U.S. – Africa Fast Facts

1957   President Dwight D. Eisenhower sends Vice President Richard Milhous Nixon to Ghana to participate in Ghana’s independence celebrations.

1958   U.S. State Department creates the Bureau of African Affairs. Joseph Satterthwaite, the first Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, is sworn in on September 2.
1958-61   African diplomats serving in the United States face discrimination while seeking housing in the Washington, DC area. In 1961 the Kennedy administration establishes the Special Protocol Service Section within the Department of State to work with local and state governments to resolve and prevent cases of discrimination against African diplomats.
1960   The United States refuses to support Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba during Congo’s independence from Belgium because the Eisenhower administration believes he is a communist. Suspicions of U.S. involvement in Lumumba’s death would later on taint America’s image in Africa for many years.
1961   Newly elected President John F. Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps on March 1. The first American Peace Corps volunteers depart for Ghana and Tanzania on August 28. On November 3, President Kennedy establishes the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to administer economic foreign assistance programs.
1963   May: The Organization of African Unity (OAU) is formed with the intent of creating a unified United States of Africa, comparable to the United States of America.
1964   Civil Rights Act of 1964: Landmark American law bans racial discrimination in public accommodations, effectively ending legalized racial discrimination in the United States.
1965   Immigration Reform Act of 1965: By ending a quota system that heavily favored European countries, the law launches an era of large-scale legal immigration from African and Asian countries to the United States.
1966   U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy makes a historic visit to Apartheid South Africa at the invitation of the anti-apartheid National Union of South African Students to deliver its Annual Day of Affirmation speech at the University of Cape Town. The visit emphasizes the connections between the fight against racism and that for civil rights in both the United States and South Africa.
1974   April: Portugal’s “Carnation Revolution” – An officers’ revolt leads to the independence of Portugal’s African territories. Fear of Soviet-backed leftist liberation movements leads the Nixon and Ford administrations to place Angola and Mozambique at the top of U.S. concerns in Africa.
September: Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie is overthrown by the Derg, a secretive group of military officers, whose brutally repressive Marxist regime prompted thousands to leave the country over the next decade. Many Ethiopian families settled in the United States, whose vibrant Ethiopian-American community can be traced to this period.
October: World heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman loses to challenger and former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali in Kinshasa, Zaire, in a match billed as “The Rumble in the Jungle.” Ali’s win cemented his image as the most popular and perhaps most recognized American in Africa and provided evidence of a tolerant, pluralist America with the success of a black and Muslim American.
November: Cuban forces reach Angola via Soviet air transports in time to help MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) halt a South African incursion from the south and a U.S.- and Zairean-backed assault from the north. MPLA declares Angolan independence on November 11.
1975   July: President Gerald Ford approves $6 million in covert aid for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), two allied factions who opposed the Soviet-backed Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in the Angolan civil war.
1976   Congress passes the Clark Amendment, prohibiting U.S. assistance to Angolan rebel movements.
1977   Roots – Alex Haley’s fictionalized African-American family history is made into a hugely popular television miniseries that airs over eight consecutive nights in January 1977. The series garners enormous ratings and becomes an overnight sensation as approximately 130 million Americans tune in at some time during the eight broadcasts, galvanizing African-American interest in Africa.
1978   President Jimmy Carter makes the first official state visit by a U.S. president to sub-Saharan Africa March 31 – April 3, meeting with President Olusegun Obasanjo in Lagos, Nigeria, and with President William Tolbert in Monrovia, Liberia.
1981-90   The anti-apartheid movement gains momentum in the United States. A grassroots campaign built from a coalition of African-American groups, student activists, political groups and churches came together to pressure U.S. businesses and state and local governments to oppose the white-minority government’s apartheid policies by withdrawing investments in South Africa.
1984   Guinean President Ahmed Sekou Toure dies at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, after undergoing heart surgery. Toure had ruled Guinea since its independence in 1958 and often had been at loggerheads with the United States. He invited civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael to live in Guinea. Carmichael and his wife, South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba, moved to Conakry in 1969, where he lived until his death in 1998.
Cuban troop strength in Angola reaches at least 40,000. Their presence fuels Reagan administration hostility to MPLA and support of Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA (supported by South Africa) in what much of Africa views as a U.S.-USSR proxy war. Meanwhile, U.S.-owned and -operated Gulf Oil pumps oil in MPLA-controlled Cabinda province. Gulf eventually becomes ChevronTexaco, currently the foreign company with the most extensive holdings in Angola.
1986   U.S. anti-apartheid activists score a major victory when Congress passes a new law “The Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act” imposing U.S. sanctions on South Africa until it releases Nelson Mandela and establishes a timetable for the end of apartheid, among other conditions.
1988   The New York Accords: After 24 months of negotiations chaired by Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Chester A. Crocker, Angola, Cuba and South Africa formally agree to a December 22 cease-fire. These accords also grant Namibian independence and provide for the withdrawal of Cuban forces from Angola.
1990   South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela is released from prison on February 11 after serving 27 years.
1992   December: U.S. forces enter Somalia at the beginning of Operation Restore Hope, a joint U.N.-U.S. effort to provide food relief to starving victims of Somalia’s civil war.
1993   Eighteen U.S. troops are killed in an October raid in Mogadishu, Somalia. Soon after, President Clinton withdraws troops from Somalia. The incident enters into the American popular imagination with the movie Black Hawk Down.
1994   The genocide in Rwanda begins after the Rwandan president, Juvenal Habyarimana, is killed when his plane is shot down on April 6. By July 18, more than 800,000 Rwandans are killed in the conflict as the international community fails to agree on taking action.
April: In South Africa’s first fully democratic election, Nelson Mandela is elected as the first black president in the nation’s history, signaling an end to apartheid and white-minority rule.
1995   The United States backs a February 2 U.N. resolution to establish a special international war crimes tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania, for perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide.
1996   A U.S. military program is launched to train troops in Mali, Ghana, Uganda and Nigeria.
1998   President Bill Clinton pays the first visit by a U.S. President to sub-Saharan Africa in 20 years, March 23 – April 2.
Two massive car bombs are detonated at the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya on August 7, killing more than 220 people and injuring more than 4,000, mostly area residents and passers-by. Both attacks are later linked to al-Qaida.
1999   The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA): The Clinton administration introduces an initiative to create new economic opportunities by increasing African exports to the United States.
2001   The Africa Education Initiative: An effort to strengthen basic education in Africa is created in July.
2002   UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi is killed in Angola February 22. Six weeks later, a cease-fire is reached, bringing the 27-year Angolan civil war to an end.
July: The Organization of African Unity (OAU) merges with the African Economic Community (EAC) to form the African Union (AU) July 9.
November: Camp Lemonnier, a former French military base in Djibouti, becomes site of Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), an extension of the Central Command and operated by the U.S. Navy. The base is the first permanent U.S. base in modern Africa.
2003   President George W. Bush announces the launch of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in his January 28 State of the Union address.
February: President Bush announces an important new effort to combat famine and hunger worldwide, recognizing that 30 million people in Africa are at risk of starvation or are facing severe food shortages, including 14 million people in Ethiopia alone.
July: President Bush visits Botswana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda in his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa July 8-12.
August: Liberian President Charles Taylor goes into exile under pressure from the United States and other nations, and a small American force joins Nigerian peacekeepers in an effort to bring stability to war-torn Liberia.
2004   President Bush establishes the Millennium Challenge Corporation to reduce global poverty through the promotion of sustainable economic growth. Thirty-two African countries are on the list of 63 countries eligible to submit proposals for funding.
June: President Bush leads his G8 partners in a meeting with African leaders from Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda. Their discussion focuses on the challenges faced by Africa, including promoting private-sector-led growth, combating HIV/AIDS and poverty.
2005   The January 9 Nairobi Comprehensive Peace Agreement ends the civil war in southern Sudan.
June: President Bush announces the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI).
June: President Bush announces approximately $55 million to support women’s justice and empowerment in Africa.
July: Leaders of the world’s leading industrialized countries (the G8) pledge to step up development aid by $50 billion by 2010, with half of the increase going to Africa.
2006   March: U.S. Commerce Department releases U.S.-Africa trade figures for 2005, showing that American imports from African countries under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) increased 44 percent from
2004, to $38.1 billion.
2007   February: The U.S. Department of Defense announces the creation of a new Africa Command (AFRICOM) to coordinate U.S. military and security interests throughout the continent, promote security partnerships in the region and support humanitarian aid efforts.
2008   February: President Bush makes his second trip to Africa, visiting Benin, Ghana, Liberia, Rwanda and Tanzania.
August: Senator Barack Obama, whose father was from Kenya, becomes the first African-American presidential nominee of a major political party.
2009   January: President Obama is sworn in as the first U.S. president with direct African heritage (Kenya).
July: President Obama visits Ghana and delivers speech to Ghana’s parliament.
August: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton attends 8th U.S. – Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum (AGOA Forum) in Nairobi, Kenya. and follows it with a seven-nation sub-Saharan African tour.
2010   January / February: Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson attends 14th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and travels to Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria to confer with the heads of state of these West African nations.
June: Vice President Joe Biden & Dr. Jill Biden travel to Egypt, Kenya and South Africa for talks with leaders of each country. The Bidens conclude their African tour in Rustenburg where they stop to attend the U.S. Men’s National Team’s first game – USA v. England – at the FIFA World Cup.