Obituary: Gordon Legg
Wells, Robin, The Independent (London, England)
Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique) was severely underdeveloped in the 1930s and held firmly under colonial rule. The South Africa General Mission (now the Africa Evangelical Fellowship) had waited for years for the opportunity to have missionary workers there. When Gordon Legg, then in his twenties, saw an article in its house magazine, outlining a plan for six single missionaries to enter the country, he wrote an application that same day.
Henry Gordon Legg was born in Derby in 1912, the younger son of a railway clerk. He was educated at Bemrose Secondary School and the School of Commerce before being apprenticed at 15 to a Derby clothier. At 20, he joined the men's outfitting department of D.H. Evans in London, rising to become First Salesman. With an instinctively courteous manner, he was well suited to this metier. But his life's work was to be far removed from men's outfitting.
After two years at the Missionary Training Colony in Upper Norwood, London, Legg spent some months in Portugal, picking up courses in language and culture at the ancient University of Coimbra. With rudimentary knowledge of both, he sailed to Africa in 1939 aboard the RMS Warwick Castle. His aunt had been appointed MBE for her service in Swaziland and he stayed with her when he first arrived, learning some practicalities of bush life. Her living-room floor was covered with a film of fresh cow dung to keep fleas at bay. The choice was his, she said, but most Europeans preferred the smell to the bites. Legg was stationed in Mihecani, in the Zambezia Province of Mozambique. He built up a school of 600 pupils, with a health clinic attached, which was run by his second wife, Katie. (His first wife, Mary, died of cerebral malaria after only two years of marriage, in 1944.) Portuguese Roman Catholic priests had long resented the influence of the Protestant mission, with its evangelical teaching. In the late 1950s the sudden death of a child in the clinic gave a pretext for them to put pressure on the government to close the station …
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Publication information: Article title: Obituary: Gordon Legg. Contributors: Wells, Robin - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: August 19, 1997. Page number: 12. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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