Tuesday, May 26, 2015

W.E.B. Du Bois and Africa

                                          W.E.B. Du Bois and Kwame Nkrumah
                                          Courtesy of diasporicroots.tumblr.com


Did Malcolm X Have Passion for Tanzania?

 Malcom X and Abdulrahman Babu in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 1964, courtesy of ‪kidojembe.blogspot.com                                             

        Tanzania was the headquarters for revolutionaries from Africa and around the world in the early 1960s. Revolutionaries like Sam Nujoma, Oliver Tambo, Samora Machel, Robert Mugabe, and unknown young men and women frequented Tanzania between 1960 and 1965.  Dar es Salaam was the place to be if you were a revolutionary.   It is not surprising revolutionaries like Malcolm X and Che Guevera from the Americas were also attracted to Tanzania.  The African American leader Malcolm X and Che Guevera came to Tanganyika and Zanzibar within five months of each other in the end of 1964 and beginning of 1965. Malcolm came to Tanzania first in October of 1964.  The country was then known as Tanganyika and Zanzibar.  The new name Tanzania was adopted in November, about a month after Malcolm left the country.
         To understand Malcolm’s attraction to Tanzania and learn about what he did once in Tanzania, it is important to go back to the Second OAU Summit in Cairo, Egypt held from July 17 to 21, 1964.  The conference came after Malcolm had made a pilgrimage to Mecca; this was the first of the two transformative experiences for the 39 year old African American leader.  He had just broken off with the Nation of Islam and embraced Orthodox Islam.  Malcolm made his second tour of Africa after the pilgrimage.  The tour of West Africa from April to May 1964 helped cement his Pan African convictions. Malcolm felt at home wherever he went in Ghana and Nigeria; he returned to the US in May of 1964 determined to start a new organization and forge strong links with Africans.  He founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) in June; it was modeled after the Organization of African Unity.  More importantly Malcolm had made up his mind to attend the OAU Summit in Cairo to lobby for the support of African heads of state for his campaign for the human rights of African Americans.
         The Second OAU Summit met in Cairo, Egypt from July 17 to 21, 1964.  This was the Summit of African heads of state.  Malcolm left the US in July 9thdetermined to participate in the conference and lobby for support for his cause in America.   Malcolm was granted observer status and was allowed to present a memorandum to the delegates. The memorandum argued eloquently that African Americans were Africa’s long lost brothers and sisters; he argued that African Americans had endured hardships for more than three hundred years because of racial discrimination.  He wrote in the memorandum: “Our problem is your problem.. We beseech independent African states to help us bring our problem before the United Nations…”  The struggle to get African heads of state to support his initiative faced an uphill battle.  Some African leaders were indifferent to the plight of African Americans.  Malcolm had to lobby hard to get the support of Africans.  He faced an uphill battle trying to convince African leaders to support his resolution.  It all changed when Malcolm linked up with the delegation from Tanganyika and Zanzibar at the conference.
         The Tanganyika and Zanzibar delegation to the Cairo Summit included Julius Nyerere, Abdulrahman Babu, and Salim A. Salim.  This conference became legendary in the annals of African history because Nyerere and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana clashed over the state of the liberation struggle in southern Africa and the strategy for achieving Pan African unity.  Another significant event that has often been overlooked was the passage of a resolution addressing the plight of African Americans drafted by Malcolm and supported by Tanganyika and Zanzibar.
         There are scant details of exactly how Malcolm linked up with the Tanganyika and Zanzibar delegation in Cairo. It appears that Malcolm linked up with Abdurahman Babu in Cairo and the two hit it off.  Babu was a Pan Africanist and a revolutionary from Zanzibar.  He was then a Minister in the mainland.  Babu wrote later that Malcolm went to his hotel room late at night during the Summit discouraged and ready to leave.  His resolution was not going anywhere and riots had just erupted back home in Harlem. Babu was among the people who convinced Malcolm to remain in Cairo to help shed light on the struggles of African Americans and get a resolution passed.   The resolution was not passed until the last night of the Summit at 2:30 am; Babu was the one who passed the good news to Malcolm.  The OAU resolution AHG/Res. 15 (1) was entitled Racial Discrimination in the United States of America.  It expressed concerns for racial discrimination in the US and called on the government to do all it could to end discrimination based on race, color and ethnic origin. It was this support that convinced Malcolm to visit Tanganyika and Zanzibar after the Summit.  The passage of the resolution was a victory for Malcolm; it was a victory for African Americans and Africa.
         Malcolm decided to take a tour of East Africa after spending about two months in Egypt.  He first stopped in Ethiopia on September 30, 1964 were he spoke to students, leaders, and diplomats.  Malcolm meet and spoke to numerous people, including Tanzanian leaders, diplomats, and students.  He spent time talking to the Tanganyika consul in Ethiopia.  He held meetings with Otini Kambona, the brother of Oscar Kambona.  Babu and Malcolm met again on October 3 and 4 in Ethiopia. The two had started forging a close friendship from the time they met at the Cairo conference.  Malcolm made up his mind to visit Tanganyika and Zanzibar. He visited the passport services on October 6th and found out that Americans did not need a passport for Tanganyika, but they did need to get ‘special permission’ for Zanzibar. 
         Malcolm boarded a flight on October 9th in Nairobi for Zanzibar and then Tanganyika.  The flight flew from Nairobi to Malindi, from there to Zanzibar, and finally Dar es Salaam.  Malcolm was not allowed entry into Zanzibar because he did not have the required special permit.   He continued with the flight from Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam.
         Malcolm spent the first night in Dar es Salaam at the Club Hotel.  The hotel did not have private bathrooms.  He wanted to find another hotel.  He walked over to Twiga and Agip Motel on October 10, 1964 to see if he could get a room.  The hotel rooms were fully booked and he could not get a room.  Eventually, Malcolm decided to call a number to the office of Oscar Kambona in the Ministry of External Affairs.  Otini Kambona gave Malcolm the number.  Oscar Kambona was then a Minister of External Affairs. Oscar Kambona’s secretary picked up the phone and spoke to Malcolm.  She was an African American woman married to a Ghanaian.  Her named was Joyce.  Joyce and her husband drove to pick up Malcolm and took him to the Delux hotel. 
         The African American community in Tanganyika in 1964 was very small.  There was a large community of African American expatriates living in Ghana when Malcolm visited the country in the beginning of 1964.  Malcolm had to find his way around Dar es Salaam and learn about the city and its people.  Dar es Salaam was burgeoning city with a small, but rising number of expatriates.  Tanganyika and Zanzibar had just united less than six months before.  The nation had undergone a tumultuous period following the January 12th revolution in Zanzibar and an army mutiny of January 20, 1964.  There were also security concerns at the borders with Congo and Mozambique; there was looming violence in the Congo that threatened to destabilize the region and there were concerns in the border between Tanganyika and Mozambique because FRELIMO had just launched their first military campaign against the Portuguese.  Malcolm came to Tanganyika at a time when the nation was going through a difficult period.  Yet the presence of revolutionaries from most of southern Africa was a welcoming site for Malcolm.  More importantly, the people of Tanganyika and Zanzibar provided great hospitality to Malcolm.
         Malcolm decided to walk over to the New Africa House on the first day in Dar es Salaam.  This was one of the newest hotels in the city; it was the meeting place for the Tanganyika members of the upper class and a place where leaders of liberation movements frequented.  At New Africa hotel he met Nathanial Nakasa. Nakasa or Nat as Malcolm called him, was a South African reporter who had just escaped from apartheid South Africa and was on his way to take up a scholarship in the US.  Malcolm and Nakasa spent several evenings in the course of the next week talking about various topics.  Nakasa later wrote that he found Malcolm to be a very warm and a “great fun to be with” in Dar es Salaam.  Like many people who had learned about Malcolm from the Western media sources, he had built an image of Malcolm as unreasonable and destructive.  Nakasa was greatly impressed by Malcolm. He decided to take Malcolm with him to a birthday party given by a diplomat from the Algerian Embassy on the evening of October 10th.  It was at this birthday party that Malcolm linked up with the African American Pan Africanist and pacifist Bill Sutherland who drove him around the city for the next week.
         The birthday party was attended by a variety of guests, including diplomats, government officials, expatriates, and exiles from South Africa.  Sutherland wrote later that Malcolm spent most of the time standing in the kitchen; many people went to the kitchen to get food and drinks and ended up talking to Malcolm.  He did not dance or drink, but charmed many of the guests at the party who made a stop in the kitchen.  Sutherland decided to drive Malcolm around after he learned from Malcolm that he did not have transportation.
         Malcolm spent part of Sunday October 11, 1964 on the suburbs of Dar es Salaam meeting with Harvard University and Radcliffe Institute students who were teaching in Tanganyika as part of Project Tanganyika.  Malcolm had an opportunity to speak with the mostly white American students who came to teach as part of the project.  Mr. and Mrs. Ed Anderson invited Malcolm to their home.  Several African Americans came to the dinner and got a chance to speak to Malcolm.  Later that evening Malcolm met up with Nakasa for dinner at Africa House.
         Malcolm woke up early on the first full business day in Dar es Salaam, Monday October 12, 1964.  He was interviewed by an Indian reporter and later by a reporter from the Tanganyika Standard and by the Tanzania Broadcast Company.  Some South African leaders stopped by to meet and speak to him. He called Babu and set up a meeting.  The two met later that day.  Malcolm wrote in his diary that Babu was “very informal and friendly.” He described Babu in his diary as “an extremely alert man, and dedicated to what he believes.”  Malcolm was impressed by Babu and came to respect him.
     The Tanganyika and Zanzibar public awoke to an article on Malcolm X published by the Tanganyika Standard on October 13, 1964.  The paper reported that African Americans were beginning to see their relationship with Africans as something that could not be denied; they recognized that they were linked to Africa.  This was a message that Malcolm brought to Tanzania. The day turned out to be one of the highlights of Malcolm’s visit to Tanganyika.  Malcolm walked to Babu’s office around 1:15pm in the city center. Malcolm had asked for an audience with the President when he first arrived. This was a very busy time for government officials and Nyerere.  The government was preparing a meeting of heads of states from Kenya, Uganda, and Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) that was scheduled for October 16th.  Malcolm was told it would be impossible to meet with Nyerere. The bad news did not last very long. Babu picked up Malcolm and took him to his house.  Four government officials were there at Babu’s house to meet Malcolm.  Malcolm wrote on his diary on October 13th, 1964, that he knew he was being “weighed” for a meeting with President Nyerere.  Babu eventually informed Malcolm that he would meet President Nyerere.  
         Babu treated Malcolm like a member of his family.  Malcolm went to Babu's home several times while he was in Dar es Salaam.  He met Babu’s wife and two children.  Later in December of 1964, Malcolm recalled that he had observed Babu interacting with his family in Dar es Salaam and realized that a revolutionary could also be a family man.  It was an important lesson for Malcolm who was a committed family man, but found his work and travels increasingly keeping him away from his family.
      Malcolm and Babu left Babu’s house for the State House around 5:45 on October 13th.  Malcolm first met Oscar Kambona at the State House.  Nyerere did not come out until 6:15.  Malcolm and Nyerere spent the next three hours discussing various subjects.  The two talked about the major events happening around the world at the time. China had just exploded a nuclear bomb.  Nyerere told Malcolm how ironic it was for a former colony to develop a weapon equal to that of a colonial power.  Malcolm told Nyerere that he had been thinking about it.  Malcolm presented Nyerere with a gift of a booklet of one of his speeches entitled “Message to the Grassroots.”  Malcolm described Nyerere as “very shrewd, intelligent, and disarming.”  The discussions Malcolm held with Nyerere and Babu helped shift Malcolm’s views on the international component of the challenges of the struggle against racism and imperialism. 
       The last two days in Dar es Salaam were spent meeting with various people.  Malcolm posed for pictures with Babu on October 14,1964; at least two of those images were published and circulated widely.  The pictures appears to have been taken by a photographer named Amini who was doing a story with another reporter named Rahina for the UPI.  TheWashington Post published a short story from UPI on October 14. The article quoted Malcolm X from Dar es Salaam saying he would not return to the US until after the Presidential elections.
        Another important stop for Malcolm was at the Cuban Embassy in Upanga, Dar es Salaam.  He met an Afro-Cuban diplomat named Rodriguez.  Later that day, Otini Kambona organized a big dinner for Malcolm X.  There were many government officials in attendance, including the Director of Tanganyika Broadcast Corporation.  Malcolm was encouraged to postpone his departure from Tanzania.   Malcolm must have found his time in Dar es Salaam very productive.  He had just met President Nyerere and had spent considerable time with Babu talking about the state of the struggle and future strategies. He made a call the next day and postponed his departure until October 17th.  
         Dar es Salaam was a busy city in October 15th, 1964.  Three heads of states from Kenya, Uganda, and Northern Rhodesia visited the city to hold a meeting with Nyerere.  Malcolm was in his hotel when President Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya passed by the hotel.  He pulled out his camera and took photos of Kenyatta’s motorcade.  He spent most of the day speaking with  Nakasa, some white American students and Pamela, a white South African Jewish woman at Africa House.  Nakasa was amused by how Malcolm interacted with whites.  It was clear that Malcolm’s views about race had begun to change.  His experience in Mecca sparked a shift in the way he viewed different races.  He described praying with whites in Mecca and realizing that the problem lied with the system that whites in America adopted. 
         On the last day in Dar es Salaam, Friday October 16th, Malcolm met Margaret Snyder at the New Africa Hotel.  She was a white American who decided to work in East Africa after taking a sabbatical leave as the dean for women at Le Moyne College in Syracuse.  Malcolm had been “unyielding” when it came to whites' participation in the struggle when he met Snyder in New York a year before.  The Malcolm Snyder met in Dar es Salaam was different.  Snyder later wrote that Malcolm told her that Nyerere and Kenyatta were free of racial animosity.  Malcolm also told her that his conversations with Nyerere “had enriched him.”
     There was at least one more important meeting that Malcolm held with Tanganyika leaders.  Bill Sutherland drove Malcolm to a meeting with TANU leaders at the home of Bibi Titi Mohamed.  Details of the meeting are not available.  However, it is clear that Malcolm had an opportunity to present his case and share ideas with TANU leaders.
         Malcolm took a flight out of Dar es Salaam on October 17th, 1964.  He was on the same flight with Kenyatta and Milton Obote from Uganda.  The Zanzibar officials who had denied Malcolm entry on his way to Tanganyika, gave him VIP treatment on his way back.  He was put in the VIP room with other important dignitaries, but he did not leave the airport.  One of the Kenyan Ministers later told Kenyatta who Malcolm was during the flight. Kenyatta sent someone to ask Malcolm to move in front of the plane and sit between Kenyatta and Obote.  Such was the charm and respect that Malcolm commanded wherever he went in East Africa.  He was comfortable talking to heads of state or street peddlers in Dar es Salaam.  Malcolm was able to travel around the city, meet with high government with ease.
         The trip to Dar es Salaam was not the last time Malcolm was linked to the country.  Malcolm and Babu met again for the last time in December 1964 when Babu travelled to New York to attend meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.  Babu spoke on a couple of rallies organized by Malcolm and his organization.  Babu later reported that he discovered there was tremendous interest for Tanzania after attending the rallies organized by Malcolm.  He was quoted by The Nationalist saying he had not realized before how much sympathy, understanding and support existed in the US for the struggles of Tanzania.  It was this understanding that Malcolm had sought to build with Africans before he was assassinated.  He had attempt to do so at the OAU and when he visited East Africa.  Malcolm learned from his trip to Africa that Africans were interested in the struggles of African Americans and that they were ready to offer their support.   Unfortunately, the young life of this African American giant was cut short by assassins bullets on February 21, 1965 as he spoke to an audience in New York    

This article was first published by Business Times (Tanzania), September 8, 2014

Azaria Mbughuni is Assistant Professor of History, USA. (azmbughuni@gmail.com). Follow me on twitter @ AzariaTZ  

© Azaria Mbughuni

Nyerere Vs. Nkrumah: Why Did East African Federation Initiative Collapse in 1963?

East African Leaders Signing an Agreement in 1963. Seated from left to right is Milton Obote, Jomo Kenyatta, and Julius Nyerere; standing on the left is Tom Mboya and to the far right is Oscar Kambona. Courtesy of Africa Report, August 1963
         A treaty establishing the East African Community was finally ratified in 1999 and took effect in 2000.  The journey towards East African political Federation reached a milestone in April of 2014 when the heads of state decided to start the process of drafting a constitution for political federation.  This was not the first time that East African leaders came to the table with the goal of establishing a Federation.  The heads of state from Kenya, Uganda, and Tanganyika, signed the Declaration of Federation in June 5, 1963.  The initiative never came to fruition as both internal and external factors led to the collapse of the negotiations.  While there was a fair share of blame on all the parties involved, there is one particular factor for the collapse of the 1963 East African Federation initiative that deserves closer scrutiny: the role of Ghana in killing the East African Federation. 
         Two giants emerged in the African political scene of the early 1960s: Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Julius K. Nyerere of Tanzania.  The two were staunch proponents of Pan Africanism, an ideology and a movement that encourages the solidarity of Africans in Africa and around the world.  Nkrumah and Nyerere ultimately wanted to see continental unity and the establishment of a “United States of Africa.” However, by the end of 1961, the two differed on the approaches to achieving their common goal of unifying Africa.  Nkrumah called for the immediate establishment of the “United States of Africa.”  Nyerere on the other hand, argued that the best approach is a regional approach.  Build regional unity first and eventually bring them together to create a “United States of Africa.”  This approach, Nyerere would argue, was more practical. 
         The quest for African unity remains elusive a little more than 50 years later.  There is a raging debate on whose approach was correct.  On one side, there are those who blame the adherents of regional approach for the decision to reject Nkrumah’s proposal at the first and second OAU Summits.  They argue that the Second OAU conference in Cairo was the last nail in the coffin for any hopes of building continental unity.  These pundits point to the failure of the regional attempts to build unity as an example of the futility of such initiatives. This debate exhumes passion from adherents of both sides.  While Nkrumah’s call for an immediate establishment of the “United States of Africa” was never given a chance, it must be pointed out that regional political Federation was never given an opportunity to be tested either. 
         Nkrumah started as a staunch supporter of building regional unity.  He called for regional Federation in 1953. He worked diligently to establish West African Federation in the 1950s after Ghana (then Gold Coast) won self-government.  The initiative eventually failed.  Nkrumah was briefly successful with the Ghana-Guinea Union of 1958.  The two countries were joined by Mali in 1961 to form the Union of Ghana, Guinea, and Mali.  The Union faced many challenges from the outset. The Union of the three countries failed by the end of 1961.
         Nyerere came to view regional unity as the correct path for building African unity in the end of the 1950s.  Nyerere and Tom Mboya of Kenya discussed the idea of building regional unity in 1958 after returning from Ghana’s first independence anniversary celebrations.  The two east African leaders decided to establish a Pan African regional body to bring together independence movements from the region to share ideas, resources, and build unity.  Nyerere was the only one in position to establish such an organization.  TANU had just won the first Legislative Council elections and it was clear that self-government was within reach. Thus in September of 1958, Tanganyika leaders called a conference in Mwanza that led to the establishment of Pan African Freedom Movement for East and Central Africa (PAFMECA).  Delegates came from Malawi, Zambia, Rwanda and Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, and Zanzibar.  One of the agendas discussed at the conference was the question of Federation.  A decision was made to postpone the issue of Federation until a later date.  It was decided that the question of Federation should be revisited once the territories had advanced towards independence and won self-government.
         The idea of Federation was forefront in Nyerere’s plans for east Africa.  The victory of 1958 and 1959 elections guaranteed that Tanganyika would win self-government soon.  This victory indicated to Nyerere that the time was ripe to start campaigning for East African Federation.  He announced through BBC London on January 1, 1960 his desire to see Tanganyika, Kenya, and Uganda join together in a Federation.  Nyerere then took his case to the Conference of Independent African States in Ethiopia in June of 1960.  He announced his willingness to delay Tanganyika’s independence up to six months to allow for the formation of East African Federation. 
         Nkrumah and Nyerere, the two African giants, followed a similar path, but at different times.  Nkrumah announced in 1953 after the Gold Coast won self-government that he wanted to see the “amalgamation of territories on a regional basis and methods of progress towards an ultimate Pan-African Commonwealth of Free, Independent United States of Africa.”  This quest remained unattainable as each territory moved closer to independence in West Africa.  Nkrumah’s failure to build regional unity would eventually convince him to bitterly oppose any such attempts elsewhere.

         Nyerere moved full force after 1960 in his quest to establish East African Federation. He took the case to the PAFMECA Conference in Mbale, Uganda in December of 1960.  Nyerere tabled a memorandum entitled “East African Federation (Freedom and Unity)” for discussion and approval.  He continued to push for Federation with Kenya, Uganda, and Zanzibar leaders between 1961 and 1962.
         Nkrumah changed his mind by late 1961 on the merits of a regional approach to build African unity.  He not only came to view regional approach as wrong, he came to see it as a serious threat to the quest for building African unity.  He would argue that regional groupings were part of “Balkanization of Africa,” borrowing from a 19th century saying that described the disintegration into smaller territories of the Balkans in Eastern Europe.  According to Nkrumah, regional groups were a major threat to the quest for establishing the “United States of Africa.”
         Efforts to speed up the process towards East African Federation increased in the course of 1962.  Nyerere lobbied with his counterparts in Uganda and Kenya.  He published an article in March of 1963 entitled “A United States of Africa.”  The article was the most explicit explanation of his vision for a united Africa.  Nyerere argued eloquently that Africa must unite.  He asserted, “For the sake of all African states, large or small, African unity must come and it must be real unity,” and added, “Our goal must be a United States of Africa.”  As for the approach, Nyerere argued “This goal must be achieved, and it does not matter whether this is done by one step or by many…” Nyerere was committed to building a “United States of Africa.”
         The situation in African scene was tense in the first half of 1963.  To make matters worse, tension between Tanganyika and Ghana increased after the assassination of the President of Togo, Sylvanus Olympio in January 13, 1963.  Nyerere sat with his hands on his head and wept after announcing the assassination of President Olympio.  The assassination shocked many African leaders.  Tanganyika did not hide its suspicion that Ghana played a role in the assassination.  Ghana and Togo were involved in a tug of war over its borders. Nkrumah had laid claims to parts of Togo.  It was partly in reaction to this crisis and the assassination of President Olympio that Tanganyika would take a strong position at the First OAU Summit in Ethiopia in 1963 on the issue of respecting existing borders and not interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.  This, some critics have argued, killed any hopes of achieving continental unity.  But did it?  What of regional approach? What happened to that initiative?

         Nyerere and Nkrumah clashes became more pronounced at the First OAU Summit in Ethiopia.  Oscar Kambona, Tanganyika Foreign Minister, was selected as the chairman of the powerful Political Committee.  The decision by the majority of African leaders to give that important position to a Tanganyikan instead of a Ghanaian, was telling.  The decision gave some indication on where the majority of African leaders stood on the Nyerere Vs. Nkrumah dispute.  In the end, Kambona played a major role in shaping the final OAU charter.  This was the first blow to Nkrumah.  Another blow to Nkrumah was the decision by the OAU to exclude Ghana from the Committee of Nine (African Liberation Committee).  Nkrumah took umbrage at the decisions made by the OAU in May and June of 1963 that excluded his country.
         The move towards East African Federation showed most promise in June of 1963 when Jomo Kenyatta, Milton Obote, and Nyerere agreed to work on establishing the East African Federation.  It was at this point that the opposition to the Federation initiative by Ghana went from rhetoric into action.  Ghana organized a campaign to sabotage the East African Federation.  The efforts concentrated in Uganda.  But efforts were also made by Ghana to convince Kenya, Zambia and Malawi leaders to reject Federation.  The focal point of the campaign centered on Uganda.
         The clash between Nkrumah and Nyerere reached its apex after East African leaders issued the Declaration of Federation.  Nkrumah moved with full force to torpedo the initiative.  He wrote “Having accepted a common destiny for Africa at Addis Ababa, we can no longer stand aloof in the fact of any danger that threatens our common cause.  It is for this reason that I have been compelled to express my own apprehensions concerning the proposal to unite East African States into a single political entity.”  Nkrumah would claim that the scheme would build regional royalty and frustrate any hopes of a continental unity.   He also expressed worries that the East African Federation was an imperialist scheme because it received support of the West.  There could only be one solution for him: take action to kill the East African initiative.  This Nkrumah did skillfully.
         Obote, Nyerere, and Kenyatta issued the Federation Declaration on June 5, 1963.  The Declaration stated: “We, the leaders of the people and governments of East Africa… pledge ourselves to the political federation of East Africa.  Our meeting today is motivated by the spirit of Pan-Africanism, and not by mere selfish regional interests. … We believe that the East African Federation can be a practical step towards the goal of Pan-African unity.  We share a common past, and are convinced of our common destinies.”  This Nairobi agreement was the closest East African leaders would come to establishing a Federation.  The position of Uganda would change drastically in the months to come leading to the collapse of the negotiations.  About two months after the Declaration was issued, Nyerere would tell an American diplomat that Uganda was pulling out of the agreement they signed in June of 1963.  Nyerere told the diplomat that the problem was not with the concept of Federation itself, but that Uganda leaders were making frivolous demands such as the site of the capital and demands for jobs.  What was the cause of this policy reversal?    
         Part of the explanation lies with external influences on Uganda stemming from Ghana.  Nkrumah told the Ghana National Assembly in June 21, 1963 that the “idea of a political federation of East Africa” was supported by the British government because they wanted to be “sure of retaining their rapidly waning influence in Africa.” Nkrumah dispatched his most skillful lieutenants to East and Central Africa.  He concentrated his efforts in Uganda where Milton Obote was one of his greatest admirers.  He sent Busumtwi-Sam to Uganda.  Nkrumah also dispatched A.K. Barden, the former head of the powerful Africa Bureau, to East Africa.  Barden, a former police, had recruited police into the Bureau and ran successful operations.  Ghana High Commission in Tanganyika was reduced to a handful of people after June of 1963 as tension between Tanganyika and Ghana rose.  Some of the Ghanaian diplomats were transferred from Tanganyika to Uganda.
         The Government of Ghana poured money into Uganda between 1962 and 1963.  Paulo Muwanga, Ugandan MP, received $39,000 from Ghana in 1963 to start farmer’s council in Uganda.  Ghanaian funds were also funneled to Uganda through trade unions.  For example, the Uganda Federation of Labor had cozy relations with Ghana labor and farmer’s unions AATUF and AAFU.  Ghana gave tens of thousands of dollars to the Uganda labor union UFL.  It is not surprising that UFL took the Ghana view of the immediate establishment of  “United States of Africa.”  The Times of UK reported in September 1963 that Nkrumah was “bitterly opposed to an East African Federation and is influential with Mr. Obote..” One of the most telling examples of Obote’s close relations to Nkrumah took place after Obote married Miria Kalule in November of 1963.  Ghana Air Force plane was sent to pick up the newly weds to fly to Accra for their honeymoon. It cannot be denied that the Ugandan position could have come from the conviction that immediate establishment of continental unity was the best approach, yet it would be injudicious to dismiss the possibility that the large sums of money handed to the Ugandan leaders did not influence their views. 
         Obote and Benedicto Kiwanuka came to oppose the East African Federation initiative.  The reasons given by Uganda leaders for the opposition after signing the Federation Declaration varied from frivolous to serious concerns.  For example, Adoko Nekyon, Uganda delegate to the East African Federation negotiations and Obote’s brother in-law, demanded that each country should have a separate foreign representation.  There were also fears that Uganda’s trade surplus and balanced budget would crumble once they united with their neighbors.   The Ugandans claimed to be in support of East African Federation, but raised some of the above issues to say it would not work out for them.  The negotiations for political Federation reached a stalemate.  Numerous subsequent attempts were made to revive the talks; such attempts were eventually unsuccessful. 
         The resistance from Uganda after July of 1963 led Nyerere to conclude that there were external interference that led to the change of heart by Uganda.  Nyerere told an American diplomat in August of 1963 that “various external influences” were at work in Kampala.  Talks continued and eventually an agreement was reached for the establishment of East African Community that lasted from 1967 to 1977; however, the grand scheme of an East African political Federation was never given an opportunity to be established and tested.  Like Nkrumah’s continental unity initiative, Nyerere’s attempt to build regional unity through Federation was also never given a chance.  In a speech given in January of 1964, Nyerere would pronounce: “The Challenges of the 20th Century is the conversion of nationalism into internationalism.”  This is a challenge that remains elusive in the 21st century.  It remains to be seen if East African leaders will rise to the challenge and make the dream of a united East Africa a reality.  This dream must include measures to build continental unity.  For it is with the “United States of Africa” that the hopes of a vibrant and flourishing Africa lies.  

This article was published by Business Times (Tanzania), October 3, 2014

Azaria Mbughuni is an Assistant Professor of History at Spelman College, Atlanta, USA. (azmbughuni@gmail.com). Follow me on Twitter @AzariaTZ
© Azaria Mbughuni