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

No. 347


  • Confidential Letter from Asst. Secretary Rountree dated 4/10/572 (received at Nairobi on 4/’27/57); Nairobi’s Despatch No. 344 of May 27, 19573


  • Dominant Politico-Socio-Economic Factors Justifying Expansion of American Representation in British East Africa

On April 16, 1956 Nairobi transmitted to Assistant Secretary Allen an unclassified memorandum referring to other communications which gave information relating to politico-socio-economic developments likely to occur in this area. This unclassified communication was followed by a secret memorandum dated April 25, 1956 which was also sent to Assistant Secretary Allen under the latter date.4 This despatch is designed to bring up to date the information previously submitted. It incorporates the concurrence and suggestions of the senior officers of the Consulate General and USIS/Nairobi and includes contributions from the Principal Officers at Dar es Salaam and Kampala as well as their concurrence.

Internal Pressures

As mentioned in earlier communications we expressed the view that constitutional developments would occur reasonably fast in the wide area of six countries and over 20,000,000 people coming under our consular jurisdiction. Like our earlier forecasts those we made last year were again on the conservative side.

The future of Kenya’s multi-racial, Lyttleton Plan Government is problematical. The eight African elected members of Kenya’s Legislative Council have refused to accept Ministerial posts in the [Page 202] Government.5 They contend that the Lyttleton Plan of multi-racial Government is no longer valid and demand an increase in African elected membership from eight to twenty-three. The Kenya Government strongly resists the African demands, contends that their demands are irresponsible and has just put into effect severely restrictive measures on the holding of political meetings by Africans. Further, the Government states that it will not consider suggestions by any one community for constitutional changes before 1960. All communities must mutually agree on constitutional changes before the Government is proposed to consider them. We cannot see the European community backing down from its present preferred position of controlling and guiding the country along lines favorable to the European. In this highly-charged atmosphere, we must anticipate mounting tensions between the contending forces.

In Uganda, the new Governor last February met with outcries from the public of “get out Crawford”, “we don’t need British rule” and similar slogans. Such demands stem chiefly from the people of Baganda numbering about one-fourth of Uganda’s total African population of 6,000,000. The most literate, best-educated, and wealthiest Africans in Uganda, the Baganda seek self-government not only for themselves but a form of self-government which would put the other Africans in Uganda under Baganda hegemony. Leaders of the other African tribal groups recognize this danger and have expressed an unwillingness to see the British leave until all of the African tribal groupings mutually agree to constitutional changes with adequate safeguards for the less advanced tribes. Despite the continuing Baganda agitation for independence and “Self-Government Now” the Uganda government under instructions and guidance from London resolutely refuses to discuss with the Baganda before 1961 any constitutional changes. Negotiations over terms for 1957 elections in Buganda are currently deadlocked over the question of qualifications for suffrage. The Central Government has been unsuccessful in recent efforts to convince the political leaders of the Toro Kingdom that this is not the time for expansion of home rule and establishment of a district or provincial parliament and government along lines already existing in Buganda. Toro demands have grown stronger and more bitter with passage of time. These developments are illustrative of political ferment in Uganda which is destined to increase at a rapid rate and offer serious challenge to British authorities. Penetrating analysis of these cross-currents will be essential to development of a sound US policy for the future in this area where African aspirations and political power may threaten to get dangerously [Page 203] ahead of African capacity to assume management of their own affairs.

Tanganyika, where US capital is urgently desired, is moving forward politically. It has recently announced its intention to form a ministerial type of government next July which will include in government six locally appointed assistant ministers. To get the appointments, such assistant ministers must obviously be strong supporters of continued British rule in Tanganyika. The Tanganyika African National Union is not likely to take this supinely and can be expected to continue agitating for African elected as contrasted to appointed representation in government.

On May 28, by action of the Legislative Council all constituencies will adopt a “qualitative franchise”, providing that each voter will vote in the next elections for candidates of all three racial groups in a given constituency. Although this is a controversial step it is indicative of an evolutionary trend and of an intent to bring the non-European forward. Agitation along this line, encouraged by United Nations discussions will continue to grow, requiring increased vigilance and effort in reporting changes.

Zanzibar and Mauritius have recently made important constitutional advances including the establishment of Ministerial forms of Government.

Somalia with an economy that is far from viable is by United Nations decision to become independent and self-governing in 1960.

The foregoing resume indicates in capsule form the political situation developing in the several countries coming under our consular jurisdiction. The Africans in each of the three principal countries, namely Kenya. Tanganyika and Uganda, will continue pressing for more and more rights and privileges. While the British authorities are attempting to keep pace and where possible ahead of such demands, the Africans are not likely to agree that constitutional changes are developing rapidly enough. Hence, British authority must give way. Each concession, however, will create new problems for the other communities. Thus every constitutional action will be the subject of extremely difficult negotiations between the government and the communities involved.

The area in general is poor in economic resources. However, a good climate, good medical facilities, and greatly improved living conditions since the British came here have increased the African population several-fold. Population growth can be expected to develop at even a faster pace during the next generation, creating difficult pressures on the available economic resources.

Because of increasing internal pressures, the area for some years ahead will be in a political state of flux requiring wise and careful analysis by the American representatives assigned here.

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External Pressures

Our classified references in the memorandum of April 25, 1956 indicate our concern over both neutralist and potential communist penetration in the area. Close to 152,000 Asians of Hindu background live in Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika. Many of them look to India for political guidance. Hence, India has a ready-made apparatus for carrying out, either overtly or covertly, the neutralist policies advocated by the Indian Prime Minister. Because of population pressures on the Indian sub-continent, India will doubtless look longingly towards East Africa as a possible dumping ground for its excess population and will probe with every means East Africa’s attempt to limit Asian immigration. Despite such pressures and the stresses and strains on Commonwealth ties, the three British East African Governments are going ahead with immigration policies designed to keep to a minimum the number of Asians coming into the area.

Thus far, communism in a relative sense has made little inroad into the area, but conditions for its penetration are excellent. With the opening by the Soviet and Soviet-controlled countries of Embassies, trade missions, etc. in nearby countries and expansion of communist activities in the Middle East, we should think that the communists will overlook this area. In this connection, we understand that an African Training School operates in Moscow. In their naivete and desire to get more and more rights by whatever means offered, we believe the Africans with increasingly Asian support would be vulnerable to communist penetration.

If the area should fall a victim of communist influence or develop an Afro-Asian outlook intensified by color considerations, much of Africa south of the Sahara would be endangered.

Political and Strategical Considerations

Kenya and Tanganyika border on the Indian Ocean. Mombasa, the port for Kenya and Uganda, is one of the best harbors in the world. During the last war, MacKinnon Road, 100 miles west of Mombasa, was established as a staging area for British and Allied troops. After the war, MacKinnon Road was allowed to run down to a point where it would require millions of dollars to restore.

Because of British losses in the Middle East and the prospective turnover of the naval base at Trincomalee to the Ceylonese, the British may in their revision of strategic planning decide to use Mombasa as a supply port for its forthcoming Indian Ocean naval task force, a possibility which may be advanced by the Naval Conference of Allied Powers. Further, the British are establishing a small military base about ten miles outside of Nairobi. Additionally, [Page 205] the Royal Air Force is currently surveying facilities in this area. These recent developments bearing on the strategic significance of British East Africa to British military planning would seem to warrant careful consideration by American policy makers.

Knowledge of Africa and Africans

Because of the magnitude of the problems in other parts of the world, Africa has had (until recently) a low priority in U.S. policy considerations. Hence, our posts in Africa have been widely separated and inadequately staffed. We on the spot have therefore not been in a position to devote the time and attention to the substantive part of our jobs. We believe, however, that we must get to know Africa and Africans in such a way that we can provide American policy makers at home with the information and analysis which they need to formulate policy towards this vast continent. High on our list is getting to know the Africans and to take action in time to help mold their attitudes towards the United States and things we firmly believe in. We therefore consider that to accomplish one of our principal, long-term objectives, we must accelerate action along the lines suggested as fast as our personnel roster will permit. In so doing because of the highly sensitive nature of our relations with the several communities emphasis must be placed on the selection of highly qualified personnel rather than upon mere numbers.

Getting to know the African for such purposes as selecting leader grantees as discussed in our despatch no. 410 of April 6, 19566 is fraught with political implications. Despite the difficulties outlined in the despatch mentioned, our ranking officers have been making strenuous but circumspect efforts to cultivate Africans of the type we believe may become leaders in the next 10 to 20 years. If we pursue these efforts assiduously and can still keep to a minimum British suspicion of our motives, we should be able gradually to develop a good leader program for this area. While this does not directly apply to the selection of African students for attendance at American colleges and universities, substantial efforts have been made, with noticeable success, to interest a greater number of African students in this program.

At the same time, Africans throughout British East Africa are increasingly looking to the United States for things which cannot or will not be provided by the British—for instance increased educational benefits and training. Moreover, Muslims, both Arab and African, avidly desire United States information to which we may respond with an expectation of excellent dividends.

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Successful Application of Earlier Recommendations

In an effort to carry out our responsibilities in the area we have in the year end political round-ups for 1954 and 1955 recommended an action program.

These included:

Strengthen United States representation;
Strengthen the United States Information Program;
Strengthen the Exchange of Persons Program;
Start implementing the ICA program approved in April, 1955;
Stimulate private American activities in the area; and
Develop a corps of area specialists for Africa.

We are grateful that to the extent possible the Department, USIA and ICA have given us much of the assistance requested. These include:

Establishment of consulates at Kampala and Mogadiscio;7
Expansion of the United States Information program at Nairobi and the establishment of a USIS Office in Kampala;
Expansion of the exchange of persons program has kept pace with our recommendations;
The ICA Program approved in April 1955 has already given substantial, effective assistance, chiefly in Kenya;
The Principal Officer at Dar es Salaam took a special course on African studies at Boston University, and the new Vice Consul to be assigned there has had similar training. Both therefore qualify under recommendation (6) above. Additionally, we have just learned that the Foreign Service Institute is hopeful of starting a seminar on African studies for Foreign Service personnel at Accra, Lagos or Kampala.

The one place where we have thus far been unable to get much done is in the stimulation of private American activity in the area. However, we understand that the Ford Foundation later this year will send a team to the area with a view to continuing earlier discussions about projects to be undertaken under the Foundation’s sponsorship and support.

Indicative of a probable groundswell in this kind of activity are the following: The Carnegie Corporation continues to provide books to the McMillan Library and the East African Literature Bureau, and it has financed projects at Makerere College and the Royal Technical College; the Government of Kenya authorities have approached us with a view to obtaining U.S. assistance in the establishment of a Poliomyelitis Rehabilitation Center, and a New York medical authority has inquired whether the Government of Kenya would be [Page 207] receptive to the establishment of a surgical reconstruction center here.

Impact of American Actions in the Area

Every action taken by United States Government or its representatives in the area has its local repercussions, sometimes both good and bad depending upon which community is affected. Anything we do in behalf of the African is automatically suspect to a fairly large segment of the European community. Our policies should therefore be designed to win and keep the African in the western camp and at the same time attempt to avoid or minimize possible resentment or ill-will from the other communities. This will require great tact, much patience and careful planning. We therefore anticipate that American representatives here will encounter real difficulty in attempting to carry forward approved American policies and objectives in this area.

Summary of Fiscal Year 1958-59 Projections

If the Congress provides the funds requested in the enclosures to our despatch no. 3028 as supported by despatch no. 344 American representation in British East Africa should approach the requirements of the situation. It should enable us to give adequate back-stopping to ourselves, the three constituent posts and the other American agencies here looking to us for such support. To give such backstopping, we need all of the personnel and supporting equipment and services requested in despatch no. 302.

Edmund J. Dorsz
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 745R.00/5–2757. Secret. Passed to London, USOM/London, and Mogadiscio.
  2. Not found in Department of State files. It conveyed a call for budget estimates. CA–7906, March 28, notified all NEA Fiscal Reporting Posts that they would soon receive a classified communication relative to the submission of Fiscal Year 1958 financial plans and Fiscal Year 1959 budget estimates. (Ibid., 120.4/3–2857)
  3. Despatch 344 provided information concerning salaries and expense appropriations and country budget estimates for Fiscal Year 1958 and budget estimates for Fiscal Year 1959. (Ibid., 122.6424/5–2757)
  4. Not found in Department of State files.
  5. The eight Africans were elected in March 1957 by an electorate which met education, loyalty, and property qualifications.
  6. Not printed. (Ibid., 511.4553/4–656)
  7. The Consulate at Kampala was opened August 28; the one at Mogadiscio July 1.
  8. Despatch 302 from Nairobi, April 26, contained financial plans for Fiscal Year 1958 and budget estimates for Fiscal Year 1959. (Department of State, Central Files, 122.6424/4–2657)