You are on page 1of 3

BRITISH AFRICA: The First of the Last -- Printout -- TIME,8816,826042,00.


Back to Article Click to Print

Monday, Feb. 01, 1960

BRITISH AFRICA: The First of the


The setting came right out of the great days of the British Empire. In the gilded splendor of Lancaster
House, only a few hundred yards from Buckingham Palace, sat Moslems in silk turbans, Arabs in kaffiyehs,
Indians in business suits, suntanned white settlers, a handful of Africans. From the street outside sounded
the martial music of a passing detachment of Coldstream Guards.

Colonial Road. But if the setting was imperial, the purpose of last week's meeting was not. Britain's new
Colonial Secretary, Iain Macleod, 46, was facing up to his first big challenge, as he sought to guide the
African colony of Kenya along the road to full democratic nationhood. The challenge is urgent, since Kenya
will soon be entirely surrounded by African-controlled states. Sudan and Ethiopia to the north are already
independent; Somalia to the east, Tanganyika to the south, and Uganda in the west come under African
control this year or next.

If Macleod were not aware of the impact of this fact on Kenya, African nationalists would forcibly remind
him of it. They are contemptuous of a system in which 65,000 Europeans, 165,000 Asians and 35,500 Arabs
hold more seats and power than do 6,000,000 Africans. The Africans demand universal suffrage, one-man-
one-vote democracy, and full independence now. Macleod may not want to give it "now," but his sharp,
trained intellect (he is an international-class bridge player) is sufficiently acute to recognize that there can
be no solid African policy in Kenya without the support of the vast African majority.

Empty Chairs. Bald and stockily built, with pale, penetrating blue eyes, Iain Norman Macleod, who came to
London by way of the Outer Hebrides and the D-day beaches of Normandy, has met and mastered every
task set him by the Tory Party. In 1950 Rab Butler, present Home Secretary, wrote to Macleod: "I've found
that every time I've given you a harder job, you've done it better." By nature a New Tory, with no inbred love
for the huntin', shootin', fishin' types of old-style Conservatives, Macleod has served brilliantly, effectively
and aggressively as Minister of Health in 1952 and Minister of Labor in 1955, when he dealt so fairly and
firmly with a rash of strikes that the left-wing Sunday Pictorial said that Macleod had won the "recognition
of employers, unions and employees as an impartial and non-political peacemaker."

Copyright © 2010 Time Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Privacy Policy | Add TIME Headlines to your Site | Contact Us | Customer Service
1 of 3 12/18/10 12:35 AM
BRITISH AFRICA: The First of the Last -- Printout -- TIME,8816,826042,00.html

After helping fight and win last October's general election, Macleod looked around for a more demanding
job. The toughest one in sight was the Colonial Office, and Macleod boned up for it and got it. Within a
month, he abolished the state of emergency in Kenya—seven years after the Mau Mau terror began. He
toured East and Central Africa, talked with tribal chiefs, heads of government, and dozens of others,
including his younger brother, Roderick, 39, a white settler in Kenya.

Last week's Kenya constitutional conference got off to the worst possible start. As Iain Macleod entered the
room for his formal opening speech, the chairs of the 14 elected African members were empty. Dryly
extending his welcome to "those of you who are here," Macleod quickly explained what had happened. The
African elected members had requested a second special adviser. Their first adviser is Thurgood Marshall,
the U.S. Negro lawyer who pleaded the antisegregation cases of the N.A.A.C.P. before the Supreme Court.
The suggested second adviser: Peter Mbiyu Koinange, 53, one of 30 children of a Kikuyu chieftain, one of
the first Africans to win U.S. scholarships, educated in the '20s (Hampton Institute, Ohio Wesleyan,
Columbia). A longtime friend of Mau Mau Leader Jomo Kenyatta, Peter Koinange is one of the two Africans
who, even after the end of the emergency, are listed by the government of Kenya as being "subject to
detention" if they ever return home.

Koinange has spent his years of exile in Britain and in Ghana, where he is now an all-Africa adviser to
Ghana's ambitious leader, Kwame Nkrumah. His principal purpose at the conference last week seemed to
be to act as a counterweight to Kenya's young, aggressive Labor Leader Tom Mboya, 29, and to represent his
absent chiefs—Kenyatta and Nkrumah—who view Mboya as an upstart rival.

Pinochle Player. The problem was a nasty one for Macleod. Should he give in to the African members'
boycott, the Asian and European delegates would consider it the beginning of a cave-in before an African
show of force. Macleod's solution: Koinange and other delegation advisers would not sit in on the
conference but could be admitted to the committee rooms of each delegation. It satisfied no one. Thurgood
Marshall fumed: "What can I do in some separate room, play pinochle? If I'm not in the conference room, I
can't see the fast ones coming." The white settlers flatly opposed Koinange's presence anywhere in
Lancaster House.

At week's end, Macleod proposed an other solution : all delegations and their first special advisers would be
admitted to all sessions of the conference. Any "extra" advisers (i.e., Koinange) would be permitted to sit in
another office in Lancaster House. The African members promised to study this proposal. Right-wing white
settlers blustered that even an outside waiting room was too close contact with Koinange. But the white
majorty, under the leadership of Moderate Michael Blundell, were wary of continuing the wrangle lest it
build up the personality of Koinange, whom one white settler called: "One of the two evil men I have met in
my life.*

The Kenya constitutional conference was off to an uneasy and unsteady start. Macleod's real difficulties are
still to come as he strives to create built-in constitutional provisions to protect Kenya's white settlers in a

2 of 3 12/18/10 12:35 AM
BRITISH AFRICA: The First of the Last -- Printout -- TIME,8816,826042,00.html

land run by Africans. If he brings this off, fast-rising Macleod will be well along toward achieving his chief
aim: to be the last Colonial Secretary of the old-style British Empire.

* The other: Jomo Kenyatta.

Click to Print
Find this article at:,9171,826042,00.html

3 of 3 12/18/10 12:35 AM

Related Interests