Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 February 2020
This article assesses the relationship between the imposed Central African Federation (1953–63) and the ways in which East and Central African thinkers and leaders conveyed and pursued the possibilities of decolonization. Existing literature on federalism in twentieth-century Africa fails to place regional projects in dialogue, studying in isolation East Africa and Central Africa, ‘utopian’ and oppressive regionalisms. But such clear dividing lines were not articulated in the four discursive ‘sketches’ of East and Central Africa that this article brings to light: those of anti-Federation organizations in Nairobi and Ndola in 1952; students at Makerere College (Kampala) in 1953; mobile Malawian activists in regional and pan-African forums around 1955–8; and East African party publicity representatives around 1958–60. At each of these critical moments, thinkers creatively constructed various relationships between geographical space and chronological change, through the lens of a broader, interdependent East and Central Africa, as a means to fend off perceived threats to a precarious advancement towards a democratic future. Attending to the evolution of these ideas shows not only how the Central African Federation placed material constraints on regional solidarity, but how ‘thinking regionally’ could support the case for national borders, even before decolonization.
Thank you to Henry Dee, Emma Hunter, and Chris Vaughan for comments on earlier drafts and to Anna Adima for help obtaining image permissions.
1 D. D. Phiri to Tanganyika African National Union secretary, 29 Dec. 1963, Dodoma, Archives of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) box 122 file UNIP.
2 Throughout, ‘Federation’ is capitalized when referring to the Central African Federation or planned East African Federation, but not to federation as a general concept.
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9 Emma Hunter, Julie MacArthur, Gerard McCann, and Chris Vaughan, ‘Thinking East African: debating federation and regionalism, 1960–1977’, in Frank Gerits and Matteo Grilli, eds., Visions of African unity (forthcoming).
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36 Echoing other studies on federation, notably Cooper, Citizenship between empire and nation.
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59 ‘Constitutional reform in Nyasaland’, NAC to colonial secretary, Apr. 1955, AB/238/4.
60 Chisiza, Below and above the partnership racket, MAC/COPAI/160/3.
62 Chiume, Kwacha, ch. 7.
63 ‘Minutes of the Pan-African Conference held at the Ladha Meghji Library, Mwanza, 16–18 September 1958’, CCM box 123 file PAFMECA DP/P/34.
64 Julius Nyerere to Harry Nkumbula, 10 Oct. 1958, CCM box 91 file Julius Nyerere local correspondence.
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71 Uganda must be free, p. 3. This echoes Nkrumah's speech of March 1957 on the occasion of Ghanaian independence.
72 The author was probably UNC activist and Makerere graduate John Kale, the party's main Cairo representative until his death in a plane crash in August 1960. Ismay Milford, ‘“Shining vistas” and false passports: recipes for an anticolonial hub’, Afro-Asian Visions (2017), at <https://medium.com/afro-asian-visions/shining-vistas-and-false-passports-recipes-for-an-anticolonial-hub-f631e19b1046>.
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77 Armitage to secretary of state for the colonies, copied to governors of Uganda, Kenya, Tanganyika, Northern Rhodesia, and the British Resident in Zanzibar, 16 Apr. 1959, UKNA FCO 141/14223.
78 Growing literature on the idea of imperial ‘free movement’ includes Henry Dee, ‘Central African immigrants, imperial citizenship and the politics of free movement in interwar South Africa’, Journal of Southern African Studies, doi: 10.1080/03057070.2020.1689005.
79 Mainza Chona, speech at the second AAPC, Tunis, Jan. 1960, CCM box 202 file AAPC.
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82 George Roberts, ‘Politics, decolonisation, and the Cold War in Dar Es Salaam c. 1965–72’ (Ph.D. thesis, Warwick, 2016).
83 Byrne, Mecca of revolution, pp. 9–10.
84 John Kakonge, speech at the second AAPC, Tunis, Jan. 1960, CCM box 202 file AAPC.
85 Oscar Kambona, speech at the second AAPC, Tunis, Jan. 1960, CCM box 202 file AAPC.