(Tunisia in February of 1958 - Harbinger of things to come very shortly) Continuing our occasional survey of Africa during and post-Independence mo
February 12, 2010


(Tunisia in February of 1958 - Harbinger of things to come very shortly)

Continuing our occasional survey of Africa during and post-Independence movements, I just pulled up a news program discussing the conflicts between Tunisia and Algeria in February 1958, all centering around France with implications to us in the eyes of the rest of the world.

Ever since my jaw dropped to the floor when Sarah Palin referred to Africa as a "country", I started to realize not a lot of people are really aware of the complex series of relationships that have gone on in that continent. The extent that colonialism played and for how long it went on is pretty astounding. The big movements started post World War 2 but they continued well into the 1970's. The late 1950s and 60s saw great upheavals with French interests, most notably in North Africa and particularly in Algeria.

In 1958, Tunisia, which was also a colony of France, was just settling into its status as an independent nation, having won sovereignty from France in 1956. In February, a series of border incidents, culminating in a bombing run by Algerian planes heightened tensions in a region that would come apart at the seams only two months later.

The Tunisia incident was part of a special broadcast by NBC Radio and their Life And The World series. Although the U.S. was not directly involved, we were somewhat implicated because of our known support on many levels of France, not to mention it was our planes that did the bombing.

Pauline Frederick (NBC News UN Correspondent): “In the immediate future we see this – tomorrow morning the twenty-nine Afro-Asian nations will meet. Now not many of these nations are on the Security Council, only Iraq, Japan, China. So they can’t be great help there. But what they can do is express a solidarity of opinion in favor of Tunisia in this crisis and in opposition to France and colonialism and all it represents. And unfortunately the United States is being tarred with the same brush because our planes, our American made planes were involved in this incident. It’s well known that we support France militarily and with money and that it is a major nation in the NATO Alliance. Therefore it’s very difficult for us, openly, to go against France.”

This would only be one of several incidents running all through the 1950s and well into the 1960s for French colonial interests in that region. The Independence movement was well underway and it would be laced with considerable violence in the process.

More soon.

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