49. Despatch From the Consulate General at Nairobi to the Department of State1

No. 73


  • Icato A—41 July 29 to London repeated Nairobi A–Unn2


  • Use of Term “Functioning Multi-racial Society” as ICA Objective in East Africa

The Consulate General would like to insert a word of caution as regards the first sentence last paragraph of the referenced ICA communication, to wit: “ICA/W believes that in view of the Congressional language quoted above3 the USOM should direct its attention particularly to such areas of technical assistance as will support the development of West Africa towards independence, and Central and East Africa towards a functioning multi-racial society.”

Whereas privately we may hope that our technical assistance programs will support the development of a “functioning multiracial society” in East Africa, there is a danger in being too specific, especially in any public documents. The word “multi-racial” has unfortunately acquired many political connotations, making it a red flag to some groups, notably the Africans of Uganda and certain elements of the white settlers of Kenya. Though ICA/W is not referring to any specific form of government, the association of the term with the Lyttelton “multi-racial experiment” in Kenya,4 which has both ardent supporters and bitter opponents, is very close.

A great ideological argument exists in these territories as to whether promoting “multi-racialism” or promoting the “predominant interest of the indigenous peoples” or maintaining “the British way [Page 189] of life” (i.e. European supremacy) should be the prevailing objective of government. It would, in our view, be unwise for the United States Government to involve itself in that ideological conflict. Our real objective is to promote U.S. interests in the area regardless of which ideology prevails. Moreover, our attitude—and the British attitude as well—might vary from area to area, e.g. “multi-racialism” might be good for Kenya but bad for Uganda.

The Consulate General believes it would be preferable for ICA to leave itself somewhat more flexible in its objectives here. The proposition might be stated thusly: “ICA believes it should support the economic and social advance of all residents of East Africa as a complement to the political progress of the territories and as a factor in their political stability.”

Edmund J. Dorsz
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 845P.00–TA/9–1455. Secret.
  2. Not printed. (Ibid., AID Files: Lot 57 A 248, ICATO London 7/1/55–9/30/55)
  3. The final language of the Congressional authorization reads: “It is the sense of the Congress that assistance under this Act shall be administered so as to assist other peoples in their efforts to achieve self-government or independence under circumstances which will enable them to assume an equal station among the free nations of the world, and to fulfill their responsibilities for self-government or independence.” The House Committee on Foreign Affairs had earlier noted that some African territories were “in the process of developing new political and social institutions” whereas others were “in the process of developing multi-racial societies as an initial step towards increased self-government.” The United States required, the Committee commented, “a high degree of political stability in Africa”. (P.L. 138; 69 Stat. 283)
  4. Oliver Lyttleton was the British Colonial Secretary who devised a constitution for Kenya in 1954 calling for a multiracial Council of Ministers. Of the six unofficial ministers, three Europeans and two Asians were to be elected, while the sole African was to be nominated.