11. Memorandum From the Representative at the Trusteeship Council (Sears) to the Representative at the United Nations (Lodge)0


  • U.S. Relationship With African Nationalism


This report concerns African Nationalism and the crisis which is developing in Africa South of the Sahara; the inability of European Settler Communities to adjust to Nationalist demands; the imminence of widespread and continuing disorder; and steps which the U.S. can take to counter the Soviet Union’s campaign to gain control of African Nationalism.

The following conclusions are based on a visit to Africa in November and December. It began in East and Central Africa where I called on many African Nationalist leaders, European officials and “white settlers,” and ended in Accra, Ghana, where I was present at the All-African People’s (Pan African) Conference.1 The purpose of this journey was to study African Nationalism and the political and racial unrest which is beginning to spread through colonial territories, such as Kenya, the Congo, the Rhodesias and Nyasaland.

[Here follows the main text of the memorandum.]

[Page 41]

Competition for Nationalist Goodwill

In any case the moment is near when the Soviet Union will be given its greatest opportunity to split the world in two, by gaining a controlling influence over Africa through its Nationalist movements. Secretary Dulles has frequently warned about this. But there is no reason why the U.S. should not also compete for Nationalist goodwill. The recommendations which follow will suggest how the U.S. can ride along with the Nationalist bandwagon without actually climbing on board, or without taking sides against its European allies.

These proposals may seem inadequate to meet the serious situations arising in Africa but they are only meant to meet the particular point which African Nationalism raises at this moment.

Here are the recommendations.

  • Recommendation 1—The State Department should encourage U.S. Embassies and Consulates to increase the number and the frequency of their contacts with Nationalist leaders. The importance of this could be far reaching for the U.S. Seldom have so many new states been coming to life at the same time, on the same continent, under the leadership of so few people. Because there is a scarcity as yet of experienced African leaders, it is easy to identify and to build goodwill among the actual individuals who are about to become the Prime Ministers, and the other prominent citizens of their respective countries. The establishment of friendly contacts with these leaders should be one of the principal duties of those who represent the U.S. in Africa. Such meetings should be for the important purpose of keeping up with African thinking and making friends for the U.S. There can be no valid objections to this by the Colonial authorities. Nevertheless, there may be a reluctance among some of our representatives to undertake this kind of activity, unless they are periodically prodded by the State Department.

    Much valuable work in keeping direct contact with African leadership was being done by the Consulates I visited in Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Salisbury, and Johannesburg. It was particularly true in the case of the Embassy in Pretoria, in spite of the suspicious and difficult attitude of the South African Government. I was told that our representatives in South Africa were ahead of all other foreign representatives in making African contacts.

  • Recommendation 2—The State Department should dispatch a representative to Africa periodically for the particular purpose of calling upon various African leaders. This would give “on the spot” emphasis to the State Department’s direct interest in Nationalist thinking, which would be much appreciated by the Africans. It would also put regularity into the contact procedure and make it easier for the Consulates to [Page 42] expand their contacts. Having recently called upon many of the leading Nationalists in East and Central Africa, I can report that this approach to the Nationalist movement contains a gold mine of goodwill for the U.S.
  • Recommendation 3—Congress should be requested to make additional appropriations for leader grants so that a much larger number of African political leaders may be invited to the U.S. This would be one of the cheapest and most effective ways to build goodwill. For less than one half the cost of one Sabre Jet, a large cross section of African political leaders could be invited for a short visit to the U.S., provided with suitable travel escorts, and returned to Africa with some understanding of American life. Under present appropriations it has not been possible to invite more than a handful of political leaders. Few if any of the Prime Ministers in the 12 Locally Autonomous Republics or territories of French West and Equatorial Africa have ever set foot in the U.S., although most of them have visited Paris. Likewise very few African leaders from the Congo or from the Rhodesias or Nyasaland have visited this country. An expanded U.S. program for African political visitors would compete effectively with the open house program which the Soviet Union and its satellites maintain for African visitors.
  • Recommendation 4—More forthright statements should be made by the U.S. Representatives in the U.N. which would unmistakably throw U.S. moral support behind legitimate Nationalist aspirations. During the 1958 session of the General Assembly, the U.S. made some very helpful moves toward a pro-African position on Algerian independence and on the South African race issue. It is hoped that these were only first steps which will be followed by further equally helpful steps in the next General Assembly. Because of the intense importance which Africans everywhere attach to these issues, the position of the U.S. on them has a vital bearing on American prestige from one end of the continent to the other.

The U.S. has so many critically urgent problems in Europe and Asia that one hesitates to emphasize others. But I believe that a dangerous crisis in Africa is so close at hand that there is no time to lose any opportunity, however small, to build goodwill among those who will be leading the independent Africa of tomorrow.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770.00/1–3059. Confidential. Enclosure to a letter from Ambassador Lodge to Secretary of State Dulles, January 30.
  2. This conference took place December 8–13, 1958.
  3. Dulles informed Lodge on February 3 that he had not yet had a chance to read Sears’ report, but had passed it on to Satterthwaite and Wilcox. (Department of State, Central Files, 770.00/1–3059)