4. Memorandum of Discussion at the 365th Meeting of the National Security Council0

[Here follows a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting.]

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1. Africa South of the Sahara

Before Mr. Randall commenced to make his report, the President broke in to say that Mr. Randall’s written report,1 which he had recently read, was highly to be commended to all members of the Council. It was interesting, intriguing, and valuable. The President said that he was so impressed with the work of missionaries, as described by Mr. Randall, that he proposed to increase his contributions. In short, this was the best report that the President could remember reading for a very long time.

After thanking the President for his commendation, Mr. Randall stated that his visit to Africa had been a very stirring adventure. He listed briefly the many countries he had visited, and noted that he had had discussions with some 21 senior U.S. officials in these countries.

Mr. Randall expressed the opinion that it would be impossible to formulate a general U.S. policy covering the whole of Africa. The backgrounds of the several countries were simply too different. Policy-wise, we must look at Africa either country by country or area by area. It was also Mr. Randall’s view that Africa South of the Sahara was one area in the world where, in general, military considerations took a distinctly second place to economic and political considerations in so far as the formulation of national security policy was concerned.

With respect to the economic life of Africa South of the Sahara, Mr. Randall stated that he was much struck, in nearly every country in Central Africa, by the problem of land tenure. There were no individual holdings in fee simple; land was almost universally tribally or communally owned. This lack of individual land ownership was a real drawback to economic progress in Africa South of the Sahara.

Mr. Randall pointed out that in natural resources Africa South of the Sahara was potentially very rich; but actually spotty or poor in terms of the current situation. After describing the specific resources in the various countries and areas, Mr. Randall made a plea that U.S. capital share in economic enterprises with indigenous capital. Indigenous capital was perhaps the best built-in safeguard against nationalization of enterprises.

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The greatest resource of Africa South of the Sahara consisted of hydroelectric power. Indeed, this was an unbelievably great potential source of power. Mr. Randall illustrated his point by listing the various dams in this great region which were either in operation or being built or planned. He added that in His infinite wisdom, Divine Providence had located large bauxite-producing areas adjacent to most of these dams.

The greatest problem confronting Central Africa was the human problem. The Spirit of 1776 was running wild throughout the area. The various states and colonies want independence now, whether they are ready for it or not. In some respects this phenomenon was rather terrifying, as one deduced from reading the biography of Nkrumah.2

Mr. Randall then made comments on the political systems and the economic development of the various regions of Africa South of the Sahara. He noted that the political spectrum from right to left ran from south to north geographically. All of us are familiar with the situation in the Union of South Africa. Ambassador Byroade took a very tragic view of the future of South Africa, the policies of whose government were certainly driving it to catastrophe.

The Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique were very badly governed and administered. The Portuguese authorities exploit the resources of these areas mercilessly, and put very little back for future development. They believe that the best way to manage the natives is to avoid educating them. Forced labor was very common.

Rhodesia, thought Mr. Randall, was a very bright spot in terms of development of the native African; or at least it had been until the last week or so. Much credit for the progress in Rhodesia should go to the U.S. copper companies situated there.

With respect to the Belgian Congo, Mr. Randall said that in a conversation with the Governor General,3 the latter had made the point that a man must eat before he can enjoy freedom. The Belgians have therefore concentrated on providing some economic opportunity for the natives of the colony. Having done fairly well in this field, the Belgians are now beginning to move cautiously toward greater political freedom and development for the natives.

Mr. Randall commented that for his money the French were doing the best job with the political development of the Africans. There was no race separation visible in French Equatorial Africa. As you move further up the coast, British influence has been very good in training the natives to political maturity, but the British were behind the French in this respect.

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This great human problem in Africa South of the Sahara, continued Mr. Randall, presents the United States in general, and the NSC in particular, with a dilemma that we are pretty well aware of. The Metropoles do not want the United States to provide any assistance to their African colonies. On the other hand, the newly independent states insist on knowing where the United States stands on the problem of colonialism. So we are caught on the horns of the dilemma of NATO on the one hand and of a free, non-Communist Africa on the other. Mr. Randall felt the time was approaching when we would have to take a firm stand against colonialism.

Mr. Randall was about to conclude at this point, when General Cutler asked him if he had not some observations to make on Liberia. Mr. Randall replied that he had, but that this was a very sensitive situation, discussion of which should be kept within the walls of this room. We did face a very serious problem in Africa generally because of the segregationist practices of such U.S. companies as Firestone and Republic in Liberia itself. These companies have not developed the African worker as they should have. The situation has become so serious that the Liberian Government has passed an anti-segregation law. Mr. Randall indicated that he [is] going to talk to his old friend Harvey Firestone about this problem.

General Cutler inquired whether it was not true that in Liberia segregation was practiced even among blacks. Did not the descendants of the original slaves from the United States keep the Negroes of the bush strictly segregated? Mr. Randall replied in the affirmative, and said it was a quite extraordinary phenomenon.

The National Security Council:4

Noted and discussed an oral report by the Chairman, Council on Foreign Economic Policy, on the highlights of his recent trip through the subject area.

[Here follow the remaining agenda items.]

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Gleason on May 9.
  2. Reference is to “Report to the Council on Foreign Economic Policy on U.S. Foreign Economic Policy in Africa, South of the Sahara,” dated April 1958. (Department of State, Central Files, 770.5–MSP/5–1958) Randall had visited five African countries and territories in March and April and had conferred with U.S. officials stationed in several others. He submitted recommendations to the Council on Foreign Economic Policy on June 13 (CFEP 568/2) for revisions in NSC 5719/1. (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Project Clean Up, Council on Foreign Economic Policy) The recommendations, as amended by the CFEP on June 17, were transmitted to the NSC Planning Board with a covering memorandum of June 20 from Director of the Policy Coordinating Secretariat Marion W. Boggs. (Department of State, S/PNSC Files: Lot 62 D 1, NSC 5818 Series)
  3. Not further identified.
  4. Leon Pétillion.
  5. The paragraph that follows constitutes NSC Action No. 1904. (Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council)