Parliament House, Accra, August 6, 1960
An English writer thus compared the conditions in the ancient kingdom of Ghana with those of England of the same date in 1066; Duke William of Normandy invaded England. In 1067, an Andalusian Arab, El Bekri, wrote an account of the court of the West African King of Ghana. This king, whenever holding audience, sits in a pavilion around which stand his horses caparisoned in cloth of gold, behind him stand ten pages holding shields and gold-mounted swords; and on his right hand are the sons of the princes of this empire, splendidly clad. Barbarous splendour perhaps; but was the court of this African monarch so much inferior, in point of organised government, to the court of Saxon Harold? Wasn’t the balance of achievement just possibly the other way round? Why was it that Ghana, which was in the eleventh century at least equal in power and might to England, disappeared as it did? The answer is obvious. It was through the disunity of the Africa continent created by serious external influences and internal disharmony and discord.
On the other hand, if Africa is converted into a series of tiny states, such alliances are inevitable. Some of these states have neither the resources nor the personnel to provide for their own defence or to conduct an independent foreign policy. They will, in their weak position, rely on the armed forces and the diplomats of another country both for their security and their external policy. Nor can they become economically independent. They have not the resources to establish their own independent banking systems and are compelled to continue to obey with the old colonial framework of trade. The only way out is to stand together politically.
Political freedom is essential in order to win economic freedom, but political freedom is meaningless, unless, it is of a nature which enables the country which has obtained it to maintain its economic freedom. The African struggle for independence and unity must begin with political union. A loose confederation of economic cooperation is deceptively time-delaying. It is only a political union that will ensure uniformity in our foreign policy projecting the African personality and presenting Africa as a force important to be reckoned with. I repeat, a loose economic co-operation means a screen behind which detractors, imperialist and colonialist protagonists and African puppet leaders hide to operate and weaken the concept of any effort to realise African unity and independence. A political union envisages a common foreign and defence policy, and rapid, social, economic and industrial developments. The economic resources of Africa are immense and staggering. It is only by unity that these resources can be utilised for the progress of the continent and for the happiness of mankind.
We must learn from history. The genius of the South American people has been to a considerable extent frustrated by the fact that when the Spanish and Portuguese colonial empire dissolved, they did not organise themselves into a united states of South America.
At the same time, when South America became free, the colonial states which acquired their independence were potentially as powerful as the United States in North America. Their failure to come together resulted in one part of the American continent developing at the expense of the other. Nevertheless, there is only one country in South America, namely, Paraguay, which has a population of less than three million.
At the moment, independent states in Africa are being established with population of less than a million. Territories in Africa which have become independent or are likely to become independent in the near future, and which have populations of less than three million, include the Central African Republic, Chad, the former French Congo (which has only a population of 3/4 million), Dahomey, Gabon (with a population of less than 1/2 million), the Ivory Coast, Niger, Sierra Leone and Togoland. It is impossible to imagine that the colonial powers seriously believe that independence could be of much value to these African states in such a terrible state of fragmentation. Surely, this is only in pursuance of the old policy of divide and rule. Colonialism invented the system of indirect rule. The essence of this system was that a chief appeared nominally in control while actually, he was manipulated from behind the scenes by the colonial power. The setting up of states of this nature appears to be only a logical development of the discredited theory of indirect rule.
It has often been said that Africa is poor. What nonsense! It is not Africa that is poor. It is the Africans who are impoverished by centuries of exploitation and `domination. To give one example, in Northern Rhodesia, the Government considers that the country is so poor that, to quote the Colonial Office Report for 1958: "No rapid progress can be expected in secondary education." In fact, with an African population of nearly two million, there are only 1,900 African children in secondary schools. Northern Rhodesia, however, is not poor. Its copper mines are among the Q most successful and profitable in the world. They pay a far higher rate of interest on the capital invested than would be found in other parts of the world.
Let me give you another example. The mandated territory of South-West Africa is always described by the Union of South Africa as one of the "poorest" territories in the world. But it is not poor from the point of view of the foreign shareholders in the Tsumeb copper-lead-zinc mine.
I have frequently emphasised that imperialism in the present stage of African nationalism will employ many feints. With one hand, it may concede independence, while with the other it will stir up the muddy waters of tribalism, feudalism, separatism and chicanery in order to find its way back in another guise.
What is going on now in the Congo is a typical example of this latest kind of imperialist and colonialist manoeuvre. And there are very good reasons why we should have expected something of the kind to happen. The interests that are engaged in the Congo are empires in themselves, and those in Katanga especially, have fabulous advantages which they are loan to abandon.
Foremost among these is the immensely ramified Societe General de Belgique, whose pyramidal structure covers the "Comite Speciale du Katanga." This “Comite" holds property of size which is breath-taking. That a single concern could hold property of the size of one hundred and eleven million, one hundred and eleven thousand, one hundred and eleven acres is a staggering thought. But this is the size of the empire of the Comite Generale du Katanga, and it contains some of the world’s most valuable mineral rights.
A subsidiary in this giant structure is the Compagnie du Haut Katanga, which End to the Union Miniere du Haut Katanga. The Union Miniere has procured for itself in the Katanga area, a concession of seven thousand seven hundred square miles: that is, a territory more than half the size of Belgium itself. The concession was not due to expire until the 11th March, 1990. The independence which passed to the people of the Congo on the 30th June this year they feared, could cut across the privileges enjoyed by the Union Miniere to exploit the riches of this vast region in the interests of its shareholders and the Belgian Government, which has a two-thirds interest in the Comite Speciale du Katanga, the organisation owning 25 percent of the Union Miniere.
Here are interlocking connections which are of considerable importance, and it is enough to understand what there is at stake when we realise that the Union Miniere produces out of its Katanga concessions seven per cent of the total world production of copper, 80 per cent of cobalt, five per cent of zinc, as well as substantial quantities of cadium, silver, platinum, columbium, tungsten and many other important minerals. It also operates the uranium mine at Shinkolobwe, which provides the raw material for some nuclear weapon nations. The amount of this production is a closely guarded secret, as is also the price paid for it.
The Union Miniere produces at least, 45 per cent of all Congo exports, and these has are so profitable that its net profits, that is, its profits after all reserves and allocations have been made, are well over twenty million pounds per annum.
When we consider these facts in relation to the present serious situation in the Congo, it is not at all difficult to appreciate the efforts that are being made to separate Katanga from the Republic of the Congo. With the present fiercely Congolese nationalist to be movement, this can only be done through puppet who are willing to be used. Thus we have the apparent willingness of the Belgians to comply with the United Nations resolution and to withdraw their troops from the Congo being counteracted by the threat of secession by Tshombe, the chairman of the Provincial Council of Katanga, a province of the independent Republic of the Congo, and through him, the Union Miniere and the Belgian Government defying the United Nations troops from entering Katanga.
The British press admits that the Union Miniere in fact controls the Provincial Council of Katanga and everything that Tshombe does. For example, The Times of the 12th July, reported as follows from Elizabethville:
"The city is now, however, entirely controlled by the Belgian military. Much 5 in Katanga depends on what the Union Miniere, which supports Mr. Tshombe, the Premier, now decides to do."
The Union Miniere was originally set up by a combination of Belgian, South African and British mining groups. Until comparatively recently, the mines were extremely valuable as they had a practical monopoly in the supply of uranium. The mines also produce about 75 per cent of the world’s cobalt and nearly 10 percent of the world’s copper.
Following upon independence, the financial arrangements of the company were rearranged and a substantial portion of the shareholding in the Union Miniere was to go to the government of the Congo. The rest of the capital is held by the Societe General de Belgique and Tanganyika Concessions Limited. R Tanganyika Concessions Limited was originally registered in London, but in November, 1950, control was transferred to Southem Rhodesia. In 1957, Captain Charles Waterhouse, who had been the leader in the English House of Commons of the anti-United Nations Suez group, a Conservative Member of Parliament, resigned his seat to go to Southern Rhodesia as Chairman of Tanganyika Concessions.
Tanganyika Concessions is also closely concerned with the Portuguese colonies in that, it controls the railway from Bobito Bay to the Congo frontier. Capital investment from outside is, of course, required in Africa. But if there is real political independence, the profits from the investment of this capital can, be shared in a way which is fair both to the outside investor and to the people of the country where the investment is made.
The evil of balkanization, disunity and secessions, is that the new Balkan in states of Africa will not have the independence to shake off the economic colonial shackles which result in Africa being a source of riches to the outside world while grinding poverty continues at home.
There is a real danger that the colonial powers will grant a nominal type of political independence to individual small units so as to ensure that the same old colonial type of economic organisation continues long after independence has been achieved. This in itself is a source of the gravest potential danger for the whole world. The peoples of Africa do not seek political freedom for abstract purposes. They seek it because they believe that through political freedom, they can obtain economic advancement, education and a real control over their own destiny. If there is a grant of independence to a state which is so small that it cannot mobilise its own resources and which is tied by a series of economic and military agreements to the former colonial power, then a potentially revolutionary situation is at once created. These are the situations facing the new Africa of today.
Mr. Speaker and Members of the National Assembly: The present situation presents a great danger to world peace and a challenge to the African states in particular. The situation demands prompt and urgent action. I accordingly called a press conference last Saturday, and I would like to read to you in full the statement that I made to the press:
"The behaviour of the Government of Belgium in regard to Katanga has, in the opinion of my Government, created a situation which, if not dealt with firmly and immediately will constitute a major threat to world peace. The facts of what has happened are in no way in dispute. "
“At the time of independence of the Congo, the Belgian Government supported the Unity Of the new state and a treat which the Belgian government claims is still in force, was made by Belgium with the Republic of the Congo on the basis of the republic being one single state. Up to this time, the only suggestion that Katanga Might secede was a report in a London newspaper of a supposed interview with the Prime Minister of the Federation of the Rhodesians and Nyasaland Sit Roy Welensky "
“On 11th July Mr. Tshombe, the Chairman of the Katanga Provincial Council, issued a statement saying that Katanga was sovereign independent republic and calling upon the Federation of Rhodesia to send troops to restore law and order Troops were not in fact sent by the Federation, they were shortly afterwards dispatched by Belgium. On the ostensible ground that they were needed to protect the lives of Belgian nationals. Once, however the Belgian troops arrived in Katanga, they undertook duties in no way connected with preserving the lives and safety of Belgian nationals. Indeed their activities were in many ways mare likely to endanger the lives of Belgian nationals than to protect them. "
"Such disorder as did occur in the Republic of the Congo was due entirely to the mutiny of the Force Publique. It was a notable feature of the disturbances that no civilians joined in any disorder and such violence as occurred was solely due to the mutineers. The safety of Belgian lives and property was therefore closely connected with the problem of restoring discipline in the Force Publique. Despite this, the Belgian military authorities in Katanga arrested and held in custody the new Commander-In-Chief of the force Republique. It is hard to imagine any action more likely to encourage the mutiny or to endanger the lives of Belgian nationals. "
“In the guise of suppressing an alleged mutiny of the Force Publique, the Belgian, forces attacked and overwhelmed by superior military force those detachments in the Force Publique in Katanga which supported the legitimate government. "
"Radio Leopoldville has broadcast a list of the casualties suffered by the Congolese army in this fighting and the total runs into many hundreds of deaths.”
“On the 14th July the United Nations Security Council passed the first of its resolutions dealing with the Congo situation. This called for the withdrawal of Belgian troops and the Resolution was accepted by Belgium. On the evening prior to the Security Council meeting the Government of Ghana invited the Belgian Ambassador in Ghana to get in touch with his own government so as to be able to inform the Government of Ghana on the exact position of Belgium. In order that he could speak direct to his government, a telephone circuit to Belgium was specially opened and as a result of these conversations, the Belgian Ambassador informed the Government of Ghana that the Belgian Government intended to evacuate its troops from Katanga."
"Nevertheless, despite these various assurances, Belgian troops remained in Katanga and are, in fact, responsible for denying entry to Katanga to the United Nations forces. It is perfectly clear that since the Belgian forces militarily control all the airfields in the Katanga area, they could have prevented these airfields being closed to United Nations forces. Far from Co-operating with the United Nations, the Belgian Government has been actively engaged in supplying with arms and of officers and training to the So-called Katanga Armed Forces which are now threatening to resist United Nations troops."
“The Government of Ghana cannot accept as genuine, the so-called secession movement. Such a movement never appeared until Belgium Militarily occupied the area and in the view of my Government, the utterances of Mr. Tshombe when tinder Belgian protection have about as much validity as the utterances of the then King of the Belgians when he was tinder Nazi protection during the war. "I agree entirely with the summing up of the situation which appeared in the United Kingdom newspaper "The Times " on the 12th July after having pointed out that Elizabethville, the capital, was entirely Under military control, "The Times" went to point out that much of what happens in Katanga depends upon what the Union Miniere, which supports Mr. Tshombe, now decide to do.”
"One of the most worrying features of the present situation is the apparent dictation of policy in Africa by foreign mining companies. It would appear that fundamentally, the Belgian Government is acting in the interests of this concern and with a complete disregard of the interests of the people of the Congo. "
“The Government of Ghana in the days before the independence of the Congo worked very closely with the Government of Belgium. My government lent its good offices whenever possible to assist in achieving agreements and compromises. My government has at all times attempted to maintain good relations with the Government of Belgium and Ghana is willing, once again, to use its good offices to attempt to secure some way out of the present situation. Any solution however can now only be based on the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all Belgian troops."
"Time is, however running very short, Ghana, for 0ne certainty and I believe also all of the other independent African states. Would not tolerate the construction, in the centre of Africa of a puppet state maintained by Belgian troops and designed to fit the needs of an international mining concern."
“If no United Nation solution is forthcoming, Ghana would lend such armed assistance as the Republic of the Congo might request Ghana would provide this assistance even though it meant that Ghana and the Congo had to fight alone against Belgian troops and other forces maintained and supplied from Belgium. My government however believes that such a struggle did arise, Ghana and other African states would not be without aid and assistance from other countries which value, as a principle, conception of African independence."
“Then I said, Mr. Speaker: “In the light of the gravity of the I situation, l have decided to put the whole issue of), the Congo before the National Assembly on Monday and we are today to obtain the necessary mandate for the complete mobilisation of all Ghana armed forces for appropriate action and for such military action that may be required in concert with the Congolese Government in any eventuality.”
Mr. Speaker, Members of the National Assembly, I have been in constant touch with the Secretary-General of the United Nations and with my brothers: the leaders of other African states. Consequent upon my press conference last Saturday, I addressed the following message to the leaders of other African states. I quote:
"In my view, a most serious situation has arisen, in that, Belgian troops have on African soil, defied the authority of the United Nations."
"A special responsibility, in my opinion, rests upon all African states to take vigorous steps to re-assert the authority of the United Nations. I consider that it is essential for all African states to act with complete solidarity and to support a common policy. I believe that we should now press the United Nations Security Council to demand the complete and unconditional withdrawal of all Belgian troops immediately from all parts of the Congo. I am sure that, if we are united in demanding this, we will obtain the support of the Security Council. Such unity is also essential to prevent outside interference in the affairs of the African continent.”
"Owing to the urgency and gravity of the situation, I made a public statement this morning in Accra and I shall make a further statement to the Ghana Parliament on Monday afternoon. This is, the message I sent to the Independent African States."
"In my statement of today, I said that if no new United Nations solution was forthcoming, then Ghana would lend to the Congo such armed support as the Congo might request. I am certain that if we all stand together in support of a policy of complete unconditional and immediate withdrawal of Belgian troops from Katanga and other parts of the Congo, it will be possible to resolve the present crisis within the framework of the United Nations.
"I am absolutely convinced that the United Nations will support this policy, if we stand together." "Nevertheless, I am sure that if the worst came to the worst and no United Nations solution was found and, therefore, Ghana had to give military assistance to the Congo outside the framework, United Nations, Ghana would have your sympathy in taking this action. I hope we shall also have your support in any military steps which become necessary through the failure of the United Nations to deal with the issue.“
And now, Mr. Speaker and Members of the National Assembly, the issues before us are clear and we must be prepared for any eventuality. I am therefore asking you for a mandate for the complete mobilisation of all Ghana armed forces for appropriate action and for such military action as may be required.
The call of the hour is Hands off Congo and we must press the Security Council and the United Nations to effect the speedy and unconditional withdrawal of all Belgium troops from Katanga and all other parts of the Congo.
Mr. Speaker: There are some people who are at present talking of a loose form of federation as between Katanga and the rest of the Congo. In my view, any person who talks of a federal type of constitution for the Congo is a supporter of the imperialist cause.
This proposal to establish a loose federation in the Congo is merely an attempt by those who failed to detach Katanga from the Republic of the Congo to get balkanization of the Congo by the back door.
The question of a constitution for the Congo is entirely a matter for the Congolese people themselves to decide; and the Congolese people can have the opportunity to decide the issue in perfect freedom and security only when the Belgian troops have withdrawn completely, unconditionally and immediately from Congolese territory, including Katanga.
Mr. Speaker, We have today to make an extremely grave decision. We must decide whether Ghana should commit her armed forces to offensive military operations against the Belgian troops which are illegally in Katanga. The action of the Belgian Government is expressed in a unanimous resolution of the Security Council. It is the view of myself and my government, that unless African states acting jointly and in concert, are prepared to uphold by force of arms if necessary, the resolutions of the United Nations, then the ideal of the United Nations will be destroyed forever.
History has therefore placed a very heavy burden on the shoulders of new and small states like Ghana and it might be said that Ghana and other African states should sit back and allow other powers better equipped militarily and financially to undertake the burden of maintaining international law in Africa. If, on the other hand, we merely sit back and allow the great powers of the world to settle this problem as they see fit, we may find that far from settling the question, we have merely involved ourselves in those quarrels which unhappily divide so much of the globe. Once we admit our impotence to solve the question of the Congo primarily with our own African resources, then we tacitly admit that real self-government on the African continent is impossible. Therefore, however heavy the burden, I believe that military action should be taken primarily by the independence states of Africa, and at the conclusion of my address to you, you will be invited to support a government motion authorising the government, if necessary to take such military action against Belgian as they may be necessary in the light of the circumstances. The government wishes for this authority from Parliament in order to be able to tell the United Nations that Ghana will fight under United Nations leadership against Belgium in support of United Nations resolution. However, if the United Nations are unable to implement United Nations Resolutions, Ghana would cooperate with the independent military forces of the other independent African states to drive the aggressor from African soil.
Mr. Speaker and Members of the National Assembly, This is a turning point in the history of Africa. lf we allow the independence of the Congo to be compromised in any way by the imperialist and capitalist forces, we shall expose the sovereignty and independence of all Africa to grave risk. The struggle of the Congo is therefore our struggle. It is incumbent upon us to take our stand by our brother in the Congo in the full knowledge that only Africa can fight for its destiny. In this struggle, we shall not reject the assistance and support of our friends, but we will give chance to no enemy, however powerful or strong.