83. Telegram From the Embassy in Cameroun to the Department of State 0

209. For Satterthwaite from Ferguson.1 Following are a few brief impressions gathered this trip which may be helpful in your talks with British:

Conseil de L’Entente under Houphouet’s leadership is going concern, thoroughly pro-western and entitled to priority support from the west. West in general and US in particular enjoy reservoir of goodwill which should be exploited.
Slippage of Mali and Guinea can be stabilized and in case Mali reversed if Modibo Keita can be strengthened. Anti-French feeling however is so strong in both countries as to be totally irrational and, while they both want US assistance, our potential influence is limited by our association with French. Under circumstances, it might be well to encourage Houphouet in his attempts reestablish his former close relationship with both Keita and Toure.
Case of Ghana is more puzzling and probably more serious. Moderate elements in GOG such as Adedemah2 are depressed and disheartened with extremists now having Nkrumah’s ear. I feel British are not taking sufficiently serious view of situation or adequately using their still great prestige with Nkrumah to influence him on more moderate course. It is discouraging to hear British officers commanding Ghanaian troops advocating increasing Ghanaian armed forces to meet “aggression” on part entente. So long as Nkrumah is not directly attacking Great Britain, British seem to be mistakenly complacent.
US and UK both should do something about Liberia and Sierra Leone. We are often judged by appearances in areas where we are thought to be responsible and still greater effort seems imperative. Political leadership in both countries is old and younger elements are restive. The tawdry towns of Monrovia and Freetown are not helpful in showing US and UK support for small African countries.
Nigeria still looks good and best hope for west in West Africa. It cannot however be taken for granted and will require best efforts both US and UK to become real force for moderate African leadership.
One cannot tour West Africa without being impressed with extent French effort in past in bringing material benefits western civilization to Africa but at same time appalled at foolishness which allows situations such as those in Guinea and Mali to arise. Some French in Senegal seem to be behaving in manner to provoke similar situation there.
We have been a bit too cautious in past on question of American presence. In most countries, Americans are welcome and presence large numbers of Americans is encouraging to leaders of unviable new states who need visible signs of US interest. Too much too fast would be preferable to too little too late.
No matter what British and Americans might do in effort to keep former French West Africa oriented toward west, we likely fail unless solution Algerian problem can be reached in near future. Sympathy for Algerians sincerely strong in Moslem states such as Mali and Niger. Guinea and pro-Communist elements in other countries will not hesitate to use this issue to break down entente and try build new African unity under banner of neutrality but really oriented towards Moscow and Peking.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770.00/11–1360. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to London.
  2. Director of the Office of West African Affairs C. Vaughan Ferguson was traveling with Henderson; see footnote 1, Document 82.
  3. Reference is apparently to Ghanaian Finance Minister H.K. Gbedemah.