The Director of the Office of African Affairs (Bourgerie) to William D. Moreland, Consul in the Consulate General at Dakar1


My Dear Mr. Moreland: In pursuance of our responsibility for maintaining and building sound relations with Africa, we have been engaged in a study to determine what additional assistance might be rendered by your office to help keep us currently informed on general conditions in French West Africa, which, in the event of war, will help to guide us in creating or altering our policy toward FWA. In embarking upon this approach we would like to pass on to you our concept of Africa’s position in the present world picture, and submit some suggestions for reporting on local conditions which govern the economic progress and political stability of your district.

Africa today is fundamentally identified economically and politically with the Free World Democracies—countries aligned against Communism. As a member country of this bloc, our immediate and long-range policy is how may we perpetuate this fundamental relationship and prevent any deterioration thereof which would lead to a conflict between the African peoples and the Free World, be it ideological or physical. It is imperative that the individual and collective efforts of the anti-Communist countries be so organized as to insure that Africa will remain firmly fixed in the political orbit of the Free World.

Today, the American people, particularly responsible officials of Government and industry, have a greater appreciation of Africa than at any time in our history. The American public is becoming increasingly aware that Africa provides a sizable proportion of the critical commodities now required by the Free World, including such products as uranium, copper, chrome, cobalt, manganese, iron ore, tin, industrial diamonds, bauxite, asbestos, rubber, fats and oils, sisal, hides, and hardwoods. As a result of the last war, more Americans than ever before now realize the strategic military importance of Africa to the Free World. Africa’s geographic position in relation to Europe and the Near East and in relation to the Americas and Southern Asia places it in the category of one of the most important strategic areas in the world. Because of its geographic relation to European and Near Eastern defense, the North Africa region is militarily the most important of the African areas. The Red Sea and Gulf of Aden area, the [Page 1219] East Africa Zone, the southern tip of the continent and the West Africa bulge above the Gulf of Guinea each bear an important relationship to vital transportation and supply routes and systems of defense. Each of these regions also serves as a shield for the protection of the inland area where the bulk of the strategic commodities are produced.

The European Colonial Governments, as you so well know, regard their African territories as essential to their military security, economic well-being and political position in the world community. Since these Governments have lost most of their Asiatic possessions, Africa is more important to them than ever before. Three-fourths of Africa’s inhabitants are under their control, while the sovereign countries of Africa are largely dependent upon Western Europe and the United States for their security and advancement.

No one should doubt for a moment that the Soviet directorate is unaware of the importance of Africa to the Free World. Since an aggressor usually gains advantages by initiative, we must constantly be on the lookout for the Soviets to accelerate their efforts to weaken Free World prestige and control in Africa, with the objective of ultimately including African territories and countries in the Soviet bloc. We must never forget that the anti-colonial feeling in certain African territories constitutes a formidable problem for the Free World because all of the Colonial Governments are aligned on the side of the Free World. Such a condition facilitates rather than militates against Soviet encroachment. It is absolutely necessary, therefore, that the Colonial Governments exert efforts greater than heretofore to weld a loyal link between the African peoples and themselves. Our own position in this vitally important matter, stemming from our leadership role in the Free World, must be one of encouragement. This encouragement must not be in the sense of weak or strong support of African Nationalist aspirations, but encouragement in the sense of convincing both colonial and native that the road to survival is one of well-balanced economic and political development with emphasis on the rights and privileges due the dignity of man. It is the defects in the last condition governing rights and privileges which the Soviets have exploited so successfully in other world areas. In our opinion the challenge that faces the Free World in Africa is what can be done to insure the unwavering loyalty of the African to the cause of Freedom as we perceive it.

Proceeding on the premise that it may not be possible to avert a general war with Russia, we would like for you to submit a report which would serve as a synthesis of the current economic, social and political conditions in your district. Such a report should not be voluminous, but should contain pertinent data sufficient in detail to enable the Department to have ready access to reliable information on the most salient economic, social and political features of the FWA. [Page 1220] This report should in no way supplant the schedule of required reports established for your office. The following outline is offered as guidance for points of focus in preparing a current synopsis on the economic, social and political conditions in your district, with emphasis on measures which would help to create African loyalty toward the Free World. We know that you have already submitted reports on some of the topics listed below, and in preparing your synthesis you may refer to such reports or preferably give a brief summary of the report.


An assessment of the French West Africa’s economic war potential such as:

best estimates of mineral resources
best estimates of timber resources
best estimates of industrial capacity
agricultural development, both for food and industrial use
hydro-electric development
transport facilities—lines of communication

Basic reporting on individual products should be continued, and if at all possible should be accelerated. But what we have in mind when we speak of assessment is a concise report or series of reports showing the best estimates of FWA’s resources, with the Consulate General’s own description of specific difficulties and problems now prevalent against expanding present mineral, agricultural and industrial production. For example, what conditions facilitate or hinder the supply and training of labor? Are the food requirements adequate for native consumers? Are consumer goods an important factor in increasing native production? What is the attitude of the local government and private companies toward FWA’s economic war potentials? Both official and private industry opinions are highly important. Does the major portion of local official opinion follow the Home Government’s present attitude toward economic development? If not, what are the principal differences?


What is the French Government’s present policy toward improving social conditions of the natives?

Trends toward urbanization, detribalization and the assimilation by Africans of Western living standards.
To what degree is social unrest accentuated by adoption of Western living standards?
Describe efforts, if any, being made by both the French West African Government and private enterprises to improve housing in urban and industrial centers.
What is being done to meet the health, recreation and welfare needs of enlarged urban and industrial populations? What could be done?
How can the social unrest normally attendant upon the dislocation and mobility of native populations be offset or contained?
Are local government and private enterprise leaders alert to the possibility of riots and disturbances arising out of labor difficulties, such as detribalization and increased contacts and competition among ethnic and racial groups?
Based on the best local advice, both official and private, what measures and procedures would be best to cope with ill-adjusted social conditions?


An analysis of present political conditions with emphasis on issues likely to be created by a war situation.

Description of present political policies as practiced by the French Government in FWA.
What is the present political mood of the urban and rural African in FWA?
Description of local parties and movements, with biographic sketch and your best appraisal of leaders.
What would be the impact on the local government and the native population if France were overrun by an enemy?
Description of subversive activities or potentially subversive individuals, organizations, or movements.
What is Soviet influence, if any on native or European groups?

As stated at the outset of this letter, the foregoing are only suggestive subjects. If you so desire you may revise the outline to conform more appropriately with conditions peculiar to your district. If, in your opinion, a subject warrants extensive treatment, you may find it desirable to handle it as a separate report.

The formulation of a sensible policy toward your district can be done only in conjunction with your assessments and appraisals. With or without a general war, our main objective in FWA is to secure the maximum use of its resources and keep the territory firmly within the political orbit of the Free World.

With kindest personal regards,

Sincerely yours,

E. H. Bourgerie
  1. This letter was drafted by Harold Sims, Acting Officer in Charge of West. Central, and East African Affairs. Identical letters, mutatis mutandis, were sent to Consul General Angus Ward at Nairobi, Kenya (611.70/4–2351), Consul General A. W. Childs at Lagos, Nigeria (745H.00/4–2351), Consul Hyman Bloom at Accra, Gold Coast, West Africa. (611.45K/4–2351)