15 SEPTEMBER 1961, Page 9

Jam Tomorrow

By T. R. M. CREIGHTON .n UR achievements so far . . . are acknow- ledged to be remarkable by all those with knowledge of our affairs.' The confident assertion made by the High Commissioner of the Federa- tion of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Mr. A. E. P. Robinson, in last week's Spectator, is surprising, in view of the large body of earnestly serious Work that has appeared expressing deep mis- givings about the situation in Central Africa in the last few years. A New Deal in Central Africa, by a distinguished academician, Mr. Philip Mason (The Birth of a Dilemma and The Year Of Decision), Guy Clutton-Brock (Dawn in ArYasaland), Dr. Richard Gray (The Two Nations), Professor Thomas Franck (Race and Politics), Messrs. Hazelwood and Henderson (NYasaland: The Economics of Federation), Mr. Cyril Dunn (Central African Witness), Mr. Clyde Sanger (Central African Emergency) and a good many others, all with considerable knowledge of Central African affairs have, with widely diver- gent qualifications, from widely divergent points of view and with widely divergent views about the tempo of African advance and the rights of white settlers, all sounded sombre warnings about the history, foundation, achievements and future of the Federation.

Lord Hailey, in the latest edition of the African Survey, is never enthusiastic about it (e.g. 'It remains to be seen how far it [the federal Constitution] will serve the purpose originally aimed at. The structure of the Federa- tion is essentially a compromise.) Miss Margery Perham, whose voice has no less authority, has been consistently sceptical about it from her celebrated letter to the 7'imes of June 1953 (in Which she referred to 'my fears that by the form of the Federation and the way in which it has been handled we risk losing our greatest asset (311 the continent—the confidence of Africans'), to her recent one condemning the present North- ern Rhodesian constitution.

The Central African Examiner, which is pub- lished monthly in Salisbury and can hardly, Whatever may be said about the other authorities, be accused of having no 'knowledge of our affairs,' is deeply critical of the achievements of Pederation and the Federal Government. What Unites all these views, apart from deep knowledge and study of Central Africa, is a passionate Concern with the welfare of all its inhabitants; HANGED IN ERROR. (Penguin, 2s. 6d.) and also a vision of its problems as part of Britain's total responsibilities to, and relation- ship with, all Africa, and of the feelings and wishes of the Federation's African subjects which are notably absent from Mr. Robinson's article.

To refuse to acknowledge the weight and wisdom of all these views is a distressing instance of the closed thinking and incapacity for self- criticism that appears prevalent in the UFP, which regularly asserts that all its critics are ill- informed and everyone who praises it is an ex- pert. In rejecting the Spectator's criticisms of the Central Africa Federation, Mr. Robinson rejects the work of all these authorities, and of the Devlin and Monckton Reports as well; for all, in different ways, say the same thing : that the Federation at present exists against the will of the majority of the governed. And all, again in different ways, make the same con- structive suggestion which he has overlooked in the Spectator—that only by seeking the comment of the governed, and introducing arrangements they will agree to, can any form of Federation, or indeed of good government of any sort, sur- vive in Central Africa. The contempt or derision which Mr. RobinsOn quite wrongly accuses the Spectator of harbouring against his country, as a country, can justly be directed to the UFP's refusal to seek such comment. This refusal has never been better illustrated than by the recent history of the Northern Rhodesian Constitution, where Mr. Macleod's offer to Mr. Kaunda last Christmas of 'something like Nyasaland' has been whittled down under UFP pressure to a mathematical formula for keeping the UFP in power, avoiding an African majority and de- nying Africans a chance to express their desires.

The achievements to which Mr. Robinson re- fers are all material---rises in population and income, extension of social services, the elimina- tion of disease, the foundation of the interracial University College. (This institution, by the way, has sustained its liberalism against a good deal of government and public pressure. Many of its staff are the more persistent critics of the UFP. And, admirable as it is, it cannot be expected alone and single-handed to solve all the prob- lems of a mixed society or all the grievances of seven million Africans.) He does not mention Federation's more significant achievement—the seething discontent among Africans of all classes, which the material benefits they are alleged to have received have done nothing to dispel—as Dr. Banda's victory in Nyasaland, the tragic conflict between government and people in Southern Rhodesia, the mounting and ominous unrest in Northern Rhodesia, the innumerable arrests and preventive detention in both countries, the repressive security regulation with which both governments have armed themselves reveal. It seems unrealistic, in expounding the Federal government's policies, to make no mention of any of its biggest problems; and to speak, in the face of all this, of working towards interracial co-operation based on partnership, of 'breaking down racial discrimination in many ways' and of 'deserving to be great.'

The Federation is based upon racial discrim- ination insofar as the enormous majority of Africans are denied a vote, or any other con- stitutional means of expressing their political wishes; and insofai as the votes of those who have them are of small value in securing rep- resentation or influence besides those of a European minority. They are thus thrown back upon non-violent demonstrations, which if un- heeded are bound to grow violent, as the only means of asserting themselves. 'Our policies are aimed,' says Mr. Robinson, `at setting and securing our standards by carefully negotiated constitutional arrangements. We shall then allow merit and not race to decide who shall par- ticipate in and enjoy the responsibility of pro- moting the national interest. . . Our efforts should be looked at to see whether they promote a non-racial society based on partnership as opposed to alternative solutions designed to en- trench racial domination.' A constitution as care- fully negotiated as the Northern Rhodesian can be seen to be designed to entrench European domination. It is because the Spectator has looked at it, and at the policies of the Federal Govern- ment, and seen that they take no account of African wishes, that it is critical of them. Partner- ship between 8 million Africans and 300,000 Europeans demands that the two racial groups should have political influence in reasonable proportion to their numbers, with full safe- guards for minorities, not in inverse ratio as under Federation. Otherwise it becomes a hollow catchword. Africans want this now—not simply the right to use railway restaurant cars and drink European liquor which Federation offers as a palliative while withholding it. They demand to have a voice in the speed of their political advance. Federation demands the right to control it by European wisdom ('we shall then allow merit, not race to decide') and offer them some simplified jam tomorrow, or an- other day, while they want adequate representa- tion today.

It is disingenuous to suggest, in Mr. Robin- son's words, that they want `the Europeans to quit.' They do not, and nobody has ever sug- gested it. They want, and so does every liberal- minded citizen of Federation, to see Europeans abate their claim to virtually exclusive effective political power and to give Africans some de- gree of self-determination. If the Federation is not willing to pay heed to the clearly expressed wishes of its African subjects, and to do so quickly, it will not deserve to be great and it will certainly not achieve greatness.