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This is about science produced by the California Institute of Technology in cooperation with station KPCC in Pasadena California. The programs are made available to the station by national educational radio. This program is about Africa with host Dr. Albert Hibbs and his guest Dr. Edwin monger. Here now is Dr. hymns. The subject of social science is sometimes not considered a science at all by those who study physics or chemistry or mathematics. And yet in a more ancient sense of the word it is indeed one of the truest and deepest scientists sciences because it approaches the world in an organized manner and has built up a substantial body of knowledge about the way we and our fellow human beings live. One of the fields of social science which is becoming certainly more interesting and more better more well studied recently is that of political geography. We have with us tonight Professor Edwin monger of Cal Tech who is a specialist in this field
and in particular a specialist in the field of African political geography. His title at Cal Tech is professor of geography but this goes beyond simply the placing of lakes and mountains on a map. He was trained at the University of Chicago but spent most of the last 18 years within Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. A portion of Africa which in recent times has been the scene of considerable turmoil and in the recent weeks of course this turmoil has taken itself to the United Nations where. The difficulties with Rhodesia have come to a head with an embargo against that country ordered by the United Nations. Ned I think I'll call you Ned since that's how I know you rather than as Professor monger. Perhaps the best way to start out is by having a brief review of how Africa and the rest of us got into this condition. But here we are sort of all lined
up taking shots at Rhodesia. What happened how do we get this way. Well I would say the way we got where we are is that the whole pace of independence in Africa after the end of the Second World War was to dismantle the colonial regimes and to turn over Africa to the people and habited the countries. And so a wave of nationalism went first through Ghana I was living there and 1949 it up again and move rapidly toward independence then through East Africa then down toward the south. But now the wave of African nationalism is sort of beating against the rather harder granite of the white resistance. And what might be called the white Southern Redoubt that is the two Portuguese territories of and go on the Atlantic Ocean and Mozambique on the. Indian Ocean and then South Africa and just north of it these little country of Rhodesia. Well in the more northern countries around Ghana Of course these were primarily simply colonies that did not have a large settled white population in them.
No and it is it is significant that of the three countries in East Africa Uganda Tanzania and Kenya. The last one to gain independence was Kenya which did have some 40000 whites and some hundred twenty thousand Indians. So this fit into the pattern. Of course the Congo had about 85000 whites mostly Belgians. I was there at the time they came to independence which was a rather bloody affair particular in the Western Congo. But it's really in Southern Rhodesia which is part of the Southern complex that you get not anywheres near a large minority but still a very determined band of Europeans who don't wish to hand over control to the African majority. And in when you speak of these as Europeans. How long has the average family of whites lived in Africa. A recent emigration to Africa. That's a good question. I use the term European because it is meant to mean someone who comes from Europe. Although if you go to the area of South
Africa which was settled at the same time as the women are some parts of it somewhat before the people don't really consider themselves European in the sense that they have been there for over three hundred years and it's as far as go is 16 80 that some a man spoke up and said. Been an Afrikaner I am an African I am a white man but I am of and from Africa. But this in the case of Rhodesia I would say the average European has been there about a generation. I see. So Rhodesia is somewhat of a newcomer as far as the white population goes. Well mother South Africa much of it because much of it is subtle about a third of the Rhodesians white Rhodesians that is to say I have come up trekked up north from the area of South Africa. Oh but they were in Africa. But they were in Africa so many of them many of the Rhodesians have roots going back six and seven generations. Well why should independence have caused all the turmoil and independence as you say even though it was bloody in the Congo. The only entrance the United Nations
made into that fray was simply to try to hold down the bloodshed there was never any large political move against the country itself too. Stop imports of goods and so on in places the sort of embargo on this recently been ordered against Rhodesia what's what makes this the difference. Well I think I should back up a minute and suggest that while there was difficulty in independence in the Congo basically the coming of the power of African governments in over 30 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa has been a very peaceful process and it's certainly the first five or six years of independence have been ones of peace the number of foreigners or whites if you will also in the country like Ghana increased after independence. It was a smooth and gradual transition there was not been difficulty or trouble in the Congo in a sense was an exception however we have seen in the last year to 18 months a number of coups now in the case of Rhodesia the whole legal framework was somewhat different Rhodesia
has been known it's an anomalous title as a self-governing colony since 1921. That is to say Britain control foreign affairs but local affairs were always in Rhodesia the white Rhodesian hands or let's say in the hands today of the electorate because the electorate includes a considerable number of Africans in Rhodesia. Therefore the British government could not order the local police to arrest somebody said the prime minister if he didn't like it as they could have and other territories and so Rhodesia falls in a different category from say that it was them be or Malawi which was just to the north. I see the category than being the difference of the history of the internal government indeed that the locals had a history of governing themselves for some time. Well for some not since like I've said we're not right and there was a stage when Huggins was prime minister of Rhodesia and he would go to Commonwealth relations conferences and he was the man prime minister we had longest tenure of anyone who would attend these along with Churchill and Menzies must failure and so on. So the white Rhodesians had a long tradition also psychologically they're in a different very different situation from some of the whites in the rest of Africa
in that they always thought of Rhodesia as home. They did not go on home leave to the United Kingdom. This was home and you know letters in the university were not given money to go home to Europe because they were expected to make their homes in Africa. Therefore this relatively small white minority in Rhodesia although it is now come to the point of saying there will be eventual African majority rule or which would in effect would be African rule in Rhodesia have said not now. Now this is a big change of course from what Smith said a few years ago not in my lifetime. He's come down from maybe 30 years to five or ten years but that is you that's still a difference of opinion you think that's a difference in his attitude about how much life time he has ahead of him. I think it's a question of the pressures which exist on Rhodesia. So in the other in the other regions further north. The white century colonialists who are in those regions as governing units could leave in the Century go home
back to a European country in independence or indeed any European country could pay pay their pension and they could retire and so on and then they left and when they went home they they left the country entirely but in Rhodesia when you go home you just go to the same city you leave your office and go. Indeed psychologically it's quite different and of course many white South Africans say where would I go. Well what Americans call Americans we're going to go home but they they say want me home I mean I don't I'm an American I'm not from Poland I'm not from Italy I'm not from England. So the psychological difference is important. So the and then the other point of course when they went into their unilateral declaration of independence and say already been governing themselves is really meant to sort of a form of breaking of ties and taking over foreign affairs rather than. Internal government didn't need it did and this is I think it's of curious situation that we probably would not be in the situation we are now if Rudisha had never formally declared its independence and indeed the strong advice that the South Africans privately
gave to the Rhodesians was don't make a formal issue of it because it will never come up in Britain as an issue to be decided one way or another. If you slide into independence but the Rhodesians maybe because they were very British said we think we have the right to be independent and they threw down the gauntlet and they took a step which was considered distinctly illegal and really forced Britain to say you cannot do this and it was touch and go as to whether Britain would be able to intervene effectively at the time. At the moment of course this area I think is on the point of potentially escalating into I. Major war a major war I made a war wish and it would involve more than just the white and black groups within the country. I really think it could. Let's make a little scenario I don't for a minute on this. We have an embargo now on Rhodesia. The idea is to pressure the Rhodesians and there is a great deal of pressure on them because they're having trouble selling their tobacco already. They're getting very low prices from the South Africans the French who are buying it. If that doesn't work though
to really stop the Rhodesians of the South Africans continue to supply the petrol and I think South Africa will continue to follow a policy of swimming road with Rhodesia but not wanting to sink with them that they will have to be a embargo on the shipment of petrol and other supplies to South Africa. So South Africa caught up it would get caught up and then now this will not be so easy to enforce as it would be in the case of road Rhodesia because the South Africans have many ways to conquer an oil block oil embargo they have certain amount of oil themselves they're hunting for more they own a lot of tankers. They're buying into oil companies overseas. There are a whole series of when they have supplies for several years at least. So this could lead to say well we're not getting very far with a bargain in the bargain oil in South Africa. We better have a blockade to stop it from coming in from the outside. But once you have a blockade you have incidents when people try to break it when they think that they're in the right. They try to break that blockade and you get an escalation. Then we may get an uprising in southern Africa and then of course the justification of going in
to stop bloodshed will become a rationale for American involvement. I see so that you picture a situation in which South Africa helps Rhodesia. This makes the blockade ineffective the only way we can turn is to where this makes the embargo ineffective the only way we can turn out is to get into something which leads quickly into an exchange of shots with South Africa. And did I what I'm saying really is that not that there is going to be war but at the moment the United States is on a collision course in Southern Africa and if the present scenario continues to be carried out there is a very serious danger that we are a likelihood to end up with MIL American military forces being involved with in Southern Africa. Well is there any alternate that you can see on the basis of what you know of the region to this scenario that you've just drawn from. Well there are lots of pressures that this shouldn't happen for example South Africa doesn't want the situation to go to that point it's a very much in their interest and they have put
a lot of pressure on Rhodesia. There was tremendous South African pressure and I think there will be a considerable amount more to make the Rhodesians come to terms to Britain but they won't go along with the embargo there won't be that they will not know they will not go along with the embargo but they will say to Rhodesia if you get a reasonable officer offer and the offer is almost reasonable enough at the moment they will pressure Rhodesia to agree the pressure on Great Britain is also very strong. For example I was in Zambia this past summer and. It's interesting to see the British spend the last of about 25 million dollars they poured in there in the last 18 months. Now they need another 25 million to support Zambia again because if you can picture in your mind the map when you strangle Rhodesia you also strangle Zambia because most of them a surprise come through Rhodesia. So the British are in the position of putting the vise on the Rhodesians but then having to succor the Zambians who lie just to the north of them and also the landlady. So this puts a lot of pressure on Britain who's in Lou's financial situation a somewhat parlance at the
moment. They will then really be hurt by this. I think that this is why Wilson was forced to go to the U.N. very clearly he couldn't stand the financial drain of Zambia and he couldn't. He cannot or does not want to lead Zambia be broken up in revolution which does threaten the country. There is going to be a great deal of instability in Zambia. This is about a country with about one fourth of the world's known supply of copper. This is absolutely critical not only to the west but particularly to the British economy. So a cutting off of copper from Rhodesia rather from Zambia because it can't get out very effectively with the rains coming on and many problems of breakdown of transport. This puts a lot of pressure on the pound and on the West. So there is great British incentive to make a compromise in Rhodesia now of course the Zambians feel a great sympathy with the African desire for immediate African rule in Rhodesia. And so those Emmys have denounced Britain of course in very VMA terms as being
racist double crossers hypocrites and so on for even proposing an agreement in Rhodesia and yet they're relying on Britain for that and yet they're relying on Britain and if they cannot rely on Britain strongly enough they have not they will not hesitate to rely upon the Soviet Union or the. The government of Peking which is very active in insanity at the moment is trying to exploit the situation for its own ends. Will this be another move toward a collision course. This will indeed be an involvement of the Chinese or the Russians in this situation. Well I think any time you have a major upset as you might have in the case of Southern Africa cataclysm the upheaval and you have here and a source of some of the most important minerals in the world particularly some 60 percent of the supply of gold in the world. This is a pretty tempting prize. So there would be strong incentives for the United States to preempt any move from the outside by say the Soviet Union. This is really why the Soviet Union is not at the moment making any efforts in southern Africa because the United States is keeping
it with its own air but I would like to add something about Rhodesia the whole situation there is complicated by the fact that the African majority which is. Very hard to know what they think President or Prime Minister Smith says. Talk to the Chiefs. He also pays the chiefs and he says the Chiefs speak favorably of him and speak for all the people. This is very doubtful it's hard to know really what opinion is in the rural areas I've tried many times to ascertain it. On the other hand there are two political parties who ours which are small but they are at each other's throats and each of the two this is Rhodesian African political parties are accusing each other's of all kinds of double crosses and silence. So the lack of a unified African opposition within Rhodesia greatly complicates the problem of saying what to whom would you turn over control because the Africans are fighting among themselves and the best efforts of some very able and great African statesman to try to get them to knock their heads together have not been successful so far. This is a real complicated ball of wax.
There is indeed. Let's take a turn at the idea that the embargo is successful. What does success mean. I suppose success means that in terms of Rhodesia the economy crumbles to such a point at least that there is a large scale unemployment particularly of Africans which the government the moment would try very hard to avoid. This would lead to rioting which would lead to a general breakdown of the economy and would be possible for all of the small number of troops to move in and take over the country. At the moment no African country no black African country has the troops which are available which they could spare most of them have too many problems at home and they simply don't have the military capability to offer any kind of an effective attack upon Rhodesia and indeed Britain herself would be severely strained to try to bring pressure against military pressure on Rhodesia and only 6 percent of the British people at the moment indicated they would support military action against Rhodesia.
Well then what is the purpose of the embargo. Well the purpose of embargo is simply to make it a bit tougher on Smith to make him tighten his his purse strings to make people a little hungry to put the pressure from tobacco farmers on him to say well why don't we make some sort of a compromise of let's let's agree to African rule in four years or five years. Actually I think that the you would find the British government the Rhodesian governments are very close to an agreement. But there is a great lack of trust and all of this grew out of the fact that there was a federation which involved Rhodesia Zambia and Malawi in one country. And this broke up with many recriminations and frankly the Rue de Asian the white Rhodesians don't trust the British word the Black wrote radiations don't trust the British word. They don't buy the Rhodesians don't trust each other black or white. And the British don't trust the Prime Minister Smith. I think a lack of trust is very much at the heart of the whole problem. It would seem hard then to find a compromise which would be accepted in this atmosphere of
distrust. A compromise which could come out of Rhodesia in other words it seemed hard to imagine anything that in practical terms Rhodesia could say to the outside world which would then be answered by the rest of us saying OK you're good boys now we'll call off the embargo. Well the Rhodesians will argue I think that the qualifications devote in Rhodesia are such that it is only a matter of time before a great majority of the voters will be African voters because there is no bar on the basis of race to voting. And it is a qualification in terms of have you been to primary school and what is your income and are you a minister for example to be able to vote. And if there were a compromise in Rhodesia I think one part of that would lead to a large British investment and perhaps maybe American help to sweeten the pot for African education in Rhodesia which would hasten the day when Africans would at least constitute a
majority on the voting roll and presumably if they wished to then could vote on a racial basis and he would have an African government in Rhodesia and all African government. Perhaps the two groups would get along and people would vote on a racial basis. But then that would be even a greater achievement in terms I think of what Britain would strive for in better reasonable and foreseeable compromises which which might take us off the collision course as you've been talking about. Would then be some way of some modification of the voting arrangements or preparations for voting which would speed the process of bringing Africans into the voting roles is that the kind of comparable haps a slight lowering of qualifications or and they're actually very close to actual agreement it's a question of either Britain doesn't trust tradition not to change the rules and the Rhodesians if they hand over control the police and army to Britain don't trust Britain really not to arrest the smith government and keep them from keeping the rules and say well we're sorry old chaps. Now that we're in power we have to change the rules and we're going to put an African government in tomorrow. I think both sides the British are prepared to wait for five years
although most African states say this is a double cross. I think the white Rhodesians the majority of them are now prepared to see African rule in five or 10 years. But neither side trusts the other not to postpone it indefinitely or speeded up to be tomorrow. I see. And that's why when tends to go around in circles on this because it's not a matter of facts as much as it is a matter of trust. It's hard to imagine how this current situation and embargo situation is going to increase the level of trust with her I quite agree and it's also going to lead I think out to considerable American emotional involvement in this because I can say I'm quite interested to a situation in our country when you find civil rights groups very much to deeply and sincerely concerned as a something which they can agree on and say let's intervene in southern Africa particularly in the case of South Africa. And we will have an interesting psychological shift in America I would predict if this comes about that you will find people who are generally would consider themselves hawks to use a cliche in Vietnam
will become doves in southern Africa and those who become are now doves in Vietnam and saying let's not be involved will be saying on a matter of principle we must intervene we must send more troops overseas in the case of Southern Africa. And this was quite a shock to the American body politic about the time of the 1968 presidential campaign. And yet we might or might not find ourselves in a somewhat analogous rule in South Africa as we are now in South Asia. If the Chinese in particular should begin assisting the African. Portion of the population particularly in Zambia and should begin sending both agitators and small arms into Rhodesia to assist in some sort of small uprisings there we might find ourselves in spite of all honest and good intentions in a position of fighting with the white minority against a Chinese inspired black uprising. Isn't that a possibility. It's certainly a possibility but I don't think it's really a likelihood. One of the reasons is
that there is a surprising amount of Soviet American cooperation and mostly tacit on what is going on in Africa and the conversations I've had with people who are close to authority on some of these questions among the Russians. They're very much opposed to Chinese intervention in Africa and actually the Soviets are working very much more actively to block Chinese intervention for example the communist parties in Africa with one or two exceptions are all pro Russian rather than pro Chinese and therefore we are in this again an anomalous situation that the Russians are not ready to extend a major effort to southern Africa. They feel very strongly about it. Although they continue to trade their fishing ships call in South Africa in defiance of United Nations resolutions the Chinese Communists of course don't have not bound by you want agreements but they buy wool from South Africa. And of course when we speak even Bardos a large number of the African nations are trading with South Africa in some cases more than they ever did before.
And one of the very African nations who demanded the embargo most heavily. Yes indeed. But in some cases they are getting the goods. Ghana gets its gold mining machinery through Europe. They pay an extra 20 percent surcharge much of the protein which is feeding the population in the western part of the Congo comes from South Africa. South African surprise are very much cheaper for most of Africa foodstuffs drugs and so on. And one way or another they get in for the benefit of the indigenous population. This is why in some ways we like to talk about of the United States as a melting pot but this part of the world is a real pressure cooker. Well it seems in that a simple embargo against this one country of Rhodesia is considerably more complex than just trying to keep goods flowing in and out of one country within the country there are these not only the white versus black political break up but within the black group too. At least two parties are. Quite in conflict with each other to militant groups and then one passive group that's hard to measure still
another group. I see in the north of it is MBIA which is supposedly even though we like them theoretically in Tryon Britain wants to help them they're going to be affected just as badly as Rhodesia by the blockade at the moment they're hurting the war. And then to the south of them is a country that we supposedly don't like but they're not we're not blockading them yet and they're going to be and they're going to be helping road in Britain can't afford to because that's their fourth best customer and they've got just too large an investment there it would cripple the pound really to break off relations with South Africa. So South Africa will be funneling goods into Rhodesia in spite of this embargo and the rest of Africa's heavily trading with South Africa even though they're demanding at the same time an embargo against Rhodesia. I think we're summing up the paradoxes of human nature which are no different in Africa than other places. Yes indeed and I can understand the with this level of complexity it's going to be very difficult for us to stay out in extremely difficult to find any workable solution. What what is the position of Mr. Smith within his own government is he popular manner or are
there splits within the white fraction of the government of Rhodesia. Generally speaking when Smith came to power he had only a little over half a vote in the country. But in the case often happens in war with the attacks on him by the press in Britain and in the United States and so on that he has rallied a very high percentage I would say well over 90 percent of the whites behind him in terms of his basic position. People can also be very pro the queen in England and also pro Smith within the cabinet. This may seem as something of a surprise to many Americans but Mr Smith is well to the left of his cabinet. And one of the curious things about the meeting on the Tiger that he did that there was battleship cruiser they met with Wilson was that this hasn't really been in the American press but Mr. Smith took along one of the more liberal members of his cabinet rather who would be relatively easy to convince to have African advance Mr. Hamann. And he did not take along the three members who are the most
recalcitrant. Mr. Lardner Birken Mr. Dupont Mr. Harper all three who tend to challenge Mr. Smith from the right hand these are relative terms in Rhodesia you might say you have a right wing government but you have people who are more liberal relatively speaking within it. And Smith is Representative typical of the more liberal within this government within this government it's very true just as the doctor preferred the late prime minister of South Africa was pretty near the furthest left in the end at the time he was assassinated of his cabinet. Although you judge it's generally thought of as being extremely right wing government within South Africa. So that means that if we were to replace ministers if someone were to force a replacement within the existing government of Mr Smith by somebody else the situation probably worse it probably would be. And there are many Africans who would say well let's do that and then it will review reveal the true colors which lie behind the. The attitude of prejudice which most Africans would say the white Rhodesian cabinet has therefore it. One of the compromises that Mr
Wilson made against some of his earlier positions at the time of this attempted reconciliation was to allow the Ian Smith who is popular because he was an army of heroin shot down twice and burned and so on in the cause of fighting for democracy and freedom against Nazi Germany. That is to allow Smith to stay in power in Rhodesia this but Smith didn't trust. Wilson to say the minute I hand over power you will head it back but can I trust you to hand it my same distrust this is where it broke down. Well Ned I think from what the brief description you've given us this evening I tend to agree with your earlier statement that we are currently on a collision course it would appear from looking at the situation you've described it almost anywhere you turn. It looks little even a little worse than it does now and it's hard to see in any of the situation. A gleam of light that points the way toward an improvement. Thank you very much for joining us tonight and telling us about Africa.
Thank you. This was about science with host Dr. Albert Hibbs and his guest Dr. Edwin monger. Join us for our next program when Dr. Higgs will lead a discussion about elastic water about science is produced by the California Institute of Technology in cooperation with station KPP C. Pasadena California. The programs are made available to this station by national educational radio. This is the national educational radio network.
About science
About Africa
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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This program focuses on the social science field of political geography and the study of Africa. The guest for this program is Dr. Edwin Munger.
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Interview series on variety of science-related subjects, produced by the California Institute of Technology. Features three Cal Tech faculty members: Dr. Peter Lissaman, Dr. Albert R. Hibbs, and Dr. Robert Meghreblian.
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Guest: Munger, Edwin S., 1921-
Host: Hibbs, Albert R.
Producing Organization: California Institute of Technology
Producing Organization: KPPC
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 66-40-33 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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Duration: 00:29:35
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Chicago: “About science; About Africa,” 1967-04-16, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 27, 2024,
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APA: About science; About Africa. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from