- Category: Archives
- Created on Monday, 16 February 1959 18:17
- Written by Time Magazine
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Tom Mboya, 28, most powerful political personality of Kenya, land of the gory Mau Mau uprisings. The Mau Mau were Kikuyus; Mboya is a Luo, the second largest tribe. Son of a sisal plantation worker, round-faced young Mboya learned most of his ABCs by writing in the sand for lack of books and slates. In 1953, the year he got fired as a sanitary inspector in Nairobi, he was elected general secretary of the powerful Kenya Federation of Labor. Elected to Kenya's Legislative Council, he now boycotts its sessions in protest against the kind of equality in which the blacks hold 14 seats to represent 6,000,000 people and the whites have the same number for 60,000. "We offer the Europeans the hand of friendship," he says, "but let them make no mistake about our determination to win our freedom."
Dr. Hastings Banda, 53, Nyasaland's fanatical rabble-rouser who last July, having practiced medicine in London and Ghana, returned home after 41 years of self-imposed exile. Called ''savior, liberator, messiah," by the crowds who sing Banda Comes Marching Home and cover his car with kisses, he has stirred up the whole territory by screaming for an end to the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, has already picked out a name — Malawi — for an African federation that would include Nyasaland, Tanganyika, Uganda, and parts of Northern Rhodesia, Mozambique, and the Belgian Congo. "We must fill their prisons ," he tells his shrieking followers. "We must go singing hallelujah. That's the way to get freedom."
Julius Nyerere, 36, whose Tanganyika African National Union won every seat in last fall's election to the Legislative Council. A slight, soft-spoken man with an M.A. (history and economics) from the University of Edinburgh and the filed teeth of his tribe ("I found them a rather useful and amusing gimmick in college"), Nyerere is a comparative moderate who is willing to wait all of six years for independence from Britain, says of his own future: "When I make a great kelele [Swahili for disturbance], I am cheered to the echo. But when we take over the government, my troubles will begin. It will be but a matter of time before I find that I am unable to deliver the goods I may have promised out of political expediency. Then the head of Julius Nyerere will roll."
Chief Obafemi Awolowo, 49, of the powerful Yoruba tribe, dedicated, teetotaling Prime Minister of the Western Region of Nigeria who began as a barrister, has gradually emerged as a statesman of integrity in a land where charges of corruption are the political order of the day. His fellow Prime Minister to the more populous but primitive north, the Sardauna of Sokoto, is a haughty Moslem nobleman out of another century. Nigeria's other regional Prime Minister, the demagogic, U.S.-educated Nnamdi ["Zik"] Azikiwe of the Ibo tribe to the east, lives under a cloud as a result of a financial scandal in his administration. So rent by divisions (250 tribes speaking 400 languages), Nigeria has a compromise federal Prime Minister, Abubakar Balewa, a northerner. "To many of us," says Awolowo, "Britain is our second home. We have thrown no stones, fired no shot, and we have not shed a drop of British blood. We are attaining independence by peaceful, orderly and democratic methods."
Barthélémy Boganda, 48, stoutish Premier of Ubangi-Shari in French Equatorial Africa, which now bears the ambitious name of the Central African Republic. It is a land of which it is said that the majority live in the Stone Age, and the advanced people live in the Middle Ages. The son of a witch doctor who claimed to have eaten human flesh, Boganda became a Roman Catholic priest, was unfrocked after he went to Paris as a Deputy and married his French secretary. A prosperous coffee planter and shrewd politician who likes to spout Latin phrases, he once gained enormous prestige by announcing just before an eclipse that he would perform the miracle of blotting out the sun. His dream is of a "United States of Latin Africa" embracing all of French Equatorial Africa, as well as parts of Portuguese Angola and the Belgian Congo. Of Africa's present boundaries, he says: "We are not responsible for the mistakes of the explorers."
Léopold-Sédar Senghor, 52, the grand old man of Senegalese politics, widely regarded as Africa's foremost intellectual. An opinionated and brilliant man, the son of wealthy Catholic parents, Senghor started his career as a teacher in the Parisian Lycée Louis-le-Grand, which traditionally gets the cream of Sorbonne graduates for its faculty. He fought with the French as an infantryman in World War II, joined the Resistance, became a literary lion in Paris after publication of his poems, Chantes d'Ombre. His second wife is a Frenchwoman. As one of the architects of the new Mali Federation which keeps its links to Paris, his hope for the future is for a commonwealth " à la française" in a time when Europe will once again be the world's "premier spiritual power."