Sir Godfrey Huggins, 69, is a man with a vision: to build in Central Africa "a virile British state" which will "preserve Africa for the Empire and the British way of life." A wiry little surgeon who left his home in London in 1911, Sir Godfrey is Prime Minister of the self-governing British Colony of Southern Rhodesia. His plan is to federate Southern Rhodesia with the adjoining British protectorates of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The three territories would form a 475,000square-mile Central African Federation which might one day become Britain's eighth Dominion.
Where Fronts Meet. Last week, at No. 10 Carlton House Terrace, London, the Huggins scheme was-earnestly debated. There were good arguments for federation: copper-rich Northern Rhodesia needs Southern Rhodesia's coal; both need Negro labor from overcrowded Nyasaland. Even more compelling in Sir Godfrey's eyes is the fact that Britain's East African empire is in danger of being submerged. "A Black Front," he says, "is advancing from [the Gold Coast]; a White Front [Boer South Africa] is moving from the south." Without federation, he told the conference, "the Rhodesias will become the clashing point of those two policies, and will inevitably be compelled to join the White Front."
The bitterest objections to federation came from the leaders of 6,000,000 Rhodesian and Nyasaland Negroes. The Africans fear to lose the benevolent protection of the British Colonial Office, suspecting that the whites in an independent "Rhodesia" might follow the example of South Africa and turn down the screws on the blacks. Negro spokesmen vainly petitioned Queen Elizabeth, whom they call the "Great White Mother," to veto the plan.
To calm the Negroes' fears, Her Majesty's Colonial Secretary, Oliver Lyttelton, insisted that the federation plan make provision for 1) a six-man native-affairs board with the right to be consulted on all legislation affecting African interests; 2) Negro representation in the federal parliament. Sir Godfrey Huggins assured the conference that in Southern Rhodesia black Africans will have "a voice in the election of white Africans as well as in the election of those whom chance has made of their own color; that, as the years roll by, and the black electorate swells and becomes educated and mature, white candidates will have to reckon more & more with [their] wishes." With that, the plan was approved.
Northern Buffer. Now the British House of Commons must approve, on behalf of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and a referendum must be held in Southern Rhodesia, where some of the whites oppose Lyttelton's safeguards as "cotton-woolling" the blacks.* Sir Godfrey is sure that his plan will be accepted. One advantage of a united Rhodesia: if Prime Minister Malan detaches South Africa from the Crown as a Boer Republic, Britain will still have a strong bulwark on Malan's northern frontier.