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9-08-2015, 23:37

FREEDOM AND CONFLICT IN CENTRAL AND EAST AFRICA

European colonial rule, based on overwhelming military power, established common patterns of control. Resistance to authority was harshly suppressed, and equal rights and opportunities were withheld from the African majority. British, Belgian, French and Portuguese colonial government each had its distinctive features and the European nations hoped that these would form the basis of government in independent Africa. The influence of the colonial period was never obliterated, but each newly independent African nation developed along its own path. Much depended on the dominant African leadership, on the accident of the personality and outlook of the most powerful man or group, on whether his or their prestige survived the struggle for independence or whether new groups and leaders seized control in a separate struggle for power. Africa abounds with examples of the influence of the individual on history. This at least in part accounts for the very different evolution of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda after Britain relinquished colonial power. The Belgian Congo in Central Africa could not remain isolated from the new nationalism sweeping through British and French West Africa. But it was a latecomer as far as black nationalism was concerned. When it came to 1960 the transfer of power was sudden, and the least successful. For years afterwards this huge country was rent by internal conflict; to make matters worse it became the focus of international Cold War rivalry. Yet in one sense the Belgians had been among the more enlightened colonial administrators in Africa, once the Belgian Parliament had taken responsibility for the country in 1908. This paradox requires some explanation. The Congo’s real capital was Brussels. The colony was governed from Europe in a highly centralised way by Belgian administrators, with no African participation. The 100,000 or more Belgians in the Congo, unlike the whites in the British settler colonies, had no local political rights. For this there was no one simple reason; before 1957 there was no elective body or legislature in existence in the Congo. The idea was that, until the Africans were judged capable of exercising the vote, no one should have it, thus hopefully avoiding white-settler domination. In 1949 the Belgian Parliament approved a ten-year plan for the economic and social development of the Congo and for raising African living standards. Primary education was the best in Africa and literacy the highest. This was largely due to the missionaries and to Belgian official encouragement. But there was practically no advanced schooling. The very first African graduated at a Belgian university only in 1956, nor was there a single black officer in the Congolese police or in the military or in the Force Publique, responsible for public order. Independence was a distant prospect. The most important economic developments in the Congo were concentrated in the province of Katanga on the borders of Rhodesia and Tanganyika. From there rich deposits of copper, cobalt and other valuable minerals were exported. To the north-west, the province of Kasai provided in 1959 most of the world’s industrial diamonds. This mineral wealth was in the hands of Belgian trusts, the most important being the Société Générale and the Union Minière. Although most of the profit flowed out of the country, as in other colonies, the Belgians were at least more enlightened than the South African mineowners in encouraging Africans to acquire technical expertise in their mines. The other regions of the Congo were very poor, and here agriculture provided the means of livelihood and the source of exports. When nationalism developed late in the mid- 1950s it was strongly ethnic, regional and divisive. There were four main parties: the Abako, led by Joseph Kasavubu; the Parti Solidaire Africaine, led by Antoine Gizenga; the Katangan association, Conakat for short, led by Moise Tschombe; and the Mouvement National Congolais, whose fiery and controversial leader was Patrice Lumumba. In the 1950s the Belgians belatedly decided that some African representation in the administration of the Congo had become necessary. They accordingly organised municipal elections in 1959 by manhood suffrage, one man one vote. This, in turn, stimulated agitation: in 1959 there was rioting and looting in Léopoldville. The pace now quickened. The Belgians, at first so slow to accept Africanisation, now seemingly could not get out fast enough. They wanted to abandon the increasingly burdensome task of keeping order in the country but to retain their industrial interests. After all, the Congolese would not be able to run the mines and market the metals without them. The fact that the Congolese were not adequately prepared to run their government administration nor their army and police did not deter the Belgians. The Congolese, they reasoned, could always ask for their assistance. So elections were arranged in May 1960 and the independent Congo handed over to a cobbled-together coalition of political rivals, with Kasavubu as president and Lumumba as prime minister. Independence day was 30 June 1960. Less than a week later violence erupted. The frustration of the Congolese NCOs and soldiers in the Force Publique boiled over; they were angered by the fact that only Belgian officers gave commands. Mutinying soldiers murdered their officers and went on the rampage, killing and raping whites and looting. The Belgian troops still in the Congo left their bases to protect and evacuate their nationals. But Kasavubu and Lumumba suspected the Belgians of harbouring sinister designs, especially when Tschombe declared the richest mining province of Katanga independent. The world was horrified by the anarchy and the televised pictures of bloated corpses floating downriver. To check the atrocities and safeguard the Europeans, Lumumba had no reliable force apart from the Belgian troops, but he wanted the Belgians out. Wishing also to recover control of Katanga, he appealed to the United Nations. The UN responded with promises to help restore law and order; but it declared that the secession of Katanga was not its concern. During July, the UN peacekeeping force began to arrive and the Belgian soldiers left. But paramilitary troops and mercenaries from Europe, Rhodesia and South Africa were ready to defend Katanga and the European mining interests. Lumumba now made the error of turning for help to the Soviet Union, asking the Russians to equip a still largely unreliable Congolese army to occupy Katanga and crush the secession. Lumumba’s refusal to rely on UN forces and his determination to maintain the ill-disciplined Congolese soldiers under arms ensured that the disorders and the attacks on white missionaries and Europeans would continue. Then, in August, his troubles multiplied when the province of Kasai also seceded. Without the two mineral-rich provinces, a Congo state would become one of the poorest in Africa. In response to Lumumba’s appeal, Moscow saw a chance to gain influence in the strategically important country. Soviet aid arrived by air, and Kasai was retaken for a time. But Kasavubu and the African chief of staff Mobutu Sese Seko decided to rid themselves of the radical Lumumba and to rely instead on Western help. Lumumba was dismissed, and then arrested when Mobutu took power. In December 1960 the pro-Lumumba region rebelled and set up a rival government. Mobutu thereupon planned to silence Lumumba, who, despite UN protection, was transported to Katanga by Mobutu’s soldiers. There, in January 1961, he was killed ‘while trying to escape’. Nothing can excuse what was in all probability a murder; but a myth was in the making. The dead Patrice Lumumba was celebrated in Moscow as the anti-colonialist hero of African independence, true patriot and Marxist. Had Lumumba lived it is unlikely that he would have acquired such an exalted reputation. As a politician he had lacked adroitness and good judgement, and this had contributed to his fall from power. He was indeed an African patriot, but an unrealistic one, and his brand of socialism, common among Africans struggling against colonialism, had little in common with Soviet communism. The year 1961 saw no lessening of the chaos in the Congo. Tschombe, installed in Katanga and effectively separated from the rest of the Congo, though supported by the Belgian mining interests, talked and talked, claiming that he was ready to negotiate with the UN, but gave up nothing of substance. In the Congo a new parliament assembled under UN protection and a weak new civilian regime was installed. Katanga meanwhile continued to maintain its independence, in practice helped by the Belgians’ decision to pay the mining royalties to Tschombe and not to the central government. But Tschombe had not reckoned with a determined and ambitious UN secretary-general. Dag Hammarskjöld wanted to crown this first major UN peacekeeping effort with success. It cost Hammarskjöld his life. In rather mysterious circumstances his plane crashed in September 1961, while he was engaged in negotiations with Tschombe. This hardened the attitude of the UN towards Katanga. Fighting had broken out between UN troops and Tschombe’s forces in Elisabethville, the capital of Katanga. With the central Congolese government now pro-Western in orientation, the situation had changed. The UN ordered the forcible occupation of Katanga, and in January 1963 the province at last fell to an international force. Tschombe had left Katanga only to return in July 1964 as prime minister of a united Congo. But he did not last long in office. In October 1965 Mobutu, exercising the real power in the Congo with his army command, organised a coup and once more took over the country. The Belgian colonial pact was expunged. The major towns were renamed, Léopoldville becoming Kinshasa, and the Congo became Zaire. The immediate post-colonial turmoil in the Congo, the atrocities and the savagery and the hiring of white mercenaries, all seemed to justify the cynical view that black Africa was unfit to govern itself. What was really shown in the Congo and elsewhere in black Africa, however, was the weakness of democracy and elected national parliaments; parliaments whose members were tribally divided could not maintain unity in countries as underdeveloped as Zaire, where in many rural areas there was little education. Loyalties were tribal and ethnic in such conditions. Pent-up resentments against the better-off of other races, whether European or Asian, could and did explode into violence. If unity and order were to be maintained, the country needed a strongman with an obedient party or a soldier who could count on an obedient army. For the first thirteen years of his rule Mobutu was occupied in putting down rebellions with European aid. For the next twelve years he ruthlessly eliminated all political dissent. But the collapse of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union seemed to convince Mobutu that one-party authoritarian rule had become even less acceptable to the outside world on which Zaire relies for aid and trade. In 1990 he promised to introduce multi-party government. Mobutu explained that his version of a multi-party state envisaged himself as above politics, the final arbiter and guarantor of national unity. Unrest and dissenters were ruthlessly put down, and at the university in Lubumbashi large numbers of students were massacred on their campus. In 1991, 130 political parties combined for a time against the president. More seriously the army rioted when it was not paid. In the following year more units of the army mutinied and the Belgians evacuated thousands of their citizens. The country was economically in ruins, despite its rich resources. The West cut off aid to register its displeasure but was determined not to become involved in rescuing Zaire from misrule. In 1995 the conflict entered a new, confusing phase in this region of the Congo. Previously settled by Tutsi refugees from Rwanda, it was the centre of a rebellion against Mobutu led by Laurent Kabila’s Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of the Congo. The Tutsis and Kabila joined forces and attacked the refugee camps to drive the Hutu militia and civilians out of the Congo and back to Rwanda. Once again the UN, lacking Western support, was unable to prevent thousands being massacred as others fled into the forests of the Congo. Kabila’s army then marched west, reinforced by many deserters from Mobutu’s and in May 1997 he captured Kinshasa and drove Mobutu into exile. He subsequently blocked all attempts by the UN to investigate the killing of the Hutus. There was little regret following the fall of the corrupt Mobutu; he had been in power for longer than any other African leader. The second half of the 1990s was even worse than the first. Laurent Kabila was unable to establish the authority of the Kinshasa government over the whole country, half of it was in the clutches of marauding rebel groups. The diamond mines provided the means to secure weapons and keep up the internal strife which spilled over into Rwanda and Uganda. Control of the mines was a powerful incentive for Congo’s neighbours to intervene. A year after Kabila had been installed with the help the rebels had secured from Uganda and Rwanda, Uganda and Rwanda invaded again to overthrow Kabila. Kabila called for foreign help and Mugabe after securing diamond mine concessions sent troops from Zimbabwe, which were joined by troops from Angola and Namibia. The mines and natural resorces fuelled the conflicts. Inside the Congo murderous militias fought each other as well. In this bloody quagmire Rwanda and Uganda once allies, also began to fight each other. Then Laurent Kabila was assassinated and his son Joseph succeeded. In the midst of all this a small, wholly inadequate UN force is supposed to help re-establish peace. Ceasefires, troop withdrawals, treaties and mediation came and went. Understandably, the countries of the developed world were reluctant to send soldiers to assist the UN and risk death for a peace that no one on the ground was prepared to keep. Meanwhile, armed Hutu veterans who were responsible for the slaughter of the Tutsis in Rwanda camped in the eastern Congo along the shores of Lake Tanganyka and Goma, destabilising the region. In the new millennium other murderous bands also terrorise, loot, kidnap the villagers on the border and rape the women. International aid workers sent to help dare not penetrate the most dangerous areas. Since fighting was renewed in 1998 more than three million people have been killed or died from starvation, a drawn out genocide without an end in sight. The developed world paid scant attention, their response in sending some troops in 2003 and 2005 wholly inadequate. Unless national interests are involved, humanitarian needs are not enough to secure their commitment. The early history of independent Uganda is scarcely happier than Zaire’s. This once fertile and rich country suffered decades of conflict and destruction. The path to independence also involved overcoming difficulties special to Uganda. It was not the white settlers who impeded the granting of independence. There were less than 10,000 of them, and Asian settlers – although 70,000 lived in Uganda – were hardly considered. The path to independence was bedevilled by old colonial agreements, which had preserved traditional local monarchies; the most important was that of Buganda, ruled by the kabaka. This arrangement was a matter of colonial expediency, a form of indirect rule as was later developed in northern Nigeria. The kabaka and the Bugandans still wanted to preserve their autonomy and customs, which by then were in conflict with the rise of African nationalism in the rest of Uganda. Even so, the usual process towards self-rule was followed: first African representation on the Legislative Council was increased in the 1950s, then in 1961 parliamentary elections were held. Milton Obote, leader of the Uganda People’s Congress, which sought early independence, followed a tactic adopted by politicians in other divided African countries of forming temporary political alliances in order to persuade the colonial power to grant independence. Irreconcilable conflicts were papered over. Britain was only too anxious to accept at face value that the African politicians had indeed formed the consensus necessary to make independence viable. And so in October 1962 Uganda gained independence with the kabaka as titular president; in 1963 Dr Obote became the chief minister. Obote attempted to overcome the internal conflict by authoritarian rule and reliance on the army. In 1966 Obote set aside the special rights enjoyed by the Buganda tribe in the kingdom of Buganda and the kabaka was driven into exile. A short insurrection in May of that year by Bugandans was suppressed by force. The tragedy of Uganda was its so-called army, an undisciplined force which for years wreaked destruction on the country. In 1971 it seized control of the government under its infamous chief of staff Idi Amin who, even before independence, had murders on his conscience. A soldier of great physical strength, with minimal education but an outwardly jovial presence, Amin was ostensibly a Muslim, although in fact he was a barbarian. He had been one of the few black people promoted to officer rank in colonial times – the Ugandan army, like the Congolese, had lacked black officers – and so he became a colonel almost immediately after independence. Ugandans, who were at first glad to be rid of Obote, soon began to suffer even more under Amin, who as a Muslim had the support of President Gaddafi of oil-rich Libya. Amin gave the army free rein to massacre the inhabitants of this small country of less than 10 million; possibly as many as 300,000 disappeared or were murdered. The exact number of victims was never established. Opponents ‘disappeared’ and met violent deaths. Amin ruled by terror. Cabinet ministers, a courageous chief justice and the Anglican archbishop were all killed. During Amin’s years of misrule human rights were utterly disregarded. Yet the civilised world, including the UN, recognised him as president and received him with honour. Most African states behaved no better. The Organisation of African Unity paid him the compliment of meeting in Kampala and elected him president. It was politic to ignore his part in the murder of hundreds of thousands of his own people. This was the Realpolitik of the 1970s. It was Nyerere of Tanzania who finally toppled Amin from power in 1979 after the Ugandan leader had invaded Tanzania to settle by force the disputed frontier between them. Amin was never brought to justice for his crimes; instead he was given shelter by Gaddafi in Libyan exile and later Saudi Arabia where he died peacefully. Obote thereupon sought a new mandate in rigged elections and assumed the presidency. But unhappy Uganda was rent by civil wars and tribal conflicts, until in 1986 the National Resistance Army led by Yoweri Museveni captured Kampala. Museveni put an end to Obote’s misrule. The task then was to rebuild Uganda. This would not be easy after the policy of Africanisation which, on Amin’s orders, had in the mid-1970s driven tens of thousands of industrious Asians out of the country. Their enterprise instead benefited Britain, despite the reluctance with which they were allowed entry. President Yoweri Museveni and his ministers made valiant efforts to bring about a reconciliation of warring factions, with some success. The economy, dependent on coffee exports, was badly hit when the world price of coffee fell again in 1992. Foreign economic aid helped to support efforts to reform the economy. In 1991 it became evident that a new catastrophe threatened Uganda – AIDS. The Ugandan government was more open than most in facing the scourge, which kills the young and leaves behind the old and children. In 1991 1.2 million were estimated to be HIVinfected and the numbers increased daily thereafter. Yet, perversely, the Africa of the early 1990s was still threatened by overpopulation and famine. Yoweri Museveni is one of the few long-term African leaders with much to his credit. Uganda made a remarkable recovery from the depths of a failing economy at the start of his presidency. There is more freedom than elsewhere and a parliament that on occasion asserts itself. But this has been a democracy for seventeen years without real political parties, which Museveni feared would split the country into rival tribalism, until in 2003 Museveni announced the country might be ready for multi-party politics. Re-elected in 2002 for a final four-year term he cannot stand again under the present constitution. A new multi-party con- stitution, however, could remove the bar. In any case a democratic constitution is more in tune with the times and appeals to his Western donors. Creditable too has been his early admission of the disaster AIDS was creating in Uganda and the efforts of education made by the administration to curb its devastating spread. Uganda as a result is at the lower end of sub-Saharan countries where the young are infected with AIDS, far lower than Zimbabwe and South Africa. Not everything, however, has gone right. In Africa, decades of personal rule have led to widespread corruption and Uganda is no exception. Museveni’s intervention in the conflicts of the Congo have been costly and unpopular and ruinous for the people of the Congo. Uganda in 2005 still had not overcome the fanatical and brutal ‘Lord’s Resistance Army’ of guerrillas, notorious for abducting children, which makes violent forays into Uganda. Uganda borders the most lawless region of Africa where death and violence are a daily occurrence. Is the world getting better? Not for those who have to live in the worst areas of Africa. Human-rights abuses were common in the oneparty African states, and democracy was quickly discarded as part of the colonial past. Some African states were notorious for their leaders’ savagery, not least Benin in the 1970s, whose president was executed for genocide after a coup in 1979. The height of absurdity was reached in one of Africa’s poorest countries, the Central African Republic, where Colonel Jean-Bedel Bokassa seized power in December 1965 and, not satisfied with becoming president, had himself crowned emperor. He invited over 3,000 dignitaries from all over the world to his ruinously expensive coronation. He curried favour with France, calling de Gaulle his ‘adoptive father’ and presenting diamonds to those whose favours he wished to win. The murder of a group of children in 1979 proved his undoing; he was beyond protection now and with the help of French troops he was ousted later that year. Like Amin he was not brought to account for his crimes, but was allowed a comfortable exile in the Ivory Coast. A horrifying example of the world’s selective conscience – no intervention as long as black people are slaughtering black people (or Asians, Asians) – were the massacres that occurred in two small independent African countries, Rwanda and Burundi. Here, the Tutsi minority ruled over the majority Hutu. Tribal wars began in 1959 and thousands of Tutsi fled. In 1963, in fear of a Tutsi invasion from neighbouring Burundi, the Hutu massacred thousands of Tutsi. In Burundi, after an uprising of the Hutu in 1972, at least 100,000 of them were slaughtered. The tribal warfare did not end there. The Burundi army next killed thousands of Tutsi in 1988. The world confined itself to relief work by the UN High Commission for Refugees. Rwanda and Burundi remain cauldrons of tribal hatreds. Independence suited Belgium, the former colonial power in the two countries, which were not prepared for independence nor given adequate assistance. In Rwanda and Burundi the conflict between the Tutsis and Hutus goes back to colonial times. The Tutsis adapted better to Western developments and formed an aristocracy of cattle-owners, while the majority Hutus largely belonged to the poor peasantry. Both countries, once in German colonial control, became Belgian League of Nations mandates. The Belgians maintained the feudal hierarchy in which the giant Tutsis dominated the Hutus. In Burundi the Tutsis retained power for thirty-one years after independence in 1962, bloodily suppressing any risings by the Hutu majority; their rule came to an end only after elections in 1993. The new prime minister was then assassinated and the Tutsi-dominated army massacred thousands of Hutus. In Rwanda the Tutsis lost power at the time of independence and many fled to Uganda, where they were not welcome. In the early 1980s they joined Museveri’s National Resistance Army and helped it to victory in 1986. In 1990 they set up their own military force with Ugandan help and occupied northern Rwanda. Following the Burundi massacres of 1993 the Hutu leadership in Rwanda, threatened by the invading Tutsi force in northern Rwanda, decided on a ‘Final Solution’, the genocide of more than 2 million Tutsis still living in Rwanda. When the plane in which the Rwandan prime minister was travelling was shot down on 6 April 1994 the Hutus launched the most horrific massacre in Africa’s violent history. Although Tutsis and Hutus had lived together in Rwanda as neighbours and many Tutsis had married Hutus, Hutu extremists, armed with machetes, turned on the Tutsis and hacked off the limbs of men, women and children. 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were butchered. The genocide could have been prevented. The UN headquarters in New York were sent warnings three months earlier that Tutsi extremists were training death squads. Roméo Dallaire, the UN commander in Rwanda, pleaded to be allowed to act in time. Led by the US, Britain and France, the UN looked the other way. Denied reinforcements for his 2,500 peacekeepers, when the massacres started on 7 April, Dallaire’s courageous Ghanaians and Tunisians could only save several thousands, while hundreds of thousands perished. The few Europeans were evacuated by air. The Tutsi armed force in northern Rwanda, supported by Uganda, then struck back, speedily defeated the Hutu army and took power in Rwanda. In the early summer of 1994 it was the turn of the Hutus to flee, many to the neighbouring Congo. Over 1 million Hutu refugees, murderers and innocents alike, were crammed together in barren refugee camps, receiving basic humanitarian aid from the UN. Hutu militia terrorised the camps, and organised raids into Rwanda. It took television cameras and a pop singer, Bob Geldof, to rouse the world’s conscience for the victims of famine in northern Ethiopia. Live Aid concerts, watched by 1.5 billion people worldwide, raised £503 million for famine relief in 1985. Official reactions followed rather than led public opinion in the developed world. Animals in the West were better fed than millions in Africa. In the famines of 1984 and 1985 nearly 1 million died. In the early 1990s drought and famine in sub-Saharan Africa threatened millions of lives again. Famine and starvation had become the rule rather than the exception. Tanzania, unlike Uganda, was not beset by serious ethnic conflict. It is the largest of the East African countries and by far the poorest. No tribe is powerful enough to dominate the others, and the Swahili language forms a common bond. Here too African nomination to the colonial Legislative Council had to wait until the end of the Second World War. By 1960 a nationwide election was held in preparation for independence from Britain. Dr Julius Nyerere and his Tanganyikan African National Union (formed in 1954) swept the board. The firm unity evident in the country facilitated rapid independence, which was achieved in December 1961. A new election in 1962 followed, and Nyerere became president. Nyerere stood for African Democratic Socialism, which in practice meant a one-party state and a radical form of socialism particularly suitable, so Nyerere believed, for a people who would have to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. The neighbouring island of Zanzibar with its feudal sultan and mixed Arab–African people of Muslim faith was granted its own independence by Britain in December 1963. A month later a coup by Africans overthrew the Sultan’s government and put in its place a revolutionary council which, in April 1964, announced union with Tanganyika, now renamed Tanzania. Africans had constituted four-fifths of the population of Zanzibar, and many Arabs and Asians now fled. On the mainland in the same year Nyerere faced his own troubles when the army mutinied for higher pay and better promotion, but with the help of British troops he defeated the challenge. For twenty-eight years from 1962 Nyerere was the undisputed father and ‘teacher’ of the nation, until he retired in 1990 of his own free will. His was an authoritarian paternalism that owed much to Mao, whom he admired. Like Mao, Nyerere was a scholar–leader, writing tracts to explain his own socialist ideology to the people. His authoritarian rule was motivated by a humane utopian vision, which so often can lead to coercion and control over the mass of the people who need ‘improving’. He justified the one-party state as necessary to overcome class and ethnic division so that everyone could strive together to overcome ignorance, hunger and disease. ‘War’ on these evils, together with African self-reliance, were what Nyerere propounded in his Arusha Declaration of 1967. Economic development would focus on basics – on agriculture rather than on grandiose industrial projects. Tanzania would not make itself dependent on foreign investment. Following communist models, land was collectivised and peasant families were brought together into Africa ‘family villages’, often at some distance from their land. When voluntary exhortation proved inadequate, millions of peasant families were relocated. The concentration on agricultural development and illiteracy was sound enough, but everywhere in the world peasants fail to produce when the land they cultivate is no longer their own. Nyerere’s new society did not raise standards of living. His major success was the spread of elementary education and literacy; another great plus was that his country was not marred by political executions or massacres. Authoritarian and visionary, Nyerere in retirement was held in respect and affection. His successor President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, however, began to move away from the ideology of the one-party state. The US, indirectly the chief provider of finance through the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, made its hostility to one-party states felt. In the early 1980s the corruption of the one-party state and socialist planning were ruining the economy, including agriculture, which employed 90 per cent of the population and earned 80 per cent of foreign exchange. Julius Nyerere, in a fashion typical of black independence leaders imposing their ideology, voluntarily stepped down from the presidency but declared that he would continue to guide the country as chairman of the ruling party. In 1990 he gave up the chairmanship as well. Under its new president, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Tanzania began to move away from its ruinous socialist experiments and turned to the West, to the International Monetary Fund in Washington for loans, and after 1986 had to accept the remedies prescribed. Nyerere disapproved, but Mwinyi became increasingly his own man and was reelected for a five-year term as president in 1990. In 1991 cautious steps were taken to explore whether Tanzania should liberalise politically as well as economically. Kenya’s road to independence was very different from Tanzania’s peaceful progress. Kenya was the one East African colony where a widespread and bloodily suppressed insurrection preceded independence. But this was not the only difference. Kenya also had a significant white settler population that increased in size after 1945. With a population at the time of independence of nearly 10 million Africans, the 45,000 Europeans were, of course, significant not in numbers but in political clout. There were far more Muslim Arabs (35,000) and Indians (188,000), originally brought in to build the Ugandan railway, but Asians and Arabs were not significant in Whitehall in the way the politically powerful white settlers were. The foundations of colonial government were undeniably racist. But the white settlers could claim that they had worked hard to make their farms productive and had invested their lives and those of their families in becoming white Africans: Africa was now their homeland. On the other hand, only one-third of Kenya was fertile, and the highland plateau, the best of the land, was until 1960 the exclusive preserve of the white settlers. With the approach of independence the settlers expected to preserve their privileges and to retain influence far beyond what their numbers could justify. The oldest of African political leaders came from Kenya. Jomo Kenyatta had been involved in early African nationalist policies in the 1920s and, when these were forbidden in the 1930s, came to study and live in Britain, where politics could not be proscribed. In 1947, by then already an elder statesman, he returned to Kenya to lead the Kenya African National Union. His aim was to win African majority rule constitutionally step by step, beginning with an increase in the number of Africans on the Legislative Council. But a more radical wing of the party – the Forty Group – was determined to drive the British out by force. Kenya’s political parties were largely ethnically based and the two most powerful groups were the Kikuyu and the Luo. The Kenya African National Union, which was predominantly Kikuyu, organised a rising in 1952. The Kikuyu had plenty of grievances, in particular a desperate shortage of land. But there was also anger about discrimination and the colour-bar; ex-servicemen had already experienced a different world of comradeship with white Europeans. Kikuyu nationalism was strong too, and the oaths administered to the Land Freedom Army deliberately harked back to Kikuyu traditions. At the height of the rebellion there were some 25,000 fighters in the forests. The British ruthlessly suppressed the rebellion. The picture presented in Britain depicted the valiant farmer, with a rifle across his knees, protecting his family and homestead from savages crazed by the blood oaths of the secret Mau Mau society to hack the whites to pieces with their pangas. In reality during the four years of the rising less than seventy white people lost their lives. The main victims were the Africans. Some 90,000 Kikuyu men between the ages of sixteen and thirty-five were herded by the authorities into detention camps. One of these, the Hola camp, became notorious for beating and even murders. African soldiers officered by the British meanwhile defeated the guerrilla army. Black casualties on both sides numbered some 18,000 and many black African civilians died from malnutrition in the forests. The governor, who had proclaimed an emergency, also arrested Kenyatta and the principal leaders of the Kenya African National Union, accusing them of having organised the Mau Mau. Kenyatta was tried and sentenced in 1954 to hard labour. It was a typical knee-jerk reaction. Once the rising had been put down and the emergency ended in 1956, wiser counsels prevailed. The constructive work of preparing Kenya for independence proceeded. In 1961 Kenyatta was released. In Britain Harold Macmillan was now prime minister. Always a realist and a progressive conservative, Macmillan recognised the futility of attempting to perpetuate the privileges of a few thousand white settlers at great cost to the British taxpayer. In 1960 at the end of a tour of Africa he delivered his famous ‘wind of change’ speech in Cape Town. The practical implications were soon evident. The Kenyan highlands were opened to African settlement, and restrictions on what the Kikuyu could cultivate, such as coffee, were lifted. Kenyatta resumed leadership of the Kenya African National Union. Ethnic political rivalries impeded progress for a time, but when Kenyatta’s KANU in May 1963 won a majority, complicated plans for a federal structure were abandoned and Kenyatta was honoured as prime minister. This was the last staging post on the road to independence, which was duly accorded in December 1963. During the Mau Mau struggle, rival politicians, Oginga Odinga (a Luo) and Tom Mboya, had come to the fore, but Kenyatta’s personality and reputation dominated the country. For some years ethnic politics continued to create disturbance, which Kenyatta countered by setting up a one-party state. By the close of the 1960s his two principal rivals had been eliminated: Tom Mboya had been assassinated and Odinga detained. Kenyatta encouraged foreign investment and capitalism, but this was capitalism with the African difference that it was state-dominated. The state played a guiding role in agriculture too, and formulated national plans. Kenya at the time of independence was the most commercially advanced of the three East African nations. Agriculture provided the main source of exports, especially coffee, tea and dairy produce. With Kenyatta placing national interests above the desire for revenge, the Europeans were encouraged to stay and to help the new African country with their knowledge and expertise. Not so the Asians, who played a leading role in trade; confronted by Kenya’s efforts to Africanise, they were driven out and many thousands holding British passports settled in Britain. Kenyatta encouraged private investment, and foreigners were attracted to invest in this one black country which was politically stable, aligned with the West and opposed to communism. The mixed free and state economy overall did well until the mid-1970s, although agricultural and industrial progress was uneven. But with one of the fastest-growing populations in Africa the loss of Asian enterprise was a serious setback. Worse still was the growing corruption of those in power during the Kenyatta years from 1963 to 1978, an inevitable consequence of one-party rule. On Kenyatta’s death in 1978, Daniel arap Moi, the vice-president, came to power, and maintained the one-party rule of the Kenya African National Union. Economic growth after 1984 was one of the best in black Africa and at 5 per cent kept ahead of the annual population growth of 3.5 per cent. But Moi developed his own style of authoritarian rule and cowed all opposition. Even by African standards his oneparty regime was particularly repressive. There occurred the murder of the respected foreign minister, Robert Ouko, in 1990 after he had attacked government corruption – the results of an investigation were not made public and a government cover-up was suspected. Pressure on Moi increased in Kenya and abroad. In December 1991 he allowed the constitution to be changed to allow the establishment of other political parties. It was not clear whether genuine political reform would develop from these reluctant beginnings. Stifling bureaucracy and widespread corruption were making Kenya less attractive to foreign investors. Moi attributed Kenya’s better economic performance to the one-party state and continued to resist Western pressure to introduce democratic reforms. David arap Moi ruled Kenya for twentyfour years with increasing corruption. A divided opposition allowed Moi to hold on to power despite the multi-party constitution. Change came slowly. His vice-president, the academically trained Mwai Kibaki, left the party and organised the first real opposition, challenging Moi but losing in the 1992 election. But a decade later, Kibaki finally won a convincing majority. In December 2002 the people of Kenya experienced democratic change for the first time since independence. Kibaki promised to fight corruption and to better the lot of the people. He faced a formidable challenge to root out the favoured elite of Moi’s misrule. The only question is whether in time they will be replaced by another corrupt elite of Kibaki’s choosing. It is the African people who have suffered the dreams and hopes of independence in stark contrast to the realities of life, which a flag, a national anthem and a national airline do nothing to soften.

 

 

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