Relations with Radical African States (1957–62)

  • Philip Muehlenbeck

Abstract

The first wave of independence in sub-Saharan Africa had begun on March 6, 1957, when Kwame Nkrumah led Ghana away from its colonial past and to independence. In the late 1950s, Nkrumah seemed to be the embodiment of everything pan-African. The inscription on a statue of him in front of the Parliament building in Accra read, “Seek ye first the political kingdom and all things shall be added unto you. We prefer self government with danger to servitude in tranquility. Our task is not done and our safety not assured until the last vestiges of colonialism have been swept from Africa.”1

Keywords

Europe Cobalt Uranium Diesel Smoke 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Quoted in T. P. Melady (1961) Profiles of African Leaders (New York: Macmillan), p. 133.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For more detailed biographic information on Kwame Nkrumah, see D. Rooney (1988) Kwame Nkrumah: The Political Kingdom in the Third World (New York: St. Martin’s); B. Davidson (1973) Black Star: A View of the Life and Time of Kwame Nkrumah (London: Allen Lane); and K. Nkrumah (1957) The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah (New York: T. Nelson).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    P. Zidek and K. Sieber (2007) Československo a subsaharská Afrika v letech 1948–1989 [Czechoslovakia and Sub-Saharan Africa, 1948–1989] (Prague: Ústavmezinárodníchvztahů), p. 69.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    A. Iandolo (2011) “Soviet Policy in West Africa, 1957–64” (PhD dissertation, St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford), pp. 8–9 and 109–12.Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    Nkrumah quoted by E. Nwaubani (2001) The United States and Decolonization in West Africa, 1950–1960 (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press), p. 165.Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    For more on the Little Rock school crisis, see E. Huckaby (1980) Crisis at Central High (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press) and R. F. Burk (1984) The Eisenhower Administration and Black Civil Rights (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press).Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    J. Moxon (1969) Volta Man’s Greatest Lake (New York: Praeger), p. 88.Google Scholar
  8. 14.
    R. D. Mahoney (1983) JFK: Ordeal in Africa (New York: Oxford University Press), p. 161.Google Scholar
  9. 16.
    Letter from President Dwight Eisenhower to President Kwame Nkrumah, August 7, 1960, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958–1960, Volume XIV, Africa (1992) (Washington, DC: US Department of State), pp. 657–8.Google Scholar
  10. 18.
    S. Mazov (2010) A Distant Front in the Cold War: The USSR in West Africa and the Congo, 1956–1964 (Washington, DC and Stanford, CA: Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Stanford University Press), p. 58.Google Scholar
  11. 19.
    For a good account of the pressures that Touré felt from within his own party to reject the French referendum, see E. Schmidt (2007) Cold War and Decolonization in Guinea, 1946–1958 (Athens: University of Ohio Press).Google Scholar
  12. Hayter (1965) “French Aid to Africa—Its Scope and Achievements” International Affairs 41 (2), p. 241. Paris even considered using force (a naval blockade was discussed) to prevent a shipment of Czechoslovak arms from reaching Conakry. See “Discussions between UK, US, and France on Guinea, 1959,” Records of the Foreign Office, 371/138836, PRO.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 30.
    P. E. Muehlenbeck (2012) Betting on the Africans: John F. Kennedy’s Courting of African Nationalist Leaders (New York: Oxford University Press), p. 26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 31.
    J. H. Morrow (1968) First American Ambassador to Guinea (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press), p. 23.Google Scholar
  15. 44.
    C. Andrew and V. Mitrokhin (2005) The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World (New York: Basic Books), p. 6.Google Scholar
  16. 48.
    Memorandum of conversation between Guinean President Sékou Touré and President Dwight Eisenhower, October 27, 1959, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958–1960, Volume XIV, Africa, pp. 698–702. Also see “US Economic Assistance Program in Guinea,” October 4, 1962. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963, Volume XXI, Africa (1996) (Washington, DC: US Department of State).Google Scholar
  17. 54.
    M. Stewart MacDonald (2009) “The Challenge of Guinean Independence, 1958–1971” (PhD dissertation, University of Toronto), p. 112.Google Scholar
  18. 55.
    Under the Hallstein Doctrine, West Germany proclaimed that it would break diplomatic and economic relations with any country which established diplomatic relations with East Germany. For a discussion of Guinea’s relations with West and East Germanies during this period see W. G. Gray (2003) Germany’s Cold War: The Global Campaign to Isolate East Germany, 1949–1969 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press), pp. 108–13.Google Scholar
  19. 57.
    W. Attwood (1967) The Reds and the Blacks: A Personal Adventure (New York: Harper & Row), pp. 21–2.Google Scholar
  20. 58.
    C. F. Beck (1963) “Czechoslovakia’s Penetration of Africa, 1955–1962” World Politics 15 (3), p. 412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 60.
    P. Zidek (2006) Československo a francouzská Afrika 1948–1968 [Czechoslovakia and French Africa, 1948–1968] (Prague: Nakladatelství Libri), pp. 65–7.Google Scholar
  22. 64.
    According to Lise Namikas, Belgium purposely kept communist representation in the Congo to only the Czechoslovak embassy “knowing that this would help keep US fears of communism at bay.” See L. Namikas (2013) Battleground Africa: Cold War in the Congo, 1960–1965 (Washington, DC and Stanford, CA: Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Stanford University Press), p. 25.Google Scholar
  23. 65.
    Zidek and Sieber, Československo a subsaharská Afrika, p. 128 and Comments of Thomas Kanza, “The Congo Crisis, 1960–1961: A Critical Oral History Conference” [transcript of conference]. Cold War International History Project, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, September 23–24, 2004, p. 46.Google Scholar
  24. 69.
    L. Namikas (2002) “Battleground Africa: The Cold War and the Congo Crisis, 1960–1965” (PhD dissertation, University of Southern California), p. 104. For more information on the Soviet Union’s initial doubts about Lumumba see Namikas, Battleground Africa [book version], pp. 40–1, 151.Google Scholar
  25. 72.
    Lumumba quoted by T. Kanza (1978) The Rise and Fall of Patrice Lumumba: Conflict in the Congo (London: Rex Collins), pp. 161–4.Google Scholar
  26. 73.
    S. R. Weissman (1974) American Foreign Policy in the Congo 1960–1964 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press), p. 55.Google Scholar
  27. 74.
    M. G. Kalb (1982) The Congo Cables: The Cold War in Africa—From Eisenhower to Kennedy (New York: Macmillan Publishing), p. 6. Although Lumumba requested military aid from Prague, there is no evidence to suggest that he actually asked Czechoslovakia to take control of the Congolese army.Google Scholar
  28. 76.
    Nkrumah and Lumumba joint communiqué quoted by J. Woronoff (1972) in West African Wager: Houphouet versus Nkrumah (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow), p. 115.Google Scholar
  29. 77.
    K. Nkrumah (1961) I Speak of Freedom (London: Heinemann), p. 246.Google Scholar
  30. 85.
    For an overview of the Soviet rationale for involvement in the Congo, see A. Fursenko and T. Naftali (2006) Khrushchev’s Cold War: The Inside Story of an American Adversary (New York: W. W. Norton), pp. 292–322.Google Scholar
  31. 89.
    R. D. Mahoney (1999) Sons & Brothers: The Days of Jack and Bobby Kennedy (New York: Arcade Publishing), p. 67.Google Scholar
  32. 90.
    R. D. Mahoney (1999) Sons & Brothers: The Days of Jack and Bobby Kennedy (New York: Arcade Publishing), p. 67. Also see Robert T. Hennemeyer, oral history interview, February 15, 1988, Frontline Diplomacy; L. Devlin (2007) Chief of Station, Congo: A Memoir of 1960–67 (New York: Public Affairs), p. 63.Google Scholar
  33. 103.
    A. Schlesinger (1965) A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin), p. 570.Google Scholar
  34. 107.
    California Eagle, September 29, 1960, quoted in J. H. Meriwether (2002) Proudly We Can Be Africans: Black Americans and Africa, 1935–1961 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press), p. 199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 120.
    S. Mazov (2007) “Soviet Aid to the Gizenga Government in the Former Belgian Congo (1960–61) as Reflected in Russian Archives” Cold War History 7 (3), p. 431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 122.
    Letter from President John F. Kennedy to Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah, February 2, 1961, President’s Office Files, Box No. 117 “Countries,” Folder “Ghana,” JFKL; Memorandum from Secretary of State Rusk to President Kennedy, February 1, 1961, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963, Volume XX, The Congo Crisis (1994) (Washington, DC: US Department of State), pp. 40–4.Google Scholar
  37. 124.
    Mahoney, JFK: Ordeal in Africa, p. 70. According to the historian Madeleine Kalb, “The order to assassinate him [Lumumba] was given by President Dwight D. Eisenhower at [an NSC] Meeting on August 18, 1960 in Washington.” See Kalb, The Congo Cables, p. 50. The memorandum of discussion of the NSC meeting in question makes no reference to Eisenhower making such an order (see memorandum of discussion at the 456th meeting of the National Security Council, August 18, 1960, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958–1960, Volume XIV, Africa, pp. 421–4). However, Robert H. Johnson, who drafted the memorandum of the discussion of this meeting, testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on June 18, 1975, that he recalled “President Eisenhower said something—I can no longer remember his words—that came across to me as an order for the assassination of Lumumba” (see the editor’s notes in FRUS [cited above]). Furthermore, the report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concluded that the “chain of events and testimony is strong enough to permit a reasonable inference that the plot to assassinate Lumumba was authorized by President Eisenhower.” See Nwaubani, The United States and Decolonization in West Africa, p. 291. Finally, Larry Devlin, the CIA station chief in Leopoldville, said that he was told that the order to kill Lumumba had come directly from Eisenhower. See Devlin, Chief of Station, Congo, p. 95; Fursenko and Naftali, Khrushchev’s Cold War, p. 318. John Stockwell, a CIA operative stationed in the Congo, wrote in his memoirs that the agency feared the new president would reverse Eisenhower’s order to assassinate Lumumba, and it thus moved quickly to eliminate him prior to Kennedy’s inauguration. See J. Stockwell (1978) In Search of Enemies: A CIA Story (New York: W. W. Norton); J. M. Blum (1991) Years of Discord: American Politics and Society, 1961–1974 (New York: W. W. Norton), p. 23; J. Kwitny (1984) Endless Enemies: The Making of an Unfriendly World (New York: Congdon & Weed, Distributed by St. Martin’s), p. 69; Devlin, Chief of Station, Congo, p. 129.Google Scholar
  38. 125.
    At this point, Mobutu had not yet changed his name to Mobutu Sese Seko, and he still went by his birth name Joseph-Désiré Mobutu. Mobutu was on the CIA’s payroll. However, this author has not seen any evidence linking Americans with the actual murder of Lumumba. Most likely both the Americans and Belgians set the stage for Lumumba’s death and encouraged it but deferred the actual act of murder to their Congolese counterparts. For his part Larry Devlin, the CIA chief of station in Leopoldville at the time, claims in his memoirs to have been ordered by Washington to assassinate Lumumba but that his personal morals prevented him from carrying out this order. Instead Devlin claims that his “plan was to stall” and that he “dragged” his feet in carrying out the mission. See Devlin, Chief of Station, Congo, pp. 97, 260. Conversely the Belgian writer Ludo De Witte places blame for Lumumba’s murder squarely on the shoulders of the Belgians and their Congolese and Katagan accomplices. According to De Witte, although the Americans had their own plans to assassinate the Congolese prime minister, as the events played out “the US and the CIA played no role in either the preparations to transfer Lumumba, the transfer itself, or the events in Katanga on 17 January and the following days.” De Witte has also persuasively demonstrated that all involved (Congolese, Americans, Belgians) who knew that Lumumba was going to be delivered into the hands of Tshombe in Katanga realized that such a transfer was sure to end in Lumumba’s death. See L. De Witte (2001) The Assassination of Lumumba, translated by Ann Wright and Renée Fenby (London: Verso), p. 78.Google Scholar
  39. 131.
    T. Noer (1985) Cold War and Black Liberation: The United States and White Rule in Africa, 1948–1968 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press), p. 263.Google Scholar
  40. 134.
    W. S. Thompson (1969) Ghana’s Foreign Policy 1957–1966: Diplomacy, Ideology, and the New State (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press), pp. 166–7.Google Scholar
  41. 147.
    Muehlenbeck, Betting on the Africans, p. 91 and C. Andrew and V. Mitrokhin (2006) The Mitrokhin Archive II: The KGB and the World (London: Penguin), pp. 434–8.Google Scholar
  42. 157.
    W. Attwood (1987) The Twilight Struggle: Tales of the Cold War (New York: Harper & Row), p. 241.Google Scholar
  43. 161.
    P. J. Schraeder (2000) “Cold War to Cold Peace: Explaining US-French Competition in Francophone Africa,” Political Science Quarterly 115 (3), pp. 398–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 171.
    R. Bass and E. Bass (1963) “Eastern Europe” in Z. Brzezinski (ed.) Africa and the Communist World (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press), p. 99.Google Scholar
  45. 187.
    K. Nkrumah (1967) Challenge of the Congo: A Case Study of Foreign Pressures on an Independent State (New York: International Publishers), p. 116.Google Scholar
  46. 192.
    Muehlenbeck, Betting on the Africans, p. 125 and A. Nutting (1972) Nasser (New York: E. P. Dutton), p. 291.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Philip Muehlenbeck 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip Muehlenbeck

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations