A CONFERENCE ABOUT TANGANYIKA | VALLABHBHAI PATEL

The Tanganyika League is holding a conference in Nairobi as we go to press. The proceedings which began yesterday are scheduled to conclude today. Representatives from various parts of East Africa are attending the conference. It is interesting to note that the great bulk of the delegates are Europeans, but that there is a sprinkling of Indians, chief among them being the recently elected President of the E. A. Indian Congress and his secretary, together with two others. The fifth Indian delegate is from Dar-e-salaam; we understand that he does not bring with him his community's credentials. No Indian centre in East Africa has officially nominated a delegate to the Conference, not even Nairobi where the conference is being held. Out of the five Indian delegates three are from Nairobi representing the Congress and nominated as liaison members before the last session of the Congress, one from Dar-e-salaam and one from Mombasa. We lay great stress on the Indian representation at the Conference because it is essential that the non-India public and the authorities should be under no misapprehension about Indian participation in the affairs of the Tanganyika League.


The European representation at the Conference is larger numerically but not as much East African as it might have been Rhodesia, which is said to have over to 4000 members of the League, has sent no delegate, neither has Zanzibar nor Nyasaland. Uganda sends only one European delegate.


The conference is essentially European in representation and ideals and is the logical outcome of a series of attempts during a generation to bring East Africa under one control. But it must not be understood that it reflects the views or the wishes of the peoples of East Africa. And among the peoples of these territories there is that huge native population which has no say in its own destinies. Nor docs the conference command the unqualified support of the bulk of the Indian community whose name has unwittingly been mixed up through the rash and impolitic co-operation of a few persons who unfortunately for the community are at present in charge of the Congress.


At the recent session of the Congress the main resolution on Tanganyika purported to support the principle of self-determination for the peoples of East Africa. That was a repetition of the message which the President of the Indian National Congress sent to the distressed Indians in Tanganyika who had appealed to him for help during the weeks following the Munich agreement. The obvious inference which one has to draw from the participation in the Conference of the  President of the local Congress and some of his officials is that the Indian community is ever ready to apply the great principles of self-determination for immigrant races, but not to those whose land and resources are under exploitation by those races!


The situation has been complicated, much capital being made out of it by the Europeans by the report that SARDAR VALLABHBHAI PATEL has been induced by Mahatma Gandhi to come to East Africa in order to organise a campaign among Indians against the return of Tanganyika to Germany. We are not sure about the authenticity of the report, but we will not be wrong in our surmise, if the report be correct that the Aga Khan's recently reported visit to Mahatma has, something to do with the Sardar's visit. 


The Aga Khan has shown a keen interest in the future of Tanganyika. He has a large spiritual following among Indians in that country and the surrounding territories. His first response to the appeal addressed to him by Tanganyika Indians was that they should seek the assistance of India, not to prevent the return of Tanganyika to Germany, but to ensure that Indians in that territory would get adequate compensation for their landed and other interests in the event of its German re-occupation. He appeared at the time to accept the inevitable, for it then seemed inevitable, that Tanganyika should change ownership, after the German triumph in Eastern Europe. But the tide of international events since then changed against Germany, and so did His Highness' appreciation of the actual facts. Soon after his arrival in Bombay a few weeks ago, the Aga Khan expressed himself as opposed to the return of the territory to Germany. His reported visit to the Mahatma followed next.


And now we have the report that a prominent Congressman and leader in India is to come out to East Africa to organise Indians against the return of Tanganyika. As our readers will have known, responsible opinion in india has been reluctant, like Indian opinion here, to express itself against the German claim and it was not long ago that the President of the Indian National Congress refused to be drawn in the controversy. The Sardar is said to be the virtual dictator of the Congress, but it is difficult to understand how his visit to this country could be undertaken unless the Congress headquarters at Wardha have sanctioned the step over which there must be considerable difference of opinion in non-Congress and even the Congress circles. The remarkable circumstance connected with the report is that the local Congress headquarters were in the dark about the proposed visit and that neither the Congress in India nor the Aga Khan have had any exchange of view with the local Congress on an issue of such great importance to Indians in East Africa.


It is yet to early to comment on this further complication created by the Sardar's proposed visit, but it ought to be clear to Congressmen in India that local opinion has settled itself to one clear issue, namely the retention of Tanganyika within the British fold. Indian opinion could not go further than that and if the Sardar's aim is to get Indians in East Africa to agree to the principle, he might spare himself the trouble and the time which the visit will necessitate.


Having made the Indian position on the future of Tanganyika and on the Tanganyika League clear, we await further developments in the matter. One good point about the Conference is that it has an item on its agenda proposing that Colonial Territories and Mandates should be internationalised. It is the one subject on which Indians and at the Conference might express themselves dispassionately, for there is an increasing consensus of opinion in India and in Britain that something substantial should be contributed to make peace a live reality. Under a scheme of this kind, India can have a fair share in the distribution of responsibility for East African affairs and a correspondingly greater right to interfere in the interests of its sons settled in these territories.


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