Obituary: Canon Edward Morrow ; Anglican Priest Exiled from Namibia

Article excerpt

EDWARD MORROW was the last in a great tradition of Anglican priests who helped the people of Namibia to freedom from particularly brutal colonial rule - German followed by South African.

From the Revs Michael Scott, who confronted the infant United Nations with its south-west African duty, and Theophilus Hamutumbangela, who stood up against apartheid oppression internally, to the deported Bishops Mize, Winter and Wood, the Anglican leadership became a thorn in apartheid South Africa's side. Ed Morrow was recruited to the territory in 1971 by the fiery and flamboyant Colin Winter to build schools and churches for the diocese, and went on to train for the ministry at Queen's College, Birmingham, all Anglican seminaries in South Africa then being segregated by law.

Ordained in Grantham in 1975, he returned to Windhoek on the eve of Richard Wood's deportation, three years after that of Bishop Winter. The intense harassment that followed did not deter Morrow from ceaseless pastoral work and from holding together a church divided between its white membership, willing to compromise with the South African administration, and the great majority of indigenous worshippers, mainly in the north, absolute, as he was, in its rejection of apartheid rule in defiance of the UN.

There followed three years in the eye of the storm, with Morrow heading the Anglican church as Vicar-General. Succouring the victims of torture and political repression, giving sanctuary to Security Police targets, such as David Meroro, national chairman of the main liberation movement Swapo, and aiding his escape abroad, channelling funds for political trials and to support dependants of the accused, briefing journalists, politicians and church visitors from abroad.

In the false dawn in 1975, when Andrew Young for the US and David Owen, the British Foreign Secretary, led South Africa's trading partners in a near-miss attempt to effect South African withdrawal, Morrow brought spokesmen from Swapo and other groups and the Western "Contact Group" together, free of a South African presence. He took the fight into South Africa itself, with, inter alia, a public lecture in Cape Town, on torture, and a meeting with the opposition Progressive Party, who disappointingly refused to oppose South Africa's "internal settlement" scheme to buy off a UN take-over. It was probably the latter, and the imminence of local elections, that led to the promulgation in 1978 of "AG 50", an edict to legalise the expulsion, in seven days, of the Morrows, South African citizens unlike Winter, Wood and other earlier deportees. The Morrows flew to England, since South Africa would inevitably have meant house- arrest. The work for freedom and justice of this most modest, unassuming yet dedicated of men was to continue in exile.

Ed Morrow was no stranger to Afrikaner Nationalist thug tactics. With his South African born parents and six siblings, he had left his birthplace, Brakpan, as a child when his father came back from the Second World War, to be hounded by local pro-Nazis. He went through technical school in Durban (meeting his only girlfriend, and future wife, Laureen, on the school bus), did his builder's apprenticeship, qualified and ran his own construction company. …