"You have only to ask for independence," said Charles de Gaulle two years ago as he sought to abate the fever of African nationalism by organizing France's African empire into a Community of autonomous states. De Gaulle frankly hoped and expected that most of the colonies would prefer to settle for autonomy within the French Community. But twelve members have disconcertingly taken him at his word, and France has accepted the situation with grace. Last April, the Malagasy Republic on the island of Madagascar and the Mali Federation, a union of the former French West African colonies of Senegal...

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