africanism or Communism? (London, 1956), p. 161.
246 Africa since 1800

African students was aroused, and whenever they met they talked of
little else but nationalist politics and colonial liberation movements™

The Gold Coast: The Breakthrough

Until 1947, the Pan“African movement, although it had won the
allegiance of the young African intellectuals studying abroad, had
achieved little or nothing in Africa itself. Only Dr Azikiwe™s newspa-
pers, which were read by a small group of educated people through-
out British West Africa, did something to prepare the ground for
a more radical approach to politics. The colonial governments, to
the extent that they had even heard of Pan“Africanism, thought of it
as mere ˜students™ talk™. The African leaders whom they recognised,
and to whom they were preparing to make limited political conces-
sions, were men of an older generation who had done well under
colonial rule “ the chiefs, lawyers, businessmen, and rich farmers.
It was men of this sort who in 1947 founded the United Gold Coast
Convention (UGCC) in an attempt to face ˜the problem of reconciling
the leadership of the intelligentsia with the broad mass of the peo-
ple™ (Nkrumah). These were men of substance and experience. They
were Gold Coast patriots, too. They looked forward to independence
in the shortest possible time “ some of them thought in about ten
years™ time. They even realised that, to keep up pressure on the colo-
nial government, it would be necessary to organise widespread sup-
port among the people. But they did not themselves know how to do
so. They had their own professions to pursue. Politics to them was
a spare-time occupation, as it was for most politicians in Europe. In
western European countries, the only full-time political organisers
were the paid agents of the political parties, who did not themselves
stand for election. This was why the UGCC leaders in 1947 invited
Nkrumah to come home and be their general secretary. Here, they
thought, was a man who knew the techniques of organisation and
who would take the rough work off their hands.
No sooner had Nkrumah arrived back in the Gold Coast than he
began to pursue an activist policy designed to seize the initiative
from the colonial government. He started to reform the inef¬cient
party organisation:
Road to Independence: Africa from the Sahara to Zambezi 247

I found on going through the minute book, that thirteen branches had been
formed throughout the country. In actual fact just a couple had been established
and these were inactive. I saw at once the urgency of a country-wide tour. The
results of this were most successful, for within six months I had established 500
branches in the [original] Colony alone. I issued membership cards, collected
dues and started raising funds.2

The leaders of the UGCC became involved in violent demonstrations
by ex-servicemen in Accra. The six top men of the party, including
Nkrumah, were placed in detention by the government. This was the
beginning of the split between Nkrumah and the UGCC. Nkrumah
welcomed such violent activities; his colleagues had second thoughts
about their value in achieving independence. The British government
responded to the disturbances by inviting an all-African commit-
tee under Sir Henley Coussey to make recommendations for con-
stitutional reform. The other ¬ve leaders of the UGCC joined the
committee: Nkrumah alone was not invited.
The Coussey constitution, which was accepted by the British gov-
ernment, was a real landmark in the history of British moves toward
decolonisation in Africa. It was implemented by the new governor,
Sir Charles Arden-Clarke, as soon as he took up his duties in 1949.
It provided for an all-African legislative assembly, directly elected in
the more developed parts of the country and indirectly elected else-
where. An executive council or cabinet was formed, with eight minis-
ters chosen from the assembly and three more to be nominated by the
governor from the ranks of the European civil service. It was, in fact,
the constitution under which Nkrumah was to begin his rule, ¬rst
as leader of government business and later as prime minister, from
1951 till 1954. In 1949, however, Nkrumah had just founded his own
Convention People™s Party (CPP) in opposition to the UGCC. He de-
nounced the Coussey constitution as ˜an imperialist fraud™, demand-
ing instead ˜self-government now™. He followed up his claim with
a campaign of ˜positive action™. This was a movement of strikes and
boycotts, designed to create a sense of struggle throughout the coun-
try. For their part in the positive-action campaign, Nkrumah and
other CPP leaders were arrested and condemned to imprisonment
on various charges of incitement, libel, and sedition. They remained

Ghana (London, 1959), p. 61.
248 Africa since 1800

in prison for a year, while the colonial government proceeded with
its preparations for a general election in February 1951. This was
won by the CPP, led during Nkrumah™s enforced absence from the
scene by K. A. Gbedemah. This electoral victory of the CPP was the
result of such political ef¬ciency that the party won the respect and
admiration of the formerly very hostile colonial government. Arden-
Clarke, therefore, decided to release Nkrumah and to invite him to
form a government. Nkrumah, for his part, agreed to abandon his
claim for ˜self-government now™ and to work for a period under the
Coussey constitution. This gave the CPP ministers the great advan-
tage of learning to operate the machinery of government from the
inside before taking on the full responsibilities of independence. On
Arden-Clarke™s side, this bargain, struck in February 1951, commit-
ted the colonial government to working, for only a brief transitional
period, with the representatives of a radical party with a great popu-
lar following. The CPP was very different in its aims and leadership
from the moderate, middle-class people to whom the colonial gov-
ernment had previously hoped to hand over power. The government
in Britain “ and, indeed, the outside world as a whole “ watched in
amazement the steadily growing friendship between these two very
different men as they steered the Gold Coast toward independence.
Nkrumah tells in moving terms how he received from Arden-Clarke
the news of the date “ 6 March 1957 “ ¬xed by the British government
for the Gold Coast™s independence under the new name of Ghana:
He handed me a dispatch from the Secretary of State. When I reached the ¬fth
paragraph the tears of joy that I had dif¬culty in hiding blurred the rest of the
document. After a few minutes I raised my eyes to meet those of the Gover-
nor. For some moments there was nothing either of us could say. Perhaps we
were both looking back over the seven years of our association, beginning with
doubts, suspicions and misunderstandings, then acknowledging the growth of
trust, sincerity and friendship, and now, ¬nally, this moment of victory for us
both, a moment beyond description.
˜Prime Minister,™ the Governor said, as he extended his hand to me, ˜this is a
great day for you. It is the end of what you have struggled for.™
˜It is the end of what we have been struggling for, Sir Charles,™ I corrected
him. ˜You have contributed a great deal towards this; in fact I might not have
succeeded without your help and co-operation. This is a very happy day for us

Ibid., p. 282.
Road to Independence: Africa from the Sahara to Zambezi 249

The Sequel to Ghana in British West Africa
So far as the rest of British West Africa was concerned, the deci-
sion to decolonise followed automatically from the decision to do so
in the Gold Coast. In Nigeria, the course toward independence was
¬rmly set by a new constitution which came into operation in 1951.
This was the same year as Arden-Clarke™s bargain with Nkrumah.
That the process of independence took three years longer to achieve
in Nigeria than in the Gold Coast was due to the special prob-
lems created by the differences in education, wealth, and outlook
among the three regions of Nigeria. The Northern region was largely
Muslim and Hausa-speaking. The traditional Fulbe ruling class still
exercised the predominant in¬‚uence. The mainly Yoruba-speaking
Western region was traditionally organised into a number of states
ruled by kingly chiefs, while the Eastern region consisted largely
of Igbo-speaking people who had never been bound together into
powerful political units. The problems created by these differences
could not be solved by setting up a unitary state covering the whole
of Nigeria. This the 1951 constitution partly tried to do, and it was
proved to be unworkable. Dr Azikiwe, who had become chief min-
ister of the Eastern region, was especially critical of the attempt to
minimise regional powers. The problems of Nigeria could only be
settled by the compromise solution of a federal system of govern-
ment. This more complicated structure took longer to develop than
the unitary government of independent Ghana. A new constitution
came into force in 1954. Under it, Nigeria became a federal state,
with clearly de¬ned powers granted to the federal government and
all other powers given to the regional governments. Each region had
to become internally self-governing before the territory as a whole
could become independent. The most backward region politically
was the North. When, however, this immense region came to play its
full part in Nigerian affairs, it dominated the territory politically. No
federal government could be formed without members of the North-
ern People™s Congress Party, and the ¬rst federal prime minister, Sir
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, was a northerner.
The strains and stresses produced by the interactions of regional
interests in Nigeria delayed the granting of full independence un-
til 1960. The major problem in Sierra Leone and, especially, in the
250 Africa since 1800

Gambia, was the very opposite to Nigeria™s. Both territories were very
small and, consequently, relatively poor. Nevertheless, the process
started in the Gold Coast could not be halted. Sierra Leone became
independent in 1961 and the Gambia in 1965. The Gambia is one of
the smallest countries in Africa. It is merely the narrow strip of land
along the banks of the Gambia River and is completely surrounded
by the French-speaking state of Senegal. The granting of indepen-
dence to the Gambia raised the question as to whether a country of
this size could be viable as a sovereign state, but events proved, in
South-East Asia and elsewhere, that mini-states could be extremely
successful economically; the Gambia, although not as well-off as
some of these states, was to bene¬t from its size and position.

The Independence of French West Africa

The difference in attitude toward the growth of nationalism between
French- and English-speaking West Africans may be seen in a com-
parison between the life of Senghor and that of Nkrumah. French
Africans were at ¬rst concerned more with the cultural than with
the political aspects of colonialism. English-speaking nationalists,
it has been said, wrote constitutions, while their French-speaking
contemporaries wrote poetry. L´ opold S´ dar Senghor was born in
e e
1906 in a coastal village south of Dakar. His prosperous Catholic
parents sent him to schools in the colony and later to Paris. The po-
ems he wrote while in France are full of homesick memories of his
childhood days. From 1935, after becoming the ¬rst African agr´ g´ ee
(quali¬ed secondary-school teacher) in France, he taught in French
lyc´ es (grammar schools). On the outbreak of the war in 1939, he
joined the army and was captured by the Germans, who tried unsuc-
cessfully to persuade him to turn against France. His years in Paris
had brought Senghor into contact with a wealth of political and lit-
erary ideas. He knew many outstanding French West Indians and
became the close friend of Aim´ C´ saire from Martinique, who was
to become, like himself, a poet and a politician. Before directly tack-
ling political problems, these young men felt the need to produce a
creed, or statement of cultural values. Between them, Senghor and
C´ saire created the concept of n´ gritude, ˜the af¬rmation™, as they
e e
described it, ˜of the values of African culture™. In 1947, Senghor and a
Road to Independence: Africa from the Sahara to Zambezi 251

fellow Senegalese, Alioune Diop, founded Pr´ sence Africaine in Paris,
a magazine devoted to the renewal of these values. Meanwhile, Sen-
ghor was turning to practical politics. After the war, he returned to
Senegal as a socialist politician and took part in the events which
led up to the formation of the French Union in 1946. He refused
to attend the Bamako conference of that year which founded the
Rassemblement D´ mocratique Africaine (RDA). He rightly believed
that the new party would be dominated by communists. Instead,
Senghor led a popular political movement in Senegal and was elected
as a deputy to the French Assembly. Under his in¬‚uence, many young
Africans devoted themselves seriously to writing, poetry, and the arts.
This engagement of some of the best minds in French West Africa
with cultural affairs partly explains why, in the early 1950s, these ter-
ritories were not so politically conscious as their English-speaking
Support for Senghor™s party extended into Upper Volta and other
territories, where it came into direct collision with the RDA. The
main issue between the two parties from 1955 onwards was that
between the federal policy of Senghor and the territorial policy of
Houphou¨ t-Boigny. Houphou¨ t, who was born in the Ivory Coast
e e
in 1905, went to France for the ¬rst time when he was elected a
deputy in 1945. Previously, he had been a medical assistant, a pros-
perous cocoa farmer, and a local chief. He had entered politics as
the spokesman of a farmers™ association. Although a highly sophis-
ticated man, he retained a good measure of the peasant™s ˜down-to-
earth™ common sense. He became the ¬rst president of the RDA. After
the breakaway of the RDA from its communist alliance in 1950, he
held cabinet posts in several French governments. After the war, the
Ivory Coast had become the richest of the French West African ter-
ritories, providing more than 40 percent of the Federation™s exports.
Houphou¨ t argued that in the federal Union, supported by Senghor,
the Ivory Coast would always be subsidising its poorer neighbours.
As a minister in the French government, therefore, he was in¬‚uen-
tial in preparing the Loi Cadre (Outline Law) of 1956. Under the Loi
Cadre, France retained control of foreign policy, defence, and over-
all economic development. All other aspects of government became
the responsibility, not of the existing federal governments of French
West and Equatorial Africa, but of the twelve individual colonies of
252 Africa since 1800

which they were composed. The Loi Cadre was deeply in¬‚uenced by
the approaching independence of the Gold Coast and Nigeria. France
understood that the French Union “ a plan for a kind of superstate “
would need to be replaced by something much looser and more like
the British Commonwealth. But, partly thanks to Houphou¨ t, the e
autonomy offered was to units so small (in population, if not in size)
that their practical dependence on France was bound to remain very
great. Senghor unsuccessfully opposed these constitutional changes,
which he considered would result in splitting up West Africa into
too many small, weak states. In this opposition he was supported by
S´ kou Tour´ of Guinea, a prominent ¬gure in the RDA.
e e
S´ kou Tour´ was born in 1922 and was, therefore, a much younger
e e
man than either Senghor or Houphou¨ t-Boigny. Although he was a
descendant of the famous Samori, his family was poor. His ¬rst visit
to France had been as a delegate to the Communist Trades Union
Conference in 1946. S´ kou Tour´ soon became the leading trade
e e
unionist in French West Africa. In 1956, he led a breakaway move-
ment from the French parent body of the Union, although he still held
communist views, and formed a new Federation of African Trades
Unions, free from outside ties. While most of his contemporaries
concentrated upon increasing their in¬‚uence in Paris, S´ kou Tour´
e e
realised that it was in Africa that the foundations of real power were
to be laid. He favoured the retention of the federal government at
Dakar. In 1958, it looked as though a regrouping of political parties
was about to take place, with S´ kou Tour´ leaving the RDA and join-
e e
ing Senghor. At this moment, however, General de Gaulle came to
power in France as a result of the revolt of the French army in Algeria
in May 1958. De Gaulle established a new constitution in France, the
Fifth Republic. He offered the colonial peoples the choice between
autonomy (self-government) as separate states within a French Com-
munity, which now replaced the earlier Union, or else immediate
independence, with the severance of all links with France. In the ref-
erendum held in September 1958, all the colonies of French West
and Equatorial Africa voted acceptance of de Gaulle™s proposals for
autonomy except for Guinea, whose people followed S´ kou Tour´ in
e e
voting ˜No™. S´ kou Tour´ was bitterly disappointed with the failure
e e
of French West Africa to achieve independence as a federation. He
considered that the new Community was little more than a disguise
for the continuing domination of France.
Road to Independence: Africa from the Sahara to Zambezi 253

When Guinea decided to become independent, France immedi-
ately stopped all economic aid and withdrew its civil servants and
technicians. Faced with an economic collapse, S´ kou Tour´ turned to
e e
the Soviet Union and to other communist countries for assistance.
Nkrumah offered him at once a loan of £10 million, and the two
statesmen declared the formation of a union between their two coun-
tries. This was a gesture of solidarity, however, rather than a real
constitutional measure. But, as a gesture, it was effective, for the
other territories, which had voted ˜Yes™ in the referendum, began at
once to readjust their positions. Senegal and French Soudan came
together to form the Mali Federation and, in 1959, demanded and
obtained complete independence while remaining members of the
Community. The Ivory Coast joined in a looser grouping, the ˜Entente
Council™, with Dahomey, Upper Volta, and Niger, each member of
which demanded its individual independence of France. By Novem-
ber 1960, all the French West and Equatorial African territories had
become independent, as had the Malagasy Republic (Madagascar).
After a matter of months, the Mali Federation divided again into
its two parts, French Soudan now taking to itself the name of Mali.
The Community, as de Gaulle had envisaged it, was a dead letter,
although French aid “ and, therefore, French in¬‚uence “ remained
very great.
It is often maintained by critics of decolonisation that the French
deliberately pursued a policy of balkanisation by breaking up the two
Federations and granting independence to their twelve constituent
colonies. The Federations had been largely devices set up by the
French for the poorer colonies to be subsidised by the richer, and
as the leaders of these latter “ Houphou¨ t-Boigny of Ivory Coast
and L´ on M™ba of Gabon “ saw independence in the of¬ng, they
were no longer prepared to have their countries continue in this
magnanimous role.
The United Nations Trusteeship Territories in West Africa followed
the same broad path as the colonies proper. British Togoland decided
by plebiscite to join Ghana in 1957, while French Togo became an
independent republic in 1960. The history of Cameroun during the
decolonisation was the stormiest of all West African countries. Civil
war between communist and anti-communist groups broke out in
1956 and had not been completely resolved when the territory be-
came independent in 1960. In 1961, plebiscites were held in British
254 Africa since 1800

Cameroun. The northern part voted to remain within Northern Nige-
ria. The southern part, however, voted for union with its French-
speaking neighbour. Thus, the Federal Republic of Cameroun
combined for the ¬rst time areas which had been under differ-
ent colonial rules and de¬ed the language gulf which separates the
English- and French-speaking states of West Africa.
Nkrumah had always made it clear that, once Ghana had achieved
its independence, it would be his main objective to lead the rest of
Africa to independence and unity. Accordingly, in December 1958,
he invited representatives of nationalist movements in twenty-eight
territories still under colonial rule to meet at Accra for the ¬rst All-
African People™s Conference. Nkrumah was at that time at the height
of his in¬‚uence. He was the undisputed leader of the Pan“African
movement. At the conference, however, he deliberately shared the
limelight with Tom Mboya of Kenya, who proved to be a brilliant
chairman. This was the ¬rst real demonstration that East Africa
was beginning to play a signi¬cant part in the African revolution.
A few months before, Mboya and Julius Nyerere of Tanganyika had
formed the Pan“African Freedom Movement of East and Central
Africa, which sent its own delegate to Accra. Kenya and Tanganyika
were both, according to Mboya, ˜facing a rough patch in the indepen-
dence struggle™ and felt the need for Pan“African support. The Accra
conference set up a body to direct and assist anti-colonial struggles
and planned to establish other regional organisations on the same
lines as PAFMECA. Some African leaders, previously unknown to
one another, came away from Accra with a new sense of solidar-
ity and purpose. In particular, Patrice Lumumba returned to the
Belgian Congo tremendously impressed by the contacts he had
made. The Belgians later admitted that the Accra conference
˜brought decisive results for the Congo. There Lumumba got the sup-
port which he needed to implement his demand for independence™.

East Africa: Mau Mau and Multiracialism

The ˜rough patch in the independence struggle™ alluded to by Tom
Mboya was largely the result of the uncertainty of British policy to-
ward East Africa during the years 1948“58. The British government
was slow to understand that the appeal and compulsion of African
Road to Independence: Africa from the Sahara to Zambezi 255

nationalism were bound to spread from one end of the continent to
the other. It knew that the East African territories were economi-
cally much poorer, and educationally more backward, than the West
African countries. Britain, therefore, assumed that nationalism in
East Africa would be correspondingly slower to develop. Moreover,
British thinking about its East African policy was complicated by the
settler problem. It was considered that the presence of the settlers
demanded that some alternative should be found to the normal pat-
tern of one man/one vote democracy. This alternative was to be along
the lines of the ˜multiracial™ type of constitution which we described
in Chapter 16. It was thought that this stage of political development
would need to last for at least twenty years. This meant for as long
ahead as anyone needed to think.
This distinction between the preparedness of West and East Africa
for independence seemed to most European minds to be fully justi-
¬ed when, in 1951, there broke out in Kenya the violent insurrection
by some Kikuyu people, known as Mau Mau. No observer of the
situation denied that the Kikuyu had exceptional grievances. Their
numbers had grown steadily throughout the colonial period and, yet,
the land into which they might have expanded was occupied by set-
tlers™ farms. As the East African Royal Commission of 1955 reported,
˜Throughout our inquiry we were impressed by the recurring evi-
dence that particular areas were carrying so large a population that
agricultural production in them was being retarded, that the natural
resources were being destroyed, and that families were unable to ¬nd
access to new land™. In the face of this land shortage, large numbers
of Kikuyu were driven to seek inadequately paid jobs in the towns, or
else on the European farms. In the towns, many were unemployed
and took to living by crime. These poverty-stricken and land-hungry
people looked with understandable envy and resentment on the set-
tlers™ estates. These were large, well tended, and rich. Many of them
included large areas of uncultivated land.
The Mau Mau rebellion began with the murder of a few British
farmers. Their cattle were mutilated and other acts of violence car-
ried out. All these demonstrations were intended to instil such terror
into the settler community that most would leave the country. Simi-
lar events had taken place in Ireland during the nineteenth century.
There, the landlords had been Englishmen, and the Irish peasants
256 Africa since 1800

poor and landless. In Kenya, the government responded by arrest-
ing Jomo Kenyatta and other well-known Kikuyu leaders. They were
charged with organising the revolt and were condemned to long
terms of imprisonment. Kenyatta strenuously denied the accusation.
Certainly, his removal from the scene had no obvious effect on the
course of events. The active insurgents were comparatively few in
number. They had their bases in the almost impenetrable forests
high up the slopes of Mount Kenya and the Nyandarua range. From
these forests, they ventured forth in small bands in the dead of night
to swoop on outlying farms, to attack the soldiers who had been sent
against them, and, very frequently, to take bloody reprisals against
fellow Kikuyu suspected of cooperating with the government. The
British would not give way in the face of such tactics. The fact that
the enemy was unseen made a resort to counter-terrorism almost in-
evitable. The Kikuyu peasantry were rounded up from their scattered
homesteads and made to live in villages which could be defended and
policed. People suspected of collaborating with the insurgents were
roughly interrogated in the attempt to get information. The deten-
tion camps for captured insurgents used brutal methods to break
the psychological resistance of their inmates “ that is, their cling-
ing to ideas that the government considered dangerous. Such is the
nature of all secret warfare. By the end of 1955, the back of the revolt
had been broken, at a cost to Britain of more than £20 million and
some hundred British lives. The casualties of the civil war between
insurgents and collaborators among the Kikuyu were of¬cially esti-
mated at 3,000, but were reckoned by some reputable observers at
ten times that number. Nothing like this had ever happened in West
Africa. It was akin to the war in Algeria between the nationalists and
the French. Obviously, not much progress toward self-government
was possible in Kenya while the struggle lasted. On the other hand,
the Mau Mau revolt did serve to demonstrate that small bodies of
British settlers “ like those in Kenya, Tanganyika, Nyasaland, and
Northern Rhodesia “ were incapable of defending themselves. It also
showed that the multiracial constitutions in these countries would
be effective only as long as British force was available to underpin
Immediately, the most important effect of the Mau Mau revolt on
political development in Kenya was to prevent the emergence (until
Road to Independence: Africa from the Sahara to Zambezi 257

after independence) of a single mass party. While the insurrection
lasted, the colonial government, fearing that it would spread to the
whole country, permitted political organisations on a regional basis
only. By the time the emergency was over, regionalism had developed
so far that a deep rift had opened between the Kikuyu and the Luo
politicians on the one hand and those of the Kalenjin and coastal
Bantu peoples on the other. When regional politics were again per-
mitted, two rival parties emerged: the Kenya African National Union
(KANU) and the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU). Because
of their mutual distrust, Kenya, which might have been the ¬rst,
proved in fact to be the last of the East African countries to achieve
Although for different reasons, Uganda was almost as deeply di-
vided as Kenya. There were three contending interests in the ter-
ritory. The ¬rst was the exclusiveness of the kingdom of Buganda.
Buganda feared to lose its privileged position in the territory, which
it owed to the settlement established by the colonial power. Most of
the Buganda politicians found it dif¬cult to work with those from
other parts of the country. Secondly, there was the moderate nation-
alism of the other traditional kingdoms of the south and west. They
resented the privileges and aloofness of Buganda, yet felt that they,
too, had much to lose from rapid change. Thirdly, there was the less
hesitant radicalism of the north and east, where the socialist Uganda
People™s Congress soon found its main support. The alliance which
eventually brought about the independence of Uganda was one be-
tween the ¬rst of these three interests and the third. This, however,
was slow to emerge. So Uganda, despite the absence of a settler prob-
lem, was by no means in the forefront of the nationalist struggle in
East Africa.
The pacemaker on the eastern side of Africa turned out, surpris-
ingly enough, to be Tanganyika, which economically and education-
ally lagged far behind its two northern neighbours. Also, political
consciousness had been much slower to emerge in Tanganyika dur-
ing the early years of the African revolution. Yet, between 1956 and
1959, Tanganyika not only pushed through from the backward ranks
of colonies to the front, but also actually set the pattern for all the
British territories from Kenya to the Zambezi. Without any doubt,
Tanganyika™s sudden success was due to the fact that the Tanganyika
258 Africa since 1800

African National Union (TANU), founded by Julius Nyerere in 1954,
was by far the most ef¬ciently organised mass party to emerge any-
where in Africa since Nkrumah™s CPP. Within three or four years
of returning to Tanganyika from his studies in Edinburgh, Nyerere
had created a nationwide party structure, with active branches in al-
most every district in the country. He was helped, as he said himself,
by the fact that the population was divided among more than 120
tribal groupings, none of which had been large enough “ or central
enough “ to predominate. Nyerere was helped, too, by the Swahili
language. As a result of the Arab penetration of the nineteenth cen-
tury and the educational policies of the German and British colo-
nial governments, Swahili was understood throughout the length of
the land. Finally, because so little in the way of political organisa-
tion had been attempted before, he was able to start with a clean
From the ¬rst, the weight of Nyerere™s attack was directed against
the ˜multiracial™ conception of constitutional advance. As the United
Nations Mission of 1954 stated in its report, ˜The Africans of this
country would like to be assured, both by the United Nations Or-
ganisation and by the Administering Authority, that this territory,
though multi-racial in population, is primarily an African country
and must be developed as such™. During the next four years, Nyerere
strove by a remarkable moderation to show that, although TANU
stood for government by the African majority, non-Africans would
have nothing to fear from such a government. Nyerere preached this
doctrine with such success that in the elections of 1958, held un-
der the existing ˜multiracial™ constitution, all of the contested seats
were won either by TANU candidates or by those non-Africans who
received TANU support in exchange for an undertaking to collabo-
rate with TANU when elected. The result of the elections coincided
with the appointment of a new governor, Sir Richard Turnbull, who
saw, as Arden-Clarke had seen in the Gold Coast in 1951, that the
turning point in the country™s development was at hand. In October
1958, Turnbull announced that, when self-government was attained,
Tanganyika would be ruled by its African majority. Nyerere enthusi-
astically welcomed this statement, saying,

We have always waited for a Governor of this country even to indicate that it
was the government™s policy that, when self-government is eventually achieved,
Road to Independence: Africa from the Sahara to Zambezi 259

the Africans will have a predominant say in the affairs of the country. Now the
Africans have this assurance, I am con¬dent that it is going to be the endeavour
of the Africans, if non-Africans have any fears left, to remove them quickly.

Under the guidance of Nyerere and Turnbull, who worked together
in the same spirit as Nkrumah and Arden-Clarke, Tanganyika fairly
scampered out of the colonial era. Full independence was achieved
in December 1961, after an apprenticeship of little more than three
years. This was in a country with a population larger than Ghana™s,
but with less than a tenth of the number of university and secondary-
school graduates.
Obviously, once the multiracial system had been abandoned in
Tanganyika, it could no longer be seriously defended in Kenya or
Uganda. Nor could it be defended in Nyasaland or Northern Rhode-
sia, the two northern territories of the Central African Federation
which had been formed in 1953 (see Chapter 19). The new trend
in British policy as a whole was recognised when, early in 1959,
Iain Macleod succeeded Alan Lennox-Boyd as colonial secretary.
Whereas Lennox-Boyd™s policy had been to strive for every addi-
tional year of colonial rule that could be gained, Macleod™s was to
free Britain from responsibilities in Africa with all possible speed.
The 1960 Kenya constitution which bears his name provided for an
African majority in the Legislative Assembly. ˜At one swift blow™, said
a leader of the settlers, ˜power was transferred to the Africans™. Fur-
ther political changes in Kenya, as also in Uganda, were delayed only
by disagreements among the Africans themselves. In Kenya, not even
the release of Kenyatta in August 1961 could break the deadlock be-
tween KANU and KADU. When the country became independent in
December 1963, it was under a compromise constitution which pro-
vided for considerable regional autonomy. In Uganda, Milton Obote,
the founder of the Uganda People™s Congress, succeeded in 1962 in
making an alliance with the royalist Buganda Kabaka Yekka Party.
This alliance at last carried the country to independence with the
Kabaka of Buganda as head of state.
Britain completed its decolonisation of East Africa in December
1963 by granting independence to Zanzibar under a constitution
which left the Arab sultan as head of state. The government was
formed by an obviously precarious alliance between the political
party directed by the old Arab ruling minority and the smaller of two
260 Africa since 1800

parties representing the African majority of the population. In the
event, this new government lasted less than two months before being
violently overthrown by a communist-inspired revolution. Here at
least, the British were to blame for moving out too soon, before
ensuring the transfer of political power to a stable regime.

The Belgian Congo

While East Africa was hurrying along the path to independence, an
even more sudden and perilous emancipation from colonial rule was
taking place in the Congo. Until 1957, the Belgians had continued
to rule their huge colony as if it were completely isolated from the
changes taking place elsewhere in Africa. When, in 1956, a lecturer
at the Colonial University in Antwerp, Dr A. A. J. van Bilsen, pub-
lished a ˜Thirty Year Plan for the Political Emancipation of Belgian
Africa™, he was attacked in Belgium as a dangerous revolutionary.
Van Bilsen based his timetable on the perfectly correct notion that
˜in the Congo and Ruanda-Urundi the formation of an elite and of
responsible, directing cadres is a generation behind the British and
French territories™. Yet, four years after van Bilsen had made this
statement, the Belgian authorities who had attacked him for his im-
prudent haste had left the Congo to fend for itself. On the eve of the
independence of the Congo in 1960, the Belgian prime minister im-
plicitly acknowledged his country™s failure: ˜if we could have counted
at this moment on proper organisations at a provincial level, the po-
litical solutions for the Congo would have been greatly facilitated™.
The independence of the Congo was, in fact, far from being a tri-
umph of African nationalism. It was, rather, a result of Belgian irres-
olution and of the inability of a small country like Belgium to stand
up to international pressures. The ¬rst crack in the wall of Belgian
paternalism came in 1957, when Africans ¬rst took part in municipal
elections. Joseph Kasavubu, who had built up a position of political
leadership among the Bakongo people of the lower Congo, was re-
turned as mayor of one of the Leopoldville communes (municipal-
ities). This was typical of what happened elsewhere. An American
observer wrote, ˜Almost every party formed in the Congo had its ori-
gin in a tribal group, and since there were many tribes, there were
many parties. Local interests were paramount and never ceased to
Road to Independence: Africa from the Sahara to Zambezi 261

be a powerful factor in politics™. Patrice Lumumba, who emerged
at the same period as a political leader in Stanleyville, was the only
Congolese politician who had a clear vision of the importance of cre-
ating a single, nationwide party. To succeed, he would have needed
not only time, but also some prolonged resistance from the Belgian
colonial government in order to force other Congolese politicians to
see the necessity for such a party. This resistance, however, was not
In August 1958, de Gaulle visited Brazzaville, just across the river
from Leopoldville, to proclaim autonomy within the French Com-
munity for the four colonies which had formed the Federation of
French Equatorial Africa. Naturally, this provoked unrest on the
Belgian side of the Congo River. Many of the little tribal parties
began to demand independence for the Belgian Congo. Strikes and
disorders broke out and, in January 1959, less than a month after Lu-
mumba™s return from the Accra conference, a serious riot occurred
in Leopoldville. Mobs of unemployed people sacked European shops
and mission schools. The situation in the capital was brought under
control in less than a week, but the blow to Belgian prestige was
great. During the year that followed, it became evident that law and
order in many parts of the country were on the verge of breakdown.
Some of the most dangerous situations were the result of tension
between rival groups of Congolese. In Kasai province, for example,
a civil war threatened between the Kasai Baluba, who worked on the
oil-palm plantations, and the Benelulua, who regarded the Baluba
as intruders into their country. Again, in the mandated territory of
Ruanda“Urundi, an extreme state of tension was developing between
the Batutsi ruling class and the Bahutu majority of the population.
The Batutsi had maintained their social and political predominance
under both German and Belgian rule, and their object, like that of the
settlers in Rhodesia, was to gain political independence for the terri-
tory before the introduction of a universal franchise destroyed their
ascendancy. The Belgians reacted to the steadily growing de¬ance of
the Batutsi by suddenly switching their support to the newly formed
Bahutu political movement, but they were unable to control the situ-
ation which resulted. All over the country, but especially in the north,
the Batutsi were massacred by their former subjects, their houses
burnt, their possessions looted, while the Belgian administration
262 Africa since 1800

looked on, unable or unwilling to intervene. By the end of 1959,
therefore, Belgian Africa presented a very different picture from that
of 1956. It is true that the disorders had all been local ones. It is also
true that to a larger power than Belgium, these disorders would not
have appeared impossible to suppress. But to Belgium, in the words
of a government spokesman, they presented a terrifying alternative:
˜to try to organise independence as quickly as possible, or to accept
responsibility for the bloodshed which any delay would probably
bring about. A colonial war entails heavy ¬nancial losses, which a
small nation cannot afford. We are fearful lest another Algeria might
develop in the Congo™.
At the beginning of 1960, therefore, the Belgian government sum-
moned a group of Congolese political leaders to a ˜Round Table Con-
ference™ in Ostend. Several of the Africans who took part have stated
that they went to Belgium expecting to settle for a ¬ve-year tran-
sitional period leading up to independence. They would have been
willing to accept this. But Belgium was by this time disillusioned
with the Congo. It was not prepared to take the responsibility of
continuing to govern the country while Congolese political parties
united themselves or while Congolese civil servants were trained to
take over administrative duties from the Belgians. Above all, Bel-
gium was not prepared to send any more troops to suppress the dis-
orders that would certainly grow worse. While the conference was
meeting, a cry went up throughout the country of ˜Pas un soldat au
Congo™ (˜Not a single soldier to Congo™). The Congolese negotiators
at the Round Table Conference found no resistance against which
they could bargain, no strength that would force them to unite. They
came away with a date for independence which was less than six
months away: 30 June 1960.
In May 1960, there were held the ¬rst national elections ever to
take place in the Belgian Congo. The results were indecisive, but a
few days before the end of Belgian rule, Lumumba, after lengthy ne-
gotiations, succeeded in forming a government with himself as prime
minister and Kasavubu, his chief rival, as president. Even the inde-
pendence ceremonies were a disaster. A paternal speech from King
Baudouin provoked the bitter reply from Lumumba, ˜Nous ne
sommes plus vos singes™ (˜We are no longer your monkeys™). Six days
later, the Congolese army “ the Force Publique “ mutinied. ˜It all
Road to Independence: Africa from the Sahara to Zambezi 263

started™, said Lumumba, ˜when General Janssens, the Belgian Com-
mander, refused to promote Congolese to the rank of of¬cer™. The
soldiers turned on the Belgian of¬cers and their families, where-
upon Belgian troops intervened to protect Europeans and their prop-
erty. With the collapse of law and order, all the old hatreds and
humiliations came bubbling to the surface. Africans avenged them-
selves on Europeans, and different peoples within the Congo fought
each other. The worst inter-African con¬‚ict took place in Kasai,
where the tensions between Baluba and Benelulua now broke out
into open warfare. The political struggle between the regionalists
and the centralists, which was so much a feature of this period of
African history (in Kenya and French West Africa, for example), be-
came charged with danger in the Congo. Kasavubu of the Bakongo,
Kalonji of the Baluba, and Tshombe in Katanga all wanted to set up
a loose federal structure, in which real power would reside with the
provincial and tribal groups. Lumumba, on the other hand, tried to
work for a strong, centralised state. On 11 July, Tshombe withdrew
Katanga from the Congo and declared its independence. This move
received the backing of the Union Mini` re, the huge company which
controlled the Katanga copper mines. The Congolese government
thereby lost the greater part of its revenues. Lumumba called upon
the United Nations for military help to halt the disintegration of the
country and to rid the country of the Belgian troops which had in-
tervened in the mutiny. The UN thereupon entered the most critical
operation in its history. Wisely, it called for most of its contingents of
soldiers to be sent from the African states. But when these forces did
not do exactly as Lumumba wished, he turned to the Soviet Union
for assistance. The chaotic situation in Congo became a matter for
worldwide concern, introducing the rivalries between communism
and capitalism into the heart of the African continent. This made
the African states more determined to follow a neutral path, but the
˜Congo crisis™ produced deep divisions in their ranks, as we shall
see in subsequent chapters. As early as 1960, Nkrumah remarked
prophetically, ˜Once we admit our impotence to solve the question
of the Congo primarily with our African resources, we tacitly admit
that real self-government on the African continent is impossible™.
The calling in of the Russians proved the downfall of Lumumba.
Hitherto, Belgian and other western in¬‚uences had been con¬ned to
264 Africa since 1800

a veiled support of Tshombe™s secessionist movement in Katanga.
Henceforward, these in¬‚uences, with American backing, began
to intervene in the affairs of the central Congolese government.
Lumumba was overthrown by an alliance between the army, led
by Colonel Mobutu, and many of the regional politicians, headed
by Kasavubu. The Russians were expelled. Lumumba escaped from
UN protection in Leopoldville, but was captured by Congolese sol-
diers on his way to Stanleyville and later handed over to Tshombe in
Katanga, where, on the outskirts of Elisabethville, he was murdered
in January 1961, although his death was hushed up for several weeks.
Faced with the problem of the central government™s bankruptcy, the
UN at last began to intervene more forcefully to break the secession
of Katanga. The UN secretary“general, Dag Hammarskjold, was him-
self a casualty of the tragedy in the Congo, being killed in an air crash
near Ndola, Northern Rhodesia, in September 1961, on his way to
negotiate with Tshombe. It was only in 1963, however, after much
heavy ¬ghting, that this province was occupied and reunited with
the Congo state. By this time, it was the UN that was bankrupt. A
number of its richer member states, including Russia and France,
had refused to contribute to the Congo operations. Those who did
contribute (Britain and America especially) were suspected of pay-
ing the piper in order to call the tune; that is, of using the UN in
order to achieve their own aims. The UN had no option but to with-
draw from the Congo. Left to itself, the central government could not
hope to hold the all-important Katanga region by force. The unity
and the solvency of the country could only be maintained by admit-
ting Tshombe and his supporters to the central government on their
own terms.
Meanwhile in Rwanda, and to a lesser extent in Burundi, tension
between the Batutsi and the Bahutu continued to grow. Attempts to
join the two little countries into one independent state failed, and
they went their separate ways. The UN supervised the ¬nal stages
of the transition to independence. In Rwanda, the previously sub-
servient majority of the population overthrew with fearful violence
the Batutsi monarchy and proclaimed a republic. In Burundi, the
monarchy survived but was constitutionalised. Both states achieved
independence in 1962. In Rwanda, this at ¬rst served merely to in-
tensify the harrying of the Batutsi, most of whom were driven as
Road to Independence: Africa from the Sahara to Zambezi 265

refugees into neighbouring countries. Tension and con¬‚ict between
the two social groups (and between northern and central Bahutu)
then became endemic and continued through the ¬rst three decades
of Rwandan independence. The reverse, but otherwise similar, sit-
uation plagued Burundi. The monarchy was overthrown in 1966
by prime minister Micombero, who proclaimed himself president.
Micombero™s policy to enforce minority Batutsi domination led to
the terrible tragedy of the Bahutu rebellion of 1973.

As we have seen in previous chapters, Madagascar has had in many
ways a history distinct from that of the African mainland. The pop-
ulation of the island is largely non-African, the language entirely
so. At least since the beginning of the nineteenth century, there has
been little coming and going across the Mozambique Channel. Dur-
ing the colonial period, when it was under French rule, Madagascar
was a kind of halfway house between the French territories in West
Africa and those in South-East Asia and the Paci¬c. From the time
of the Second World War, however, the isolation of Madagascar from
the rest of Africa began at last to be broken down. During the war,
the island experienced the occupation of British forces, many of
them African. After the war, Malagasy students began to go in some
numbers to France. There they encountered French-speaking stu-
dents from the West African territories, to whom they felt more akin
than to the South-East Asians. Most important of all, perhaps, was
the fact that the timing of Madagascar™s struggle for independence
coincided with the African revolution rather than with the Asian one.
The ¬rst modern political party with independence as its object was
founded in 1946. This party had its ¬rst trial of strength with the
French in the following year, when a famine caused by the misman-
agement of the government-controlled Rice Board gave rise to a vio-
lent rebellion. The revolt sprang up all over the island, among many
different groups, including the formerly dominant Hova, as a spon-
taneous reaction to colonial rule. The ferocity of the French military
action against the rebels led to a still more widespread insurrection,
which took nearly a year to repress. Many aspects of the Malagasy
rebellion were similar to the earliest anti-colonial rebellions, such as
266 Africa since 1800

the Maji-Maji outbreak in German East Africa in 1905“6. The Maji-
Maji rebels thought that the German bullets would be harmlessly
turned into water. Similarly, during the Malagasy rebellion,

When the rebels, armed only with pointed sticks, went in to attack troops armed
with ri¬‚es and machine-guns, they advanced in step in serried ranks shouting
˜Rano, Rano™, which means ˜Water, Water™, as a magical formula intended to turn
the bullets into water as they left the guns. Even some of the French soldiers
began to have doubts and to panic when their ¬re proved ineffective through
faulty aiming or the use of old cartridges.4

After the great rebellion, Madagascar entered upon an unusually
smooth transition from colonial rule to self-government and then to
independence. Much of the credit for this is due to the moderation
of one remarkable personality, Philibert Tsiranana, who, in common
with many other African leaders, began his career as a teacher. He
was opposed to the rebellion and, after its repression, used all his
gifts to heal the deep scars. His Social Democratic Party cooperated
with the French in implementing reforms introduced under the Loi
Cadre of 1956, and some of the Malagasy who had been sentenced by
the French to long terms of imprisonment for instigating the rebel-
lion became ministers in his cabinet. In the de Gaulle referendum of
1958, he was supported not only by the Malagasy, but also by many
of the 80,000 French settlers on the island. When the country became
independent in June 1960, Tsiranana became the ¬rst president. The
only serious opposition to his government came from the Hova peo-
ple of the highlands around the capital. These former rulers of the
island were still the best educated and the most sophisticated group.
They were mainly Protestant, while the majority of the population
was Roman Catholic. These religious and social tensions took time
to be resolved. Nevertheless, Madagascar became an important and
unequivocal member of the community of African states. It played a
leading part both in the Union of French-speaking states, the Afro“
Malagasy Joint Organisation (OCAM), and in the Organisation for
African Unity. Madagascar also responded to the economic overtures
made by South Africa. The Malagasy, ancient colonists from across
the Indian Ocean, had at long last been assimilated into the main-
stream of African affairs.

O. Mannoni, Prospero and Caliban (London, 1956), p. 59.
NINETEEN. The Road to
Independence: (3) Central Africa

A t the time when the British colonies in West and East Africa
were advancing toward political independence, the British gov-
ernment decided, in 1953, to create a constitutional arrangement for
its Central African territories which set them apart from its other
African lands. The protectorates of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasa-
land, which had few resident Europeans, were joined with Southern
Rhodesia, which had been effectively controlled by its white settlers
since 1891, to form the Central African Federation. It was hoped that
this would grow into a powerful, multiracial state, big enough to act
as a counterweight to the power of white-dominated South Africa.
One of the many compromises built into the Central African Federa-
tion was a division of ultimate responsibility between the metropoli-
tan country and a locally based settler government. After ten years,
the Federation broke upon the rock of this unresolved con¬‚ict. West-
minster could not resist the tide of African nationalism in the two
northern territories, whereas Salisbury was determined to hang on
for a much longer time.
Along either side of the Central African Federation, and control-
ling its main lines of access to the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean,
lay the Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique. For thirty
years after the Second World War, the Portuguese empire in Africa
proved an exception to the rule that a colonial system based in
Europe could not resist the onslaught of African nationalism. The
reasons for this exception were, ¬rst, that Portugal was one of the
poorest countries of Europe. It had few industries and a standard of

268 Africa since 1800

living not much higher than many African countries. Unlike those
of other colonial powers, its colonial interests were considered to
be not marginal but central to its economic existence. Second, the
Portuguese state was a dictatorship. The Portuguese people, accus-
tomed to authoritarianism at home, were unmoved by authoritarian
rule in the colonies. Dr Salazar, the Portuguese prime minister from
1932 until 1968, consistently played upon feelings of national pride
and glori¬ed the achievements of the Portuguese imperial past as
an inducement to future greatness. In 1943, he wrote: ˜The rich ex-
tensive colonial lands, underdeveloped and sparsely populated, are
the natural complement for metropolitan agriculture. In addition
they will take care of Portugal™s excessive population™. Large num-
bers of Portuguese continued to migrate to the African territories.
By the late 1960s, there were more than 250,000 settlers in Angola
and 130,000 in Mozambique. The African populations were 5 mil-
lion and 8 million, respectively. Commercial agriculture and mining
remained ¬rmly in European hands.
Portugal™s racial policy was, in theory, similar to the French policy
of assimilation. The status of citizen, however, conferred few politi-
cal rights either in Portugal or the colonies. To become a citizen, an
African had to comply with a whole range of educational and eco-
nomic quali¬cations so dif¬cult for an African to obtain that only a
small number succeeded. In 1950, there were only 30,000 assimila-
dos in Angola and 25,000 in Mozambique. The vast majority of the
population were classed as indigenas (natives), whose main function
in the eyes of the administration was to provide labour. In 1943, a
colonial minister said, ˜If we want to civilise the native, we must
make him adopt, as an elementary moral precept, the notion that he
has no right to live without working™. The economic development of
the colonies greatly bene¬ted Portugal itself and, by the early 1960s,
about 25 percent of the national budget was derived from Africa. In
1951, the colonies were theoretically incorporated into Portugal as
˜overseas provinces™, but the inferior status of the African indigenas

The Central African Federation
During the war years, both Southern and Northern Rhodesia had
experienced boom conditions. The demand for copper “ a vital
Road to Independence: Central Africa 269

component in many kinds of armaments “ soared and good prices
were obtained by the Northern Rhodesian mining companies, which
were re¬‚ected in the wages paid to miners, and especially to the
white miners, who consolidated their monopoly of the skilled jobs.
A number of manufacturing industries were established in South-
ern Rhodesia, and its agricultural production “ particularly of to-
bacco, cattle, and maize “ increased. Southern Rhodesia was used
by the British as a training area for Royal Air Force pilots, and after
the war, considerable numbers of British ex-servicemen settled in
the country with their families. The white population in 1954 was
80,500; by 1960, it had reached 220,000, compared with an African
population of some 4 million. The great majority of these whites
lived in the towns, particularly in Salisbury and Bulawayo, where
they were joined by a large in¬‚ux of Africans from the rural areas.
The settler-dominated Southern Rhodesian government had divided
the country along racial lines. Urban Africans were forced to live
in separate townships, while the Land Apportionment Act of 1930
had allotted half of all the land, including most of the best land,
for white occupation. Whites had a monopoly of most jobs down to
the level of skilled artisan, and were paid at much higher rates than
During the 1920s and 1930s, many white Rhodesians had imag-
ined that their country might become a ¬fth province of the Union
of South Africa, but, after the victory of the National Party in the
South African elections of 1948, English-speaking Rhodesians felt
alienated from such a solution to their security problem. Sir God-
frey Huggins, the long-serving prime minister of Southern Rhodesia,
now joined forces with Sir Roy Welensky, the trade-union boss of the
white miners of Northern Rhodesia, in reviving an old scheme for
the union of the two Rhodesias. They knew that they would have no
chance of success with the British government unless Nyasaland was
also included, since it was economically dependent on the other two
territories. They argued that, although in Northern Rhodesia and
Nyasaland the European communities were even smaller than in
Southern Rhodesia, it would be preferable to control these predom-
inantly African lands, dif¬cult though this might be, than to have
them as independent neighbours. The settlers hoped that a large
Federation would soon become a fully amalgamated Dominion, free
from British control. They also wanted the economic bene¬ts which
270 Africa since 1800

were expected to result from federation, and the opportunities for
further white settlement which this would create.
The economic growth of the Federation was, as expected, rapid.
New industries were developed in Southern Rhodesia, and towns in-
creased in size “ especially the federal capital at Salisbury. One of the
world™s largest dams was constructed on the Zambezi at Kariba, to
provide cheap electricity for the copper mines of Northern Rhodesia
and the industries of Southern Rhodesia. Africans shared less in the
expansion than Europeans. In 1961, the average annual income of
wage-earning Africans was still only £87, and many Africans were
not even wage-earners. Nyasaland, in particular, had reason to be
dissatis¬ed because all that it gained economically from the federal
government was a small annual subsidy in recognition of its function
as a labour reserve.
In Southern Rhodesia, African nationalist opposition to white rule
dated back to the 1940s and 1950s, when labour movements were
formed, including a union of railway workers led by Joshua Nkomo.
Ndabaningi Sithole and Robert Mugabe were both leaders of a teach-
ers™ association. In 1957, a revived African National Congress (ANC)
came into being under Nkomo, but was banned by the Whitehead
administration two years later. By 1961, a new party, the Zimbabwe
African People™s Union (ZAPU), had emerged, again under Nkomo™s
leadership. In 1963, Nkomo attempted to set up a government in
exile in Dar es Salaam. In response to this, Sithole founded the Zim-
babwe African National Union (ZANU) within Rhodesia. Thus was
created the initial critical split in the nationalist movement. ZAPU
was largely supported by Nkomo™s Ndebele people and had its local
base in Bulawayo, whereas ZANU had big Shona support and oper-
ated from Salisbury. In Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, African
nationalist activity likewise predated the establishment of the Feder-
ation, but it was the imposition of federation that gave nationalism
in the two territories its focus and its sense of urgency.
Within ten years, the two contending forces of settler intransi-
gence and African nationalism had destroyed the new state. De-
spite all their talk of partnership between the races, the European
politicians who controlled both the federal and the Southern Rhode-
sian parliaments were determined to maintain European supremacy.
˜Political control™, wrote Huggins in 1956, ˜must remain in the hands
Road to Independence: Central Africa 271

of civilised people, which for the foreseeable future means the
Europeans™. Welensky, for his part, likened ˜partnership™ to the rela-
tionship between a horse and its rider. African resentment towards
the federal government came to a head in 1959, soon after the return
to Nyasaland of Dr Hastings Banda after an absence of more than
forty years. Demonstrations, strikes, and riots led to the declaration
of states of emergency in both Nyasaland and Southern Rhodesia,
and to the detention without trial of many African nationalist politi-
cians. The federal government maintained that opposition came only
from a handful of ˜extremists™. Many people in Britain shared this be-
lief. But it was rejected by the Devlin Commission which inquired
into the Nyasaland troubles:

The government™s view is that these nationalist aspirations are the thoughts of
only a small minority of political Africans, mainly of self-seekers who think their
prospects of of¬ce will be worse under Federation; and that the great majority
of the people are indifferent to the issue. We have not found this to be so. It was
generally acknowledged that the opposition to Federation was there, that it was
deeply rooted and almost universally held.

The 1959 emergencies marked the dividing line in the fortunes
of the Federation. Early the following year, the Belgians decided to
pull out of the neighbouring Congo and, by this time, the British gov-
ernment had lost faith in the multiracial experiments in Tanganyika
and Kenya. Harold Macmillan, the British prime minister, during
his 1960 African tour, was critical of the lack of progress toward
genuine partnership in the Federation. He ended his tour in Cape
Town, where he delivered his famous ˜wind of change™ speech before
the South African parliament:

We have seen the awakening of national consciousness in peoples who have
for centuries lived in dependence on some other power. Fifteen years ago this
movement spread through Asia. Many countries there of different races and
civilisations pressed their claim to an independent life. Today the same thing is
happening in Africa and the most striking of all the impressions I have formed
since I left London a month ago is of the strength of this African national con-
sciousness. The wind of change is blowing through the continent, and whether
we like it or not this growth of national consciousness is a political fact, and our
national policies must take account of it.

Macmillan™s speech surprised and annoyed white South Africans,
and north of the Limpopo it marked a further stage in the decline
272 Africa since 1800

of the Federation. The Monckton Commission, which was sent to
look into its workings, reported that for Africans, partnership was a
˜sham™. The commission recommended that, if all else failed, the ter-
ritories should have the right to secede. Iain Macleod, the colonial
secretary who had been responsible for departing from the multi-
racial idea in Kenya (see Chapter 18), decided that the Federation
should not stand in the way of the two northern territories attaining
African majority rule. Under Banda™s leadership, Africans in Nyasa-
land achieved this in 1961. The Northern Rhodesian settlers, with
Welensky™s help, delayed a similar development in that country for
two years longer. By 1963, however, Kenneth Kaunda, who had built
up a great reputation for statesmanship, led Northern Rhodesia to
this position. He and Banda made it clear that they would take the
earliest opportunity of withdrawing from the Federation.
In Southern Rhodesia, the picture was equally bleak for support-
ers of the Federation. In 1961, African nationalist leaders rejected a
new constitution which would have given them a limited voice in the
government and, in 1962, the white electorate voted the Rhodesian
Front, a new right-wing party under the leadership of Winston Field,
into power. This party was committed to the maintenance of white
rule in the country. The British government now appointed R. A.
Butler as a special minister to preside over the dismantling of the
Federation and, on the last day of 1963, it came to an end. Nyasaland
became independent as Malawi in July 1964, and Northern Rhode-
sia followed suit as the Republic of Zambia in October of the same
year. Southern Rhodesia reverted to its earlier status as a British
colony enjoying internal self-government, but with the immense ad-
vantage of retaining control over most of the armed forces of the
former Federation, including some modern aircraft. The Rhodesian
Front government used increasingly harsh methods to break up the
nationalist movements. It banned both of the major African political
parties, placing the leaders, including Nkomo and Sithole, under re-
striction without trial. During 1965, both groups began to reorganise
in the safety of Lusaka.
Throughout 1963 and into 1964, Field tried to negotiate indepen-
dence terms with the Westminster government and failed. In April
1964, he resigned and was replaced by the tougher and more resilient
Ian Smith, who continued negotiations with the British Labour
Road to Independence: Central Africa 273

government which came into of¬ce in October 1964. Finally, on 11
November 1965, Smith™s government made a Unilateral Declaration
of Independence (UDI), the opening paragraph of which intention-
ally echoed the American Declaration of Independence of 1776:

Whereas in the course of human affairs history has shown it may become neces-
sary for a people to resolve the political af¬liations which have connected them
with another people and to assume among other nations the separate and equal
status to which they are entitled . . .

These and other sentiments in Smith™s declaration must have seemed
bitterly ironic to the African majority of Rhodesians. White Rhode-
sia™s UDI failed to secure the recognition of any other country in the
world. Nevertheless, thanks to the practical cooperation of South
Africa and Portugal, it was able to survive for more than ten years.

The Colonial Wars in Angola and Mozambique

In February 1961, barely six months after the independence of the
Congo, serious rioting occurred in Luanda, the capital of Angola,
when armed members of the Movimento Popular de Liberta¸ ao de c˜
Angola (MPLA) tried to free political prisoners from the city™s prison.
The following month, a much more serious revolt broke out in north-
ern Angola, by supporters of the Uniao das Popula¸ oes de Angola
˜ c˜
(UPA), which had been formed in 1958 by Holden Roberto. The UPA
operated from bases in the Congo, where Roberto was much in-
¬‚uenced by Patrice Lumumba. The party was largely supported by
Bakongo people, who lived on both sides of the frontier. In 1962,
the UPA merged with another party to form the Frente Nacional de
Liberta¸ ao de Angola (FNLA).

The revolt in northern Angola was an extremely grave event. More
than 6,000 ˜loyal™ Africans were killed by the nationalist guerrilla
forces, as well as some 2,000 whites “ the largest number of European
civilians killed in any single African territory during the anti-colonial
struggles. Totally unprepared for the outbreak of hostilities on this
scale, the Portuguese had to rush 50,000 troops from Portugal. These
were largely successful in suppressing the uprising by the end of
1961, but only after about 50,000 Africans had been killed in savage
¬ghting. This was, however, but the ¬rst stage of the Angolan war of
274 Africa since 1800

liberation and, in 1962 and 1964, similar nationalist insurrections
broke out in Portuguese Guinea and Mozambique, respectively.
Portuguese colonial policy was attacked in the United Nations by
all countries except South Africa and Spain. A UN subcommittee,
which was not allowed to enter Angola, reported at the end of 1961:

The Portuguese authorities face a historic choice, whether to continue to rely
on the use of force, with its inevitable miseries, or to respond to world opinion
and take measures to build a new relationship with the people of Angola. What
is needed is readiness to understand the new forces in the world.

Portugal, however, showed few signs of understanding these forces.
After the outbreak of the revolt in Angola, reforming legislation was
rushed through by the government, by which the status of indigenas
was formally abolished, and all the inhabitants of the colonies be-
came Portuguese citizens. The local legislative councils were given
slightly increased powers. Yet the Portuguese resolve to remain an
imperial power was undiminished. In particular, further migration
to the colonies was encouraged. ˜We believe it necessary™, said the
overseas minister, ˜to continue the settlement of our Africa by Euro-
pean Portuguese who will make their homes there and ¬nd in Africa
a true extension of their country™. Such measures, he said, ˜prove the
sureness with which we contemplate the future, the serenity with
which we face the dif¬culties of the present, and our faithfulness to
the course of history™.
In Portuguese Africa, as later in Rhodesia and South Africa, the
greatest dif¬culty faced by nationalist movements which were forced
to operate from outside their own countries was that of maintain-
ing cohesion between the different exiled groups, especially when
these derived their support from different outside patrons. In 1962,
the FNLA set up a government in exile in Kinshasa, with Roberto
as prime minister and an Ovimbundu, Jonas Savimbi, as foreign
secretary. This was an attempt to widen support for the party
from the Bakongo of the north to include the peoples of the centre
and the south, and it received strong, although covert, assistance
from the United States. Later the same year, Agostino Neto, the newly
elected president of the MPLA, established a rival government in
exile, which operated from Brazzaville in the Congo Republic, and
looked for outside help mainly to the Soviet Union and its allies. In
Road to Independence: Central Africa 275

1964, Savimbi quarrelled with Roberto and left Kinshasa to found
his own party, the Uniao Nacional para a Independˆ ncia Total de
˜ e
Angola (UNITA), with its base in the far south of Angola, near the
frontier with South-West Africa, where he managed to attract out-
side help from countries as widely separated in ideology as China
and South Africa. All of these party ˜governments™, as they became
better organised, tried to set up enclaves of African rule within the
borders of Angola. By the later 1960s, the MPLA was active in the
mountain region to the north-east of Luanda, while the FNLA built
up its bridgehead among the Bakongo and also tried to penetrate
the eastern-central region from bases in Zambia. UNITA kept to its
southern sphere of in¬‚uence. All three movements were successful
in attracting some rural populations to recognise their authority in
raising taxes, running bush schools and clinics, and training cen-
tres for their armed followers. The Portuguese, however, with their
superior weapons and mobility, had little dif¬culty in holding the
major towns and the roads which connected them and in protecting
the mines and plantations on which the economy of the country de-
pended. The price they had to pay was the continued deployment of
around 50,000 troops. On a much smaller scale, the same could be
said of the revolt in the tiny West African colony of Guinea.
By the early 1970s, however, it was the rebellion in Mozambique
that was causing the Portuguese the greatest problems. The Frente de
Liberta¸ ao de Mo¸ ambique (FRELIMO) was formed in 1962 in Dar
c˜ c
es Salaam by the amalgamation of three earlier-established parties,
under the presidency of Eduardo Mondlane. Mondlane was born in
southern Mozambique and studied in the United States. Later, he
worked for the UN in New York and then taught at an American
university. In its early years, FRELIMO was supported mainly by the
Makonde and Nyanja peoples of the far north of the country near
the Tanganyika border. Many of these peoples had ¬‚ed from the Por-
tuguese into Tanganyika, and these were the ¬rst recruits into the
FRELIMO army. In 1964, FRELIMO started to make attacks south-
wards across the Rovuma against Portuguese military installations
on the Makonde plateau. The guerrillas tried to move southwards
along the coast, but could make little progress because of the tra-
ditional hostility of the Makua. Instead, in 1965, they spread their
operations into the Niassa district bordering on Malawi and, by 1968,
276 Africa since 1800

had in¬ltrated as far south as Tete on the Zambezi. Until this time,
the scale of the revolt had been quite small, but with the penetration
of Tete it began to look serious.
In 1966, the Portuguese announced plans for a dam and hydro-
electric power station on the Zambezi River between Tete and the
Zambian frontier, where the river ¬‚owed for nearly 80 km (50 miles)
through the Cabora Bassa gorge. Work started in 1969, and the
dam was completed in 1974. The Cabora Bassa scheme had far-
reaching implications for southern Africa. In effect, it amounted to
a declaration by Portugal that her occupation of Mozambique was a
permanency. Naturally, therefore, FRELIMO tried to impede and
harass the dam™s construction. For their part, the Portuguese, with
some South African military or police support, vigorously defended
the project. Mondlane, who had led FRELIMO so resolutely, did not
live to see the successful outcome of his insurrection. Early in 1969,
he was killed by a parcel bomb, rumoured to have been sent by Por-
tuguese agents, while working at his of¬ce desk in Dar es Salaam.
He was succeeded as president of FRELIMO by Samora Machel, the
army commander in the ¬eld. If Machel™s forces could not actually
prevent work on the dam, they made themselves widely felt over the
Tete district and, in 1973, they moved their guerrilla operations still
farther south into Manica, where they seriously disrupted the rail
and road links between Beira and Rhodesia. So critical was the mili-
tary position that in March 1974, it was decided to airlift 10,000 more
troops to Mozambique to join the 60,000 already there. It was the
intensi¬cation of the ¬ghting in Mozambique that broke the back of
the Portuguese resolve. Many individuals in the army and in industry
now considered that the country™s best chance of economic recovery
lay in associating with the European Economic Community rather
than in pursuing pipe dreams of an African empire. On 25 April 1974,
of¬cers of the Movimento das For¸ as Armadas overthrew the Cae-
tano regime which had succeeded that of Salazar in 1963, and the
new government of General Spinola announced that Portugal would
grant some form of self-government to all its overseas possessions.
Within a few months, Guinea (Bissau) achieved full independence,
but the situation in Angola and Mozambique was more complex.
After the April coup, the Portuguese had to adopt the unfamiliar
role of peacemaker between the three nationalist parties in Angola.
Road to Independence: Central Africa 277

Finally, after a meeting at Alvor in Portugal, a provisional govern-
ment was set up to prepare the way for independence in November
1975. But during the intervening period, the three movements each
consolidated their military and political positions, FNLA occupying
the north, MPLA at last gaining a ¬rm foothold in Luanda and its
Mbundu hinterland, while UNITA built up its support among the
Ovimbundu of the central-southern region. By June 1975, the tran-
sitional government had collapsed. Outside powers now openly in-
tervened, not to bring about a peaceful solution, but to make the
situation even more dangerous. The United States and China pro-
vided support to FNLA and UNITA, while the Soviet Union backed
MPLA. By the middle of 1975, if not earlier, Cuba had sent instruc-
tors to the MPLA forces. In August, South African troops occupied
the hydroelectric installations near the South-West African border,
to protect them from attacks by MPLA and SWAPO “ the nation-
alist movement of the African peoples of South-West Africa. South
African advisers now moved into southern Angola to support UNITA
forces. At the end of October, a South African mobile column rapidly
advanced north, capturing Benguela and Lobito and reaching as
far as the Cuanza River south of Luanda. Meanwhile, FNLA forces,
including some European mercenaries, and with Zairean support,
had advanced from the north to within striking distance of Luanda.
By the middle of November, however, massive amounts of Russian
and Cuban equipment had arrived at Luanda, including heavy tanks
and artillery, along with some 15,000 Cuban troops. These soon im-
posed a decisive defeat on the FNLA attackers from the north. South
Africa had failed to obtain U.S. and other western support for its
military presence in Angola; so, after receiving an undertaking from
the MPLA government that there would be no interference with the
hydroelectric plant on the Cunene River, it was decided to withdraw.
UNITA™s forward positions rapidly crumbled before the Cuban ad-
vance and, although it managed to maintain just enough of a pres-
ence to keep the Benguela railway out of action, most of Angola was
for a time controlled by Neto and the MPLA.
In Mozambique, the Portuguese military government had origi-


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