Atomic Energy files, lot 57 D 688, “Belgian Congo: Security, 1952–1954”

United States Government Memorandum, January 26, 1953

Since Bearce’s1 return from his tour of the eastern Congo, he has had several conversations with Congo Sûreté personnel concerning reports he picked up from various reliable sources. These reports are all vague; none put the finger on any incidents of organized native unrest. But the persons Bearce talked with all gave more or less the same opinion concerning the attitude of the natives. All stated that they had sensed a deterioration in rapport between natives and Europeans during the past year, especially during the past two months.
According to these reports, the deterioration of relations seems to take the form rather of attitude than of action; surliness, lack of attention to or defiance of orders, complaints of difficulty of work and claims of inability to perform jobs which have been routine, refusal to perform usual job without raise in pay, shorter hours. It is possible that the natives are suddenly developing “iron in the spine”, but the pattern which shows up through a study of these reports indicates the possibility of the start of an organized campaign of induced disaffection.
Reports of growing activity of the Mau-Mau2 in Uganda, Kenya and Tanganyika coincide with reports of resurgence of the Kitawala3 in British East Africa and the Rhodesias, and at Matadi, Belgian Congo, as well as Matchouanism4 in French Equatorial Africa. Handbills of unknown origin have recently been turning up in Matadi, circulated among natives. These handbills follow the Communist line with a quasi-religious slant. The Congo Sûreté reports that signs of passive resistance are centered upon Leopoldville and Matadi, with the less frequent signs of this attitude in other population centers. Bearce heard of most definite signs of passive resistance at Albertville and Usumbrua.
At the suggestion of the Governor General, Humblet left Leopoldville by air for a secret semi-official tour of British East Africa on 3 November, 1952, for a personal study of the native situation in that area, with a view to cooperative planning and action to counteract and if possible, stop the spread of native unrest to the Congo and Ruanda-Urundi: Humblet expects to be absent from Leopoldville for about three weeks. Before his departure he told Bearce that he would go into his findings with him upon his return.
  1. Roger Mellen Bearce was Vice Consul at Leopoldville.
  2. For documentation, see pp. 346 ff.
  3. A syncretistic religious movement which was an offshoot of the Watch Tower movement and which was especially strong in Katanga in the interwar years.
  4. Matsouanism refers to the philosophy of André Matsoua who gained a following among the Lari around Brazzaville in the late 1920’s. It was a political movement with religious overtones which advocated passive resistance against Western innovations.