Africa Notes: African Opinions of United States Policy - February 1987
February 10, 1987
This issue of CSIS Africa Notes is a first attempt at inquiring into sub-Saharan African opinions about U.S. foreign policies, particularly as they affect Africa. The term "first attempt" is meant quite literally. A literature search has turned up no empirical study of the subject and no remotely reliable survey data collected since the early 1960s. The tentative and generalized nature of the material cited here results from this difficult research situation.
For the same reasons, this report ignores at least 95 percent of the sub-Saharan region's inhabitants to concentrate on the opinions of the elite sector of African society. I beg the reader's indulgence for the frequent use of phrases such as "Africans think that .... "as shorthand for "Some, perhaps even a fair majority, of well-educated Africans who occupy positions of high responsibility and/or write for African publications reflecting elite views and interests have publicly expressed themselves to the general effect that .... "
In the absence of survey data, I have had to rely on written materials supplemented by a small number of interviews and various personal recollections. Unfortunately for the researcher, elite Africans spend long periods of time not thinking about the United States or its foreign policies (though not nearly as large a percentage of time as elite Americans spend in not thinking about Africa and its policies).