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February 22, 1959 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 1959-02-22
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w r ,v - . - V -


Africa's Plea:

Independence, Equality

New Look at Colonialism
It Has Been an Asset in the Belgian Congo-

A Tunisian Tells why
The west Must Aid,
But Not Try To Control
This Crucial Area


"Those of you who have
been to Africa know something
of its vastness. You have felt
its mystery, you have been
stirred by its almost incredible
possibilities. You have, per-
haps, found your own emotions
shaken, as never before, by the
power, the force, that seems to
well up out of the very earth.
You have been faced with the
reality of Africa's awakening.
- It is as if a great giant stirred
for the first time in many cen-
turies, stretching himself,
opening his gentle eyes upon
an unknown and very disturb-
ing world. Perhaps you, too,
have found your own world
shaken by direct contact with
this awakening, and all it can
mean to the future of man-
kind ...
--Frances P. Bolton
WHETHER you land on the
Northern shore of Africa, the
Southern, Western, or Eastern,
the first striking words you will
hear, see, and learn are Istiqlal,
Dietsarev, Ablode-Independence.
One, and only one revolt shakes
the whole continent. Independence
is the key for the future of the
In the northern part of Africa,
the only country which is still
carrying on a bitter fight for its
independence is Algeria. The rest
were liberated mostly after World
War II.
South of the Sahara there is
Ghana, which obtained its free-
dom in March, 1957, the first of
the European dependencies to do
so. The liberation of Ghana was
the path for the rest of Black
Africa to follow.
French Africa after the Refer-
endum refused to keep the status
quo, and all voted against it. Thus,
obtaining independence within the
French Union were the Republic
of Senegal, Republic of Maurita-
nia, Soudanese Republic, Ivory
Coast Republic, Voltaic Republic,
Republic of Dahomey, Niger Re-
public, Chad Republic, Gabonese
Republic, Central African Repub-
lic, Republic of Congo, and Mal-
gache Republic.
THE MOVEMENT of independ-
ence is eliminating all French
possessions in Africa, reaching the
Spanish territories, and shaking
Guinea was freed in September,
1958. The Cameroon will be inde-
pendent in January, 1960; Togo
on April 29, 1960; Nigeria on Oc-
tober 1, 1960; and Somalia on De-
cember 2, 1960.
The independence movement in
Africa today is the first indispen-
sable step towards economic de-
velopment. This attitude of dis-
satisfaction, hatred, and enmity
towards the white man, the set-
tler, the colonialist is justified by
the behavior of those Europeans
who left their homes and immi-
grated to Africa.
The idea of the immigration of
Europeans to other lands is not
new. If we look back on European
history, the Industrial Revolution,
the surplus of foods, the demand
and the urge to find new markets
for the unwanted foods, etc., all
made it impossible for Europeans
'Tunisian Ahmed Belkhoda
is at the University this year as
the Foreign Student Leader-
ship Project representative. H e
contributed an article on Ty-
ntisia to last month's Maazine.

to hold back the
ation, adventure,

urge for explor-
and domination.

THE FIRST serious interest
shown by the Europeans in es-
tablishing themselves on the Af-
rican coasts came from the Dutch
in 1652, with the discovery of the
Cape of Good Hope.
Then, discovering the need for
cheap labor, the Europeans found
it a rich business meeting this
need by slave trade.
Europe needed cheap labor, as
did America, for its extensive sug-
ar and tobacco plantations. This
trade went on for about two-and-
a-half centuries, during which
time it has been estimated that
fifteen million slaves were taken
from West Africa.
FROM slave trade, the interest
in Africa grew wider.
The wealth of this continent
brought the European powers into
rivalry. Nappleon's efforts to con-
quer Egypt, to safeguard the
shortest route to the wealth of the
Far East, were lost to the English
in 1763. To counterpart the
French move, the English con-
quered South Africa from both
the natives and the Dutch in 1814-
This rivalry among the Euro-
peans for the partition of their
prey was ended in the 19th cen-
tury by the large number of agree-
ments signed among the Europe-
an powers. Worth noting are the
Anglo-French Entente Cordial of
1904, which placed Egypt and
Morocco under Great Britain and
France, and the agreements made
by Italy and other European pow-
ers to enable Italy to acquire pos-
session of territory in North Af-
This expansion of the European
powers which resulted from the
Industrial Revolution gave Europe
the greatest economic security.
The famines that had occurred
nearly every ten years for several

T HE WORD colonialism has be-
come one of the most provoca-
tive terms in world affairs.
It has conflicting connotations
for peoples of different countries,
races and ideologies. It means one
thing behind the Iron Curtain and
another thing to us. In general it
has unpleasant and derogatory
overtones. Furthermore it is the
cause, of serious misunderstand-
ings with our allies.
From first-hand observations on
the Belgian Congo it is my hope to
reorient the reader toward the
word colonialism; to divest the
term of its derogatory connota-
tions; and to accord it such dignity
and . respect as able twentieth-
c e n t u r y administrators have
earned for it.
T HE BELGIAN Congo, with 900,-
000 square miles, is almost
equal insize to the United States
east of the Mississippi.
Its entire European population
of 90,000 wouldn't fill the Univer-
sity football stadium. Its African
populations of 13,000,000 is fewer
in numbers than the Negroes in
the United States. The Africans
are splintered into hundreds of
different tribal and racial groups
with different languages and
forms of social organization. One
runs the gamut from'tseven-foot
Watutsis to four-foot pygmies,
with Bantu peoples of great di-
versity in between.
The inhabitants of the Congo
are far from the point where these
different component races have an
understanding of and tolerance for
one another. Their differences are
being broken down by migration
to the cities, by common service
and a common language in the
Congo's armed forces, the Force
P u b I i q u e, and through inter-
mingling of students at ethe Lo-
vanium and State Universities.
The high opinion, commonly
held, of Belgium's accomplish-
ments in the Congo at once
a r o u s e s speculation as to the
causes of its success. What pe-
culiar assets do the Belgians have
in the Congo that aren't generally
found elsewhere?
AMONG many factors there are
three that merit discussion:
1) The "newness" of the Congo;
the fact that it is the last great
colonial area to be explored and
opened up has given the Belgians
the chance to profit from the ex-
perience of other colonizers.
2) A dedicated and capable
corps of colonial administrators;

A fricansf Are Taking Control of Their Industries

centuries in Europe now virtually
The flow of manufactured goods
out of Europe and of food and raw
materials into Europe gave reality
to the long-hoped-for dream of
stability, prosperity, and success.
SO ONE THING has to be clear
in mind: that the Europeans
did not come into Africa for the
sole purpose of helping the Afri-
Those who came were interested
mainly in African markets and re-
sources. To this aim even wars
were fought when resistance
barred the way and had to be
In the latter part of the 19th
century and the beginning of the
20th, those nations in Africa which
were subdued for the good of
Europe at the expense of their
own development, gave rise to the
movement of today. We must not
forget the principles of the great
leaders of the French and Ameri-
can Revolutions - equality, fra-

ternity, liberty, and self-determi-
With the flow of students from
Africa in modern times to Europe
and America, those students, after
going back home and comparing
the two different regimes, could
not' help but revolt against the
rulers of Africa and demand that
those principles should be put into
practice there.
and in South Africa are cases
in point.
Apart from unjustly depriving
the Africans of equal rights, some
other cruel actions are taking
place today.
In South Africa, for example,
some laws against Africans are
still in practice: the Native Labor
Regulation Act, making African
workers subject to criminal prose-
cution for such things as being
absent from work without leave;
the Native Land and Trust Amend-
ment Act, enabling the South
African government to uproot large
numbers of African rural families
without providing any alternative
land for them.
The Africans also receive Tess
education than the whites and it
is much inferior.
ONE MORE FACTOR helped the
awakening and eagerness for
self - determination of Africans,
and that is the increased depend-
ence of Western countries upon
In our time the demand is no,
longer for palm oil, ivory, or pre-
cious woods, it is a rising demand
for minerals. Uranium is required
for the manufacturing of atomic
weapons -- Africa is the greatest
source for this indispensable ele-
The United States no longer
possesses an adequate reserve- of
copper, lead and iron, and she
must turn to Africa -to Liberia
-for the quantities required.
Just as the West's dependency
on Africa increased, Africa be-
came alarmed and sensed that the
security of the' West depends on
the insecurity of Africa, and thus
gradually the resistance increased.
The West did not live up to the
promises of the Atlantic Charter,
nor to the United Nations Char-
ter's Article 73, which recommends
to the members of the UN which
have or assume responsibilities for
the administration of territories
whose peoples have not yet at-
tained a full measure of self -gov-
ernment, to recognize the principle.
that the interests of° the inhabit-

ants of these territories are para-
and brutalities of some Western
powers towards Africa made it
impossible for some countries in
Africa to keep up with Europe, and
thereby changed their course to
Russia for help.
This does not at all mean that
they like Communism, but rather
they are practicing that "the
enemy of your enemy is your
friend." Communist Russia is
ready to extend a helping hand
to Africa and rescue the people of
Africa from the control of the
West by liberating them.
The recent Soviet offers of trade
and economic assistance are gen-
uine and pose an obvious challenge
to the West and the United States
in particular.
According to the African Spe-
cial Report of January, 1958, Com-
munism as a dogma has had little
appeal south of the Sahara. Here,
the Russians are handicapped by
the lack of any diplomatic repre-
sentation. (There are Soviet mis-
sions in Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya and
the Sudan, and Czech missions in
Leopoldville and Capetown.)
UT DESPITE these disadvan-
tages, Russian agents and pro-
pagandists are expected to be at
work increasingly, supporting local
grievances, presenting Russia as
the champion of legitimate eco-
nomic and political aspirations of
Africa's peoples, and attempting
at the same time to portray the
United States as a supporter of
"Western Imperialism."
To the African some of these
ideas are accepted as authentic. In,
the case of the Algerian War,
France, without the support of the
United States, could never be able
to carry it on for such a long
period. Army uniforms, artillery,
and the financement of the army
come from the United States.
So today, Africa is the strug-
gling scene between East and West,
and it seems that in Africa this
struggle will be settled.
It is up to the. West, while there
is still time,'to win back the friend-
ship and the support of the Afri-
cans. The prosperity, security, and
the democratic institutions of the
West all depend on the future of
The resources of Africa are vital
to the 'West as well as to the Afri-
cans, and there will be no further
cooperation between African- and
Westerners unless the principle of
Lib e Kty, - Equality -Fraternity i8

with but one colony Belgium's offi-
cials become experts on that area.
3) Great economic wealth; the
natural resources of the Congo
have contributed to an impressive
program of social -welfare and ad-
IT MIGHT be said then that the
period of colonial progress in the
Congo dates from the early 1920's.
Thus there are living men --
European as well as African -
who can remember the epoch
when cannibalism, anarchy, tyran-
ny, and cruelty ruled in large sec-
tors of the Congo. There are still
many Belgian administrators on
duty in the Congo who started
their careers in the 1920's.
The parents of the young Con-
golese workers and students of
today come from that early period
when contact with the white man
was minimal and unhappy.
Viewed thus, the Congo of to-
day merits even greater praise -
the black man in recognition of
the extent to which he has pro-
gressed socially and the European
for the helping hand he has of-
The Belgian administrators,
particularly those in top positions,
are for, the greater part men of
culture and training. They are

avid students of colonial systems,
of anthropology, and of political
geography. They have closely
watched colonial experiences in
areas much longer in contact with
Europe, such as Ghana, Nigeria,
and the coastal'regions.
THESE observations point logi-
cally to the second asset of the
Belgians in the Congo - a dedi-
cated and capable corps of colon-
ial administrators.
This is not to say that other
colonial powers do not have such
men, but the circumstances are
different in the Congo. It must be
remembered that Belgium has just
this one colony and therefore any
young man entering colonial serv-
ice knows exactly to what part of
the world he is going and some-
thing of the climate and peoples
he will encounter.
Since this young man knows he
will be staying in the same area
he normally learns a native lan-
guage and something of the habits
and folklore of the people with
whom he is dealing.,
THE THIRD special asset of the
Belgians in their colonizing ef-
fort is the economic' wherewithal
to do the job.
The Congo's southernmost prov-
ince, the Katanga, is one of the
world's richest areas in mineral
r es our c es. High-grade copper
veins, uranium, cobalt, gold, silver,
zinc, and all sorts of by-products
and related minerals are mined in
significant quantities.
Other provinces furnish tin and
the greater part of the world's in-
dustrial diamond supply. There
is valuable production of cocoa,
coffee, tobacco, tea, cotton, lum-
ber, rubber, palm oil and palm
The Congo's hydroelectric po-
tential is tremendous and the
eventual completion of the Inga
project.on the lower Congo River,
with twenty times TVA's capacity,
will render possible an expansion
of light industry and a more bal-
anced economy.
THIS GREAT wealth is largely
controlled by five giant com-
panies which pay royalties and,
taxes into the Belgian Congo
These revenues and resources
within the Congo have made pos-
sible ambitious programs in pub-
lic housing, education, health, and
sanitation, native welfare and so-
cial work, as well as in conserva-
tion of natural resources, meas-
ures against soil erosion, etc.
Collectively these m e a s u r e s
have been molded into a Ten-
Year Plan which is now in its last
quarter. Plans encompassed a
broad advance on many economic
fronts and in general quotas have
been met.
In some fields such as transpor-
tation and road building the Ten-
Year Plan is behind schedule. On
the whole, however, it must be
rated a success.

Recent Dei
SINCE WRITING the following
editor's note below in box) th
tempo of political demands by C
This acceleration is due in la
I) New "semi-independent"
The four provinces of ne
lal Africa have all opted f(
them a semi-independent sta
the French Union.
Facing the Belgian Con
-across the Congo River-
of the "Republic of the Cong
cans cross the river daily, wor
banks. The political evolution
reaches the other side with
2) Economic woes of Belgiar
The business recession o
the Congo, a major supplier
minerals and raw materials.I
contributed to unemployme
At the same time there coni
of Africans from the "bush
acquired some 30,000 unemp
danger of starvation, had a
for political fermentation.
N DECEMBER and January th
The Minister of Colonies, M
Minister of the Congo, Mr. Var
succeed him.
Rioting broke out in Leopo
Bakongo people, followers of a M
litical discontent through an a
There are, however, very real ii
the spread of these disorders to c
Nonetheless the future will
crease in the political problems
struggle between other African
Toure in Guinea, Banda in Nya
Boganda in the "Central Africa
Awolowo in Nigeria, etc., effectiv
and will focus world attention c
of these figures.
Inevitably this fever will emb
the Portuguese colonies of Ango

and hig
from th
have op
done ou
A con
is thel
city. an
As a re
most Ai
a summ
take an
be proh
deed p
as med
these i
er coun
rila""A a-

as. In the Congo there are
tly equipped and manned
s for Africans in all ad-
ative centers.
nment dispensaries' are
d throughout the jungle
hlands and can be reached
e most remote villages.
onary hospitals and dis-
es of all denominations
erated for years and have
utstanding work; often un-
g hardship and privation.
mmon sight in Leopoldville
helicopter that dusts the
d its suburbs with DDT.
esult there are far fewer
os in Leopoldville than in
merican cities (at least on
ner night).
ver, it is still advisable to
ti-malaria pills, as it would
hibitively expensive, if in-
ossible, to eradicate the
es from all areas.
E ARE two great scientific
arch centers in the Congo,
and INEAC. In such fields
licine, agriculture, forestry,
osion, and soil conservation
nstitutes are performing
h and experimentation of
value for the African in-
ts of the area.
scientific activities are
rinstance where the moth-
try has to make significant
of funds.
eare'" active and well-
d programs for theCongo-
Lthe fields of recreation,
activities, and sports.
population center has a
ocial or community recrea-
l. These are well-built per-
buildings with European
Sports are encouraged and
dium at Leopoldville some-
eats up to its capacity of
rthousand for football
;OLESE are encouraged in
fields of art and in cultur-


4 555552 NEW HOUSING for the Congo- p
<::ese in
wh.lese is generally somethingsocia
which the visitor to any CongoEach
city is proudly shown by his guide. foyer S
Leopoldville, with a population tion ha
of 350,000, is resettling a third of
these persons in seven satellite" staffs.
f cities complete with schools, rec- the sta
reation facilities, dispensaries, and timests
utilities which ring the metropoli- Meenty
Elsewhere in the Congo one can (ocr
V ~~see fine little brick houses -- city'N
= blocks of them -- at Elizabiethville, CN
in the mining towns of Jadotville the
Avag.a alrn aictivryi neidctino owte Euoenlev os ra wee g
and Kolwezi, at Luluabourg, in aliacti't
Bukavu, at Stanleyville and in
lesser centers.
P UBLIC HEALTH Is another the
field where the colonial power, cer
fully justifies its presence in Af- pre:
In terms of human suffering. It beep
large and modern textile factory is one indication of hw the would be calamitous to have the anti
li European leave most areas whereRe
elgiani Congo is developing economically, he is now engaged in public health

Gilbert Bursley has serves
at, which since the war has.
>Near East and Africa. He
and Consul in the Belgia
?sent position in 1957 as as.,
"'s Development Council.
-n condensed from one wha
wmn .1958 issue of the A

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