231. Report From Vice President Humphrey to President Johnson 1


At your request, Mrs. Humphrey and I visited nine African countries between December 30, 1967, and January 11, 1968: Ivory Coast, Liberia (for the inauguration ceremonies of President Tubman), Ghana, Congo (K), Zambia, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Tunisia.

We were received everywhere with large crowds, genuine enthusiasm, and friendship. The leaders with whom we met, without exception, expressed their admiration for you and for the people of the United States.

I was able to meet with the principal leaders of each government, and, in almost all cases, to visit projects indicating our interest in self-help and the practical work of health, education, and agriculture. I was also able to survey a cross section of AID projects; talk with Peace Corps volunteers; meet informally with labor leaders; discuss trade and investment with business representatives; and meet with the American community. Among African leaders, I found a fierce self-pride and healthy nationalism, combined with a sense of pragmatic realism.

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I was also impressed by the quality of leadership I encountered in almost all the nations visited—a fact I found all the more remarkable when one sees how young these countries are, how generally limited their educational facilities have been, and what heavy burdens they have had to accept.

In every case I found that our ambassadors and AID officials and programs were highly respected.

My own efforts were greatly strengthened and supplemented by other members of my party, in particular Justice Thurgood Marshall (law and civil rights), Mr. Leonard Marks (Director, USIA), Mr. Peter Straus (Assistant Director, AID), Mr. Dwayne Andreas (business), Dr. Edgar Berman (health and medicine), Mr. Edgar Bronfman (business), Mr. Irving Brown (labor), Mr. Hal Greenwood (housing and savings and loan), Mr. Cecil Newman (press), and Dr. Samuel Proctor (education and Peace Corps). I have attached as an appendix brief reports prepared by these men. Their reports have also been passed directly to the appropriate government departments and agencies directly concerned.

As you asked, I attempted to demonstrate the continuing concern of the United States and the American people with the African continent. I also used every opportunity I had to learn what was happening in each country and the continent as a whole.

In addition, it was my privilege to extend invitations on your behalf to three African leaders to visit Washington during the coming months: President Tubman of Liberia; Prime Minister Egal of Somalia; and President Bourguiba of Tunisia. It was also my privilege to present the agreement of the Export-Import Bank to help finance the Bandama Dam to President Houphouet-Boigny of the Ivory Coast; to sign a P.L. 480 Agreement with Ghana; to sign an AID agreement with Somalia to create the Mogadiscio water system; and to announce the intention of the United States to assist Zambia and Tanzania in improving a vital section of the Great North Road connecting these two countries.

Finally, I was able to reaffirm the broad lines of our African policy in a speech delivered at Africa Hall in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A text of these remarks is attached in the appendix.2

General Observations

On this trip I saw more urban areas than rural. I naturally met with more leaders than I did ordinary citizens. While I visited as many countries as time would permit, I recognize that my report cannot cover all of the continent’s problems or claim authority based on extended examination [Page 385] of them. However, there were a number of distinct impressions that have, I believe, a general validity.

The African continent is filled with new nationalism, with a pride in freedom, and with a confidence that independent Africa has a great future. Colonialism can never be revived, and its entire disappearance from the continent is only a matter of time.
In all the leaders with whom I talked, the exuberance of nationalism was tempered by the sober and proper realization that Africa faces tremendous problems at every turn—whether in rural development, urban living, relations with nearby states, or continental cooperation.

In every instance, I encountered remarkable good will toward the United States.

This was immediately apparent when I presented your letters to the leaders I met. It was evident in a wide variety of personal courtesies, and crowd enthusiasm in the streets and public places. In our official discussions it was often reflected in an unexpectedly sympathetic understanding of your burdens and responsibilities.


Within our means, the United States must play an active, imaginative, and well-conceived role in African political and economic affairs.

Some 320 million African people in 39 nations cannot be left solely to the care of the former colonial powers, who often lack the necessary understanding and financial resources to help them. Nor should the governments of Africa be driven by economic need to place their fates in the hands of the Communist bloc. No leaders I met would willingly do this But a vacuum should not be allowed to form, where Communist penetration can take place. Africans desperately want our friendship, support and help—while nonetheless knowing the limits on our material resources.


The American private sector can and should become far more involved in Africa.

For example, American business can, I am convinced, make a major breakthrough in the Congo, even though it may involve some risk and require courage. Foundations, which have already helped significantly in education, should be encouraged to expand their efforts in that field, in health research, and in population planning. The AID-sponsored Investment Guarantee Program should expand its pioneering work, and a broader pattern of government-business cooperation should be developed. The arm of our labor unions in Africa, the African American Labor Center, is making a good start; it should broaden its support from the American unions and progressively expand its activities. Various institutions—cooperatives, savings and loan associations, and others—should be focusing on Africa. And from our 2,000 universities and [Page 386] colleges, we have used but a small part of the talent and resources which should be channeled into solving some of Africa’s educational problems.


Youth is the prevailing fact of Africa, and we must act on that fact.

Over 40 per cent of the people of this continent are under 16. The secondary educational system is very poorly equipped to handle this population explosion, let alone able to give it practical training for employment in the new, urban economic society of the continent. Despite our generally good relations with the current government leaders in the nations I visited, there is no reason to suppose that this situation will automatically prevail as they give way to the next generation. Indeed, in most cases, African nations will face a challenge to authority during the coming transition period. It is also clear that youth corps, sports clubs, and exchanges between American and African youth all need expansion and improvement, if Africa’s young people of today are not to become its revolutionary proletariat of tomorrow.


We should continue to encourage regional cooperation and to stress the regional approach in our AID programs.

There has been clear progress in this field in the past six months, such as the OAU meeting at Kinshasa in September and the inauguration of the East African Community in December. The Entente and OCAM (Common Organization of African and Malagasy States)—involving several nations in West Africa—are other cases in point. African nations are increasingly working together on road and communication links; power grids and joint river projects; and regional development of institutions of higher learning. Africa’s organizations are mostly new, under-financed, poorly staffed and little understood. Yet the Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa is pioneering ways to stimulate economic growth; the African Development Bank is starting well for its small capital; the East African Community will open up new markets and provide other economic benefits for several African nations; and almost a score of other functional or geographic groupings are emerging in response to the needs of Africa.

Despite the value of regionalism, we should not throw overboard our bilateral programs. There are, and always will be, a fairly large number of countries with unique problems or of special importance, where bilateral assistance will be in our national interest. We should not deprive ourselves of this method of carrying out our general policy in Africa.
Despite our limited means, more help should be sought for Africa. Our aid to Africa has been running well below 10 per cent of total U.S. economic assistance funds. There are, of course, other sources of help. But until we lead the way in our AID programs, these sources are unlikely either to take new initiatives

We should take new initiatives toward world commodity agreements.

African nations live at the mercy of world commodity prices. The most immediate problems are coffee and cocoa. Successful negotiation and operation of agreements on their commodities can contribute far more to these countries’ welfare than can our AID programs. I believe our national interests would be best served by re-negotiating the coffee agreement and completing the proposed cocoa agreement. The Executive Branch, moreover, should put its full weight behind obtaining the ratification of these agreements by the Senate.

We must more actively recruit qualified Negroes in the Foreign Service and encourage their rise to positions of greater responsibility. Nothing that we can say about change and expanding opportunities for Negroes at home will be as convincing as the presence of responsible Negro Americans in Africa.

We need a private Council for Africa, much like the present Council for Latin America.

Such a Council would be made up of business firms which would support and benefit from it. Consisting of a board, a small staff, and, most importantly, of representatives in African capitals, it would help American business in its efforts to become established and to operate successfully in Africa.

Both Maurice Tempelsman and Edgar Bronfman, Jr., who accompanied us on our trip, expressed interest in helping to organize such a Council.

Finally, the United States must take a clearer and more forthright position on self-determination and majority rule in Africa or lose the confidence and respect of responsible and independent African leaders.

Since there will always continue to be some gap between those principles and their application vis-a-vis southern Africa—and since in our adherence to peaceful change we shall probably encounter increasing frustration on the part of Africans—we need continuous repetition of our commitment to these principles. I sought to do this in my public statement in Zambia and in my Africa Hall speech in Ethiopia. I believe that at an appropriate time you may wish to renew and amplify the pledges you made in your speech before the OAU Ambassadors in May 1966, in order that Africa may know without doubt where we stand on this central issue.

The Future

I found during my trip a young Africa which is struggling to master a host of problems attendant upon newly won independence. What kind of Africa will emerge a decade from now?

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  • First, over half of the continent’s population will be 21 or younger. This youthful half will have been born during or after the great surge of national independence. It will not know at first-hand the colonial period, and will base its expectation on the accomplishments of independence, not the promises of those who achieved it. Our programs surely must be measured: Are they reaching the young?
  • Second, this Africa will be further tested in its ability to achieve change without violence. There is every likelihood that unpredictability will continue to characterize these years as it has the past. It would be claiming infallibility to predict where violence, coups or counter-coups will occur, but they will certainly happen and they must be lived with. The advantage lies with choosing realistically to take the risks rather than withdrawing to await more certain disaster. Given the relative lack of reliable institutions of government, the hazards of political change in these nations, and the tendency to rely heavily on the personality of a single leader, it would be surprising if unexpected outbreaks or coups did not occur in the next decade.
  • Third, just as internal institutions may bend or break under the challenge and strain of the next decade, so will the international institutions presently emerging have to prove their value or give way to new methods of dealing with Africa’s political and economic problems. Africans are pragmatic and practical. They want to build their countries in ways that work, and will look toward those who offer those ways.
  • Fourth, the present gap between expectations and economic and social reality may well become an unbridgeable gulf, if practical steps are not taken to narrow that gap. It will require ingenuity and greater external assistance to give us any real measure of confidence that we can help reduce the span between the poor and desperately poor of the continent, let alone achieve a significant over-all increase in individual income.

Finally, the present tension with respect to southern Africa raises the possibility that relations of the West with Africa will be severely strained and that Communist inroads will be increased, unless we continue to reaffirm through both word and deed our commitment to self-determination and majority rule.

All this leads me to conclude that we can best minimize the risks of the decade ahead if we were to do something that neither I nor my colleagues could possibly complete in the short, intensive trip that was just taken.

That would be to set ourselves the task of drawing the dimensions of this new Africa more clearly, of estimating more precisely what kinds of resources we shall need to further American policy in light of this new Africa, and to formulate the guidelines that are required to match our policy with what will be our problems.

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This look ahead should focus on three facts:

  • —that Africa will demand a political commitment from us that is not unlike the commitment the Negro community seeks from the white community in the United States—to transfer into action the principles of individual rights and human dignity that we have endorsed but not fully put into practice.
  • —that new and wider means of communication of understanding in both directions between the United States and Africa will have to be found if mutual disengagement is not to take place during this decade.
  • —that transfer of resources (government assistance and other economic aid) through the traditional means is inadequate to transform the economic life of Africa, and that without this transformation our political commitments will be hollow and our estrangement inevitable.

Africa needs meaningful stability—that is, change short of violence. It also needs a new generation firmly committed to achieving this change by democratic means. It can gain or lose both stability and democracy in the years immediately ahead. If we commit ourselves, within our means and priorities, to both goals we can help bring this vast and potentially rich continent, in self-sufficiency and independence, into the 21st century.

Individual Country Comments

The nations I visited in Africa number less than a fourth of the independent states of this continent. They nevertheless were widespread geographically, diverse in their forms of government, and greatly different in their specific problems. There follows a brief country-by-country summary, along with general observations. I shall make a series of specific project and other recommendations directly to the agencies concerned.

I shall also send on to these agencies the recommendations of other members of my party.

Ivory Coast—December 31, 1967

I met with President Houphouet-Boigny, officials of his government, and the senior staff of the African Development Bank; visited centers where USAID and Peace Corps volunteers were at work; and saw first-hand the marketplaces in this remarkably thriving city of West Africa. Our programs in Abidjan are among the most complex of any the United States has in former French West Africa.

President Houphouet-Boigny was deeply impressed by his meetings with you in Washington last August. He is an extremely astute statesman, who is seeking to create a truly unified country by developing its great agricultural potential. He, likewise, is seeking a broader relationship with the United States. Massive French investment and thousands [Page 390] of French teachers and technicians have been essential parts of his present program. At the same time, he is taking major strides, through the establishment of technical schools and universities, to train the coming generation of Ivorians to maintain the present economic growth. To do this he needs additional external investment and, equally important, satisfactory terms of trade I delivered the offer of the Export-Import Bank to finance some 40 per cent of a hydro-electrical and irrigation project at Bandama Dam. I assured him of our deep desire both to reduce the imbalance between the developed and developing nations, as well as our efforts to support the renewal of the coffee agreement and negotiation of an equitable cocoa agreement. He is deeply concerned about commodity price instability which threatens African economic progress, and advocates international commodity agreements as a stabilizing mechanism.

My discussions with officials of the African Development Bank—located at Abidjan but concerned with the whole of the continent—led me to conclude that this institution has made a sound start in using its modest (roughly $47 million) funds. It can be an effective force for regional economic development. It represents a significant initiative by the African states for African social and economic progress. It clearly needs more money if it is to do the job we would like to see it do. Our offer last autumn to contribute to a Special Fund was much appreciated and has been the pioneer offer among the potential donors. The fact that our funds are all tied to U.S. procurement gives the ADB real difficulty. It is less generous than our policy toward other regional banks and infers some discrimination against Africa. It sets a precedent for other donors, even though they may wish to be more flexible. I explained our present trade and fiscal problems which made such conditions necessary, but I think we should be prepared to be as flexible as we can during the next round of conversations on this matter. I urged that ADB make a special effort to obtain European capital and then come back to us for further discussions.

My visit confirmed the wisdom of our giving President Houphouet-Boigny steady support. He is a staunch friend of the U.S. He is a most effective spokesman in French-speaking Africa and a leader in the Organization of African Unity. He has understood the basis for our presence in Southeast Asia. Likewise, without prodding, he has taken a number of steps to encourage African regional cooperation. He may be prepared to take a number of initiatives within the OAU on specific problems. I think over-identification with the U.S. could give him some of the same problems he now faces because of his heavy reliance on France. But I also think that frank cooperation and consultation with him will reinforce his constructive influence in the continent.

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That we keep as many lines as possible open to Houphouet-Boigny through our economic programs and diplomatic consultations.
That we keep pressing for coffee and cocoa agreements as essential elements in the prosperity of the Ivory Coast and other West African countries.
That we move ahead in our support of the Bandama Dam now that we have made this specific loan offer.
That quietly, and with only occasional publicity, we encourage the Ivory Coast to continue its leadership, particularly in West African affairs and also in other general African problems.

Liberia—January 1–2

Arriving in Liberia on New Year’s Eve, I found the country fully engaged in a triple festival: the end of the year, the last day of Ramadan, and the inauguration ceremonies of President Tubman. These festivities permeated the entire visit. The Liberians were cordial. As you saw by cable, I also talked in Monrovia with Foreign Minister Tran Van Do of South Vietnam, Vice President Foncha of the Cameroon, and Diallo Telli, Secretary General of the OAU. My visit, of course, was primarily to represent the United States at the inauguration ceremonies. My program was in the hands of the Liberian Government, and my opportunities to examine the structure of American interests in this country were correspondingly restricted, although members of my party did make extensive individual contacts.

I had a long substantive conversation with President Tubman and his principal colleagues in the Cabinet Room. I extended your invitation to him to visit the United States. He was obviously pleased and sent you his warmest personal regards We touched briefly on Liberia’s role in harmonizing the dispute between Guinea and the Ivory Coast and more generally on Liberia’s support for moderation in Africa and endorsement of our policies elsewhere in the world.

Tubman has a double economic problem. His budget is in imbalance, and he talks about an austerity program. At the same time he is especially concerned to develop infrastructure elsewhere in the country, and the Port of Harper in his home territory is high on the list of his problems.

We clearly have a long-term responsibility in Liberia, since Africa looks at Liberia as a manifestation of America.

This task is also essential in our interests. U.S. private investment is $300 million, more than a seventh of the investment in Africa’s 40-odd countries and territories. Our Voice of America relay station is a major and well-run institution. It makes us heard throughout Africa south of the Sahara. Our unrestricted access to Roberts Airfield, which we first [Page 392] constructed as a wartime necessity, is an asset which we do not have elsewhere in the continent. Finally, it is in our interest that President Tubman, whose influence among African leaders is greater than the size of his country, continue to play a constructive role He runs his country paternally; corruption is widespread. The young, better-trained and more diligent Liberians need our encouragement for the long-term welfare of the country. This is something you may wish to discuss with President Tubman during his forthcoming visit.


Port facilities can pay off. We should be willing to look at the Harper Port to see if it is economical.
We must press the Liberians hard to undertake more effective financial austerity and domestic reform (these may be subjects which could be raised with him during his visit).
We should strengthen the younger leadership in anticipation of the political transition after President Tubman completes this last term of office.
We should look into Liberia’s agricultural production, especially rice, and explore means of using bulgar wheat as a substitute.

Ghana—January 3

From the very moment I stepped off the plane, I got the strong impression that Ghana was a reflection of its top leadership: efficient, bustling, forward-looking, pragmatic and intensely aware of the need to progress during the years immediately ahead. I held talks with General Ankrah on Ghana’s problems, and I took a quick trip to the aluminum (Kaiser) smelter and Tema port which, along with the Volta Dam which we also helped finance, make up an impressive power production transportation complex.

My talks were especially cordial with General Ankrah. He had been extremely impressed by his visit with you last October. He treasured your photograph and responded most warmly to your personal letter.

In our conversation we covered five issues: the need for sound financing development in Ghana, where the prospects are very good in the long run; the necessity for private American investment, on which the attitude of the Ghana government is fundamentally sound but not fully accepted by the political opposition; the problems of southern Africa, where in measured manner Ankrah asked us to keep pressure on the Rhodesian, South African and Portuguese governments; on Vietnam, where Ankrah supports our efforts to negotiate but recommends stronger military measures; and on cocoa, where with greatest urgency he asked that we do all in our power to achieve an international commodity agreement.

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His arguments in this connection were typical of the man He did not push for high prices; he pushed for stable prices so he could plan his economy. He also recalled his conversation with you in October, when he had raised the issue, and felt that the recent cocoa conference (ending indecisively before Christmas) had harmed Ghana’s welfare. I gave him a very frank outline of Congressional opposition to further commodity agreements but also assured him that I would tell you of the importance he attached to this agreement.

The trip to the aluminum-port complex is worth emphasizing. Along with the Volta Dam upstream (we observed it by plane coming into Accra), it represents the single greatest U.S. Government-U.S. private cooperative enterprise in West Africa. We began it when Nkrumah was in power, and were concerned lest it aggrandize him rather than help the people. Our confidence in the people has been vindicated. The project is a success and clearly represents a spectacular American contribution to Africa. We should not be timid in other similar situations.

One cannot ignore the ordinary Ghanaian any more than one can avoid respecting Ghana’s leadership. They have tremendous drive, enthusiasm and competence. Accra, in spite of its austerity, advised by the IMF, is thriving. If any country deserves our support, if any people merit our help, Ghana stands high on such a list.


We must be as practical in our responses as Ghana is realistic in its goals and requests, with proper guarantees.

This is a place to encourage American investment to strengthen its economic growth. Ghana is seeking private partners to run its former State enterprise. We should not be discouraged by occasional complications (one American pharmaceutical firm recently withdrew largely through misunderstanding), but should encourage U.S. private investment.
Ankrah has a valid point on the need for more stabilized cocoa prices. In spite of the obvious Congressional and private interests that may oppose this, we should keep moving on this agreement.
Ghana has enough resources to be able to take advantage of our various “bank windows.” I signed a P.L. 480 agreement of $12 million during my visit. We should be responsive in other ways as well.

Congo (K)—January 4

Congo (Kinshasa) is going through several simultaneous changes. The Belgian colonial establishment continues to crumble. The rudiments of a new Congo are emerging. It shows in the large UN network of technical assistance, in the 40-odd buildings skillfully and rapidly erected for the OAU meeting last September, and in the hopes and desires of the [Page 394] younger elite, of which President Mobutu is the leader. Finally, traditional life in the Congo is changing as Africans flock to the city.

My two and one-half hour conversation with President Mobutu illustrated these trends. He was passionately concerned about the interlocking problems of internal security and economic development. His request for assistance in giving mobility to his troops was sensibly based on the sound concept that maneuverability rather than numbers was the key to his present problem. He specifically raised the possibility of buying three C–130 aircraft. Greatly worried by the inability of the Congo to intercept even the most obvious flights over its territory, he also asked for a squad of pursuit planes to give him the rudiments of an Air Force.

His discussion of economic problems centered on two points. He seeks greater economic independence from Belgium, and pressed for establishing direct commercial relations with American companies, instead of still having to go through Belgium. He has declared the year 1968 one of concentration on agriculture problems and wants to draw on our expertise in this field.

The atmosphere in Kinshasa deserves special mention. Not only did Mobutu warmly reciprocate the good wishes you extended him in your letter, but in an unprecedented action he joined me in touring an AID-assisted housing project. The crowds gave us an enthusiastic welcome as we drove in Mobutu’s open car, greatly overshadowing an earlier minor incident in which a small number of Communist-organized students sought to embarrass the visit.

There is a tremendous gap between the Congo’s potential and its present level of political and economic development. It is the size of the United States east of the Mississippi, has only 15 million people, but its copper and industrial diamonds are major world resources and its agriculture potential is greater. It is potentially to Africa what Brazil is to Latin America.

Mobutu’s nationalism is self-evident. His sense of pride is great, and the direction in which he hopes to move is sound. For the first time in seven years the country is at peace. He wants to build security and get on with economic development. Only this will make independence meaningful. Only such progress will make it possible for him to resist subversion. We have put almost half a billion dollars into this country during the UN period and thereafter—much of it to maintain the country’s integrity and independence. Now that unity and peace appear to be real prospects, we should do what we can to stimulate the constructive development of this important country during the coming years.

President Mobutu clearly regards the United States as the Congo’s best friend. He talked freely, for example, about the dilemma facing him because of the mercenary problem. His attitude was moderate and he recognized both domestic and international aspects of the problem. My [Page 395] encouragement of his taking a statesmanlike attitude seemed to impress him.


We should urgently examine the plans to strengthen the Congo’s internal security with a view to assisting primarily in the field of mobility, particularly the C–130 planes and special training.
We have been involved in many crash operations in the Congo and could benefit from a long-term examination of the Congo and our policy towards it, pointing toward steady support rather than emergency response from crisis to crisis.
Recognizing that the Congo is a high risk but potentially high return area, we should organize a major campaign to expand American enterprise in the Congo during the coming years, looking on this as a long-term proposition and giving it assistance in that context.
We should extend ourselves to help Mobutu in his 1968 agricultural year, especially through technical advisers.
We should respond to the Congolese interest in the Peace Corps by being prepared to send a small contingent.

Zambia—January 5

The inclusion of Zambia in my itinerary was possible only by following a highly compressed schedule. It consisted primarily of a two-hour discussion with President Kenneth Kaunda, and his principal ministers, and a short published statement designed to bolster both American and Zambian policies in Africa (attached in Appendix).3 I was able to announce our help in upgrading the Great North Road to Tanzania, which is extremely important both politically and economically. It will help give Zambia an option when in a few years it must decide whether or not to invite Communist China to build a railroad from Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, to the heart of Zambia’s copper belt.

Lusaka has the air of a boom town in the western part of the United States—spacious, with numerous buildings in mid-construction. It is booming, in spite of the deprivations imposed on it by Rhodesian UDI, because the price of copper is high. It is building its nation on a non-racial basis; it is seeking welfare for people scattered over wide spaces; its university buildings are surrounded by scaffolding; its broad streets—named after capitals of Africa—have the raw quality of new construction the world over.

At the leadership of this government, is a group of men intensely nationalistic and hard-pressed—as are other leaders who find themselves on the front line of international controversy. Zambia looks south [Page 396] with mixed indignation and fear. The Smith regime in Rhodesia is tough and adamant, and it is backed up by the even tougher Vorster government of South Africa. On the flanks of these two states are the colonies of Portugal—one of which, Angola, not only borders Zambia but has a major rail exit for Zambian copper which it must traverse to reach the sea. They can strangle Zambia, and Zambia knows it. Kaunda and his colleagues feel themselves beleaguered, since only on the north (the Congo) and on the northeast (Tanzania) are there friendly states. They are searching for allies. Although nationalists and preferably neutralists, they are in the first instance products of the West. The United Kingdom bitterly disappointed them when it failed to act more strongly against Rhodesia.

As we talked, several points were repeatedly made clear. (1) We have a basic community of principles which support non-racial societies and open opportunities for all; (2) Zambia 5 success in this approach is economically important to the West (over 15 per cent of its copper), and is psychologically important to those governments which have placed their faith in the African ability to mold new political territories into real nations; (3) Zambia’s failure would also be our failure. Not only would it set back our policy supporting Africa’s new nations, but the ensuing turbulence would lead to temporary southern African domination or to Communist infiltration from Tanzania, where they are gaining a foothold.


Along with other nations and organizations, we should help make the Great North Road to Tanzania an effective artery for traffic within two years. We should have this link, which benefits both Zambia and Tanzania, in good shape by the time that the Chinese complete their survey of a possible Tanzania-Zambia railroad. This is one thing we could do in the absence of an early solution to the issue of southern Africa.
We cannot abandon our efforts to bring peaceful change to southern Africa, no matter how difficult the problem. I recommend we settle in for the long haul.
In the much shorter period, however, we need to know Kaunda and his men much better, and he needs to know us. I therefore recommend that he be invited for an official visit during the first half of the calendar year—even though that may tax your schedule of visitors.
As in the Congo, I recommend that we explore the establishment of a Zambia Peace Corps project. The need for elementary and secondary teachers is particularly urgent.
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Ethiopia—January 6

The visit to Ethiopia was crammed with intensive discussion but it was also the point at which I sought to supplement your landmark speech of May 26, 1966, by giving a talk on our general approach to African problems at Africa Hall (see text in Appendix).

The contrast between the ancient and the new is symbolized from the moment one lands at the jet airport, passes along ancient camel routes from the lowlands to the capital, and enters a city which is the capital both of the Empire of Ethiopia and of the new regional organizations of emergent Africa.

I found Emperor Haile Selassie vigorous, alert and clearly fully in charge of his country’s affairs. He warmly appreciated your letter and reminisced with enthusiasm about his visit to you last year.

In my talk with him, he lived up to expectations. His views were based on Ethiopia’s ancient concerns for the strength and integrity of the country, but they were couched in the context of current problems and future potentialities of the continent. If Ethiopia continues to play its role as balance wheel in the changes of the Red Sea Basin and Horn of Africa, and as moderator in the broader spectrum of Africa’s problems, it then rests with us to respond affirmatively, as best we can, to meet the legitimate needs of this country.

We discussed a wide range of issues. He is responding constructively to the prospects of a detente with Somalia. He is deeply interested in expanding his educational institutions. He hopes to improve the use of his water resources.

The principal additional African subject of conversation was the Congo mercenary problem. Here also I found the Emperor recognizing the need to rid the continent of their influence and cognizant of the nationalist motives underlying Mobutu’s desire to make an example of the mercenaries. He was receptive to the thought that a trial in absentia and their departure from Rwanda might be the combination of action that would best meet this dilemma.

From two other discussions, I also received important impressions bearing upon Africa and our African policies. I spent an hour with Robert Gardiner—one of the truly remarkable Africans of these times—who heads the Economic Commission of Africa (ECA). He demonstrated the fundamental and critical nature of Africa’s potential population squeeze. This continent, now over 320 million, will more than double before the end of the century. It already faces recurrent food shortages. Within a decade the problem will be critical; and we will be moving in the direction of the dilemmas presently existing in South Asia. The organizational networks and the present patterns of trade are ill-geared to the tremendous task the continent faces. The ECA is but a start; the African Development Bank desperately needs money; the leadership and even [Page 398] more the habit of regional action is only beginning to emerge. Clearly we can and should help in this aspect. The patterns of trade are at best neo-colonial. Africa must stand on its own feet. Sound commodity practices are desperately needed. A constructive role on our part in coffee and cocoa will be a good start. But more than that, we need to help Africa develop its agriculture production. (A longer note on Mr. Gardiner’s remarks is attached as an appendix.)4

At the same time, I had a further chance to talk about African political attitudes with the Acting Secretary General of the OAU. The bite into their flesh by Portuguese colonialism is sharp. We cannot solve the southern African problems for them, but we surely can sharpen our historic opposition to colonialism, with respect to the Portuguese territories; implement further our determination to support eventual majority rule in Southern Rhodesia; and continue with undiminished vigor our opposition to apartheid.


The Emperor asked for only two specifics in assistance: (a) that we maintain the tempo of our delivery of military equipment; and (b) that we consider special training to help Ethiopian soldiers improve their counter-subversion capabilities. I think we should respond affirmatively to both requests.
We need to broaden our exchange of ideas with Ethiopia. When I paid a courtesy call on the Presidents of the Senate and Assembly, the question was raised of expanding Ethiopian Parliamentary visits to the United States. The Parliamentarians were enthusiastic, the Emperor approved the idea, and the Prime Minister asked to join in as well. We should pursue this proposal.
We should also encourage more of our Congressmen to get to know Africa. I expect there are 10 visits to every other major continent to one to Africa. Doubling the African number would make the ratio still five to one.
We should encourage Ethiopia to participate fully in the detente with Somalia.
As a result of my discussion with Gardiner, I am convinced that food production is a starkly urgent need for much of Africa. We should rethink our entire approach to agricultural production and family planning. A population explosion is near in Africa. We must be prepared to head it off, and/or moderate it, by rapidly expanding both family planning and agricultural development.
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Somalia—January 7

The eight-hour stop in Mogadiscio on January 7 permitted me to have a long discussion with President Shermarke and Prime Minister Egal, both of whom play an active role in the policies of the Republic.

I gave President Shermarke your personal letter and greeting which he warmly reciprocated. I also extended your invitation to Prime Minister Egal to visit the United States on March 14 and 15—an invitation which was accepted immediately. In addition, I signed an AID agreement to build an effective water system for the City of Mogadiscio.

I also visited a remarkable self-help project involving practical education, Peace Corps and AID activities. A large luncheon hosted by the Prime Minister gave him the opportunity to reaffirm publicly his policy of improving relations with his immediate neighbors and permitted me to give strong encouragement to Somalia’s democracy, to place our full support behind the regional cooperation development in this part of Africa, to reaffirm the principles outlined in my OAU speech with respect to southern Africa, and to stress the danger of tension and ill use of funds involved in arms races in Africa.

The Republic of Somalia is poor in natural resources and the bulk of its people are still nomadic in their search for even a subsistence living. But it is clearly a country rich in its democratic way of life. It may well deserve the label of “the most democratic country in Africa.”

The present government which was elected last summer, tried valiantly and with considerable success to turn its back on old feuds and to seek a new relationship with its two principal neighbors, Kenya and Ethiopia. Since over a million Somalis engage in annual migrations in foreign territory, the seeds of friction were planted generations ago and the bitter results of Somali frustration are hard to forget. Yet peace in northeast Africa can only be achieved if these three countries work together, while continued tension can only lead to further strife and likely exploitation by Communist countries. The Soviets have put close to $100 million into Somalia, a third of which has been in arms. They have not bought this proud, independent-minded people but they are in a position to exploit frustration if tension in the area cannot be reduced.

In this context, the Somali Government initiative toward reconciliation with its neighbors at the OAU Kinshasa meeting in September was an act of unusual statesmanship and courage, which was undertaken for the welfare of the country at considerable risk of internal dissension.

Fortunately, the inauguration of the East Africa Community in December, of which Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are the core members, led to a bid for access on the part of both Ethiopia and Somalia. In supporting both the detente with Ethiopians, and Kenya in the broader East Africa Community, we are doing three very significant things: asserting our interest in the democratic development of Somalia, encouraging the [Page 400] detente in the whole of the Horn of Africa, and furthering our broad policy of supporting regional cooperation in Africa. At the same time the fact must be faced that Somalia is the poorest of the three countries and desperately needs economic assistance. These considerations open up the possibility of assisting Somali growth by means of regional projects. We may not need to designate Somalia a “concentration” country qualifying for bilateral assistance, as are the other two, but we could still help it within the regional framework.


In the political field, I recommend that we strengthen our ties with Somalia through a broader spectrum of visits and exchanges. I have particularly in mind further visits of Somali Parliamentarians to the United States and exploration of private or foundation-supported visits to Somalia.
Until regional projects can be formulated and we can begin implementing them, we should not phase out our bilateral AID programs in Somalia. We should use the year or two immediately ahead of us to explore actively additional regional projects.
Two valuable and productive projects could be the coordinated development of the Juba and Schebelli Rivers, both of which rise in Ethiopia. They are subject to regular flooding causing much erosion. These rivers could be controlled for the benefit of agriculture and cattle husbandry in both countries. Such binational projects would do much to ease the political tension between Ethiopia and Somalia.
We should study sympathetically the desire of Somalia to develop its trained manpower through the establishment of a community college-type educational institution.
We should also encourage Somalia’s expressed desire to build a link to the nearly-completed Nairobi, Kenya-Addis Ababa, Ethiopia road. Such a link would help give Somalia outlets for her production and would tie her more closely to her neighbors.

Kenya—January 8–9

The contrast between Mogadiscio and Nairobi is so dramatic that the jet traveler has difficulty assimilating the difference. Nairobi is a city of half a million, having a business area crowded with modern ten-story office buildings, a climate both bracing and felicitous, and a people whose economic and educational infrastructure is being rapidly modernized. Nairobi itself can well claim to be a model of “Harambee”—the slogan which its President has popularized of working together without respect to race or creed.

My visit to Kenya was limited by time to its capital. I talked with President Jomo Kenyatta—who was delighted by your letter and by your previous correspondence with him—and with his principal Cabinet [Page 401] colleagues. I lunched with him and other Kenyan leaders at Parliament House, where I saw Kenyan democracy at work in an Assembly session. I visited the veterinary school of the rapidly growing University of Nairobi, and the excellent center for administration, both assisted by AID. And, as I tried to do elsewhere, I met and talked with the American community in this city, which numbers 300 American firms, as well as our officials.

The structure of political power in Kenya is complex. Tribal politics permeate the scene, and the tribal base of a politician is crucial to his position. At the same time, Europeans and Asians have their own ways of making their influence felt, with the result that power is deployed in widely different ways within the same community. Personality is also important, especially in the case of Jomo Kenyatta, who is a stern father figure to everyone, even his fellow Kikuyu tribesmen. Yet this imposing figure does not stop political maneuvering, and the in-fighting is already active in anticipation of the removal some day of Kenyatta from the political scene.

A less prosperous country, and a less able political elite than found in Kenya today, could not stand the strain of this situation. Kenya is relatively well governed because its working Cabinet includes well-trained economists, experienced politicians, and young vigorous nationalists. It retains British personnel in certain key jobs. Kenya got a head start as the commercial and industrial capital of East Africa. While this makes Kenya an object of envy, it gives the country a power position in Africa that adds weight to the influence inherent in a shrewd leader with an articulate support staff.

With these strengths, it is not surprising that Kenya is the heartland of the new Economic Community of East Africa. Kenya played the key responding role when a weak Somalia decided to come to terms with its neighbors. The future of our own relations and interests in Nairobi looks good. These advantages should not blind us to a real danger that stability for the moment rests on a remarkable collaboration between an aging patriarch and an aggressive elite. When the patriarch goes, the elite may be torn asunder. An analogy with Nigeria may be extreme, but the fact that we may expect too much and therefore be excessively disappointed if the future brings something else has Nigerian overtones.


In spite of the hazards of the future (and they are less imminent than in most underdeveloped countries), I believe we should continue to expand our assistance in those areas where there is either a very persuasive bilateral gain to be made or where the emerging regional cooperation can be strengthened. Thus: [Page 402]
The water development program for the Northern Province should be undertaken in conjunction with such multilateral assistance as is possible.
The internal security of Kenya is extremely important if its economic prosperity is to continue. My instinct is, therefore, to favor the proposed help to the police in the form of small aircraft and better communications equipment. I would also respond favorably to Kenyatta’s request to train some of his military in countering subversive activities.
New regional programs—such as the road to Ethiopia, the regulation of flooding in areas around Lake Victoria, disease control for cattle—should be actively pursued.
As elsewhere in the continent, there is too little knowledge of Kenya by American Congressmen, although admittedly Kenya as the hub of East Africa receives more visitors than its sister nations. Its Parliament and our Congress should have exchanges of delegations more often and for long enough periods to permit real study of the country.
We should seek to strengthen Kenya’s already real ability to influence events elsewhere in Africa. This means more consultation, though not exhortation; it means a willingness to tolerate an East African way of looking at issues that may not be exactly our own.
Finally, we are already deeply engaged in Kenyan education, through various institutes and programs of the university, and the Peace Corps teachers (about half of the 255 PCV’s in the country). We should seek to make the University of Nairobi more regional. We should not only help the University to educate Africans in their continent, but we should also strengthen its ability to take other Africans, including refugees.

Tunisia—January 10–11

Tunisia was the high point of my visit to Africa.

President Bourguiba, who expressed his firm friendship and admiration for the United States and for you personally, is an historic figure among the leaders of his generation.

He is one of the few revolutionaries of the post-war world who has—after his nation’s independence was won—also proved his capacity for governing. Tunisia is poor by American standards. But her human and material resources are under systematic development. She has an established layer of trained leadership. And the country is filled with forward movement and dynamism.

In my long conversation with Bourguiba, he expressed himself openly and vigorously. He has a caustic disdain for Nasser and believes we have been mistaken in past assistance to him (“Nasser is a gangster and rules by fear”). He feels we are finally convincing North Vietnam that we will not withdraw from the struggle there (“They know there will not be another Dienbienphu”) and that Hanoi may soon be ready for [Page 403] negotiation. He is willing to play the role of honest broker in the Middle East, in Vietnam, in the Congo and elsewhere in the world where his stature among the “unaligned” nations is unchallengeable.

He specifically suggested that direct Israeli-Palestinian talks be undertaken as a realistic way out of the Middle East impasse. You may wish to discuss this with him.

He feels that this crisis can be peacefully overcome. He is less confident about the situation in the Maghreb (Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia). He is obviously concerned about the proximity of so much Soviet arms and influence in Algeria.

In my talks with economic officials—and in my visit to the agricultural area of the Medjerda valley—I was impressed by Tunisia’s capacity to use our assistance well. Our P.L. 480 Food for Freedom Program is a vital factor in the public works programs, urban and rural. “Food for work” has proven to be effective foreign aid.

Tunisia has obvious security problems. Bourguiba has an enemy in Nasser and a possible opponent in Boumediene of Algeria. Together these countries command well over a half-billion dollars of Soviet arms, have five times the population and many times the natural resources of Tunisia. By contrast, Tunisia’s own military program is running at about $5 million a year.

We do not have an official commitment to come to Tunisia’s defense, but it would appear that we have one of the strongest moral commitments of any in this particular case. Fortunately, the presence of the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean gives us a capability which in most circumstances is more reassuring than agreements on paper.

There is a question about succession following Bourguiba. But there are a number of capable people available.

This is a country which has earned, and deserves, our full support. Bourguiba and Tunisia are real assets in the Middle East, in Africa, and in the “third world.”


Tunisia should remain one of the principal countries for the concentration of our economic assistance. Tunisia is nearing the take-off point economically and can be a shining example to others.
Tunisia’s security is a valid concern for us, because of the location of the country and the stand its government has taken in vital world issues. Within our resource limits, there is no doubt that we have a commitment that should be honored. I believe that we should not cut our military aid below its present level, and should at the same time make our political support more clear. To strengthen Bourguiba is one way to weaken Nasser and Soviet influence. It also puts our prestige and power on the side of the constructive moderates in the Middle East.
I was impressed by the way the Peace Corps and our private organizations and foundations have given a major new dimension to our assistance to Tunisia. This is a trend we should encourage.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 US/HUMPHREY. Secret.
  2. Not printed. For text of the Vice President’s January 6 speech at Africa Hall in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, see Department of State Bulletin, January 29, 1968, pp. 129–133.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.