AFRICA: Try to Be Happy

At first, the atmosphere grew so tense that the resplendently robed Honorable Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh. Finance Minister of the federal government of Nigeria, felt obliged to do a bit of prodding. "Why are we so solemn?" he cried. "Let's cheer our speakers and try to be happy!" The 175 delegates to the opening meeting of the newly created U.N. Economic Commission for Africa had first to find out whether they could even get along with one another.

For eight years—fearing that it would become just one more platform for anticolonialist tirades—European colonial powers...

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