18. National Intelligence Estimate0

NIE 76–59


The Problem

To estimate political developments in the area during the next few years, especially with respect to the prospects for self-government or independence.


Most of the territories of East, Central, and South Africa have been caught up in the continent-wide process of postwar economic, social and political change, in which growing black African pressure for equality and self-government is a central element. In contrast to West Africa, however, accommodation to this pressure is complicated in many cases by the presence of a well-entrenched white settler element and of large, though as a rule politically less important, Asian or other minorities. (Paras. 9-10)
Over the next several years, Portugal will probably be able to control whatever African unrest and agitation may develop in Angola and Mozambique. For at least the next five years the whites of the Union of South Africa will almost certainly continue to dominate the nonwhite elements of the population—although the Nationalist government’s policy of apartheid will lead to increasing nonwhite resort to [Page 59]boycotts, strikes, and passive resistance, marked by sporadic violence, and will increase the likelihood of an eventual racial explosion. (Para. 23; Annex A, Paras. 28–37)
In most other parts of the area, the next few years will be marked by intensified political maneuver and negotiation and at least occasional disorder and violence. Prospects for reconciliation of African, white settler, and metropolitan interests vary greatly from territory to territory, with much likely to depend not only on a variety of local circumstances, but also on the resourcefulness and adaptability of individual leaders and officials. In general, however, it appears likely that at least one and perhaps as many as four or five of the presently dependent territories will become independent within the next five years. (Paras. 24-25)
Tanganyika is well on the way to self-rule under a strong African political movement which has obtained white and Asian support. Rapid progress toward self-rule is also likely in the Belgian Congo, where the white settler element has little influence, and in the tiny protectorate of Zanzibar, where some accommodation between the traditionally dominant Arab minority and the increasingly active African majority appears probable. There is no significant racial problem in Uganda; although the retention of great influence by the Kabaka (King) of Buganda2 and lesser traditional leaders has perpetuated tribal and sectional divisions, it is likely that the territory will achieve self-government within five years. In the Belgian-administered Trust Territory of Ruanda-Urundi, and in the British-run High Commission Territories, development of local self-government will also take place, although at a slower pace. (Annex A, Paras. 2-5, 20–24, 13, 10–12, 25, 38)
The outlook in the remaining territories of the area is more uncertain. Because of the growing strength of African pressures, Kenya may emerge as an African-led state within five years, but white settler resistance and African reluctance to compromise will probably lead to further bloodshed before a solution is achieved. Controversy over the constitutional status and racial policies of the self-governing Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland will not be finally resolved in the constitutional review scheduled by the UK for late 1960. Within the next five years, African pressures will probably result in Nyasaland’s breaking away from the Federation. In any event, unless the dominant white element greatly liberalizes its “partnership” concept, the Federation will probably find itself eventually in a position similar to that of South Africa. (Annex A, Paras. 6–9, 14–19)
Even in those territories where the transition to independence occurs without undue disruption, the outlook for stability and orderly development is generally unpromising. Grave problems of tribal disunity and backwardness will confront the new African leaders, who are few in number and have generally had less administrative experience than their counterparts in West Africa. Moreover, the adjustment of political, economic, and social relationships among the different racial groups will remain a major problem long after the constitutional formalities are agreed on. (Para. 26)
The economic outlook also furnishes grounds for pessimism. Most of the East and Central African territories are highly vulnerable to fluctuations in world commodity prices. Economic growth at the rapid postwar rate is not likely to continue. As African rule approaches, several territories face the possibility of a decline in the rate of new investment and an exodus of white managers and technicians. The new governments of the area will almost certainly seek financial assistance from the US, as well as from their old colonial rulers and international lending agencies. (Paras. 27–28)
Communist and Bloc influences are thus far negligible in East and Central Africa and, at least over the next few years, we consider it unlikely that such influence will reach major proportions. Despite the increased opportunities for Communist political and economic penetration which are likely to arise, the African leaders who have emerged thus far—unlike many other Afro-Asian leaders—are essentially non-Marxist in their background and will probably look primarily to the West for sympathy and support. In the Union of South Africa, however, Communists already exercise a highly important influence among nonwhite political movements and will almost certainly continue to do so. (Paras. 29-31)


I. General3

With native self-government in effect or impending throughout most of the northern and western portions of Africa, the diverse territories extending from Kenya, Uganda, and the Belgian Congo southward to the Cape of Good Hope constitute the last major area of white rule on the continent. Most of these territories have been caught up in the continent-wide process of economic, social, and political change. As elsewhere, growing pressure for economic and social equality and for an effective voice in government is being exercised on behalf of the black African majority by a small group of young Westernized leaders [Page 61]with increasing mass support. In contrast to West Africa, however, the situation is complicated by the presence, in most of the territories concerned, of a small but well entrenched white settler minority together with politically less significant Asian or other minorities.
There are in the area only 3.8 million whites (or Europeans)4 and 2.4 million other non-Africans, compared with more than 67 million Africans.5 The Union of South Africa accounts for 3 million of the whites and 1.8 million of the other non-Africans. Outside the Union the white population exceeds five percent of the total only in Southern Rhodesia. In most instances the proportion of whites is much smaller. Nevertheless, the whites occupy a dominant social and economic position, which is usually reinforced by various forms of racial discrimination. The result has been the creation of potentially dangerous racial tensions which complicate the process of evolution from colonial status. Particularly in the several territories under British control, the colonial authorities, in their efforts to insure orderly development, are caught between black African pressures for equality on the one hand and the efforts of the white settlers to maintain their privileged position on the other.
Even apart from the Union of South Africa—a modern nation of farms, mining, and industry lying almost entirely in the temperate zone—the area considered in this estimate is one of great geographic, ethnic, and economic diversity. Flanked by humid coastal plains, the high central plateau which forms the bulk of the central and southern African land mass includes tropical rain forests, the highlands which have attracted white settlers to Kenya and the Rhodesias, snow-covered mountains, and vast deserts. The African population itself includes hundreds of tribes with differing customs and ways of life. Although mostly of Bantu stock, the Africans differ in physical characteristics. In the economic sphere, modern towns, farms, and mining enterprises are springing up against a background of primitive agriculture, herding, and hunting.
The African population of this area is poorly prepared for self-government. Despite the spectacular postwar quickening of economic activity in such places as the copper belt of Northern Rhodesia and the Belgian Congo, most Africans still live the primitive life of the hinterland. Tribal loyalties and jealousies continue to play a major political role throughout the area, thereby handicapping the efforts of African leaders to develop unified political movements and provoking sometimes violent intertribal conflicts. Historically, Africans of this area have had less sustained contact with outside civilizations than those of [Page 62]West Africa and, with some notable exceptions, are less advanced culturally. More recently, the near-monopolization of trade by Asians and other non-Africans, and the repressive practices of the whites, have generally given the Africans less opportunity than their counterparts in other areas of the continent to develop the business, professional, and administrative experience which would prepare them for self-government. Although literacy is growing, the number of Africans with secondary level education is still small, the number with a university education minute.
Nevertheless, African pressure for political equality has now assumed major proportions through most of the area. In Angola and Mozambique, to be sure, the Portuguese have been able to stave off trouble by repressing political activity by either African or non-African residents and by some measures for cultural assimilation. In the independent Union of South Africa, African (and other nonwhite) agitation for political change has been severely restricted. In most other places, however, significant mass pressures, centering among the detribalized Africans of the towns and minefields but in some cases extending well back into the tribal hinterland, have already emerged. The British Government has long since realized that in Central and East Africa, as elsewhere, the end of the colonial era is fast approaching; over the past few years it has become deeply involved in efforts to work out transitional constitutional arrangements which would be acceptable to the various interest groups concerned. Even before the Leopoldville riots of January 1959, the Belgian Government had recognized that there was also urgent need to prepare for independence in the Congo.

II. Forces At Work

African Nationalism

African nationalists are pressing for the transfer of political power to Africans in most territories in the area. The strength and character of this pressure vary with local conditions and with the outlook of the individual leaders. A few are primarily tribal leaders intent on advancing tribal interests. The most prominent, however, are a small group of confident young men, some of them educated in Western Europe, who by dint of considerable organizing and oratorical ability have placed themselves at the head of mass movements and are regarded by their predominantly uneducated followers with something akin to reverence. These men look upon themselves as the molders of a modern Africa of nation-states, in which tribal divisions will disappear and the African slogan of “one man, one vote” will become a reality.
At present most nationalist leaders in this part of Africa are moderate in approach and well-disposed by education (and sometimes by religion) toward the West. They generally recognize that most of their followers are motivated primarily by the hope of ending real or imagined economic and social grievances rather than by any clearly perceived political goals and that evolution toward independence is a complicated process in which white cooperation could be valuable. Although they have pressed hard for early independence when feasible, they have adapted their tactics to circumstances. In the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, for example, the African leaders actually favor a continuation of British supervision as a protection against white settler dominance. Despite the extreme language of many of their demands, most of them have sought to avoid violence except as a last resort; except for certain South African leaders, none is a known Communist. Nevertheless, they are a determined group with a strong sense of mission. In the face of resistance to their demands, they will seek to increase the pressure.
The firmness of the East and Central African leaders is likely to be further strengthened by their growing ties both with other African leaders and with each other. A significant move in this direction was the establishment in September 1958 of the Pan-African Freedom Movement of East and Central Africa by nationalist leaders from Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, Zanzibar, and Nyasaland. The official goal of the organization is “government of Africans by Africans, for Africans, on Pan-African lines.”6 The election of Tom Mboya of Kenya as chairman of the All-African People’s Conference at Accra in December 1958 symbolized the growing interest of other African leaders in this area. The Conference also established regular channels for cooperation between African leaders throughout tropical Africa and led to provision of limited but important material support to the East African independence movements.

White Settler Resistance

The white settler element is almost universally opposed to African nationalism and to social contacts between races. Many of the settlers are second or third generation residents—or in South Africa descendants of even earlier immigrants—and they have a strong attachment to the lands they hold. They usually feel that the hard work, skill, and capital which they have devoted to building up Africa gives them the right to retain a dominant position. Most of them consider the Africans manifestly incapable of shouldering full economic and [Page 64]political responsibility at present and are often skeptical about the African’s ability ever to throw off his primitive heritage and earn full equality with the whites. Many feel that white supremacy and a strongly enforced social and economic color bar are the only ultimate barriers to miscegenation.
However, the solidarity of the white position has been weakened in recent years. In the independent Union of South Africa, to be sure, the large white minority, under Nationalist leadership, is stubbornly attempting to press ahead with a policy of apartheid—in effect, maximum social and residential segregation and preservation of the dominant white position in political and economic life. In the colonial areas, however, the white settler tactic is one of delay: to resist African nationalism where feasible but to concede to it where necessary.
The largely self-governing Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (and especially Southern Rhodesia, with its quarter of a million white settlers) rejects apartheid in favor of a vaguely defined “partnership.” However, the white Federation leadership is removing racial restrictions very slowly and is accepting only a few carefully screened Africans as limited political partners. Indeed, the whites are seeking increased powers and early dominion status in order to deal with African pressures from a position of greater strength. Elsewhere—including even Kenya with its “white highlands” and memories of Mau Mau—there is growing realization that some concessions must be made. In some cases efforts are being made to develop multiracial parties. These tendencies toward accommodation may be strengthened by the existence, even in South Africa and the Federation, of small liberal groups who might serve as a bridge between the races, and by the presumed desire of mining companies and other economic interests to avoid serious unrest. In general, however, white willingness to accept greater African political participation remains grudging. White proposals for legislative and executive representation for the major racial groups fall far short of the African goal of “one man, one vote.”
Other Influences. Various other political forces, local and external, exercise some limited influence on the situation. The Asian and other nonwhite minorities of East Africa have given some valuable support to African leaders, although they are often divided among themselves and primarily interested in preserving their position as shopkeepers and entrepreneurs in the face of African and white distrust. African nationalism is strengthened by the example, advice and material help provided by Nkrumah and other West African leaders, with whom contacts are increasing. UN pressure on behalf of the Africans, though flatly rejected by South Africa, is a factor the UK and Belgium must take into account. Nasser has achieved some limited influence in the area through propaganda and financial support to [Page 65]certain groups, but this influence is probably declining. India’s similar appeal as a champion of anticolonialism and as an Afro-Asian leader is reduced by its identification with local Asians, who are not held in high esteem. Communism is not now significant except among the nonwhites of South Africa.7

The Role of the Colonial Powers

The position of the British Government, forced to deal with these conflicting pressures over a broad range of local circumstances, is particularly difficult. The UK recognizes the basic legitimacy of African aspirations for political participation and, except for some reluctance to loosen its control over Kenya (which it wishes to use as a military staging area and an emergency naval base site), is attempting to prepare its territories for early independence through progressive enlargement of the African and other nonwhite role in local government. However, the Conservative government has clearly been reluctant to clash with the white leaders of Kenya and of the Federation, even at the cost of heavy attack from the more pro-African Labor and Liberal opposition. It has resisted demands that it provide timetables for independence.
Belgium has now abandoned its once vaunted program for avoiding political unrest by stressing African social and economic advancement and severely limiting local participation in administration by either blacks or whites. In January 1959 it promised to provide a gradual transfer of power to elected African representatives and eventual independence for the Congo. All the major Belgian parties contain groups favoring fairly rapid progress. However, there are also many who favor a relatively slow and methodical transfer of power.
Portugal has sought to insulate its African territories against unsettling political influences. Angola and Mozambique are legally provinces of Portugal, and Portuguese citizens there—including the some 35,000 African assimilados who have qualified for citizenship—theoretically have certain democratic rights. In practice, however, the centralization of power at the national level and the authoritarianism of the Salazar regime prevent any meaningful local political activity by either blacks or whites. In addition, Portugal’s own poverty and its tendency to follow mercantilist economic policies have served to retard economic development and the training or education of the mass of Africans.
[Page 66]

III Outlook

The next few years are likely to be turbulent, marked by intensified political maneuver and negotiation and at least sporadic disorder and violence. Although security forces on the scene, or those readily available, will probably be able to localize and control most disturbances without great difficulty,8 violence may in some cases continue for fairly long periods.
Prospects for resolution of the struggle over independence and African self-government vary widely from one territory to another, not only because of the great variations in existing local circumstances but also because so much will depend on the resourcefulness and adaptability of the local leaders and colonial officials concerned. In general, however, it appears likely that at least Tanganyika and perhaps as many as three or four other territories will achieve their independence within the next five years.9 Advances in one territory will inevitably increase the pressure for change in others. Cooperation among the African nationalist movements of the area will continue but will probably not give rise to any significant moves toward federation, at least during the next few years.
Even if the transition to independent self-government occurs without bloodshed or upheaval, the outlook for stability and orderly development in East and Central Africa is generally unpromising. The adjustment of political, economic, and social differences among Africans, whites, and others cannot be accomplished by an agreement concerning independent self-rule. As elsewhere in Africa, the new governments will face staggering problems of overcoming disunity and backwardness. These will place heavy burdens on an African leadership which is unusually small in numbers and has had little or no administrative experience. Should there be an abrupt falling off of white participation in government and administration, the problems would be compounded. In view of these circumstances, the conduct of government is likely to become increasingly authoritarian, even though a facade of parliamentary forms is maintained.
The economic outlook also furnishes grounds for pessimism. The rapid economic development of the postwar period has only partially offset the backwardness of the area.10 Indeed, by bringing more and more Africans into the money economy, and thus making the welfare of larger portions of the population dependent on world market prices for a few primary products, this development has added a [Page 67]new element of uncertainty to the situation. Cyclical and other economic fluctuations, such as the post-1955 fall in world copper prices, are almost certain to have serious economic and (in all probability) political repercussions. In general, moreover, it is unlikely that during the next 10 years the favorable terms of trade enjoyed by primary producing countries in the early 1950’s will return.
At a time when the new governments concerned will need funds to construct roads, schools, and other basic improvements, there is likely to be a reduction of the financial assistance previously provided by the metropoles. There may be an even more serious decline in private domestic and foreign investment. In many cases, moreover, there is inadequate usable land and few known and readily exploitable mineral or other resources to attract investment. Under these circumstances, the emerging local governments of East and Central Africa are likely to expect economic assistance from the US and other foreign governments as well as from their former colonial rulers and from international agencies such as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Like other emerging independent states, they will probably feel that the West is obliged to provide such assistance, without particular regard to the economic merits of the situation.
In the colonial portions of the area, where communism is thus far a negligible factor, the advance of African nationalism will almost certainly provide increased opportunity for Communist and Sino-Soviet Bloc penetration. Should the African drive for power lead to a protracted bitter struggle, the Bloc might be able to provide much-needed moral and material support to the nationalists. After independence is achieved, internal instability and the need for external economic assistance will almost certainly further openings.
At least over the next few years, however, we consider it unlikely that Communist and Bloc influence will reach major proportions in East and Central Africa. Wherever colonial and white settler rule persists, the authorities will almost certainly continue their present restraints on Communist activity. Moreover, the principal African leaders are Western-educated and Western-oriented men whose general background, unlike that of many other emerging Afro-Asian leaders, is primarily non-Marxist. At least during the period of transition to independence, they will probably tend to avoid actions which would jeopardize their chances of obtaining public and official support from the US or other Western countries, or which would provide the colonial authorities with additional reasons for delaying political concessions. Moreover, they will probably be anxious to avoid encouragement of political influences which might eventually compete with their own.
However, communism is likely to remain a highly important influence in the Union of South Africa, despite the recent development of a vocal anti-Communist opposition within the major African political movement. The Communists have already gained control of the national headquarters of this movement. They have less influence at the provincial and local levels but have achieved substantial penetration. They also dominate the most important Asian political group, and are active among the “colored” (or racially mixed) element. Despite the vigorous efforts of the government to crack down on communism and the inclination of many African leaders in the Union to reject communism as an alien philosophy, the government’s repressive policies will force nonwhite political movements to continue to use conspiratorial methods and extremist pressure tactics and to make common cause with the Communists.

[Here follows the “Country Analyses” section.]

  1. Source: Department of State, INRNIE Files. Secret. A note on the cover sheet reads as follows:

    “The following intelligence organizations participated in the preparation of this estimate: The Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and The Joint Staff.

    “Concurred in by the United States Intelligence Board on 20 October 1959. Concurring were the Director of Intelligence and Research, Department of State; the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Department of the Army; the Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for Intelligence, Department of the Navy; the Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, USAF; the Director for Intelligence, The Joint Staff; the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Special Operations; and the Director of the National Security Agency. The Atomic Energy Commission Representative to the USIB, and the Assistant Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation abstained the subject being outside of their jurisdiction.”

    Various annexes and a map are not printed.

  2. British East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, and Zanzibar); the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland; the Belgian Congo (including Ruanda-Urundi); the Portuguese territories of Angola and Mozambique; the Union of South Africa (including South West Africa); and the British High Commission Territories (Bechuanaland, Basutoland, and Swaziland). [Footnote in the source text.]
  3. Edward Frederick Mutesa, II.
  4. See Annex A for a territory-by-territory assessment of the local situation and prospects. [Footnote in the source text.]
  5. Throughout the paper, the term “whites” is used to denote whites of European stock. The term “Europeans” is used in the same sense in much of the literature on Africa. [Footnote in the source text.]
  6. See Annex C, Table of Population Statistics. [Footnote in the source text.]
  7. Nyerere and Mboya were the leading figures at the meeting at Mwanza, Tanganyika, which set up the PAFMECA, a regional grouping within the All African People’s Conference.
  8. For further discussion of Communist potentials, see paragraphs 29-31 below. [Footnote in the source text.]
  9. See Annex? for an assessment of security forces. [Footnote in the source text.]
  10. See Annex A for a territory-by-territory assessment of the local situation and prospects. [Footnote in the source text.]
  11. See Annex D, Trade and Estimated Per Capita Income. [Footnote in the source text.]