252. Telegram From the Embassy in Ghana to the Department of State 1
879. Saw Nkrumah for 50 minutes this morning. President began by asking when wife and family would be returning. I said not sure, my future little uncertain, may not be here long enough warrant their return.
Remarked that unfortunately during my absence relationship between US and Ghana had deteriorated to marked extent. Nkrumah agreed. By way illustration, I said I was with President Johnson when cable brought in to him describing March 12 attack on library and Embassy. President Johnson was upset; read cable to me. I said USG also very disturbed by unfriendly attack on US in March 22 speech. Told him that whereas Ghana press had regularly attacked US on Congo, I shocked he personally would say what he did about US.
I said I would like read some particularly offensive passages. Nkrumah said this not necessary since he knew what in it, but I persisted. Pointed out it grossly unfair to identify US with long Belgium history in Congo. US has been in Congo only since 1960 and to help Congolese. [Page 445]Speech loaded and slanted throughout. Nkrumah admitted as much, but said he had special purpose in mind. He concerned about seriousness situation in Congo and felt speech had to be strong. I replied this no reason not be fair: why criticize everything we do? At this point I read passages about no cruelty being spared in Congo, about identification of US with Rhodesia and South Africa, and about threat to Africa posed by economic imperialism, specifically naming American financiers. I asked Nkrumah if he referring to US presence in Ghana, when he said all African countries threatened by economic imperialism. Nkrumah insisted not at all, only to situation elsewhere Africa.
Returning to Congo I said we did not create Tshombe; we surprised as anyone else he returned. Noted also that Governor Williams beseeched Tshombe to seek help from other Africans.
What particularly deplorable in speech, I said, was use terms “racist” and “hatred” in reference US, and his use “fascist” as epithet. I noted Ghanaian press so bad I no longer interested in talking about it, but reminded him of conversation I had with him year ago when he said he had admonished press against using offensive epithets. Now he personally talking that way. I said I would never have believed that man of his sophistication and refinement would use language like that against my country, and it shock to hear him do so. Said he knew we were backing self-determination for Africans and making serious effort solve race problem at home.
At this point Nkrumah, who had been holding face in hands, looked up and I saw he was crying. With difficulty he said I could not understand ordeal he had been through during last month. Recalled that there had been seven attempts on his life. Also that he upset with problem executions. (“You know why I commuted the sentences?” I replied I assumed it for humanitarian reasons. “It was for Africa, for Africa.”) Asserted he would not have made speech had it not been for what he had been going through.
I said I appreciated strain, but this no reason make hostile speech against country trying help. I pointed out that speech had been read throughout world. Damage had been done our relations we might not be able repair. Nkrumah interjected it all because of Tshombe. Said he had been thinking of sending mission to President Johnson to ask US withdraw support from Tshombe. I remarked that if he had made this point in speech, it would have been understandable. But not accusing US of every crime in Africa.
Also told him we resented reference to Congo developing into another Vietnam. Pointed out he and his press were constantly taking ChiCom line on Vietnam, and US sick of this. Situation not so simple as he had made out, to which he agreed.[Page 446]
I then spent few minutes going over main points in Vietnam white paper, copy of which I handed him. Nkrumah suggested I give Botsio copy.
In apparent effort say something nice about US (and perhaps get off subject Vietnam), Nkrumah said, “You know you have great country—the only one that can lead world to peace.” When I commented that one would not guess this from what he said, he replied, “But it is what I believe. You can work with Russians.” I noted that we trying maintain dialogue with USSR, but ChiComs made working with Russians more difficult. Nkrumah agreed, called ChiComs “mysterious” and accused them of being dogmatic and difficult.
During conversation, Nkrumah made brief references to Bamako and Nouakchott Conference. Said he had gone to Bamako because Africa falling apart so fast, especially on Congo; something had be done by so-called radicals to stabilize situation. On Nouakchott Nkrumah noted that he had letter from Daddah, in which Mauritanian President named certain powers who were behind conference. (He mentioned in passing that he had also received letter from Adoula.) I said I did not pretend have knowledge of all that went on Nouakchott, but US not force behind it as some claiming. Then remarked we sick of being made whipping boy by certain African states because of their own difficulties, largely brought on by themselves. Said we had about enough of it.
Meeting concluded with Nkrumah, eyes still moist, making few warm remarks about our personal relationship.
- While Nkrumah made uncomfortable by tough talk, in end there will probably be very little to show for today’s effort. Nkrumah may be slowed down a little, as before, by what I said, but not for long.
- While Nkrumah apparently continues have personal affection for me, he seems as convinced as ever US is out to get him. From what he said about assassination attempts in March, it appears he still suspects US involvement.
- Nkrumah gave me impression of being badly frightened man. His emotional resources seem be running out. As pressures increase, we may expect more hysterical outbursts, many directed against US.
- Uncomplimentary remarks about ChiComs were obvious attempt divert US from idea he pro-ChiCom. He protested too much. Am convinced he emotionally tends be strongly pro-ChiCom.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL GHANA–US. Confidential.↩