48. Instruction From the Department of State to the Consulate General at Nairobi 2



  • Your despatch 242 of December 7, 1954,3 recommending a strong five-point U.S. policy for East Africa

The Department wishes to commend you and Consul Barrow on the preparation of despatch no. 242 in which you have given a penetrating analysis of conditions in East Africa, and on the basis of which you have recommended a 5-point program for a U.S. policy in this area.

The Department shares your view that from a long range point of view it is important that the African population of this area come into close association with American ideas and principles, particularly in light of the gradual achievement by the African of more and more political power. In this connection, however, the Department wonders if you may not have oversimplified the problem for all of East Africa by stating that “no delicate diplomacy is necessary in order for us to work here. The limits on the amount we can accomplish are to a large extent defined by what we ourselves want to accomplish.” Admittedly the rapport between Britain and the U.S. is such as to constitute a fertile groundwork for implementing some or perhaps even all of the ideas you have recommended for a strong U.S. policy in East Africa; nevertheless, it appears by no means certain to the Department that what looks like an “open” terrain might not become sensibly restricted if too intensive or too rapid a dissemination of U.S. ideas is attempted. For example, it appears that the British are somewhat sensitive on the subject of the degree and [Page 184] scope of USIS activity in Tanganyika, and the degree of association between the African population and representatives of foreign governments, whatever their nationality. Are you completely satisfied that this sensitivity does not obtain to any appreciable extent in Uganda?

With respect to the geographic concept of “East Africa”, the Department feels it best to refrain from any tendency to treat East Africa as a single political entity because of its more direct responsibility for the future of the Trust Territory of Tanganyika as a Member of the Trusteeship Council, and also because of the opposition to political unity or federation which has manifested itself among nationalist forces in the territories themselves. Moreover, it is not at all clear that the four British East African Territories will all develop at the same pace.

Without qualifying to any degree the U.S.’s strong support of the principles set forth in Chapters XI and XII of the UN Charter,4 experience demonstrates increasingly that it is unwise to indulge in generalizations as to either the future of the territories themselves or the future policies which the U.S. may be called upon to adopt with respect to each of them. The tempo of developments in each of the territories is in many respects different from that of the others. In time to come, for example, it is quite possible that world opinion expressed through the General Assembly and the Trusteeship Council, combined with the inevitable growth of the new national movement in Tanganyika, may oblige the British to allow much more rapid progress toward self-government there than they may deem advisable in Kenya or Uganda. For this reason the U.S. should retain a certain flexibility with respect to its future courses of action in East Africa.

The Department has considered the specific points you recommend for implementing a U.S. policy in East Africa and has the following observations to make regarding them:

1. Assignment of Consular Representatives in the Territories:

As you have surmised, for budgetary reasons the establishment of a Consulate at Uganda does not appear feasible during the next fiscal year. The Department is hopeful of being able to increase your staff by one officer in order that more frequent trips may be made by members of your staff to Uganda, Zanzibar, the Seychelles, and Mauritius, but budget appropriations alone will determine whether or not this is possible during the 1955–1956 fiscal year.

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2. The USIS Program:

The appreciable strengthening of the USIS program throughout the territories, according to USIA, cannot be undertaken in the immediate future because necessary funds are lacking. USIA hopes, however, that this situation will have improved within the next year. It is their thought that USIS might at this time have closer and more effective association with the African population in Uganda than in Kenya, and to that end would welcome the views of the Public Affairs Officer and the Consul General on the establishment of a sub-post at Kampala. The Department is disposed to press for the step-up in USIS activity in particular areas as local situations permit, rather than, for example, to press for an expansion of USIS activities at Dar-Es-Salaam, which might well meet with British resistance.

3. Educational Exchange with Institutions:

The prospectus of the International Educational Exchange Service for 1956, which will shortly be forwarded for your suggestions, contemplates the allocation, subject to congressional appropriations, of $20,844 to Kenya, with 3 leader grants and 3 students, as compared to $2800 and 1 student for 1955. IES is now trying to obtain funds to support 1 or 2 additional student grants in FY 1955, in view of the excellence of the panel of candidates presented by Nairobi. For all the African Trust Territories, including Tanganyika, IES is trying to obtain further funds for 1955, again because of the excellent performance in presenting the panel of candidates.

FOA’s grant of approximately $800,000 to aid in building and equipping the new Royal Technical College is indicative of U.S. interest in increasing educational opportunities in Africa. Rutgers University of New Jersey will provide technical assistance to the new college in its early stages under an FOA sponsored contract. At the same time the Department is trying to increase the funds available for leader grants and exchange fellowships for this area. These are the principal fields for educational exchange, in which progress to date appears to have been reasonably satisfactory.

4. FOA Activity:

Following State–FOA talks in Washington with Minister Vasey,5 FOA has concentrated its DOT reserves on developing and financing projects for Kenya, which have culminated in the recent [Page 186] mission to Nairobi. As you are aware, the Department is most interested in lending its support to FOA programs that have a “visible” effect, as you put it, in reaching both African leaders as well as the general population.

5. Efforts by Private American Organizations:

The Department has conferred with Mr. French of CARE,6 who was not particularly sanguine about CARE operations in East Africa at this time. He explained his views by saying that a substantial segment of negro feeling in the U.S. was against such activities “because they would constitute an endorsement of colonialism.” Mr. French said, however, that a decision on the matter would have to await Mr. Joy’s7 return from Africa to New York. The Department will, of course, use its good offices to expedite such endeavors as the CARE program for East Africa. It is also supporting other FOA sponsored or encouraged projects involving U.S. private initiative.

In sum the Department agrees with you that the U.S. has a very real, long range political interest in East Africa, to wit: to ensure that the East Africans become and remain fully conscious of the position, the role, and the beliefs of the U.S. in the world today. The Department is convinced that a conscious and consistent effort must be made to ensure that East Africa does not come of age without having learned what the U.S. and the American people stand for, and that this effort must be so undertaken as to assure that these people will come to share the democratic concepts of the Western World. This is a long term interest that may have military (strategic) implications, as well as politico-cultural significance. From both a short and long term view the Department agrees that we must be sufficiently active in East Africa to offset any present or future insidious efforts of other countries who may be striving for objectives inimical to our own.

In giving expression to U.S. policy in East Africa the Department would like to mention a few caveats, which may have already come to your mind:

1. The U.S. must not undertake visible FOA or USIS programs with such eclat as to create the impression in East African minds that the political future of this area will be determined principally by the United States, not Britain. U.S. interest in this part of the continent is to work through and with British authority: While the United States does not intend to play down in any way the promotions of U.S. objectives or the presentation of American points of view, neither does it have any desire or intention of supplementing [Page 187] Britain by becoming, or appearing to become, an invisible or “shadow” government. To give the appearance of doing this might well result in the negation of U.S. efforts through creating embarrassment and misunderstanding with the British. It must therefore be borne in mind by all U.S. officials in East Africa that U.S. activity in this area must be carried out with tactfulness and care at all times. When any situation presents itself that reflects palpable British opposition or non-cooperation, the Department should be consulted.

The Department considers that, as concerns FOA activity, caution and prudence will be particularly necessary on the part of U.S. officials in Kenya, where the British are preoccupied with the Mau Mau problem. Our immediate objective as far as Mau Mau is concerned is to see that the British eliminate the causes of this malady, that they get at and treat the roots of this illness.

As a matter of fact the Department believes that in both East and Central Africa it is more than ever essential that all U.S. Government representatives be men and women of such vision and appreciation of human relationships that they comprehend the mental and spiritual processes of a people only now awakening to political consciousness. The “evolving” African is sensitive on many scores when he compares his intellectual accomplishments with those of the European. His ego and pride may be easily wounded by any untoward “display” of attainments on the part of representatives of the American people. A friend thus lost may prove an irrevocable loss. It is therefore incumbent upon U.S. representatives in Africa to lay stress on the diplomatic aspect of their activities.

The Department will communicate with your office periodically with respect to further implementation of the points recommended in your despatch.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.45P/5–455. Secret. Repeated to Dar es Salaam, London, USOM/London, and Salisbury.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. xi, Part 1, p. 375.
  3. Chapter XI concerned the Declaration Regarding Non-Self-Governing Territories and Chapter XII dealt with the International Trusteeship System.
  4. Documentation on these talks and subsequent conversations in Kenya with Minister for Finance and Development Ernest A. Vasey is in Department of State, Central File 745R.5–MSP.
  5. Paul Comly French.
  6. Charles Rhind Joy was an executive consultant for African affairs for CARE.