This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Dr. John Karefa-Smart, Foreign Minister of Sierra Leone, discusses the UN Security Council's endorsement of the complaints filed by a conference of African nations against Portugal. He mentions that most of the colonies under British and French rule have already been allowed independence, or there are plans for their independence. He makes an exception for Spain's continued colonization.
His main focus is on Portugal. He notes that Portugal refrains from calling them colonies, but rather refer to them as provinces of Portugal. The Africans, however, refuse to accept this claim.
He brings up the oppressive measures taken by Portugal against the populations of the territories when they made strides to gain self determination. He describes how the 31 territories met and decided they must present their case before the Security Council.
The Security Council was called on to agree with the General Assembly's finding that Portugal presented a threat to peace and security in Africa. They were also called on to affirm that the regions in question were indeed colonies, as defined by the United Nations.
The unified African nations also requested that the security council to enforce their findings so that Portugal must accept their findings and stop taking repressive measures against the national movements in the territories, grant political amnesty to the thousands of Africans in Portuguese jails, and to set in motion the machinery for self determination and ultimately independence. Finally, the unified African nations called on all UN members to refrain from furnishing Portugal with assistance, including arms, which would enable them to continue their fight against nationalism.
Karefa-Smart notes that all but three members of the Security Council voted in favor of these resolutions. The United States, United Kingdom and France abstained from the vote.
Next, Foreign Minister of Portugal, Alberto Franco Nogueira is invited to speak. He reviews the resolution approved by the council. He summarizes as follows:
1. resolution calls on Portugal to grant immediate self-determination to the overseas territories.
2. the council views the conditions present in the territories to be bad.
3. these conditions present a threat to the peace and security of the continent of Africa and of the world.
He contests their recommendation of how to provide self-determination. He says that all citizens of the territories enjoy the right to vote, and thus already have self-determination. He also disputes the claims of war in the territories, and states that there have only been disturbances in the past, but that these disturbances were incited by outsiders. There are, he says, camps outside of the territories where paid fighters are trained by non-Africans with interests in the territories.
He also disputes the claims that conditions in the territories are bad. He notes that they have proposed visits by various outsiders as wells as the heads of the African nations to prove that conditions are acceptable, but says these offers were never accepted. He calls the allegations slanderous.
Karefa-Smart is given five minutes to respond to Nogueira. He calls him a very good lawyer, but a lawyer with a weak case. He states that the issues in the colonies have never been about race, Portugal, he says, is a very colorblind nation. The problems are the requirements for citizenship, which includes literacy in Portuguese and adherence to Christianity. All others who do not meet these criteria are excluded as non-citizens. He also refutes claims that Angola is peaceful because 40,000 soldiers are able to keep 4 million people in order. He asks what could poor villagers with no weapons do against soldiers with guns and planes with bombs? Finally, Karefa-Smart defends his decision not accept Nogueira's offer of a visit to the colonies, he says it was a time stalling tactic and by the time the trip was approved and taken the Council would be out of session and another year would pass.
Nogueira responds, clarifying the rights of citizenship and disputing Karefa-Smart's representation of these laws. He also disputes the claim that the local populations are unarmed.
Questions and answer period follows.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 70645
Municipal archives id: RT280