407. Memorandum From Edward Hamilton of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow)1



  • Visit of Dr. Hastings Banda, President of Malawi—June 8, 1967

This will be a short, largely ceremonial visit connected with Banda’s attendance at EXPO–67. I have talked with his advance man; he has nothing in particular on his mind he wants to raise with the President. He will undoubtedly want to hear about Vietnam (he is with us), and to give the President his conception of the prospects for ameliorating the black/white problems of South Africa. I do not think that he will have anything specific to offer in the latter regard, however.

Banda is a unique figure in Black Africa. He is the only Black African leader—except for the Prime Ministers of neighboring Botswana and Lesotho—who willingly does business with the Rhodesians and the South Africans. He is much criticized for this, but it is also widely recognized in both black and white camps that he has no choice. Malawi is heavily dependent on Rhodesia for supplies. The Malawian economy is built around the white expatriate community which is highly sensitive to the morale of expats in Rhodesia and Zambia. Thus, Banda is given very little choice by the economic facts of life; still, he is so strident about currying favor with Smith and Vorster that he draws a great deal of unnecessary fire from his Black African comrades.

In my view, the moral of this is to treat him with impeccable manners, but not overwhelming warmth. We should be particularly careful that our toast and welcoming speeches don’t portray him as a great Africa-wide figure. We certainly lose nothing by being correct with him, but we risk difficulties with his many African enemies if we go out of our way to embrace him.

You may wish to make some of the following points this afternoon:

Banda is U.S.-educated, articulate, and very pro-American. If we can keep the visit casual and keep public statements away from the problems of southern Africa, this short stop should go off without a hitch.
Banda does not have any particular problem in mind in visiting the President. We should minimize the business aspects of the meeting, both publicly and privately.
We should be particularly careful in drafting toasts and statements to avoid identifying Banda as a leading figure Continent-wide.

Ed Hamilton 2
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Malawi, Visit of President Hastings K. Banda, 6/8–11/67. Confidential.
  2. Printed from a copy that bears Hamilton’s typed signature below a typed notation in parentheses that reads: “dictated—not read.”