50. Despatch From the Consulate General at Nairobi to the Department of State 1

No. 246


  • Despatch 242, December 7, 1954;2 Department’s CA–7584, May 5 [4], 1955;3 Despatch 395, February 28, 19554

[Here follows discussion of African nationalism, African potential for self-government, East African unity, the respective positions of the Asians and the Europeans, racial segregation, and the Report of the Royal Commission on Land and Population 1953–1955 (Cmd. 9475).]

U.S. Policy

Against the picture we have drawn of the trends of the past year, we believe the reasons we set forth for our six-point program in despatch 242 have been fortified. We continue to believe the six points to be sound in theory—and what is equally important—capable of implementation in practice. We also believe the six points [Page 190] important not only for what they include, but also for what they omit.

The Department will recall that we specifically excluded from our program any involvement in the controversial political issues of this area, and in our despatch no. 1 of July 5, 19555 we have elaborated extensively on that theme. The Consulate General itself has scrupulously avoided any action smacking of taking sides on local issues. Our position has been that we are friendly to European, Asian and African alike, but we are not committing ourselves to any of their political views or policies. To do so at this time would be entirely unwise in view of the extreme fluidity of the local political situation.

Unfortunately, certain speeches, statements and congressional resolutions from the United States have given the impression to many local people that we do take sides—that we stand categorically against colonialism and for self-government without much regard to the local capacity for self-government which, as we have pointed out above, is very limited. While fully recognizing that situations in other parts of the world, in the U.N. and on the U.S. domestic scene sometimes require that our representatives take a definite position with regard to colonialism, we have nevertheless felt constrained at various times during the year to take note of adverse local reaction and to plead for a better balance in such speeches and statements as are to be disseminated to this part of the world. Otherwise we fear a) that our basis of cooperation with local authorities will be prejudiced and b) that in being unable to suit our actions to our words we will produce disillusion among the Africans.

We therefore look upon the six points not only as a minimum program, but also as something of a maximum from the standpoint that it would be undesirable at the present stage for the U.S. to commit itself politically in this area. We therefore would like now to review those six points in terms of progress achieved, for we fully realize that the fullest possible implementation of this minimum (and maximum) program should be the focal point of our endeavors during the coming year.


Strengthening U.S. Representation

The situation in Uganda so obviously demands stronger U.S. representation there that we cannot overemphasize the importance of establishing some kind of a U.S. office in Kampala. We continue to believe a full-fledged consular and USIS office is desirable, but if funds are insufficient, a limited purpose post would give us at least some representation and liaison. We no longer feel that a “roving officer”, stationed in Nairobi and making periodic visits to Uganda, [Page 191] would adequately meet the situation. However, even this would be better than nothing.

We note that the Department has included a consular office for Kampala in its over-the-ceiling budget estimates for FY 1957. In view of the factors noted above, we would strongly urge that, if possible, the Department attempt to get the Bureau of the Budget’s concurrence to putting the request in the under-the-ceiling estimates.

We would prefer that a consular post be opened concurrently with a USIS office (also requested for FY 1957) as otherwise it will be difficult to maintain effective supervision and policy control from the distant point of Nairobi. If a full-fledged Consulate is established, we would have no objection to assigning an American Negro to USIS work as USIA has recently proposed. Otherwise, because of the political and social complexities of the situation in Uganda, we would have serious reservations about the practicability of such an assignment, and would want an opportunity of expressing further views if USIA should indicate a definite intention of assigning an American Negro to Uganda.

Generally increasing responsibilities, especially in connection with the technical assistance program, necessitates bolstering the administrative staff of the Nairobi Consulate General in order to free its substantive officers for more representational work, particularly in areas outside Nairobi. Adequate representation also means adequate funds for travel in the large area under our jurisdiction. We are presently so short of operating funds that we have to dip into travel funds for other administrative purposes.

We understand that ICA has established 2 U.S. national administrative posts at Nairobi. When these are filled, Nairobi’s substantive personnel should be better able to devote their primary attention to the work for which they were assigned here rather than dissipating much of it in administration.


Strengthening the Information Program

From what we have said about the upsurge in African nationalism, it is imperative that our information program be shifted gradually to more emphasis on the African. This in turn may necessitate a partial shift from a limited leader-appeal program to a mass-appeal program. Such shifts should naturally occur gradually and must be carefully designed so as not to arouse concern on the part of local authorities. The USIS has been considerably strengthened recently by the assignment of a Cultural Affairs Officer to serve as deputy to the CPAO. But in order properly to design an effective African program, one or more top-notch African local employees are necessary. The CPAO continues to search for such persons, and finding them would be the first step in the shift of emphasis we recommend. [Page 192] Mobile units to carry films and other visual materials to outlying African areas would be another step.

The Department and USIA will of course be aware that the shift of emphasis recommended above will inevitably result in higher costs of operation, particularly since a large proportion of the materials for an African program would have to be produced locally. We believe, however, that in view of the political trends noted above this problem should be faced squarely and decided in accordance with our interests in the area.


Strengthening the Exchange of Persons Program

This year we have been able to send 8 student grantees and 1 leader grantee to the United States, whereas 3 American teachers have come to East Africa under the Fulbright program.6 Whereas this is a good record in relation to past achievement, it obviously only scratches the surface of the potentialities.

From the standpoint of long-range benefit—and most of our objectives here are long-range—there is an obvious advantage to student grants. The problem in this regard is that for the next few years, the newly-opened Royal Technical College of East Africa is likely to skim off the cream of the available candidates. We thus believe it might be difficult to increase the level of our present student program even if funds therefor should be available. We believe, however, that when we do find outstanding candidates we should consider supporting them until they complete their academic programs rather than confine our grants to one year only. We suggest this on the theory that one good man fully trained and steeped in U.S. culture may ultimately prove more valuable to us than several half-trained individuals. After Royal Technical College begins turning out graduates we should find a larger number of outstanding candidates for higher training in specialized engineering and arts curricula for our program in future years. We also believe that Makerere College may be induced to modify somewhat its present preference for sending all of its best graduates to U.K. schools.

From a short-range standpoint, leader-grant candidates are easier to select and, as they are already highly-placed, bring back a more immediate benefit to us. The main difficulty is to insure that the candidates nominated by the present administration will have a lasting capacity for leadership.

As our policy is to encourage the use of the indigenous schools as much as possible, we are very much in favor of American teachers coming to East Africa. In addition to those presently placed in semi-professional training centers, we would very much like to [Page 193] see Americans placed in professioral positions at both Makerere and the Royal Technical College where they could exert a very beneficial influence at the top level and help us develop a better student-exchange program.


ICA Activities

We were gratified with the results of the work of ICA missions in October 1954 and April–May 1955 which were successful in negotiating 11 projects in Kenya and 3 projects in Uganda plus a project to establish an American wing and provide other assistance to the Royal Technical College operating under the auspices of the East African High Commission. In Kenya, particularly, the reaction has been warm and enthusiastic among virtually all articulate elements of the population. We continue to believe that projects which emphasize the quality (rather than quantity) of U.S. principles and technique will be useful foci of U.S. influence in this part of the world.

We are not unmindful, however, that certain risks are involved and certain difficulties must be overcome if the program is to have the impact for which we hope. Indispensable to success is a) to provide American personnel of the highest caliber, and b) to implement the program gradually but expeditiously. In the latter connection, a difficulty that looms very large is the necessity to work through a triangular East Africa-London-Washington channel, with a considerable number of complications being inevitably introduced by the varying points of view from these three vantage points. The apparent desire of the Colonial Office not only to settle broad questions of policy, but also, from its remote location, to keep its finger on administrative details introduces a factor not commonly found in our technical assistance programs elsewhere, but which will apparently have to be “lived with” for the time being. We must therefore expect that there will be rough spots to get over before the program starts rolling.

Judging from many expressions of interest we continue to receive locally, we believe that Colonial Office reticence about future expansion of the program (Toica A–177)7 has not yet percolated to the territorial governments, at least to Kenya. Nevertheless we would agree that the important consideration for us at the moment is to get moving on the projects already established, rather than concerning ourselves with possible new projects. We believe a “testing period” is highly advisable to see how the projects will work under the triangular system of administration mentioned above; it may be that substantial changes in present concepts will be necessary if the program is to work at all.


Private American Activities

Our efforts to stimulate private American activities in this area have been somewhat disappointing. A representative of CARE spent several weeks in the area and talked with local officials in terms of a substantial aid program designed to relieve malnutrition and stimulate community development and public health. His recommendations were unfortunately rejected by his principals in the United States. A representative of the Church World Services discussed a very similar program with the same local officials. Whereas the present status of his recommendations is not known, the prospects for fulfillment do not appear favorable. Naturally these setbacks have not enhanced American prestige.

More recently, a representative of UNICEF 8 has discussed a similar program and is similarly making favorable recommendations to his principals. It is hoped that this time action will be forthcoming. Although administered by a U.N. agency, much of the impact of a UNICEF program may well be American as a result of using American materials and possibly personnel. We would therefore encourage the Department to examine the program carefully with a view to lending it strong support (despatches 1839 and 20110).

On the brighter side, we should not fail to mention the helpful grants of the Carnegie Corporation for various research projects. Also a brief lecture seminar by three American virus specialists under the sponsorship of WHO contributed substantially to American prestige, particularly since their arrival coincided with a period of heavy publicity as regards vaccines against polio-myelitis. Their expert, on-the-spot comments were received with great eagerness by the local public.


Area Specialization

We were gratified to see during the year that the Department has established a small program designed to develop a corps of African specialists, which formed the sixth point of our program and upon which we elaborated at length in our despatch 395.

We were somewhat fearful at first that there would be insufficient, suitable candidates to establish a good program. However, since announcement of the program, two of our American staff at Nairobi—both well suited—have stated their tentative intention to apply, and we hope response has been equally good from other African posts. We believe every consideration should be given to good candidates who apply, even if it should cause considerable [Page 195] administrative inconvenience to the Department or to field posts. All too often developing the long-range utility of our employees has had to be neglected for the sake of short-term administrative expediency.


In preparing this despatch, the reporting officer has drawn heavily on the thoughts of all substantive officers of the Consulate General and USIS staffs, as well as Consul McKinnon at Dar es Salaam, to whom the draft was submitted for comment prior to completion in final form. In concluding, we wish to express our gratitude to the Department for the careful consideration and helpful comments made on our despatch 242 of last year, and also for the action the Department has taken to help implement some of our recommendations.

We hope that his report will merit equal consideration, and that it will be of assistance to the Department in the efforts it is making to obtain Executive and Congressional approval of some of the projects under discussion in this despatch.

Such comment as the Department may be disposed to share with us on the ideas embodied in this despatch will be appreciated.

Edmund J. Dorsz
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 745P.00/12–3055. Confidential.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 48.
  3. Document 48.
  4. Not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 120.303/2–2855)
  5. Not printed. (Ibid., 511.00/7–555)
  6. 60 Stat. 754.
  7. Not printed.
  8. Charles A. Egger.
  9. Despatch 183, November 16, concerned “Voluntary Agency Assistance to Needy in Kenya.” (Department of State, Central Files, 845R.49/11–1655)
  10. Despatch 201, November 29, dealt with the “Proposed UNICEF Aid Program to Kenya.” (Ibid., 845R.55/11–2955)