§ 6.22 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LYTTON rose to call attention to that part of the statement on Kenya which relates to the Northern Frontier District, made by Her Majesty's Government on March 12 last; and to move for Papers. The noble Earl said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name. I am very grateful to the Government for giving me time, and on this day which, as it is Budget Day, is obviously a good day. The time of day is not so convenient; but, as the Daily Telegraph said to-day, I am in a difficult position as a Cross-Bencher representing a very little-known portion of our Commonwealth. I have to thank, in particular, the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, for the help he has given me, notwithstanding the fact that when I went to him I made it plain that it was for the purpose of sharpening my spears to plunge into him.
§ My Lords, what is this all about? I should like to start with a summary. In 601 a large portion of Kenya, which is approaching independence, having been our colony, the inhabitants have expressed a wish, after a period of separate autonomy, not under the Kenya Government, to secede to the Republic of Somalia, two parts of which were formerly colonies of ours and with the whole of which we have had intimate connections during the past twenty years.
§ In detail, the story starts with the Report of the Kenya Constitutional Conference of 1962, where this part of Kenya, called the Northern Frontier District, made known its views; where the leading political Parties, under Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ngala, in Nairobi declared their firm opposition to the secession of any part; and there was the undertaking by Her Majesty's Government to carry out an investigation in order to ascertain public opinion in the area. They said that this Commission would be appointed as soon as practicable so that its Report could be available and a decision on its findings taken by Her Majesty's Government before the Constitution for Kenya was brought into operation—I quote from paragraph 26 of the White Paper, Cmnd. 1700.
How, then, do I come into this, people may rightly ask? Am I representing the Somali Republic, the N.F.D. or what? Why do I come from my farm at the top of Porlock Hill in order to speak about this remote part of the Commonwealth? I should like to read to your Lordships a telegram I have received:
Best wishes for your debate on April 3. B.B.C. television programme 'Panorama' Monday night will provide latest view from here. The leader in Scotsman dated March 13 sets out our position accurately".
That telegram is signed "Prime Minister". I need hardly say that he is not the right honourable Harold Macmillan, but the Prime Minister of the Somali Republic. Your Lordships will see that he has not asked me to do anything on his behalf. He has chosen a much greater man than myself—Mr. Richard Dimbleby, who has already made appropriate representations: he is merely wishing me good luck.
Why do I happen to be in touch with the Prime Minister of the Somali Republic at all? I should like to quote a letter, which is also from him, dated May 24 last year. He wrote:
Dear Lord Lytton,
The admirable speech that you made in the House of Lords on May 15 during the debate on Kenya has been brought to my attention, and I hope you will not think it improper if I say that this is the first time, so far as I am aware, that the House of Lords has been given a lucid anti accurate account of Somali problems from one of its distinguished Members with practical experience of Somali needs and aspirations.
I have also been touched and gratified to read the sympathetic comments about the N.F.D. which were made during the debate by the Lord Chancellor, the Marquess of Salisbury, the Earl of Listowel and by Lord Walston. I, too, share the hope that this will not be the last time that you speak in Parliament, and should you again contemplate a visit to East Africa will you please let me know and I shall be happy to invite you to our country as a guest of the Government so that you can see for yourself how democracy can be made to work in Africa.
That letter is signed by Dr. Shermarke. I shall be flying from Aden to Mogadishu, I hope, on May 13, when I hope that relations may have improved. I have also received a letter from a representative of the 20,000 Somalis in Aden thanking me for what I said in this House last May.
§ The idea of a Greater Somalia has been put forward by four eminent people at various times. First, there was Sir Charles Elliot, one of our greatest administrators in Kenya, about 1904. Then there was Mohammed Abdilla Hassan, commonly known as "The Mad Mullah", between 1899 and 1920. He is one of the greatest of the Somali poets. Then, the idea has been put forward by the Emperor of Ethiopia on a number of occasions, always with the intention of incorporating the entire Horn of Africa within the Ethiopian Empire. Finally, there was Mr. Ernest Bevin in 1946, and what he said is on record in Hansard. This idea, therefore, is not new.
§ Why is it mooted? I am producing a map. I know there were a few in the Office, but for the benefit of those without a map I want to describe what we are talking about. The Northern Frontier district is half Kenya. It is twice the size of England. It is virtually a desert. It is inhabited by one-thirtieth of the population. One-thirtieth of the population inhabit half the country, and nine-tenths of the population occupy one-fifth. That is not a sign of maldistribution, because one is desert and the other is well-watered Highlands. This desert is so poor and so unimportant that it is called a District only. 603 It is not even a Province. The Province of which it is a part is so unimportant that it is not given a separate map in the Kenya atlas. The whole population is regarded as of such small account that it is not summarised in the main tribes in the Kenya Statistical Abstract of 1960. It is one of the poorest places that people have ever quarrelled about. There is the possibility of oil but I am certain that the quarrel is not about oil, in the sense that if there were no prospects of oil the quarrel would be there.
§ As regards the divisions of the people, the reports are all extremely confusing. The divisions which are most easily intelligible throughout Kenya are the non-negro, who occupy the Northern Frontier District almost exclusively and to the exclusion of almost everybody else. There are the Negroes, who are described in the map as either Bantu or (one tribe), Nilotic. There are then the classified mixtures between Negro and non-Negro. By the term "non-Negro" I am not suggesting anything whatever with any white in it at all. It is a means of getting away from these very confusing terms which are still very fluid. I think most people of my age when they were very young were told that all Negroes were descended from Ham, the son of Noah. Nowadays, the word "Hamitic" among experts excludes specifically all Negroes. Therefore, what can I do? I describe them as non-Negroes, but black and African. They are not Arabs, either. They are just non-Negro types who occupy the whole of the area of the horn of Ethiopia and the right bank of the Nile. How they got there and whether they are of European stock or came from the Caucasus, we do not yet know. But they are non-Negro and that is the principal characteristic; and the dividing line in East Africa between non-Negroes and others is the Northern Frontier District which is a most convenient boundary.
§ In this particular map, the non-Negro areas are shown in light blue and the others in different colours. I want to dismiss all the others, but I want to summarise the tribes. There are 36 Negro tribes shown on this map, 18 classified mixtures and 8 non-Negro or Hamitic tribes. May I say that of the classified mixtures, the Masai are the most famous of Negroes, people 604 like the Luo, the Kikuyu and the Kamba. When we come to the non-Negroes, their two great divisions in Kenya, N.F.D., are the Somali and the Galla. Those two names are quite sufficient. A good deal of confusion in these Reports would have been eliminated if we could have had classifications better described. The majority of the people in the N.F.D. are Somali and a small proportion are Galla. Both Somali and Galla extend into Ethiopia.
§ The Sunday before last the Sunday Times described Ethiopia as an ancient Empire. That is totally incorrect. Ethiopia, within to-day's political boundaries, is, in a small part, the ancient Abyssinian Kingdoms of history, and, in a much larger part, the colonies conquered by the Emperor Melinek II, who was more or less a contemporary of Gladstone. The colonies are approximately the same age as our own. They are Somali and Galla. The only difference is that whereas we label our places as "colonies", the Ethiopians have described them as one Ethiopian people, and from time to time they say they are historically part of Ethiopia. That is not true. The Galla extend into Ethiopia, right up North of the capital (which is built on conquered territory after Melinek II acquired it) to Harrar. They number millions, of whom the few N.F.D. Galla are a part. There may be three-quarters of a million Somali within the Ethiopian boundaries to-day. Therefore, there is this international problem. I do not want to say anything about the aspirations of the Galla. My information is that they would be very happy with good government. But you will notice in the Report on the Northern Frontier District that nobody has suggested joining his cousins over the Ethiopian border.
§ I must apologise, my Lords, for a little hesitation from time to time because although everything has been provided for my convenience, a table has not. I appreciate that in this House a table is a status symbol and I have never been one to advance my status by one inch; but I find it a little difficult to handle my papers.
I have searched very hard for a really authoritative and responsible account of what a Somali is, and I have it in a reasonably brief space, published in
New Society on 21st March, 1963. It is part of the editorial comment, and I have obtained the permission of the editor and the contributor whom I know and regard as a very knowledgeable person, who knows the Somali language and the Galla language, to quote it:
The Somali people who live in the N.F.D. hardly differ at all, in any respect from their brothers in the Somali Republic or in Ethiopia. They speak the same language, and even the dialect variations do not correspond to the artificial frontiers imposed on them. The Ogaden people of the N.F.D. belong to the same clan as the Ogaden people in the Somali Republic and in the Ogaden region in Ethiopia
The Somalis are all united further by the bond of Islam, which in spite of its Sunni orthodoxy has a characteristic national flavour and is dominated by the Sufi movement represented by religious fraternities which place particular emphasis on a mystic union with God through pious exercises, contemplation and good life.
The Somali Sufis like other members of this movement venerate saints, some of whom are Arab and some Somali. These saints they share all over the Somali territories, and people make long journeys in pious pilgrimages. Some Somalis may travel hundreds of miles from different regions, across the political boundaries, to give homage to those whose supernatural intercession they may seek, at the sacred tombs.
§ In addition to that description by an expert, they have one name. Everywhere else, if you ask a man who he is he does not say, "I am a Kenyan" or, "I am a Galla"; he says, "I am an Orma" or, "I am a Turkana" or some such tribal name. The Somalis have one name for all their clans. And one language is broadcast to the whole of these people from this country, from Moscow and from Cairo.
The Galla, about whom I believe we know even less, are part of the Northern Frontier District, and as the District have addressed their memorandum to me and asked me to represent them, I must say what they are. This report continues:
Among the inhabitants of the Northern Frontier District there is also a large group of Galla people—who are very much akin to Somalis both linguistically and ethnically. The structure of their language bears striking resemblance to Somali and shares with it some 25 per cent. of the vocabulary. In a similar position is the Rendille language.
A large proportion of the Galla people, like the Somalis, are Muslims and thus have with them the common link of religion. Their pastoral way of life differs little from that of the Somalis and in fact much inter-marriage
has taken place in some Somali clans, such as the Ajuran. Somali-Galla bilingualism is a very frequent phenomenon. The Somalis and the Galla taken together differ very sharply from the population of Kenya proper—both in language and customs.
While Somali and Galla are closely related, and both belong to the so-called Cushitic branch of the Semitic-Hamitic family, they differ from such languages as Kikuyu or Luo as much as English does from Chinese; their values and ways of life differ so much that any integration could hardly seem possible.
In spite of the attempts at the Common Market, we still have our different races in Europe. We are far from putting the Chinese and the English into the same political compartment. We cannot even get the French in the same compartment. This non-negro limit is a very natural dividing line.
§ They are people who have, throughout their seventy centuries of recorded history, always dominated other Africans. I am sorry that so much of our Press says that they despise the Negro. In this country, have we not heard people talking of Dagoes, Wogs, Frogs, Wops and Bosche and in suchlike language of contempt for other races? Of course the same thing occurs in Africa. But when we want to know what is the attitude of a country, surely we look towards its responsible people. The Head of the Government of the Somali Republic has received as guests and given virtually a royal red-carpet reception to Mr. Jomo Kenyatta and Mr. Ronald Ngala, and until this unfortunate development occurred there was a desire on the part of the Somalis for federation, not with their Moslem kin but with Uganda and Kenya. That is off. Nevertheless, the authorities in Somalia have shown no disposition to display that contempt for the Negro of which they are continually accused in our Press.
§ How long have the Somalis been in the Northern Frontier District? I raise this matter because I am informed that Mr. Tom Mboya is saying that they have been there a very short time. So I have consulted the experts, including Sir Richard Turnbull, whose admirable little study of the Darod invasion he has lent me, and the more extended studies of Dr. I. M. Lewis, of Glasgow University, who has an article in the Guardian to-day. The first thing one can say about the Northern Frontier District is that, so far as 607 one knows, no Negroes of Kenya have ever occupied it at all except for those who are there at present, and even those, a small tribe of Pokomo along the Tana River, were probably invaders themselves after the Somalis were there. There is a long and tangled history of Somali fighting Somali and Somali fighting Galla, with nevertheless alliances between Galla and Somali against other Galla and Somali.
§ Professor Lewis considers that Somalis were in the Northern Frontier District in full occupation three centuries ago and that the Darod, about whom Sir Richard Turnbull has written in such a scholarly way, are not the first arrivals but the last in a series of fluctuating situations in a struggle for water. These struggles over that primitive area were of a respectable kind, by which I mean that they were not raiding parties for women or slaves or just to kill, as many tribes did, but because unless the tribes had water they died, and that is the situation which has been fought out for centuries in this part of Africa. It would seem that no Ethiopians and no Negroes from the Highlands of Kenya could live in this desert country, nor do they want to. In the Ethiopian Army, especially to-day when such a large part of the army is there, it is regarded as very unpleasant to be stationed in the low desert countries. It is a curious thing that the Somalis have been frustrated from the Highlands of Kenya by us and from the Highlands of Ethiopia by the Portuguese in the 16th century. It seems that they have a kind of vocation for living in desert country with their camels, and in these conditions they are at their best. I do not think anybody wants this country. The quarrel is due to megalomania and one or two other things.
I should now like to refer to a letter sent me by the Colonial Office. I use it simply because it is so very conveniently expressed, telling me of the Commission having been appointed and of the persons appointed, and it says:
Although considerable interest is shown by the people in the area in the work of the Commission, no untoward incidents have been reported and the security situation is satisfactory.
I do think that those people who have managed the desert for so long over an area twice the size of England, with just
a handful of British administrators, deserve a word of thanks, when we decide to excite the desires of the people by talking of secession. They may come out and threaten what they will do, if their wishes are not granted, but with only a few administrators around, their discipline is complete. It has been a country where, as Sir Richard Turnbull said, we have not really governed; it has been run by half-a-dozen fellows with a particular look in their eyes.
§ At the end of this letter the Colonial Office say that the N.F.D. report would be received at the end of the year, and the decision whether it would be published would be given when it was received. That was November 20. On November 16 The Times published news from Nairobi dated the 15th—that is, five days before this letter from the Colonial Office—giving a summary of the Commission's findings, which subsequently proved to be quite accurate. I do not say this in any taunting sense to the Colonial Office. All I mean to indicate is that the Commission's work was done in the full light of day, with everybody saying what he thought, and I think this is a great tribute to the administrators out there that this could be possible. It could not happen in a great many countries. There are countries where people who expressed desires to secede would have been shot or disappeared afterwards. They would not have dared to do it. It is a wonderful thing that this could have been done, and I understand that the Press was there, reporting daily on the results of the barazas.
Now the Report of the Commission. The Commission received 40,000 people at their barazas, interviewed 134 delegations and received 106 written submissions. They did their work in extremely good time. They expressed themselves as satisfied, with one exception, that they had got the views of the people, and it reads like an honest and sincere document. Mr. Mboya contended that Somali opinion is divided (that is on page 17, paragraph 73 of this N.F.D. Commission Report). The Commission say:
We did not in fact find any evidence of this in the N.F.D.
Here is their principal finding:
The areas in which we found the people supporting Somali opinion are the biggest in total population and size and are in fact one.
They extend from the Somali frontier to the Somali-Galla Line and beyond, to include the grazing lands of the Adjuran. We found that the people there almost unanimously favoured the secession from Kenya of the N.F.D., when Kenya attains independence, with the object of ultimately joining the Somali Republic, but they want the N.F.D. to have a period under British authority in which to build up its machinery of government so that it can join the Somali Republic as a self-governing unit.
I think that 86 per cent. of the whole N.F.D. area wants secession—and if it is not 86 per cent., will the Government say what it is? There are areas larger than the whole of England where you cannot find a single family that does not want it. The degree of unanimity is tremendous. It would be almost impossible to think of any other part of the world where there is such unanimity.
§ Incidentally, to go back a little, it is the contention of quite a number of people (you will have seen it in "Panorama", if you had been looking, and in the Scotsman) that Mr. Maudling, as Colonial Secretary, not only promised that there would be a decision on the findings, but gave it to be understood that it would be, as far as possible, in accordance with the findings, and that there would be a plebiscite in those areas where there is doubt. When he is available, and when he has rested after the Budget, perhaps he can be asked what he did say. I am not attacking Mr. Maudling. When I was out in Kenya, at the same time as he was, I noticed everywhere an instant and refreshing pleasure taken in his meetings with people. At once he was felt to be a helpful man. But what did he say?
§ It seems to me, from reading what is in these official statements about taking a decision on the findings of the Committee, that it was not intended that a decision should be "off"; it should be "on"; and it should be in accordance with, and not contrary to. That is what I think every single person everywhere thought. I thought it; it was thought in Kenya, and it was thought by the Somali Republic. I am talking here of those who get their news over the wireless. I should very much like to know what Mr. Maudling admits to having said; but as I presume that the Government will never tell me, I shall go on establishing what they have said, and that they have said "off" instead of "on".610
In this connection, I should like to refer briefly to two other Reports, where they are relevant. There is, first, the Report, of the Regional Boundaries Commission [Cmnd. 1899], which says:
Many delegations expressed the view "—
this is in other parts of Kenya and it shows the line on which they worked—
that in fixing the regional boundaries it was of paramount importance that we should adhere to the existing provincial boundaries in preference to attempting to relate them to what might be said to be the wishes of the people.
That was the view expressed by some African delegations.
The Commission go on later to say:
In many areas the wishes of the people bore no relation whatever to the existing provincial boundaries. In these cases we have done what we consider is reasonably practicable, treating the wishes of the people as the primary consideration, but at the same time adhering to existing boundaries wherever possible.
Surely that is the right and sensible thing to do, whether you are associating people together within a particular community or considering their desire to secede. That is what that Commission said. That Report has one defect: it does not tell you whether the Masai ever said they found it agreeable to be divided between two sovereign states, 60,000 in one and 40,000 in another. However, that is a small point.
The third Report is the Kenya Coastal Strip Report by the Commissioner—and he is referring to the African majority in the quotation:
They insist upon the aspirations of the majority of the people in the strip being the decisive influence as to its future.
There, again, the wishes of the people determine what the African politicians of Kenya say they want. They make a claim to the Coastal Strip on the grounds of the wishes of the people. The Coastal Strip is the property of the Sultan of Zanzibar; no one has questioned it, and there are many people who would be willing that it should go on as such. Nevertheless, that is what the Commissioner said.
He sums up his conclusions and his findings as follows:
…the only practical alternative is for the Coastal Strip to be integrated fully with the rest of Kenya. There are sound and cogent reasons why this should be so. (a) It meets the wishes of the majority of the inhabitants in the Coastal Strip…
That means that three Commissions have ascertained the wishes of the people, and it is implied that decisions will be taken on and in accordance with those wishes and not contrary to them.
The Government have implied that they have some duty to consult the Africans of Kenya on the question of whether the N.F.D. should secede or not. However, I will read what they say. When they are not concerned with the N.F.D. their expressions are quite different. Paragraph 4 of the Report to the Kenya Coastal Strip Conference, 1962, says:
Sir James Robertson's recommendations are, of course, primarily a matter for the Sultan of Zanzibar"—
and the British Government"—
the tenant as it were; I speak in farming language.
Nevertheless, any consideration of this matter must take account of the views of the inhabitants of the Coastal Strip"—
in other words, the inhabitants, plus those with legal title.
§ Nobody else has any duty to consult the African Ministers when they are going to receive something, but only when something is going to be taken away. Why were these two things not balanced together: the valuable Coastal Strip, with its port, its railway and its harbour, against this desert? One they are receiving and the other they should be willing to relinquish. No effort at all has been made to persuade them of the advantages of what is not theirs, and of the disadvantages of paying £300,000 a year to maintain a desert of unwilling subjects.
Somalis read all these reports. They are everywhere. They are intelligent people. There are 20,000 in Aden, and 1,500 or so in this country. They take a part in civilised life, and they know exactly what is going on. They have read all these things and the man in the street—or, in this case, in the desert—listening on his transistor set knows what it is all about. His hopes are raised that the wishes of the people are going to be granted. May I read in full a statement handed to me by the noble Marquess?—and I thank him for it. It was a statement given by the Colonial Secretary, in the wrong place, I submit, in Nairobi.
To whom? I am not entirely sure. But it differs so radically from the statement made to Parliament that I think your Lordships should hear every word of it, in spite of its being half a page. Here it is:
The Report of the Kenya Constitutional Conference of 1962 envisaged the appointment of a Commission to ascertain public opinion in the N.F.D. regarding the future of this area. in the light of likely course of the constitutional development of Kenya. It was stated that the decision on the Commission's findings would be taken by Her Majesty's Government before the introduction of the new Constitution to Kenya.—
"would be" was the expression used—
The Commission presented its Report last December, and Her Majesty's Government have considered its conclusions. They have also noted the statement in the report of the Kenya Regional Boundaries Commission that. according to their terms of reference not restricting them to providing six regions, they would have considered it right to create an additional region, of the general Eastern part of the N.F.D., which is almost exclusively occupied by Somali and kindred peoples.
The Colonial Secretary has discussed this matter fully with the Governor of Kenya and with Ministers in Nairobi. He has also received two delegations, one representing those elements of the Kenya N.F.D. who advocate secession to the Somali Republic and others representing those who wish to remain part of Kenya.
Then comes Paragraph 4—and this is the vital paragraph. Here is the decision in six lines which differs from what is said in Parliament:
Her Majesty's Government have now decided that as part of the constitutional arrangements for internal self-government in Kenya, the predominantly Somali areas referred to in the report of the Regional Boundaries Commission (comprising constituencies 20 to 24 inclusive (see footnote below)) should be formed into a separate seventh Region enjoying a status equal to that of the other Regions in Kenya ".
That is the decision. There is no qualifying remark attached to it whatsoever. It has the appearance of finality. You do not impose upon an internal Government an expensive and burdensome Region which you intend to remove from them before independence. It looks final.
Before I comment further I must read the last paragraph, paragraph (5).
The creation of the new region will give to its inhabitants greater freedom in the management of their own affairs and more effective means of safeguarding their interests and maintaining their way of life.
There is nothing else in the statement; other than the footnote. Imagine the inhabitants of Mogadishu, having been keyed up for months about this Commission, and the inhabitants of the N.F.D., all with their transistor sets and so on, and those who have not sets clamouring round those who have. How does this come out over the wireless? Surely this is a decision which was accepted by Mr. Kenyatta, Mr. Ngala, the Ethiopian Government, the N.F.D., the Somali public—not the Republic—as brutally final. That is the thing that is most objectionable about this whole proceeding—that the wrong decision was given by the wrong Minister in the wrong place. A decision of this importance should surely be made by the Foreign Secretary to Parliament, and not by the Colonial Secretary in Nairobi.
There is more to come. The next day, or the same day (I do not know which), there was a Press conference. Here I must again thank the noble Marquess for having handed me these papers: I should have had great trouble in obtaining them if he had not willingly let me have them, and they are his copies. Here is a report of the Press conference on the Colonial Secretary's statement—an extract from the East African Standard of March 19, 1963, a copy of which was made for me by the staff of the noble Marquess:
One of the most difficult problems was that of the N.F.D., said Mr. Sandys.
The report of the N.F.D. Commission showed there was an important clement which wanted to secede and unite with the Somali Republic. It showed equally that there was another important element which equally strongly wanted to remain part of Kenya.
The British and Kenya Governments understood the Somali people's desire to express their own identity.
But Kenya is a country which depends for its future on being able to show it is capable of providing a home in which people of different races can live honourably and amicably together, the Colonial Secretary added.
Under the heading "Own Identity", the paper goes on—and this is all a quotation of the Colonial Secretary's words:
'It was because we recognised the desire of these people to express their own identity that we decided it would be right to create a seventh region which would embrace those elements in the N.F.D. which felt most strongly on these issues—those areas inhabited predominantly by Somali people.
'We are not so foolish as to imagine that the creation of the seventh region will be hailed by these people as providing complete satisfaction for all their hopes and wishes.
' But I do trust it will be received and recognised by them as a sign of genuine and sincere good will on the part of not only the British Government but also the Kenya Government.'
§ My Lords, there are some dreadful things about this statement. Why is it necessary to have all those 62 tribes? Would they be more difficult to assimilate with one less? Why are the Rendille omitted? I am not representing the Somali Government. I have been asked to represent the N.F.D. The Rendille are a substantial tribe of about 25,000. Why have their views been disregarded? It is true that the Commission and the Regional Boundaries Commission said that the Chiefs firmly wished to secede. But the N.F.D. Commission said that they were dressed more like Samburu or Masai; that they did not speak the Somali language; that they were not Moslems, and that they did not believe them. Why did not they believe them? If there is doubt about this, could it not be referred for further consideration? Surely what a man dresses like has nothing to do with the Commission's terms of reference. This has had to do with what people want to do; how they want to dispose of their future. Their religion has nothing to do with it; nor has their clothing.
Let me repeat what the Colonial Secretary said:
We are not so foolish as to imagine that the creation of the seventh region will be hailed by these people as providing complete satisfaction for all their hopes and wishes…
My Lords, it dashes every hope and wish. It is not a question of foolishness; it is sheer madness. It talks as if the creation of the seventh region were something of the order of an act described in Genesis. It is nothing of the kind. It is just drawing a line around people who are already there and have been there for donkey's years pursuing their way of life. There is nothing in it to indicate that any of the wishes they have expressed will be met. This N.F.D. Commission did not go to ascertain whether they wanted women's institutes; they went to discuss whether they wanted to secede or not. That was the problem. As the Commission might reasonably have been in doubt whether,
notwithstanding the fact that secession was the primary issue, the Government would allow them to talk about it, they specifically asked and were told that they could. The noble Marquess, in a letter to me, has described the action of the Somali Government as "ill-advised", and I should like your Lordships to agree with me that it was not ill-advised but absolutely unavoidable.
Here is a letter from the Prime Minister at Mogadishu dated March 17. I should not think he had been to bed since the announcement was made.
Dear Lord Lytton,
You will have heard by now that my Government, with the support of Parliament, has been forced into breaking off diplomatic relations with Britain following Mr. Sandys' totally unacceptable and uncompromising policy statement about the N.F.D. on March 8".
March 8 is the date of the Nairobi statement.
Spontaneous demonstrations of protest broke out in Mogadishu as soon as his announcement was heard over the radio. A week later a break of diplomatic relations between our two countries was sanctioned by Parliament. I regret the necessity for having to take this drastic step, but no other course was open to us in the circumstances. The assurance that we would be able to express our views at some later stage is of no value. Our views are well known to the British Government and were expressed formally in a Note on January 6 when we proposed a Conference".
Surely, that is a quite dignified and proper letter describing an absolutely unavoidable act. The whole of Mogadishu burst out in indignation when they heard this brutal statement of the Colonial Secretary coming over the radio.
Now I come to the statement made in Parliament, which again the noble Marquess has very kindly sent me, and I do appreciate it. I am a farmer; I have no clerk, no secretary and no typist, and the help I have had has been very useful to me, and I say it in all sincerity. The noble Marquess, knowing I was going to attack the Government, has, nevertheless, behaved to me like a friend.
The other international problem"—
this is an extract from Hansard of March 12, and it is the Colonial Secretary speaking. He handles international problems like any Pooh Bah. It is not his business, and he has not done it well. He goes on [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 673, col. 1177]:
I discussed the whole problem very frankly with Kenya Ministers. They felt strongly that, in the absence of a fully representative Government which could speak with authority for the people of Kenya, it would not be right, for the British Government on its own, to take an irrevocable step.
My Lords, I ask you to consider that they are delighted at an irrevocable step so long as it is a step in the direction which they desire. It is not irrevocability which they are indignant about; they are indignant about something which they do not want. They are delighted, and they think it is irrevocable, and Mr. Kenyatta has stated flatly that Mr. Sandys' statement in Nairobi
is what goes with me not an inch.
In his statement made to Parliament there are two mingy qualifying clauses.
In any case, it seemed reasonable to ask the Kenya Somalis to give a fair trial to the new Constitution.
Where is there any sign of a fair trial? A fair trial of what in the statement made in Nairobi?—that is the statement which he made, face to face with the Africans. He has given them a pledge, without qualification, which looks as if it was intended to be permanent and final.
Then in the statement to Parliament there is another safeguarding clause:
We did not, of course, imagine that this would fully satisfy Somali aspirations, but, while not wishing to exclude future consideration of any methods of settling this problem, we did not think that at this juncture a more radical solution would be justified.
§ "While not wishing to exclude future consideration of any methods of settling this problem"—where is there any sign of that in the Press Conference of his decision at Nairobi? Was this forced on him by events which occurred later, or is there some division in the Cabinet with some opposing a Greater Somalia and others anxious for it to come about? I do not know. But I do suggest that the three statements taken together are responsible for the deplorable muddle and for the withdrawal of an Ambassador by a friend.
§ I have a copy—and this is one of the things which, if I press for Papers, I should wish to have—of a memorandum submitted to the Colonial Secretary in Nairobi by people who claim to represent the secessionists of the N.F.D., the three major Parties, who are all enumerated in the Commission's Report, 617 and who comment, no doubt with a certain partisan tinge but with intelligence and responsibility, on the Report of the Commission, which in great part they praise, and question very intelligently why they are excluded. This is why I am here, as a Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom, believing that you would wish to know what the people of the Northern Frontier District of Kenya have said. That is why I am here. I am here also because of the other people in Kenya, riot excluding the negroes. I have had a letter from Mr. Tom Mboya, which I have read out in this House. I am not anti-Negro. I am in favour of uhuru for Kenya Africans, but not a trampling down of other people's uhuru.
§ I should like to draw your attention to the fact that among the signatories is the Vice-President of the Northern Provinces People's Progressive Party, Alex Kholkholle. I understand that he is a young man, aged perhaps 30, who was chosen as a boy by the Administration to be specially educated with several others in Nairobi. He came back and has plied the profession of teacher. He is a mild man who has never been associated with any Communist Youth League or violence of any sort. He is held in respect by the Administration, by the Somalis themselves and by the Rendille. He is a spokesman in particular for the Rendille, a tribe which is not Somali but which wishes to secede with the Somalis—and which the Commission have said they did not believe.
§ I have had handed to me scripts and other evidence which show that this gentleman has been banished from the N.F.D. and has been required to take up residence in Mombasa. Is it true? Is the result of presenting a memorandum to the Colonial Secretary in Nairobi when it is unpalatable, going to be the removal of people who have presented it? I do not know whether it is true. I am assured that it is so. I should like to ask the Government to tell us about Mr. Kholkholle and whether he has been removed. Perhaps he lost his temper and threw a spear at somebody. I do not know, and I should like to ask for this information, which I believe should be with noble Lords.
§ In The Times of March 23, noble Lords will see a report of the call to the Somalis to boycott the elections—the Somalis in 618 the N.F.D., of course, and not the Somalis anywhere else. No doubt the Government have much more information about that than I have.
I now look at the Kenya Constitution —not the 300 pages but the smaller version, Cmnd. 1970.
No person shall be qualified to be elected a member of the National Assembly if he is under any acknowledgement of allegiance to any foreign power or State.
Do you think that having found out what these people want, that they want to secede, having frustrated their desires, it is possible to get their co-operation in an Administration which requires at least an oath of loyalty to a Government from which they wish to secede? The noble Marquess suggested that people who wished for Scottish Home Rule have been electing Members of Parliament in this country. I cannot see the smallest analogy between those two things. But this is a legal matter. I heard the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, once say that you cannot communicate with the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack except by Telstar. I should like to address my communication to Telstar. Is this not a bar constitutionally to their taking any part, and if they do take part will they not be perjurers? It seems to me that overnight 200,000 have been made traitors.
I should like to conclude these remarks by saying that this seems to me a shabby arrangement which has been made, which arises from this paragraph in the statement of the Colonial Secretary in another place. This is the significant paragraph:
Even if we had wanted to do so"—
he does not seem to want it—
it was clear that in these circumstances a decision by the British Government to secede this territory without the consent of Kenya Ministers would have provoked violent reactions throughout the country and would certainly have led both KANU and KADU to leave the Government.
I deplore this open admission that, of the two techniques which are employed against us by our subject peoples when they want freedom—the technique of Gandhi, on the one side, and the technique of Michael Collins, on the other—we should have publicly declared that, when threatened by both to repress freedom, we are unable to do what we know to be just. Justice, it seems to me, comes before peace, and unless peace is founded on justice it will not work. This is peace
bought at too high a price, the price of throwing the children to the wolves. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 7.23 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I am very glad that the noble Earl has drawn the attention of the Government this evening to the serious situation in the Northern Frontier District of Kenya, and that he was undeterred by the competition of a more popular subject in another place and the lateness of the hour at which the debate started here. Although I think, if I may say so, he put the Somali case with great clearness and competence, and that he spoke with much more first-hand experience of local conditions than Mr. Richard Dimbleby, at the same time I do not think he was altogether fair to Kenya. He spoke about the megalomania of Kenya and its attitude to the Northern Frontier District. Surely it is not megalomania to be somewhat reluctant to part with an area that amounts to about one-third of the total land area of one's country. This is very excusable, because the noble Earl was not making the Kenya case but the Somali case, and I dare say he felt he could leave the Kenya case quite safely to the noble Marquess who will reply to the debate.
There was one other point—perhaps it was mainly a matter of emphasis—on which I think I differed from him. He was mainly concerned about justice, and of course we are all concerned about justice. But I do not think he emphasised sufficiently the dangers of the present situation in this part of Kenya. To my mind, this is the most serious threat to peace in any part of Africa at the present time. As a Conservative Member of another place said after the Secretary of State made his statement there in March, a statement which was reiterated by the noble Marquess here, if we abandon Kenya without a settlement we shall be leaving a built-in cause of war between Kenya and Somalia. That was roughly what he said; I do not quote his precise words because it would not be proper Parliamentary procedure to do so.
It is surely the Government's responsibility to remove this cause of war before Kenya becomes independent. I hope that the Government will be able to assure 620 us, in the reply which the noble Marquess will give to the debate, that they fully accept this responsibility. I cannot believe that the present Government, or any other British Government, would allow Kenya to be involved in an armed conflict with one of its neighbours after it becomes independent, especially when it will not even have the protection of British troops. But such is most likely to be the position, unless, of course, a settlement is reached in the meantime, when this country will no longer be responsible for the defence of Kenya.
I think we all want to be absolutely fair, and I would be the last person to underestimate the very great difficulties that confront the Government in dealing with the situation, because whatever they decide will be deeply resented by one of the two parties, and possibly by both. The Secretary of State's decision to make the Northern Frontier District an administrative region of Kenya, with considerable autonomy, like the other regions, resulted, of course, in the breaking off by the Republic of Somalia of diplomatic relations with this country. This is another point on which I differ from the noble Earl, Lord Lytton. For my part, I do not think that the British Government could have decided otherwise at that time, because the political future of Kenya was in the balance. I feel that this risk of bad relations with Somalia was a risk that had to be taken, and that the consequences of taking that risk had to be accepted.
I believe, too, that the Somalis have made a mistake in breaking off diplomatic relations with this country; and for the same reason as we were mistaken in breaking off diplomatic relations with the Yemen. Such diplomatic gestures injure both countries concerned. They are an example of cutting off your nose to spite your face. Just look at what has happened in the case of Somalia. Somalia has lost a subsidy of over £1 million a year from this country. Somalia is a very poor country indeed, as the noble Earl told us, and needs every penny of assistance it can get from outside. And we, the British, have lost the use of a most important broadcasting station that happens to be located in Somali territory. Both sides have suffered from 621 this interruption of diplomatic relations. I hope that normal relations will be resumed as soon as possible, although I do not imagine that it will be possible until this dispute has been settled.
On the merits of the dispute I will say only this, and I will say what I have to say very briefly. It can hardly be denied, I think, that the noble Earl is absolutely right in claiming that the Somalis are a single people, with a common religion, common language, common way of life, who are racially distinct, being Hamitic, from their Bantu and Nilotic neighbours. These traditional characteristics of the Somalis give them a much stronger claim to self-determination than the many African tribes that are divided by boundaries between different African countries. I do not think that their claim can be refuted on the ground that they are making the same sort of claim as divided tribes in other parts of Africa.
May I remind your Lordships for a moment of an important matter to which the noble Earl, Lord Lytton referred?—the fact that it was Mr. Ernest Bevin, when he was Foreign Secretary, who put forward the idea of a Greater Somalia in the Horn of Africa as the best possible solution of the Somali problem after the war. This solution, unfortunately, was not accepted by other countries, and we are still facing the same problem to-day. If it had been possible to get agreement at that time, when we were administering the greater part of the Somali area, that would have been a happy settlement and it would have saved all the serious trouble which has arisen later on.
But this idea of a Greater Somalia was initially a recognition of the important fact that it is certainly not unreasonable of the Somalis, wherever they form a majority, to wish to live together as a single people in a national homeland. So long as this patriotic aim is tempered with self-restraint and is not marked by resort to violence or brute force, then I think no one who loves his own country can fail to respect others who cherish that thought. At the same time, it would be hard for anyone to imagine that it would be possible for the Government of Kenya to acknowledge the claim of the Somalis in the Northern Frontier District to secede. After all, the unity of their own country is at stake. It is a country that is 622 in the making. How can they, with a stroke of the pen, sign away almost one-third of their territory?
There is another consideration which I think must be kept in mind when making an assessment of the point of view of the people of Kenya. Kenya is deeply divided, as we all realise, by tribal loyalties. That has been one of the greatest difficulties in forming a united nation of Kenya; and of course these tribal rivalries are bound to be sharpened by independence. That is one of the things that invariably happens in every African country. No Government of Kenya could risk the dismemberment of its own country by allowing the inhabitants of one part of that country to secede.
This fact surely places the responsibility fairly and squarely on the shoulders of Her Majesty's Government here. It is for the British Government to decide—and to decide while we still have the constitutional right to do so. And this right will, of course, cease when Kenya becomes independent. It must, therefore, be exercised in the near future, during the short period between self-government which begins after the approaching elections in Kenya, and the attainment of complete independence for which, of course, a date has not at present been fixed. I am quite certain that Parliament would not forgive any British Government for evading a decision of this immense importance for the future of Kenya and for the peace of Africa, by any strategy of delay. I am not suggesting that the Government will adopt a strategy of delay; but we all know from past experience how easy it is for a Government to burke a difficult position by finding excuses for procrastination.
A Commission has already been sent to the area. It is a Commission (from whose Report the noble Earl has quoted) to ascertain the facts and the state of public opinion in the Northern Frontier District; and I have no doubt that the noble Marquess will say a good deal more than the noble Earl said about the conclusions of this Commission, because it occurred to me that the noble Earl quoted most conveniently those parts of it which supported his point of view. But it seems fairly clear to the ordinary man who looks at this Report that the Eastern part of this area is predominantly 623 Somali and wants to secede and go to Somaliland, whereas the more sparsely populated Western part would either be willing to stay in Kenya or has a divided opinion about its political future and political allegiance. Thus, the facts have been established, and there is no excuse at all for calling in the United Nations or the other African countries to examine them. That would be a delaying tactic.
Another delaying tactic would be to wait for acceptance of Her Majesty's Government's proposals by either or both Governments concerned. We could wait, I feel quite certain, until the end of time, and still the proposals would not be entirely satisfactory, either to the Government of Somalia or to the Government of Kenya. But I feel that there is some hope in the attitude that has been already adopted by the British Government in this matter. The Secretary of State has carefully left the door open by saying that the decision about making the Northern Frontier District an administrative Region, the seventh Region of Kenya, does not prejudge a final decision. It is, as it were, an interim decision. That, of course, gave great concern to the Government of Kenya, but it seems to me to have been a most reasonable thing to do.
We are not asking for a final decision from the noble Marquess this evening; that would be a little unreasonable. Nor are we asking for it before the elections have taken place in Kenya. But we are asking the Government to make up their mind before Kenya becomes independent, because that is the only possible moment for a decision to be taken. A policy of drift would be the most disastrous policy of all. Undoubtedly it would lead Kenya into bloodshed and violence, and would mar the really wonderful record of success we have had so far in starting off the British territories in Africa which have achieved independence, in harmony, both internally and with their neighbours. I am glad indeed that the noble Earl has given us an opportunity of discussing a matter of grave public importance, especially because I feel that we must urge the Government, before it is too late, to take a decision that will avoid strife in Kenya when the time comes.
§ 7.39 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF HUNTINGDON
My Lords, I should like to say how grateful 624 I think we all ought to be to the noble Earl who opened the debate and proposed this Motion for giving us a chance of discussing what is a most important, and, I think, possibly a menacing problem. We all appreciate that Her Majesty's Government are in a difficult situation, but I suggest to your Lordships that unless we see a policy change and some new steps taken, the results may be highly disastrous, not only for that part of Africa but for ourselves and for other parts of the world.
I have been in Kenya, although I have never had the good fortune to go into these districts of Somalia. However, I have known people well who are acquainted with them, and who know them thoroughly; and I have had many descriptions and details of the people who live there, of their habits, their customs and of the issue involved. It seems to me that fundamentally the issue is very simple, as has been pointed out by the noble Earl, Lord Lytton. It is that these Somalis, who are a different race from the rest in Kenya, a Hamitic nomadic race to whom the camel is all important, who live in a wild desert country and who are culturally, religiously and in every other way completely different from the other tribes in Kenya, do not want to be put under the Central Kenya Government. Rightly or wrongly, they do not like that Government; they have not a very high opinion of them—that is my information. They do not see why, because this district was originally, for administrative convenience, governed from Nairobi, when the great moment for freedom comes they should be put under people from whom they are completely different, whom they dislike and by whom they do not wish to be governed. That is really their case.
I think the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, said that Sir Charles Eliot, the first Governor of Kenya round about 1904–05, believed in a united Somalia. I should like to quote an extract from what Sir Charles Eliot said, which appeared in a letter to The Times quite recently. This was the opinion of our first Governor of Kenya in 1905. He said:If it were possible to detach the districts inhabited by Somalis it would be an excellent thing to form them into a separate government, as they are different in population, economic and physical conditions from the other provinces: but unfortunately they are too small to form a separate administration, 625 and the adjoining Somali territories are not British.In other words, his whole conception would have been a united Somaliland, but the fact that we did not have power in regard to the further territories made this impossible.
Now, of course, that particular drawback no longer exists, and there is nothing to stop Somalis in this district from being incorporated with the Somalia Republic. This is the position in which we find ourselves. The Republic of Somalia now has its own flag of five stars, one star of which, I am told. represents the North Frontier District. I do not know if this is so, but the fact which we ought to keep in mind, the important fact, quite apart from the rights and wrongs of this issue is that—and this is one thing that is quite certain—the Somalis will not accept and will not tolerate being under the Kenya Government. This may be regretted, it may be unfortunate, but it is a fact which we must recognise. We should also recognise that the Somalis are very fine people indeed. They are extremely good fighters and warriors, probably the best in Africa; they live in a wild desert country, which would be extremely difficult to subdue, and they are experts in guerrilla warfare.
I suggest that if the Government really agree to put the Somalis under the Kenya Administration we shall be leaving a terrible legacy to Kenya. There will be dragons' teeth that will rise up and produce warriors against the Kenya Government. It will put that Government in an impossible position. They almost certainly will not be able to subdue this very proud, gallant people. If they did, it would lead to their slaughter on a gigantic scale. Some people might think that Her Majesty's Government take the rather cynical view: "After all, we shall be out of it. The Africans have asked for this; let them have it and see what happens." I think, and hope, that that is not the view, but in any case until independence we are responsible, and if we stir up this wild, warlike people there will be infinite trouble. Already there has been a report in The Times of April 1 of trouble in Somalia in this district, in which a policeman was killed. That is probably only the beginning if we persist in what seems to them to be a betrayal of their rights and interests and the worst kind of provocation.
626 What are we to do? Are we going to mount an expedition against these people? Are we going to kill these wretched people, people who have always been friendly to the British and respected us? I think that would be most unwise. Once fighting really started there there would be nothing to stop its spreading. I cannot believe that the Republic of Somalia would not come to the help of the Somali people. I am strongly of the opinion that Ethiopia would be fishing in troubled waters. I understand Ethiopia has never really accepted the frontier as being the best frontier between her and this province. Once this is allowed to get out of hand Egypt will probably come into it, possible backed by Russia, who are already very interested in Somalia and carrying out quite a lot of propaganda among the Somalis. If we do not look out—this may sound exaggerated, but I do not believe it is—we shall start another Korea there, with America, ourselves and perhaps the Kenya Government on the one side, and with Russia, Egypt and the Somalis on the other. I am sure that is the last thing any of us on any side of the House, or anywhere for that matter, would want to see. It is not an intangible danger, but a real menace which might happen at any time.
It is difficult to appreciate why Mr. Kenyatta and the other politicians in Kenya are so keen to have this province, because economically it is absolutely valueless. We have heard several times to-day that it consists of 30 per cent. of the territory, but it is just desert country. One has a very different situation in the Congo in relation to the small breakaway province of Katanga. Katanga is the richest province and the whole wealth of the Congo lies there; without it it would be difficult, if not impossible, for a Congolese Government to manage at all. It is strange, in a way, that the British Government sympathise with Katanga on the one side, and yet sympathise with the Kenya Government against the unfortunate Somalis on the other. It does not seem quite to carry out a consistent principle. In fact, the only reason these politicians of Kenya can want Somaliland is purely, as has been said, for prestige, and wanting to make a big show with this extra territory. I appreciate that Her Majesty's Government may think that it may make 627 negotiations easier if they hand over these Somalis and that we shall get some sort of arrangement in Kenya, but I do not think it will make it much better, and there are too many dangers on the other side.
The only other consideration is the question of the settlers, who are in a difficult position. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the issue, we must all sympathise with the white settlers in Kenya, who are facing the change in government and are wondering what the relations will be and what their future will be. Nationalism, unfortunately, is a very heady wine, and I am afraid that some of the African leaders do not appreciate that never before have they needed the skill and knowledge which they will not have when they are independent; and that there are a great many white people, very well-wishing, who would place that skill at their disposal. The only thing any of us can hope for is that, once the great enthusiasm for freedom is satisfied, the Africans will begin to appreciate and to build up a society in which all races can exist happily side by side; and that the future of these settlers will not be quite as black as some of them fear it will be.
However, in any case, my Lords, I cannot believe that this bargain of handing over these Somalis will really affect these settlers or help them out. That is a question which will have to be decided historically. It will have to be worked out between the new Government of Kenya and the people living there. I hope that friendship will develop, and that a new kind of feeling will arise in Africa when she is free. But, my Lords, I do suggest that, even for those considerations of peace or of appeasement, we cannot hand over these unfortunate and proud people, the Somalis, to be under a Government they so much dislike.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR COLONIAL AFFAIRS (THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE)
My Lords, the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, who moved this Motion, was good enough to say that I had helped him in supplying him with material. I was going to say that I thought he had made a well-documented speech. It is true that I did supply him with material and, of course, I was happy to do so, hoping that the noble Earl, 628 through reading everything that I had available to give him, would draw the right conclusion. I must confess that I was a little disappointed that, as the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, pointed out, the noble Earl tended to use only such parts of the documents as fitted neatly into his own thesis. But perhaps that was not altogether to be unexpected. But I remember that the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said that he considered that the primary concern of the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, was a concern for justice. Of course, one would not expect the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, to have any other concern. But I do put it to him, as indeed to the two noble Lords who have just sat down on the opposite Benches, that there were, and are, many, many difficult problems involved in this situation.
I think your Lordships will understand that it would be very unwise for me, and unhelpful for me, to enter into a detailed discussion of this matter; and I hope you will forgive me if I stick very rigidly to the words which I have written down in a speech which I prepared. The reason for this is that, despite the relative intimacy of the debate this evening, what I shall say will be scanned, of course, by people in the countries concerned, and it would be very distressing if, by some slip of the tongue, I were to give an impression which was incorrect; if I were to say something that might perhaps exacerbate a situation which is already in itself difficult. I am happy to be able to tell your Lordships that at the present time I think there is in Kenya far less tension than we have had for many months, and I hope that this is a situation which will continue and in fact progressively improve.
For the record—I hope I shall not be wearying your Lordships—I wish just to describe the situation as it is, and to give your Lordships a factual account of the situation. Many of your Lordships are already fully familiar with the situation, but I should like, for the record, in case it should go out from this House that perhaps there are some misunderstandings, to give the situation quite clearly, as I see it.
I must remind your Lordships that at the 1962 Constitutional Conference here in London, there were meetings between a representative group of the Conference and a Delegation from the 629 Northern Frontier District. The Delegation asked that, before any further constitutional changes affecting Kenya were made, autonomy should be granted to the Northern Frontier District as a territory wholly independent of Kenya, in order that it might join in an act of union with the Somali Republic when Kenya became fully independent. By the Northern Frontier District, the Delegation meant all six sub-districts—namely, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Moyale, Marsabit and Isiolo. The Northern Frontier District Delegation was unanimous on this question. The representatives of KADU and KANU, however, were equally unanimous in their opposition to any measures which would lead to secession of any part of the Northern Frontier District; and they also claimed that the Somali delegation at the Lancaster House Conference was not truly representative of the inhabitants of the area.
The Secretary of State told the Conference that Her Majesty's Government had given very careful consideration to the views which had been put forward by the Delegation, and by KADU and KANU, and had come to the conclusion that an investigation should be undertaken in order to ascertain public opinion in the area regarding its future. The Secretary of State accordingly proposed to arrange for an independent Commission to be appointed with appropriate terms of reference, to investigate the matter and report to him. An assurance was given that the Commission would be appointed as soon as practicable so that its report could be available, and a decision on its findings taken by Her Majesty's Government, before the new Constitution for Kenya was brought into operation. Meanwhile, there would be no change in the status of the Northern Frontier District or in the arrangements for its administration.
There has been some misunderstanding about the assurance that a decision on the findings of the Commission would be taken before the new Constitution was introduced. The Somalis in Kenya and the Somali Government itself have claimed that Her Majesty's Government have failed to honour the undertakings given at the Lancaster House Conference. Their view is that, by incorporating the N.F.D. into the framework of that Con- 630 stitution, Her Majesty's Government are guilty of a breach of the undertakings given at the Conference, and have prejudiced the final decision. The Somali view is based, I repeat, on a misunderstanding of what was decided at the Conference. This was that there would be a decision on the findings of the N.F.D. Commission; and no more than that. A further undertaking was given that until that decision had been taken no changes would be made in the status of the N.F.D., or in the arrangements for its administration. The decision in question is that which the Secretary of State announced in Nairobi on March 8, and which was referred to in the statement which I read in your Lordships' House on March 12. No changes in the arrangements for administering the area have been made.
As your Lordships will remember, we secured for this Northern Frontier District Commission the services of Major-General Bogert, a Canadian, and Mr. Onyiuke, Q.C., a Nigerian. We deliberately looked outside the British field so that the impartiality of the Commission could not be challenged. Their terms of reference were:To ascertain, and report on, public opinion in the Northern Frontier District (comprising the district's of Isiolo, Garissa, Mandera, Marsabit, Moyale and Wajir) regarding arrangements to be made for the future of the area in the light of the likely course of constitutional development in Kenya.The Commission visited Kenya between October 13 and November 28 last, and they submitted their Report to the Secretary of State on December 7. Their Report, as your Lordships will remember, was published as a Command Paper, from which the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, has quoted.
In their Report, the Commissioners stated that they found that there were areas in the Northern Frontier District supporting Somali opinion, areas supporting Kenya opinion and areas where opinion was mixed or uncertain. The areas in which the Commission found the people supporting the Somali opinion extend from the Kenya-Somali Frontier to the Adjuran-Galla line, and embrace the three sub-districts of Mandera, Wajir and Garissa, less the area occupied by the Riverine people, who are Bantu, and the Orma, together with the Adjuran area of the Moyale sub-district. In this area the 631 Commission found that the people almost unanimously favoured the secession from Kenya of the Northern Frontier District when Kenya attains independence, with the object of ultimately joining the Somali Republic. Further, the Commission also reported that the people in this area wanted the N.F.D. to have a period under British authority in which to build up its machinery of government, so that it could join the Somali Republic as a self-governing unit. Elsewhere in the Northern Frontier District the people either wished to remain in Kenya or opinion was divided or uncertain.
The Commission expressed the view that they had obtained a true picture of public opinion as to the future Government of the Northern Frontier District with the exception of the Rendille tribe, to which the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, referred. Now the Commission were careful to point out that they did not wish to imply that the Rendille necessarily supported a view opposite to the one they had put forward. The Commission wished to go on record as stating their honest view that they could not believe that these people, who have no direct contact with the Somalis, generally wished to join Somalia. I think I should add, my Lords, that I have asked for further information about this from the Governor, and he has reported to me that from his own knowledge and from his own inquiries his view now fully corroborates the view of the two gentlemen on the N.F.D. Commission. The findings of the N.F.D. Commission were substantiated, as the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, said, by the Regional Boundaries Commission which visited the area after the N.F.D. Commission. The Boundaries Commission made it clear in their Report that had their terms of reference allowed they would have considered it right to create a Region consisting of the areas almost exclusively occupied by the Somali and kindred people—namely, the areas which now actually comprise the seventh Region.
I agree with noble Lords who have spoken that the Somalis are a homogeneous people, people sharing a common culture, a common language, a common religion and a common way of life. It is natural that they should 632 aspire to be joined together in one nation. The British Government nevertheless understand the arguments used by African political leaders in Kenya to justify their opposition to the cession of any territory within Kenya's present boundaries. They point out that the present boundaries of Kenya, as of many other countries in Africa, are purely artificial, and that it is not only along the boundary with the Somali Republic that peoples of the same stock are divided from one another by national boundaries. They consider that it is not for the Colonial Power to attempt to adjust, in the final phase before independence, the boundaries which were its own artificial creation, for they argue that once this process is begun there can be no telling where it might end. They go on to argue that this difficulty is particularly acute in Kenya, where centrifugal forces are already strong. There is, of course, much force in this argument, particularly where it is applied to nomadic peoples who seek grazing and water for their cattle over vast areas of land, and who have traditionally crossed and recrossed national boundaries in their search for the means of existence.
A further argument is that for various reasons the Northern Frontier District has always been administered differently from the rest of Kenya. This, of course, has been necessarily imposed by nature and geography, and for this reason the Somalis have never really been able to experience the benefits of being part of Kenya, and the Africans, for their part, have never been in a position to demonstrate this to them. African Ministers have gone to great lengths in the agreed Constitution to make provision to let the different parts of Kenya run their own affairs. As my right honourable friend has said, we have thought it only fair to give the Kenya Africans an opportunity to demonstrate their goodwill towards the inhabitants of the Somali districts—as, indeed, elsewhere in Kenya.
The Somalis do not appear to have appreciated the degree of autonomy which they will enjoy in their own Region. In the first place they will have their own Regional Assembly, with its President. The Regional Assembly will consist of members freely elected by the 633 inhabitants of the area, and the President will be elected by the Regional Assembly members from among persons who are members or who are qualified to be members. This Assembly will be responsible for police and the maintenance of law and order in its Region, for day-to-day administration and for such matters as education and health. The Somalis, therefore, will have the direction of most of their own affairs. They will also he guaranteed under the Constitution their own sources of revenue as a matter of right and not as the Central Government may decide from time to time. They will also have direct responsibility for those matters which most closely affect the way of life of their own people—for example, the control of grazing areas and access to water. Their right to practise the Moslem religion will be safeguarded by the Bill of Rights and by the courts.
The British Government acknowledge the strength of the arguments on both sides, and cannot disregard the fact that they are deeply and, indeed, passionately held. British interests do not lie in exploiting them. In the long run, the interests of Great Britain, of Kenya and of the Somali Republic are the same—namely, that there should be peace, stability and prosperity throughout the area. My Lords, it would be a tragedy if anything were said or done in the heat of the moment, or from considerations of merely short-term advantage, to prejudice that ultimate objective.
I should like the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, to pay particular attention to what I am about to say. Of course, the British Government is directly responsible for trying to find a generally acceptable solution to this problem before Kenya becomes independent, when our direct responsibility will cease. We cannot seek solutions in a vacuum, and it is for this reason that we very much regret that the Somali Republic has broken off diplomatic relations with us. Present difficulties will be aggravated if any of those who are directly involved in this matter, including the British Government take up intransigent or uncompromising positions. There is a great need for a period of calm and reflection in which all concerned can let their emotions subside and consider coolly what course of action really is in 634 their long-term interests. I told your Lordships at the outset that I thought it only right I should speak with the greatest care on this subject. I am sorry that I cannot have satisfied the noble Earl, Lord Lytton. I have not entered into detailed discussions with him and have not been able to reply to the one question he desired to make about the restriction of Mr. Kholkholle, but I will endeavour to ascertain the information for which he asked.
§ 8.12 p.m.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Lords, I am extremely grateful for the care with which my protests have been received. This is a late hour, but, before I finish, I should just like to dwell on what may be one or two misunderstandings. I think the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, believed, perhaps from my excessive volubility, that I was attempting to say that the responsibility for decisions rested with the Kenya African Government; whereas he said that it rests fairly and squarely on Her Majesty's Government. I entirely agree, and if anything I said, when I was referring to megalomania, gave rise to a different impression, I would only say that I join with him in agreeing entirely that it is a matter for Her Majesty's Government to decide.
I also agree, in part, with what he said about never being able to get anything generally acceptable; but I agree with that with one proviso. I am pretty certain that the N.F.D. and the Kenya Ministers will never accept anything generally. Their attitude is intransigent. I believe that the attitude of the Somali Republic, whose interests I have not been arguing, is that they claim nothing; N.F.D. Somalis have claimed Somalia and others than Somali have wished to join them. So far as the people are Somalis, and only to that extent, Somalia supports their claim. I do not think Somalia is willing to say "No" to those who wish to come with them if it is certain that there is a solid and permanent desire. I am sure Somalia does not want a single man in the country who is hostile to it. They have no such aspirations. They are not imperialistic.
Why do Kenya politicians, the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, asked, want this barren country? True, it is half the land; 635 but it is a tremendous liability. In ale other part of the country there are 4,080 primary schools; in this part there are eight. Welfare has not started. The Negroes will be the slaves of the non-Negroes if they assume responsibility in this part, as they have been for the best part of 70 centuries. They will perpetuate their slavery, working to provide welfare for people in the desert, who will demand it as a right.
One of the main reasons, apart from the personal relationships between Kenyatta and the Emperor of Ethiopia, are the doctrines of the Pan-African high command, which regards liberation of all Africa as its primary aim—liberation such as that of Algeria, South Africa and Rhodesia. Anything that detracts from that or imposes the slightest delay is, for the time being, a deviation from the doctrine of the Pan-African high command. That is why the Somalis for the present do not get a great deal of support hum other Africans in other territories, because the whole Pan-African picture depicts the enemy as the white man. Anything which distracts from that is regarded as faulty tactics in dealing with the European imperialists. Therefore, for the time being, Africans tolerate the black imperialists.
I was disappointed in the sense that I might have dimly hoped for a little more from the noble Marquess; but it is not really unexpected and in that sense not disappointing. He came with a speech prepared and, apart from about three words, it could have been delivered whether I had spoken or not. He has given his reasons and has almost apologised for having to do so, but that is what he has done. He has not gone into matters of detail with me nor joined issue in any one single instance. He read large passages of the kind which I quoted myself, without any sort of tying-up 636 between the two, and, to that extent, I am disappointed. But it is late and very few people are here. I am grateful because I have been able to put my views, and I would end by saying this in regard to a remark by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel. I will quote an Indian proverb in connection with the Somalis:He who finds himself in the mouth of the lion will appeal for help even to the tiger.My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.