The Consul General at Lagos (Childs) to the Department of State

No. 324


  • Condes 189 of Nov. 1, 19511


  • Second Interview With Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe Concerning Anti-American Propaganda Appearing in His Press.

Upon consulting reference despatch, it will be recalled that the Consul General and other staff members had a long but friendly interview with Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe at which disappointment was expressed because of the appearance of anti-American propaganda in his “West African Pilot”. At that time Zik said that he was out of town so much that he could not control the articles and editorials, either written or approved for publication by his editor, Mr. K. C. Okoro, but agreed to take the matter up with the latter looking toward the elimination of the propaganda in question. It should be remembered that both Zik and Okoro were educated in the United States.2

For a week or so no more of the undesirable articles appeared, but as soon as Zik got out of town, at which time he was campaigning vigorously in connection with the recent elections, anti-American articles and editorials began again to appear, and they have continued at intervals ever since. During that time, in the absence of Dr. Azikiwe, officers of the Consulate General frequently discussed the subject with the editor, Okoro, but no satisfaction was ever obtained from him.

Just recently there has been another flurry of front page articles [Page 266] and editorials which were decidedly unflattering to the United States. Two of these (please see enclosures Nos. 1 and 2)3 had to do with the recent routine visit of an air mission from our Legation in Tangier. The mission was composed of the Air Attaché, Assistant Air Attaché, Military Attaché and Civilian Attaché from Tangier; an Assistant Naval Attaché from Morocco; an Assistant Air Attaché from Paris; and three enlisted men. Their purpose was to check on airport development in this and other areas of Africa and they make the same trip semi-annually. They always call on the Governor, the Commanding General, the Director of Civil Aviation, and the head of West African Airways.

With the appearance of the two articles in question, it was decided that the Consul General should have another conference with Dr. Azikiwe accompanied by the PAO4 and this was done, on March 7, 1952, in his office. It should be emphasized that this was a completely friendly visit. Dr. Azikiwe guessed the reason for our presence, and stated that the two articles were as distasteful to him as they had been to us. He then displayed three letters he had written to his editor on the subject. In each of these it was pointed out that there was nothing to be gained from such distortions and that, certainly, U.S.-Nigerian relations stood to lose considerably. It is apparent that Dr. Azikiwe wishes, if possible, to maintain the traditional relationship between himself, as publisher, and Okoro, his editor, that is, allow the latter as much freedom as possible to express his own opinions. However, the last of the three letters written to Okoro sounded very much like an ultimatum to desist from publishing distorted anti-American editorials, or other writings. I am convinced that Dr. Azikiwe is serious and honest in this, and that if the articles continue to appear, he will take more decisive action.

The Consulate doubts that Azikiwe can hold Okoro in line, and would not be surprised if articles of the type discussed herein again appear the first time Zik leaves town for a week or more.…

It will be seen from the remaining three enclosures (Nos. 3, 4, and 5)5 as well as the first two, that they follow the regular communist line. Zik personally is not believed to have any communist tendencies.

Dr. Azikiwe appears to be worried about (1) his editor’s persistent efforts to portray the United States in a bad light; (2) his own reputation in the United States; and (3) the unfavorable effect of the articles on general U.S.-Nigerian relations. He knows that instances of anti-American propaganda, appearing in his newspapers, are regularly reported to Washington.

A. W. Childs
  1. Not printed; it offered an account of an interview with Azikiwe on Oct. 30, 1951 to protest the anti-American tenor of articles appearing in his newspaper. (945H.62/11–151)
  2. Azikiwe had attended Storer College, Howard University, Lincoln University, and the University of Pennsylvania.
  3. Neither printed.
  4. John A. Jones, Jr.
  5. None printed.