In Africa, 1972 is likely to be remembered as a year of major political change.?
In Africa, 1972 is likely to be remembered as a year of major political change. This is reflected in our annual African Review of the Year where only one of the stories selected is of a non-political nature.
Once again, the review has been compiled in a way that enables news editors to extract items they may not wish to include. Each individual segment is separated by an optical effect. A full commentary is provided overleaf.
The following stories have been selected for inclusion in this year's review:
1. Ghana - Military leaders set up National Redemption council after bloodless coup.
2. Ghana - Body of former president Dr. Nkrumah buried in Ghana.
3. Rhodesia - Africans riot as Pearce Commission canvasses for settlement.
4. Ethiopia - Special session of Security Council discusses "Colonialism and Racial Injustice."
5. Chad - French President Pompidou on one of two African tours - prior to withdrawal of last French forces.
6. Malagasy - General Ramantsoa takes power after student riots. Republic
7. Tanzania - Funeral of assassinated Zanzibar ruler Sheikh Karume.
8. Morocco - King Hassan survives Air Force plot to shoot down his airliner.
9. Tanzania - Aftermath of bombing following abortive attempted invasion of Uganda by Obote followers.
10. Uganda - President Amin gives thanks as Asians leave country.
11. Zambia - President Kaunda announces introduction of one-party state.
12. Rhodesia - Over 400 die in Wankie mine disaster.
13. Sudan - President Nimerey tours southern Sudan after civil war ceasefire.
14. Libya - Libyan and Egyptian leaders sign unity agreement.
SYNOPSIS: Nineteen seventy-two is likely to go down in African history as a year of intense political activity throughout the continent. In Ghana, the year was only two weeks old when military leaders under Lieutenant-Colonel Ignatius Acheampong came to power following a bloodless coup. The National Redemption Council was established with the aim of setting right previous malpractice alleged against the former Prime Minister, Dr. Busia, and the preceding administration of Dr. Nkrumah.
But within a few months, Dr. Nkrumah died in Rumania and controversy started over his last resting place. He was at first flown to Guinea, where he had lived in exile, but after mediation his body was returned here - to his native town of Nkroful in Ghana for burial. Twenty-thousand people - including leaders of the new government - followed the coffin and Colonel Acheampong described the former leader as the principal architect of Ghana's independence.
The situation in Rhodesia provided the other major African story in January. Serious rioting broke out as the Pearce Commission arrived to assess African reaction to the Five Principles - the latest British attempt at a settlement of the independence dispute. And one of the African leaders articulated the answer intended for the Pearce Commission:
Gwelo, Rhodesia's third-largest city, was the scene of some of the worst rioting. The Rhodesian Government blamed the rioting on nationalist leaders trying to disrupt the Commission's work. But the leaders denied this charge.
Despite the disruptions, the Pearce Commission went ahead with its mission of sounding out Rhodesian opinion. Finally, it reported that the Five Principles were accepted by the majority of white Rhodesians, but rejected by the majority of Africans. The British Government accepted the report; the Rhodesian Government denounced it; and the deadlock remained.
Rhodesia and racialism in southern Africa were chief subjects at the historic Security Council session in Addis Ababa:
While Britain was experiencing continued difficulties with Rhodesia, and later with Uganda, the French relationship with Africa continued more smoothly. President Georges Pompidou made two separate tours of French-speaking African countries. Shortly after this visit to Chad, the something French military advisers in the country were withdrawn after four years assisting in operations against rebels.
Chad also followed the leader of Uganda in breaking off relations with Israel and seeking a rapprochement with Libya.
Meantime, there was unrest in two African islands. Here in the Malagasy Republic more than thirty people died after a students' strike for a revised educational system erupted into violence.
At the height of the three-day riots in May, the Town Hall in Tananarive was burned down. President Tsiranana's government first ordered the arrest of student leaders, then their release.
Finally, the President handed over executive powers to Major General Gabriel Ramanatsoa. He called a referendum, fought a popular campaign, and finally won an estimated ninety-five per cent of the votes cast.
There was trouble, too, on the island of Zanzibar. Tanzanian leaders gathered there in April for the burial of the island's ruler, Sheikh Karume. He was buried only a short distance from where he was shot by assassins. Four of his alleged assassins were reported to have been shot by security forces. A fifth committed suicide.
There was an even more spectacular attempt at political assassination in Morocco. Air Force jet fighters attempted to shoot down King Hassan's airliner as the monarch was returning from a visit to France. Despite severe damage to the airframe and engines, the pilot succeeded in landing - and the King escaped further Air Force attacks on Rabat Airport and on the royal palace. The Defence Minister committed suicide and was later accused of being behind the plot.
The year's most explosive flashpoint was East Africa, where for a few days Uganda and Tanzania were poised dangerously close to conflict. Tanzanian troops moved in force up to the border following Uganda air raids - retaliation for an invasion by a force of guerrillas supporting the deposed former President Obote.
At the worst stage, thousands of people fled from the Tanzanian town of Mwanza following bombing raids. But the border stayed quiet. And while Libya sent troops to aid Uganda, Somalia mounted a full-scale peace mission in an effort to defuse the situation.
As the guerrillas were rounded up in Uganda, world attention focused on the plight of the Asian community in Uganda which had been ordered out of the country by President Idi Amin. The President, here giving thanks at the end of his ninety-day expulsion deadline, accused the Asians of sabotaging the national economy and of encouraging corruption. He declared he wanted the economy placed solely in the hands of Black Ugandans. The takeover of British interests was to follow later.
The majority of the Asian refugees - about twenty-four thousand of them - went from Uganda to Britain. Another six-thousand went to India and a similar number to Canada. But the real tragedy centred on the four-thousand stateless Asians. They were registered by the United Nations and flown to refugee camps in Italy, Austria, Belgium and other countries while efforts were made to find them permanent homes.
In Zambia, the year's major story was the progress towards a one-party state. President Kenneth Kaunda put the case for this at the December Party conference:
One of the most tragic events of the year was the mine disaster at Wankie Colliery in Rhodesia. Early in June, more than four hundred mine workers were entombed by an underground explosion. Only a few bodies were recovered before the rescue operation was abandoned .... the rescue workers themselves were in danger from the risk of further explosions and poisonous gas. Specialist mine rescue teams had been flown inform South Africa. They penetrated 3,000 feet into the mine and found twisted metal and the closed-off passages of old shafts which had been blown away. One theory is that an underground store of explosives was accidentally detonated, igniting concentrations of gas.
March saw the end of the conflict between northern and southern Sudan. President Al-Nimiry made important concessions to the south in an agreement providing regional autonomy. For sixteen years, the southerners had been fighting against what they saw as domination by the Arab north. Under the regional autonomy agreement, the south was told its peoples could legislate on local matters through the establishment of a regional People's Council. Arabic remains Sudan's official language, but President Al-Nimiry said English and local languages would be used in the south. This tour through southern Sudan by President Nimeiry marked the effective end of the conflict which had been negotiated a month earlier by the President and secessionist leaders.
Arab unity was brought a stage closer in September when President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Libya's President Gaddafi signed an agreement to unify their countries by stages. The new state of Egypt and libya is expected to come into existence some time next year. It will embrace thirty-seven million people, will have one elected Parliament and its president will be elected by a referendum in both countries. Committees were appointed to study merger plans before putting a final plan before the people in a plebiscite on September first 1973. An important feature of the agreement is that the way is left clear for more neighbouring countries to join the new state.