74. Memorandum of Conference With President Eisenhower0


  • President Olympio
  • Foreign Minister Freitas
  • Director of Cabinet Trenou
  • Secretary Herter
  • Assistant Secretary Satterthwaite
  • Colonel Eisenhower

After amenities, the President congratulated Mr. Olympio on the recent economic union of Togo and Dahomey. He mentioned the fruitlessness of big armaments on which the U.S. spends $41 billion a year. He stressed the mutual benefit of productive aid and trade and wished that military aid could be reduced. Mr. Olympio said that West Africa is doing well but wants to progress faster. He expressed admiration for the President’s guarantees of the security of West African States in his speech of the day before. To the President’s question, he said Togoland contains 52,000 square miles and 1.2 million people. Its highest elevation is a plateau 3000 to 5000 meters high. The President said this would allow for pleasant resort areas since high altitudes in the tropics usually afford very favorable climates.

The President asked about elementary schools in Togo and Mr. Olympio said that the first secondary schools had been created in 1948. Togo has primaries but they need more teachers for the training schools. Since 1948, Togoland has developed some 40 secondary schools and now their educational system is able to give a BS degree.

The President stressed the necessity for progress to fit into the readiness of the country. He cited examples in Iran where we had sent tractors and gang plows without the recipients knowing how to use them. As a result, they fell to disuse and rusted. What we should have sent were steel plows and mules. Mr. Olympio said that Togo was fortunate in that the Germans, between 1884 and 1918, began elementary technical schools, to include carpentry, etc.

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To the President’s question, Mr. Olympio said his regular speech to the UN is not yet scheduled. He has spoken once already on the occasion of the admission of Togo to the UN.

The President said he hopes all Africans will speak with one voice and support UN actions in the Congo. Mr. Olympio pointed out the complication of many bloody tribal wars which are going on now. The solution to these problems presents a great opportunity for the UN, and the UN should not be inhibited by fears of meddling in internal affairs. The President pointed out that the UN needs an invitation to go into a country. It requires a vote of the General Assembly for the UN to send forces into a country without an invitation. Mr. Olympio said the invitation under which the UN went into the Congo is now in doubt.

The President expressed disapprobation of Lumumba. He went on to stress his belief in regional groupings within Africa, of which the Togo—Dahomey economic union is an example. Mr. Olympio said this was an agreeable fact to him since his father had been born in Dahomey.

The President expressed hope for Africa in the parallel between Africa and Latin America. When the Spanish left this region, the former colonies broke up into many small independent nations made up of Indians and Spaniards. For many years they fought each other, but this condition is lessening. The President hoped that Africa can avoid this transition period by means of regional groupings.

Mr. Olympio said the situation is further complicated by the fact that some territories speak French and some speak English. Mr. Olympio said the French grouping of nations can generally work together, Guinea being the outstanding exception. He would like to see Nigeria and Ghana, the English-speaking nations, integrated somehow with the rest. Mr. Olympio said that Togo was never a member of the French Community. By contrast, it was a trust territory. However, it can work closely with members of the French Community. The President said he would like to see national [regional?] groupings in the area without outside domination.

Mr. Olympio then asked why the U.S. has one Ambassador to cover both Togo and Cameroun. These two nations are far apart and when the Prime Minister desires to send for an Ambassador, he sometimes has to wait for a long time. The President promised to look into this question, and the Secretary mentioned that Congress had been a little tight with their appropriations for Embassies. The President said there would be no harm in a few of these Ambassadors living in tents. It would have a salutary effect if our Ambassadors would, in some of these regions, live in simple surroundings rather than luxurious surroundings. Mr. Satterthwaite added by way of explanation for the arrangement of Ambassadors the fact that Togo and Ghana were having [Page 225] difficulties when the Ambassadorial arrangements were made. It was not well to have an Ambassador to two countries who are having difficulties. He trusted the matter was temporary. Mr. Olympio seemed to find this highly amusing and laughed out loud. He said that Togoland is no longer having much trouble with Ghana.

The President assured Mr. Olympio that any U.S. government will be honest in its desire to listen sympathetically to the problems of Africa. He himself will not be in his current position long, but any government will be ready to contribute. He feels that aid should come through the UN since bilaterals encourage power politics and trouble.

Mr. Olympio mentioned the special fund of the UN and the President mentioned the name of Paul Hoffman2 who he described as one of our big men, anxious to push the special fund. The President agreed this is an important matter. Mr. Olympio said this is a great help to Togo since sometimes an African nation does not even know what it needs. As an example, when goods are unloaded in the port, the trans-shipment from freighter to barge is sometimes a difficult operation for unskilled hands. Togo needs breakwaters, housing and roads. It has no natural harbors. Roads are extremely important to Togo in order to get out their coffee, cotton and cocoa. The President asked humorously that Togo refrain from producing what the U.S. holds in excess. We produce too much cotton and coffee, our cotton running to a surplus annually of 9 million bales. Actually, our largest surpluses are in that commodity and in wheat. Mr. Olympio said that cotton is little problem since France always asks for more of it. Togo produces no wheat; corn provides their staple diet. Millet is grown in the north.

At this time, Mr. Olympio presented an album of Togo stamps to the President which had been prepared for each nation who was supposed to have participated in the May Summit meetings.

John S. D. Eisenhower
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, DDE Diaries. Secret. Drafted by John S.D. Eisenhower.
  2. The conversation took place at the President’s suite at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel; he was in New York attending the U.N. General Assembly. Another memorandum of the conversation by Satterthwaite is in Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199.
  3. Managing Director of the U.N. Special Fund.