As Robert Schuman left Caux on 13 September 1953 he turned to Buchman and said, 'Will you help us in Morocco?'
'Gladly,' said Buchman, 'but I don't speak Arabic.'
'That doesn't matter,' replied Schuman. 'Use French.'
Buchman explained that he had gone to Grenoble when young to try and learn French,* but 'I have only two words left - "mauvais garcon"!'
(* This was in July 1912, during a vacation from Penn State College.)
'That will carry you a long way,' laughed Schuman, 'and besides, you get along without language. You speak the language of the heart.'
Two weeks later Buchman's attention was again drawn forcibly to the problems of French North Africa when the French socialist journalist, Jean Rous,* brought two nationalists, one Moroccan and the other Tunisian, to Caux.
(* Then working for Franc-Tireur, Paris.)
The Tunisian was Mohammed Masmoudi, the senior representative of Néo-Destour, the illegal nationalist party, at liberty in France. Its leader, Habib Bourguiba, had been arrested in 1952 and Masmoudi, having no identity papers, crossed the frontier into Switzerland secretly at Saint-Gingolph on the opposite side of the Lake of Geneva from Caux. He had reason to hate the French. He had himself been for some days in a condemned cell and, while at Caux, heard that his brother had been arrested.
The Moroccan was Si Bekkai, who had just resigned as Pasha of Sefrou. A colonel in the army of France during World War II, he had lost a leg in her defence. But when, that August, the French had deposed Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Youssef and deported him to Madagascar, Si Bekkai had resigned his office and exiled himself to Paris. The Sultan had been deposed because of his sympathy with the independence movement, and replaced by his uncle Ben Arafa. The powerful Pasha of Marrakesh, El Glaoui, feeling that the Sultan had been promoting too precipitate a move to independence, had encouraged the French in his deposition. Si Bekkai came to Caux perplexed and bitter.
Buchman met both Masmoudi and Si Bekkai, and learnt much about the situation in their countries. He also introduced them to his French colleagues, who astonished them by their open admission of French mistakes. Above all, he saw that they heard the inside story of the reconciliations wrought at Caux between French and Germans. Masmoudi was particularly affected. 'I said to myself ', he wrote later, 'that, after all, relations between France and Tunisia had never been so bad as those between France and Germany.' When he received a letter from his eighty-year-old mother ending, 'God bless you, my son. God curse the French', he had replied that she should indeed continue to ask God to bless him, but should cease cursing the French.1 On his third day at Caux, he declared publicly that he was prepared to meet any representative of the colonial authorities and believed that 'in the spirit of the four principles of Moral Re-Armament' they, like the Germans and French, might be able to come to an understanding.
Si Bekkai also spoke. 'I have been trying to find a formula which will enable my country and France to break the present deadlock and preserve Franco-Moroccan friendship,' he said. 'Caux has miraculously provided the answer to the questions I have been asking, without any hatred or bitterness. I hereby undertake to put into practice the four moral standards of Moral Re-Armament, for I know that in order to change my country, which needs to change, I have to change myself. If I have had doubts about France, I apologize to my French friends here and elsewhere.'2
Buchman heard from Si Bekkai much about the Moroccan impasse and particularly about the part played by El Glaoui, whose support had been decisive to the French.
From Caux Buchman went back to Italy, and then in early February set out for Marrakesh with Paul Campbell, John Wood, Morris and Enid Martin, and Jim Baynard-Smith. Before leaving Caux he had told these colleagues his thought that El Glaoui would be affected. He also knew that General Antoine Béthouart, the former French High Commissioner in Austria who had been to Caux in 1951, would be there, and hoped that he and Pierre Lyautey, nephew of the Marshal who had created French Morocco, would help them to meet the relevant people.
In Marrakesh the Béthouarts were already ensconced in Buchman's hotel when he arrived. To begin with he spent most of his time in bed, resting and thinking. The Pasha, El Glaoui, and his family occupied much of his mind. Physical inactivity renewed his strength; but as it returned, he maintained a deliberate social inactivity which allowed others to take the initiative. He had the recurring thought, 'Our job is to mine for men, to quarry out leadership.'
After some days Buchman and his party dined with the Béthouarts, who then arranged for them to meet the French authorities. Then M and Mme Lyautey gave a tea-party for them, at which they met international visitors like Prince Wilhelm of Sweden and his son, Count Bernadotte, and also the lawyer son of El Glaoui, Si Abdessadeq, president of the Chereefian Tribunal in Marrakesh, whose political views differed from his father's.
Soon afterwards Abdessadeq came in for the evening. Buchman's thoughts beforehand were: 'A free, natural, open-hearted time. He will set much of the pace with his lively intelligence. He is starved of the fellowship he needs here. He will step out into a whole new leadership.' As Buchman reflected on the occasion at bedtime, he said, 'A very great evening - new horizons are breaking. He was profoundly gripped beneath his shell of politeness.' Their guest asked them to dinner the following Saturday.
The following week the new Sultan was to make his first official visit to Marrakesh. On the Friday three bombs were thrown at El Glaoui, his host, while at prayer in the mosque. Two people were killed and twenty-six wounded by the first two, the third rolling to El Glaoui's feet but not exploding. Abdessadeq's dinner was the next day. It was a noble banquet, Moroccan style, the guests sitting on divans at a round table, the host poking the fire with a long, curved dagger from his belt. There were ten courses and ten different words to describe each dish - a whole roast lamb and a dozen chickens; cous-cous; a pastilla like a small cartwheel filled with pigeon, almonds and eggs; fish; honey cakes, yoghurt, oranges, coffee, almond milk, mint tea. Everything was eaten with the right hand, and the host picked the choice piece of meat from the central platter and proffered it to the guest of honour. For the Western guests it was an exotic evening.
Back at the hotel Buchman remarked to Baynard-Smith, 'Sadeq sees the challenge already clear. He has the stature to lead the nation to sanity, when the time comes.' Following this evening Buchman's colleagues played tennis with him and had many talks. Buchman met four of his brothers, but not his father, the Pasha.
When the Sultan arrived a few days later he was met by a thousand of El Glaoui's tribesmen, mounted on magnificent Arab horses with brightly coloured saddle-cloths and carrying muskets of fearsome length. Buchman's love of processions took him to the roof of the hotel to see them pass. Abdessadeq then had the party escorted to a place of honour on the city walls to see his father greet the Sultan with the traditional gifts of dates and milk. Beneath the pageantry, however, Moroccan nationalist fervour against the French puppet continued to simmer. The Sultan was wounded by hand grenades thrown at him during prayers the following Friday. The 84-year-old Pasha took the Sultan to his palace and then immediately returned and personally shot the Sultan's assailant.
Buchman, meanwhile, was in detailed contact with his forces all over the world through his enormous mail. He kept in the front of his mind the continuing work in India and the attacks on Moral Re-Armament in the ICFTU report and the report being prepared by the Social and Industrial Council of the Church of England. He rejoiced at the news of time spent with Mahatma Gandhi's son, Manilal, in South Africa; of new openings in Italy and France, and of the reception of a delegation by the King of Saudi Arabia. However, a thought came to him one morning, upon which he made his own comment: 'Intelligently pray for an experience of the Cross of Christ and how to present it to each one of our workers. It is wonderful that they write and say they pray for me every day, but I wish that everyone had an experience of the Cross of Christ so that he could present it intelligently to anyone.'
Among the French, official and unofficial, whom Buchman's party met was Pierre Chavanne, a young second-generation French settler who farmed 300 hectares - two-thirds grain, one-third fruit - twelve miles outside Marrakesh. His name had been given to Buchman in Caux by an aunt of his. He was concentrating on his own personal and commercial success, an agnostic with Marxist leanings who held liberal views on Moroccan politics. These views, however, had been formed without any personal contact with Moroccans - a not uncommon attitude which created much resentment among educated Moroccans, who felt that even the liberal French were merely exploiting their country. Some of Buchman's party also met a friend of Chavanne, Philippe Lobstein, an inspector of schools at Marrakesh. Like Chavanne a leftist in politics he was, however, a semi-practising Protestant. His wife was Orthodox, and they had emigrated from Alsace in 1948.
Both couples were intrigued, although not convinced, by Buchman's friends. Chavanne only met Buchman himself once in Morocco, outside a hall where both had been attending a lecture on the local situation. 'He was not the kind of great man I was looking for,' says Chavanne. 'I wasn't very impressed with him.' The Chavannes and Lobsteins agreed, however, to meet at Caux the following summer, and there they all decided to experiment with applying Moral Re-Armament in their private and professional lives. This caused them to review not only their personal relationships but also their attitude to Moroccans, and to become as concerned for the future of the country as the Moroccans themselves. Chavanne says, 'I discovered that I was no longer afraid of the Moroccans, and I realised that I had been a liberal out of fear as well as care - the same fear which had made other French become reactionary.'
In the autumn of 1954, soon after their return from Caux, an invasion of locusts threatened to ravage the farmlands around Marrakesh. The Moroccan agricultural services took the necessary action and the danger was averted. Chavanne thanked Ahmed Guessous, the head of the provincial agricultural department, something he says he would never have done without the change he had experienced in Caux. 'You are the first Frenchman who has ever thanked me for anything,' replied Guessous. Chavanne went on, 'I want to apologise for the selfish way I have lived in your country and for my attitude to your people.' He talked of his visit to Caux, and added, 'I have decided now to serve your country on the basis of the standards of Moral Re-Armament.'
Guessous was interested, but suspicious. He was able to discover, through his staff, the details of life on all the farms in the regions. He found out that the Chavannes, out of respect for their Muslim workers, had decided to give up drinking alcohol themselves, later making their decision final by throwing out their remaining bottles. Guessous also discovered that working relationships on the Chavannes' farm were better than on others. This helped to convince him that Chavanne had meant what he said.
That same autumn one of Guessous's daughters was refused admission to a French kindergarten. He was convinced that the decision had been based on racial discrimination. He took the matter to Lobstein, who recalls, 'My heart went out to him. I remembered the brotherhood I had seen at Caux, and I felt impelled to do something.' He went to the relevant authority and got the decision - made, it turned out, because the child was a little too young - reversed. 'Guessous was very touched by this, and invited us to his home,' continues Lobstein. 'There was wine on the table and when we said we did not drink it out of respect for Islam, Guessous replied, "I am thankful. If you had taken it, politeness would have obliged us to drink it too."'
The Chavannes, Lobsteins and Guessouses became firm friends, and often visited each other. Only now did the Frenchmen discover that Guessous was one of the regional underground leaders of the nationalist movement, Istiqlal, which was determined to shake off the French yoke by every possible means. The three men decided to go to Caux together in 1955, and only his new French friends' intervention with the authorities made Guessous' trip possible. His motive in going was chiefly to counter-act the conciliatory statements made there by his friend Si Bekkai the previous year. He himself arrived on the second anniversary of the Sultan's exile. That day there were violent riots at Oued-Zem in the centre of Morocco, during which many French were killed and the French Army took terrible reprisals. Guessous was very upset by thisbut, at the same time, gripped by the size and outreach of the assembly at Caux. He was particularly moved that the Moroccan flag was flown in his honour, a rare courtesy before independence.
To welcome Guessous, Buchman asked Campbell to chair the first meeting. Campbell gave an enthusiastic account of their stay in Morocco and a glowing description of Moroccan hospitality, taking as an example the way they had been received at a Glaoua castle. He described El Glaoui as 'a powerful leader of South Morocco'.
At the end of the meeting, Guessous, pale with anger, tackled Campbell: 'I regard Caux as a holy place; but by speaking here of our worst enemy, El Glaoui, you have spoken of the devil incarnate. I shall not stay at Caux if his name is mentioned again.' Campbell invited Guessous, Chavanne and Lobstein to lunch. Chavanne declined. 'We told Campbell he hadn't a clue about the situation in Morocco or he would never have made such a gaffe, and Guessous poured out his hatred of El Glaoui as the traitor who had sold out to the French,' recalls Lobstein. Campbell listened quietly. Then, at the end of the meal, he said, 'I too have known hatred of people. My own experience is that I am as close to God as to the person I am most divided from.' There was silence. 'I'm a good Muslim,' said Guessous, 'but if I'm as close to God as I am to El Glaoui, I have a long way to go.'
Soon afterwards Guessous departed to take a cure at Plombière. 'Everywhere Campbell's phrase kept pursuing me,' he said later. 'Being a Muslim, the thought that I was not really submitted to God was terrible. I decided that I couldn't rest till I had got it straight.'
Back in Morocco Guessous got in touch with Abdessadeq, El Glaoui's son, whom he already knew. They discussed the critical situation in the country, and Guessous suggested that he should meet El Glaoui to try and find some common ground.
Abdessadeq had earlier asked Guessous to meet his father, but had always received a polite refusal. By now he was sceptical about such a meeting, as he thought his father was locked into an irreversible position.3
Abdessadeq was facing a real dilemma. On the one hand he had a certain sympathy for the nationalist movement, and on the other he retained considerable respect for the personality and opinions of his father - and the political positions of the Istiqlal and El Glaoui were diametrically opposed. In spite of his doubts, however, he felt it valuable to continue seeing Guessous and to try to prepare his father to meet him.
The French, meanwhile, faced with Ben Arafa's non-acceptance by the population and his chronic desire to abdicate, had on 15 October set up a four-man Council of the Throne as an interim solution which they hoped would calm the situation. The Istiqlal had refused to accept its members as representative of the country. 'By now', writes Gavin Maxwell in his history of the Glaoua family, 'the Berber Tribes of the Middle Atlas and the Rif mountains were in a state of open rebellion,'4 and there was danger of guerrilla war breaking out between the growing nationalist forces and the French army of occupation and its supporters.
It was on 25 October that, thanks to concerted action by Guessous and Abdessadeq, a series of events took place which had unforeseen consequences.
That morning Guessous was received in Rabat by the Executive Committee of the Istiqlal. He told them of his plan to meet El Glaoui, that the way had been prepared by Abdessadeq, and that the aim was to induce El Glaoui to change his attitude towards the Council of the Throne and the Sultan. The Executive, initially both surprised and sceptical, finally authorised Guessous and two of their number to undertake the mission. Abdessadeq had been waiting outside in the hall, and, on being informed of the Executive's decision, immediately took the three nationalists to meet his father.
This took place on the very day when El Glaoui was expected in Rabat to recognise the Council of the Throne. Old and ill, the Pasha had left Marrakesh that morning and was by then at his palace in Casablanca, en route for Rabat. There he received the delegation.
After introductions by Abdessadeq, Guessous opened the dialogue by telling El Glaoui that he regretted all the bitterness he had harboured against him for many years. This honesty and humility touched the old man deeply, and he embraced Guessous. The onlookers found tears coming to their eyes.
The Pasha then asked his visitors to stay for lunch. It was during this meal that Guessous, supported by his colleagues and by Abdessadeq, presented their plan for national reconciliation, based on a reconciliation between El Glaoui himself and Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Youssef. They worked hard and managed to formulate, little by little, the five points on which a settlement could be based. El Glaoui then wanted to give his visitors a large sum of money in gratitude. They refused, saying that they were activated only by concern with what was best for all parties and for the country as a whole. At 3.15 in the afternoon El Glaoui left for Rabat.
In Rabat the Council of the Throne awaited him. Its president received him and asked him if he wished to make any declaration. Then in Maxwell's words, El Glaoui 'entered the throne room, and before the Council made the speech that set his whole life's work at naught: "I identify myself with the will of the Moroccan people for the restoration of the rightful Sultan Mohammed Ben Youssef and for his immediate return from Madagascar." The brief session closed with scenes of incredulous jubilation. [El Glaoui] and his retinue left the Palace to find a vast throng awaiting them outside, among them clamorous journalists of all nations. They pressed round him as he entered his car, saying, "Excellency, show us your declaration!" but the old man was now showing signs of acute fatigue and replied, "Address yourselves to my son Si Abdessadeq."'5This declaration became known as 'the Pasha's Bombshell'.
The extent and unexpectedness of the explosion are reflected in the front-page story of L'Express next day, under the headline 'El Glaoui Recalls Ben Youssef!' 'General Latour, Resident General in Morocco, arrived by plane in Paris last night. During his journey, the most astonishing coup de théâtre of recent years was taking place in Rabat,' wrote the paper's special correspondent. 'El Glaoui, the declared enemy of the former Sultan, publicly issued a statement at the Imperial Palace calling for the return of Sidi Mohammed Ben Youssef to the throne. Neither M. Edgar Faure nor M. Pinay nor General Latour had been told of El Glaoui's intentions ... It was after meeting the Council of the Throne that he got one of his sons, who had long favoured the nationalists, to read the declaration which rather ironically blended his "gratitude" for France with his desire, along with the mass of the Moroccan people, to put himself under the authority of Ben Youssef. . . the French Government is now faced with an unbelievable situation in Morocco.'6 The paper went on to say that this action by the exiled Sultan's chief opponent had made his return to power inevitable.
On his return from Madagascar the Sultan had set up his headquarters in St Germain-en-Laye. There El Glaoui, accompanied by Abdessadeq, came to pay him homage. He knelt before the Sultan and, almost in a whisper, begged his mercy on one who had lost the road and gone astray. According to The Times, 'The Sultan endeavoured several times to interrupt this declaration - exclaiming, "Do not speak of the past: the past is forgotten," - and to raise El Glaoui from his knees, where, however, he remained throughout the interview. In his reply, Ben Yussef (sic) declared, "The future is what counts. We are all sons of Morocco: you, too, are a son of Morocco and it is on your actions in the future that you will be judged."'
'By any standards', commented the paper, 'it seems to mark a final reconciliation between the two adversaries, and El Glaoui's gesture had a nobility and grandeur lacking in some of the professions of loyalty which reach St Germain daily from other erstwhile supporters of Ben Arafa.'7
Buchman's part in these events was not forgotten in Morocco. When the first government of independent Morocco was formed, Si Bekkai, the 1953 visitor to Caux, was its Prime Minister. While negotiating with the French at Aix-les-Bains, he had written to Buchman, 'In these negotiations I assure you I have not lost sight of the four standards of Moral Re-Armament. More than ever I am looking to you and all in MRA to help us in every way to solve the Franco-Moroccan crisis.'8 Once in office, he sent Buchman a message saying, 'We are determined to make Moral Re-Armament the philosophy and practice of our government.'9
In June 1956 the Sultan, now King Mohammed V, received the Chavannes, Lobsteins, Guessous and others who had taken part in these events. He likewise sent a message to Buchman: 'I thank you for all you have done for Morocco, the Moroccans and myself in the course of these last testing years. Moral Re-Armament must become for us Muslims just as much an incentive as it is for you Christians and for all nations. Material re-armament alone has proved a failure. Moral re-armament remains the essential. My desire is that your message, which is founded upon the essential moral values and the Will of God, should reach the masses of this country. We have complete confidence in the work which you are doing.'10
Mohammed Masmoudi, the Tunisian revolutionary, had returned to Paris after his visit to Caux in 1953. At the MRA centre in Paris he met some of the French most concerned with Tunisia, among them Jean Basdevant, then responsible for Tunisian affairs at the Quai d'Orsay. He also met Robert Schuman, then Foreign Minister, who was moved by the story of his experience at Caux. Pierre Mendès-France had earlier offered to defend Masmoudi when he was arrested, and when he became Prime Minister in 1954 the two men talked. Mendès-France's historic journey to Tunis, when he promised Tunisia internal self-government, followed. Though still under thirty, Masmoudi was appointed one of the three Ministers of State to negotiate independence with the French government. After nine months of hard talking, independence was granted, and Masmoudi became the first Ambassador to France.
Throughout this period Masmoudi was in close touch with Buchman. At a difficult moment in the negotiations with France he heard that Buchman was passing through Paris and hurried to the Gare de Lyon to see him. 'You will be the William Pitt of Tunisia,' Buchman told him. In December 1956, while leading the first Tunisian delegation to the United Nations in New York, President Bourguiba declared, 'The world must be told what Moral Re-Armament has done for our country.'11 To say that Buchman or Moral Re-Armament brought independence to Morocco or Tunisia would, of course, be nonsense. The tides of the times and the determination of the people would eventually have achieved that in any case. But it was Robert Schuman who wrote to Buchman, 'There can be no doubt that the history of Tunisia and Morocco would have been different if it had not been for Moral Re-Armament.'12
In the case of Algeria, significant people from both sides met at Caux; but this approach failed, and it took a terrible war and the intervention of deGaulle to bring independence there.
Buchman's Moroccan visit was his second, and last, trip to Africa. His meetings with Africans took place either at the summer assemblies in Caux or Mackinac, or in European capitals like London and Paris, and his understanding of the issues had to be built on these.
An outstanding example took place in Caux in 1955 when a group of Africans from several countries, among them members of new Parliaments, students, trade union leaders and powerful market women, were present. They seemed happy at first, but after a week began to come to Henry Macnicol, a Scot who had accompanied them from Africa, and say, 'We've enjoyed Caux. Now will you please arrange for us to see more of Europe?' It was a perfectly natural request, but one which worried Macnicol as he felt they had not yet taken full advantage of what Caux had to offer. He went to see Buchman and poured out his anxieties. Buchman looked at him and said, 'You're all screwed up. Go to bed! The Africans are all immortal souls.' 'I went to bed,' says Macnicol, 'but I didn't stop worrying. What on earth would happen to my delegation without me?'
Next morning Buchman called the Africans together. 'I spent much of last night in Africa in my thoughts,' he said. 'I understand some of you are bitter. I can understand that. But if I were you I would shed it. It'll only give you ulcers!' Then he went on, 'Africa is not meant to be torn apart between East and West, but to speak to both East and West with an answer. I think that it may come in the form of a play. Do you think you could write a play?'
Ifoghale Amata, then a young graduate from Ibadan University in Western Nigeria, recalls, 'Thirty of us Africans met after lunch, and soon we started quarrelling about what should go into the play. Then someone called for a time of silence. When we all pooled our thoughts, I noted them down, and I noticed that Manasseh Moerane* was doing so too. They all fitted together in a strange way. When this finished, I said, "I have the first act here." "And I've got the second," said Manasseh. Dr Karbo, a Ghanaian, said he would try the third. I went away and worked straight through tea and dinner till three the next morning. So did Manasseh, and in the morning Karbo, Manasseh and I read what we had written to the thirty. We spent the next hours fining the acts together, and at five o'clock we told Frank we had the finished play.'
(* Then Vice-President of the black teachers of South Africa, and later editor of The World, Johannesburg.)
The play told the story of an African country emerging into independence, vividly recording the insensitive reactions of the colonial Governor and the intrigues and counter-intrigues of politicians representing different tribes and factions. Freedom is achieved when a change of heart comes both to the Governor and to some of the African leaders.
All that was missing was the title. Buchman had already thought that it should be Freedom, but he did not want to impose his ideas. After some discussion among the Africans produced no clear idea, he suggested, 'Why not see which word comes most often in the text?' They counted, and found that 'freedom' appeared forty-eight times. It was adopted unanimously.
Amata continues, 'Then Frank said, "Fine. We'll have it tomorrow night." Somehow we managed it. After the performance he announced, "This play will go on at the Westminster Theatre in London a week today."' That, too, took place.
Those Africans stayed together and took their play round the world. Later it was made into a full-length colour film, the first made by Africans, and was adopted by a number of countries as their national film for showing on state occasions. It is still being shown in many languages.
Kenya in the years immediately before independence felt its effect. Some of Buchman's colleagues in Kenya had known Jomo Kenyatta and the British leaders involved long before Mau Mau broke out in 1952, but little discernible impression was being made upon the situation there. Then in 1954 the colonel in charge of the Mau Mau rehabilitation camp at Athi River took the unusual step of admitting to the detainees that he felt that arrogance and selfishness in people like himself had helped to create the atmosphere which gave rise to Mau Mau. He offered from now on to work with anyone, black or white, who wished to rebuild Kenya on the basis of Moral Re-Armament. By July 1954 The Times13 was reporting that 270 hard-core detainees at that camp had severed their connections with Mau Mau. By 1955 the number was 600. Two of them wrote to Buchman, 'If Moral Re-Armament can change hard-core Mau Mau like ourselves who were full of hatred...it can change any sort of hard-core hearts.'14
It was two of these men who, with the permission of the British authorities, took the film of Freedom to Kenyatta in his lonely imprisonment. They showed it to him in English, but it had already been translated into Swahili, and now Kenyatta asked that a Swahili version should be made and used in Kenya. Stanley Kinga, one of the former Mau Mau, had gone to Buchman earlier, saying. 'We have had guidance from God to translate Freedom into Swahili but we don't know where to get the money.' 'Well,' Buchman had replied, 'you have had guidance to translate the film, now you can have guidance where to get the money from.' The money was raised, Freedom was dubbed into Swahili, and it was shown to a million Kenyans in the months before the first elections, in the open air, in cinemas, and in homes. The Reporter of Nairobi wrote in the spring of 1961,'MRA has done a great deal to stabilise our recent election campaign.'15 That summer Kenyatta sent his daughter Margaret, recently elected Mayor of Nairobi, to Caux.
Gabriel Marcel, the French Catholic philosopher, who went to Caux in a sceptical mood in 1956, was particularly interested in these events in Africa. 'What seems to me absolutely marvellous and providential,' he wrote, 'is the confluence that has come about between Moral Re-Armament and the young nations which are being born into freedom. In this, as in other ways, Frank Buchman has shown a truly prophetic sense.'16
As an example of Buchman's own impact upon African leaders, Marcel quotes the experience of the Tolon Na, a distinguished Muslim, then President of the Northern Territories Council of Ghana and later High Commissioner in Lagos. 'It was at one of the morning meetings at Caux,' the Tolon Na related. 'Frank was there, and someone spoke about stealing and what it cost the nation. Then turning to me, as I was standing close to him, with a smile on his face, Frank quietly asked, "When did you last steal?"
'This struck me like a depth charge. My heart leapt into my mouth. I retired to my room and prayed to Allah to take me into His loving care, repenting for all the evils I had done since childhood. As I lay there by myself I felt God was still waiting for a reply to Frank's question. It was the greatest challenge that I had ever faced in my life. I thought and thought. At last relief came when I decided to write down the number of times (as far as I could remember) that I had stolen since my infancy. I made a note to return all the textbooks that I had brought home from the schools in which I had taught; I also noted all the persons to whom I owed apologies for wrongs I had done them. I decided to live Frank's way of life.'17 Buchman himself had a profound respect for this man. He said once, 'If Jesus Christ came to earth now, he would look like the Tolon Na.'
Buchman knew that the intense moral, ideological and psychological pressures upon African leaders would grow stronger. As early as 1949 Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, President of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons, was brought by a friend to a Moral Re-Armament home at a time when he had come to London to negotiate progress towards freedom, but was being vilified in the tabloid press as 'Black Mischief'. 'This is the first evening in England when I have ever been treated as an equal and expected to enjoy music and discuss things on an equal level with white men,' he commented. To the surprise of certain of his backers in Britain, including the Communist Daily Worker18, which wrongly suspected the Colonial Office of having a hand in it, he went on to Caux instead of to the Party-line Civil Rights Conference in Prague, from where he had been due to proceed to Moscow.*
(* I once told this story to Björn Hallström, who had been at that time editor of the Communist newspaper in Northern Sweden but had since left the Party. ‘You don’t need to tell me this story,’ he interrupted. ‘I was the man delegated to sit next to Zik on the plain to Prague. I had in my pocket a speech which we expected him to make which would be the signal for a prepared massacre of the British in Nigeria. But Zik never came, and when I got to Prague I was arrested for failing to bring him.’)
Speaking three years later to Nigerian students, he said, "I know it was a bombshell when the news was given out that I was going to Caux. Accusations were made against me, but I did not mind because my conscience told me it was the right thing when I saw what was being done there to salvage humanity. I became attracted to Moral Re-Armament because I felt those who were preaching it were also living it.. .'19
Azikiwe became the first Governor-General, and then President of independent Nigeria. After his initial visit to Caux he several times called on Buchman. When he saw him in London on 19 May 1960 he said that, while he could not claim to have lived up to Moral Re-Armament standards, his visit to Caux had given him a new perspective. He had always wanted to be the first Prime Minister of Nigeria. He was, when Independence was declared, Premier of the Eastern Region. He had been offered the Prime Ministership of Nigeria if he would combine with the West against the North, but had refused, as he felt it would mean the eventual break-up of Nigeria. Instead he accepted the figure-head position of President, while a Northerner became Prime Minister.
Buchman also made a considerable impact on one of the men at the heart of the black nationalist movement in South Africa. William Nkomo had been first President of the Youth League of the African National Congress, a group of younger men who felt that the main body was moving too slowly and peaceably. In 1953 he went to a Moral Re-Armament conference in Lusaka, capital of what was then Northern Rhodesia, and was deeply affected by hearing and meeting George Daneel, the Afrikaner sportsman and Dominee who had met Buchman in 1929. The following year Nkomo came to Caux where Buchman made friends with him and, for reasons best known to himself, dubbed him 'Diamond Dick'. 'Diamond Dick', a robust figure sporting the small pointed beard which was the badge of nationalism, felt thoroughly at home in the atmosphere of Caux and responded to a view wider than only his own country and people.
Buchman, with his combination of realism and optimism, expected such men to understand his aims, and as the years went by there was a steady flow of revolutionary leaders from Africa to Caux and Mackinac. Nkomo describes Buchman speaking one evening at Mackinac after the first performance of a new play which he and his African colleagues had recently written, The Next Phase. 'He said to the audience, "You have been listening to saints of Africa." He called us saints even though he knew us to be rascals. That challenged us more than anything could do. None of us had a restful sleep that night. We went through our own lives and saw the places where we needed to be different.'20
That same night Buchman had said to these Africans, 'Ninety-seven per cent of Africa belongs to you. Take it.' Nkomo's interpretation of this was interesting: 'He did not mean that we should take over Africa by subversion, etc, but that through change we could right the wrongs in Africa and play our rightful role.'21 While never relinquishing his political aims, Nkomo's methods of working towards them altered considerably over the years. His own verdict was: 'I am no less a revolutionary because I believe in God. I am now fighting with greater passion for a hate-free, fear-free, greed-free Africa, peopled by free men and women.'22 Two months before his death the Rand Daily Mail called him 'the father of all blacks'.23 In the context of Southern Africa the commitment to spiritual warfare of people like Nkomo and Daneel and many others of all races was tested to breaking point, and held, even as contrary pressures mounted over the years.
Buchman's Christmas message for 1956 reflected his abundant hopes for Africa: 'At the first Christmas wise men came from Arabia and Africa to acknowledge the hope of the world. Today Arabia and Africa may be the unexpected source that gives the answer to chaos ... It is the moment for a miracle. A Moor came to worship the Babe; Egypt sheltered the Child Jesus and an African carried the Cross to Calvary. The voice of this Africa can speak to every humble heart everywhere.'
Four years later the Belgian Congo was in its pre-independence throes. Numerous conflicts developed, among them a struggle between the Lulua and Baluba tribes in which hundreds were killed. Buchman received a letter from a chief of the Luluas, who had seen the film Freedom at a conference in Brussels and had been moved by it to seek an understanding with a Baluba leader who was also there. Leaders of both tribes then travelled together to Caux to ask for Moral Re-Armament's help in their country. One of these was the Grand Chief Kalumba of the Luluas. He talked about the situation to Buchman, who promised him that there would be peace between the two tribes before he himself died.
Fifteen volunteers from eight countries left Caux at once. 'I wish it were fifteen hundred,' said Buchman, 'but we must do what we can.' The group included former Mau Mau men, white South Africans, and the Colwell Brothers. They visited every provincial capital, and through some of the darkest days were directly responsible for averting bloodshed in certain places. The Colwell Brothers made four hundred broadcasts over Radio Leopoldville, containing songs and stories in French and the indigenous languages.
The Auxiliary Bishop of Leopoldville, Monsignor Malula, described these broadcasts as the 'one voice of sanity to the nation'. The Catholic communities were hard-pressed, as bitterness against whites in general was often avenged on the white priests who did not now desert the Congolese. The Archbishop of Stanleyville, Monsignor Kinsch, said to the Moral Re-Armament force, 'I can't tell you what it means to me to hear the things you are saying. This is the message of the Gospel, and it comes with more force from your lips than it ever could from mine ' He insisted on their coming to stay with him, and when he heard that Moral Re-Armament was financed by the sacrificial giving of thousands of people around the world he went to his safe and offered a gift in the same spirit.24
Buchman, meanwhile, was playing his part in Caux. ‘Four men from the Congo met in my room on Sunday morning,’ he wrote to Robert Schuman. ‘They were four men with different and opposing ideas. Two were Belgians, one a governor of twenty-seven years’ experience, the other a banker. The banker said, “There is no hatred in the Congo.”
‘The other two were Congolese. One dropped his head. Finally he said, "I feel I must tell you that there is a black list of the white men to be liquidated after its independence. I was one of those who drew it up." "But," he added, "here at Caux I have seen how wrong I was. We must learn to change men, both white and black. Otherwise we shall destroy Africa." An hour later he told this to the public Assembly meeting, from the same platform from which you once spoke to us.
'The Belgian governor added, "We Belgians have been superior and so we are responsible for the hatred that is in the country. Now we must bring an answer and create a real basis for freedom." Two days later all Belgium read this in Le Soir. The significant thing is that the Congolese who made this courageous statement is the right-hand man of Prime Minister Lumumba in Brussels.'25
The Moral Re-Armament force in the Congo were everywhere implored to stay longer, and remained for over three years through the coming of independence. They were often in considerable personal danger: one of the white South Africans, for instance, was saved from attack only by the timely appearance of one of his ex-Mau Mau colleagues.
A year after Buchman's conversation with Grand Chief Kalumba - on the day of Buchman's death - a cable arrived at Caux from Kalumba saying that a peace treaty between the Luluas and Balubas had been signed in the presence of President Kasavubu.26
1 Gabriel Marcel: Plus decisive que la violence (Plon, 1971), p. 65.
2 Courrier du Maroc, 3 October 1953.
3 Abdessadeq's doubts are confirmed in Gavin Maxwell's book The Lords of the Atlas: The Rise andFall of the House of Glaoua 1893-1956 (Longmans, 1966), p. 255. Maxwell gives credit to Abdessadeq, Chavanne and Guessous for their parts in El Glaoui's volte-face, while being unaware of many details related here and obtained from the participants.
4 Maxwell, p. 257.
5 ibid., p. 258.
6 L 'Express, 26 October 1955: 'Le Glaoui Rappelle Ben Youssef!'.
7 The Times, 9 November 1955.
8 Si Bekkai to Buchman, August 1955.
9 Mottu, p. 30.
10 cf. Courrier du Maroc, 18 January and 2 June 1955.
11 Mottu, p. 132.
13 The Times, 14 July 1954.
14 Leonard and Flora Kibuthu to Buchman, 13 December 1958.
15 Quoted in Time and Tide, London, 2 September 1965.
16 Gabriel Marcel speaking at Caux, 1956, quoted in Frank Buchman - Eighty, p. 50.
17 Marcel, Fresh Hope for the World, p. 174.
18 Daily Worker, 18 December 1949.
19 Zik, Selected Speeches of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe (OUP, 1961), Ch. 14, 'Zik on Moral Re-Armament'.
20 Frank Buchman -Eighty, p. 100.
22 MRA Information Service, 31 March 1972.
23 Rand Daily Mail, Johannesburg, 15 January 1972.
24 Bremer Hofmeyr to Buchman, 18 June 1960.
25 Buchman to Robert Schuman, 27 June 1960.
26 Grand Chief Kalumba to Buchman, 7 August 1961.