April 18, 1956. If you were around on this day you would be hearing news that had a roughly familiar ring to it. Factions forwarding an agenda of Independence from France were actively fighting in the streets of Algeria. The casualties were mounting on both sides – Egypt was joining in an attempt at negotiation between the French and the Algerians, in the hopes that President Nassar could broker some peaceful settlement to a long and troubling situation – one that could volatile at almost any second.
Too late in Africa – the Civil War was in full swing with daily reports of civilian and military clashes in the region of Algeria. France had embarked on a course of bloody suppression, a harsh and relentless crackdown of Algerian rebels and leaders of the independence movement. Any hopes of a peaceful settlement between the French government and Algerian rebels were just about zero. It wasn’t just Algeria, but many other colonies were following suit – particularly those in Muslim countries. And fingers were pointing in the direction of Cairo as the catalyst in the independence movements.
However, aside from the political ramifications, the situation in Algeria was indicative of the climate many of these present and former colonies were going through – they had gone on for many years being considered second-class citizens and were having enough of it .
Fears, particularly in the West, that this sudden upsurge in rebel activity was the product of Soviet manipulation had many uneasy that Moscow was up to its old tricks, trying to become an influence in World affairs.
And for all of that, there were still glimmers of hope that The United Nations would prevail, as was evidenced by the arrival of UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold in Cairo to initiate talks towards some peace settlement.
And that’s a very small slice of news- including news in our own country, of singer Nat “King” Cole, being roughed up by racist thugs onstage at a concert in Alabama. The world was on a slow-rolling boil, this April 18, 1956 as presented by newscasts from the Mutual Broadcasting Network.