Sub-Saharan Africa 1964: Simba Rebellion
In 1964 the United Nations withdrew its troops from the Congo, exposing the nation to a new outbreak of unrest as the Soviet-backed Simba rebels rose up in the east. Despite rapid gains, the Simba rebels were crushed in late 1964 with the help of a US-backed Belgian intervention.
31 Dec 1963 Dissolution of Rhodesia & Nyasaland▲
Support for the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland had always been weaker in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland than in white-dominated Southern Rhodesia, but by the early 1960s the federation’s Prime Minister, Sir Roy Welensky, was increasingly seen by Africans as unacceptably reactionary, especially given his support for Katanga’s secession from the Congo. The United Kingdom finally accepted Nyasaland’s right to secede in 1962, granting the same privilege to Northern Rhodesia the following year. On 31 December 1963 the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was formally dissolved and its assets distributed among the territorial governments.
1 Jan 1964–? Dec 1965 Kwilu Rebellion▲
After visiting China in 1963, Pierre Mulele returned to the Congo to introduce Maoist revolutionary tactics to the Lumumbists’ Congo National Liberation Committee. From January 1964 Mulele led a branch of the Simba Rebellion in the western province of Kwilu, seizing control of much of the province and attempting to establish a Maoist government. The central Congolese government quickly contained Mulele’s uprising, although they were unable to completely suppress the insurgency in Kwilu until late 1965.
12 Jan 1964 Zanzibar Revolution▲
Frustrated by the continued dominance of Sultan Jamshid bin Abdullah and his mostly Arab government in Zanzibar, the mainly African Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP) allied with left-wing elements and on 12 January 1964 seized control of Unguja (Zanzibar Island). After deposing the Sultan, the rebels declared the People’s Republic of Zanzibar. Hundred died in the reprisals against the Arab and South Asian population which followed.
19 Feb 1964 French intervention in Gabon▲
During the night of 17 February and the early morning of 18 February 1964, Gabonese military officers seized control in the capital and deposed President Léon M’ba. France responded swiftly, landing 600 French paratroopers from Dakar and Brazzaville at Libreville International Airport the following day and restoring M’ba to power. The French would continue to firmly back M’ba and his successor, Omar Bongo, until a corruption probe undermined Franco-Gabonese relations in 2007.
28 Feb 1964–? Dec 1965 Simba Rebellion▲
Under the leadership of Gaston Soumialot, Simba rebels moved from Burundi into the eastern Congo, rapidly expanding from May to August 1964 to capture a vast portion of the country. Despite support from the Soviet Union, the Simba campaign was marred by random violence, superstition, and drug use, and Soumialot proved unable to effectively govern his new conquests. With the aid of the United States, Belgian paratroopers helped the central government roll back the rebellion, decisively defeating the Simba rebels by late November. Despite this, fragments of the rebels held out until late 1965, gaining temporary support from Cuban revolutionaries under Che Guevara.
26 Apr 1964 Union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar▲
After the Zanzibar Revolution, the moderate Abeid Karume was appointed President of the People’s Republic of Zanzibar. Wary of the revolutionaries, Karume invited Tanganyikan police officers into Zanzibar to maintain order. Karume further cemented his position by agreeing to the formation of the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar in April 1964, with Tanganyika’s Julius Nyere as President and himself as Vice-President. The new state would be renamed as Tanzania—from the first syllables of Tanganyika and Zanzibar—in December.
11 May–30 Jun 1964 End of ONUC▲
Following the success of Operation Grandslam and the reintegration of Katanga into the Congo in early 1963, the United Nations Operation in the Congo (ONUC) was reduced to a small peacekeeping force. Planning for the complete withdrawal of UN troops began later that year, with 30 June 1964 eventually agreed as the final departure date. Despite the onset of the new Simba rebellion, this schedule was maintained and the remaining units left the country between May and June. Given the deteriorating situation, however, the UN agreed to leave some 2,000 experts and officials behind to provide technical and civilian assistance.
6 Jul 1964 Independence of Malawi▲
Nyasaland—at the time part of the British-ruled Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland—became self-governing in May 1963, with Dr Hastings Banda as Prime Minister. After the dissolution of Rhodesia and Nyasaland at the end of that year, Nyasaland became fully independent as the state of Malawi in July 1964. Malawi remained part of the Commonwealth but Banda, facing continued internal dissent, would push through a republican constitution in 1966 and assume the presidency of a now one-party state.