27 FEBRUARY 1959, Page 3


THE present troubles in Nyasaland are more likely to increase than to diminish. If Sir Roy Welensky cannot think' of any better policy than to 'use the most rigorous methods legally at our command to maintain law and order' and `to make things thoroughly unpleasant for those who persist in breaking the peace,' he cannot hope for any sort of pacification.

It is absurd to ascribe the sporadic rioting, the passive and active resistance to authority that has been going on in the country for months, to the subversive agitation of a few 'irresponsible' Congress politicians ruthlessly stirring up a con- tented if ignorant African populace for the sake of their own personal aggrandisembnt. This is the European's stock explanation of any African movement he does not want to understand.. But in Nyasaland Congress is probably more fully supported by the vast majority of Africans than in any other African country, and the articulate leaders of Congress express the deep discontent and resentment of the whole population. Dr. Hastings Banda, who returned only a few months ago from medical practice in London to replace the divided, faltering and not always wholly sin- cere Congress leadership of recent years, is a colourful character, given to violent and some- times injudicious utterances; but he has risen so rapidly to pre-eminent influence because he can express what Africans are feeling, not because he puts words into their mouths.

Nyasaland was opened up by Livingstone, edu- cated and developed to a great extent by the Church of Scotland missionaries who followed him. Unlike Rhodesia, it joined Queen Victoria's Empire by the voluntary decision of its chiefs and people for its own protection. It holds only 5,000 white settlers to two and a half million Africans. It was always understood that it should be, like Uganda, 'a primarily African country with ade- quate safeguards for minorities,' and up to Federa- tion in 1953 it was moving, slowly perhaps but apparently surely, and in conditions of unusual contentment and confidence between white and black, towards black nationhood. Britain must take the blame for reversing all this by bundling it hugger-mugger into unwilling association with the Rhodesias. Rhodesian Europeans did not particularly want an African State in the Federation. But Nyasaland was an anomaly; a small, awkwardly shaped, barely self-supporting unit, whose future in modern Africa was far from clear, whose continued government and adminis- tration was a burden to Britain. We chose to disregard the human reality—that the chiefs and people were bitterly opposed to Federation with the Rhodesias—for the sake of expediency in solving the financial and political problems of Nyasaland's future.

Nevertheless, Scottish individualism had taken deeper root than we bargained for, and from the beginning it was clear that chiefs and people i would not accept Federation if it meant increased European domination.- It was -useless to argue the benefits of greater expenditure on health, educa- =tion and public works• to a people who knew, as We did not what it is like to be an African in Southern Rhodesia; who knew that in Southern Rhodesian eyes a Black man is not 'a man for a• that'; who, in exchanging rule from London for rule from Salisbury, felt they were giving up their human dignity and becoming second-class citizens.

Federation broUght, together with undoubted financial benefits, an increase in discrimination and colour bar, an influx of Southern Rhodesian officials and businessmen with a basically South African attitude-to Africans, in contrast with the humane paternalism of the Colonial Office and the liberal respect of the-Church of Scotland; and it brought a deterioration of relations between government .and governed, between administra- tion and chiefs, where Federal officials took con- trol. The fact that Africans from Nyasaland are Still not free to travel to the federated territories of Northern or Southern Rhodesia but are subject to the Inter-Territorial Movement of Persons Act and the Migrant Labour Act, while any European may come or go as he wishes, does not appear to Nyasalanders a convincing vindication of the equality and partnership on which Federation is supposed to be founded. And they nourish a suspicion which, however baseless or neurotic it may be, is ineradicable: that the White man has come to take their land and to create in African Nyasaland the conditions of European conquest and occupation that prevail in Southern Rhodesia. Nyasaland is the only country in Africa in which those generally most cautious and conservative men, the senior chiefs, are at one with the young intellectuals in supporting Congress and its demands, where the nationalist movement is nation-wide.

Unless the Federal Government's racial out- look can alter to an extent that seems at present inconceivable, Nyasaland within the Federation will continue to be a centre of ever-increasing violence, to its own detriment, to the detriment of the Federation and to the detriment of Britain's position in Africa and the world. The promised new constitution has not yet appeared and, if we may judge from the precedent of Northern Rho- desia, it is likely to be so bedevilled by white racialism emanating from Salisbury as to be un- acceptable to black, white or brown. Vague suggestions of a few African Ministers, even a black Prime Minister one day, are too far in the future to appease the African demand for inde-

pendence of Salisbury now. Confidence in the Colonial Office, and the white man generally, has been too much shaken by the betrayal of the past six years for promises of increased protection from London to have any meaning. Congress is demanding immediate secession from the Federa- tion, an independent African Nyasaland with the right to decide whether or not to remain within the Commonwealth—a Central African Ghana. The Federal Government will resist this bitterly for reasons of prestige, and the British Government will resist it because it does not wish to alienate the Federal Government and does not know what to do about Nyasaland. But secession in some form is the only answer—by a constitutional act of the British Parliament.

A great question is whether an independent Nyasaland can be economically viable without outside aid. Congress maintains that it can and says that the Governor has lately stated that, for a few years preceding Federation, Nyasaland balanced its own budget. Many experts disagree and it appears that no one really knows for cer- tain. An immediate investigation by an inde- pendent and reliable economist or economic commission is needed. If Nyasaland cannot sur- vive alone, there is the possibility of federation of a different sort with contiguous Tanganyika, which has lately undergone an almost wholly unnoticed social revolution in the direction of African supremacy under the quiet and skilful leadership of Julius Nyerere. In any event, if Nyasaland is to avoid the evils of revolution and long-term violence, three things are neces- sary. First, the abandonment by the Federal and British Governments of the idea that the Federa- tion is inviolable and secession impossible; second, a round-table conference between repre- sentatives of the British and Federal Governments and of Congress, including Dr. Banda, to con- sider what can be done; third, a thorough investi- gation of the means by which a referendum might be held to establish the real wishes of all inhabi- tants of the country as regards its future. For no form of government without the consent of the governed can hope to prosper.