Academic journal article History In Africa

Two Previously Unknown Letters from Hastings Kamuzu Banda, Written from Edinburgh, 1938, Archived at the University of Cape Town

Academic journal article History In Africa

Two Previously Unknown Letters from Hastings Kamuzu Banda, Written from Edinburgh, 1938, Archived at the University of Cape Town

Article excerpt

Abstract: This article introduces, reproduces, and contextualizes two letters written in 1938 from Edinburgh by Hastings Kamuzu Banda to Samuel C. Banda (Chief Mwase of Kasungu) and Ernest C. Matako. At the time Banda was studying in Edinburgh. The letters, from a period when sources on Banda are scarce, illuminate his political and educational thinking and his personal life and attitudes at the time. The article also discusses the archival context of the letters, which were found in the papers of Godfrey Wilson, the Director of the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute from 1938 to 1941. The copies were found in the course of research into the lives of the anthropologists Monica Wilson, née Hunter, and Godfrey Wilson.

Résumé: Cet article introduit, reproduit, et contextualise deux lettres écrites en 1938 à Edimbourg par Hastings Kamuzu Banda à Samuel C. Banda (Chef Mwase du Kasungu) et Ernest C. Matako. A l'époque, Banda étudiait à Edimbourg. Les lettres, datant d'une période où les sources sur Banda sont rares, mettent en lumière ses idées politiques et éducatives, ainsi que ses attitudes et sa vie personnelle à ce moment-là. Cet article examine également le contexte d'archivage de ces lettres, qui furent trouvées dans les papiers de Godfrey Wilson, directeur de l'Institut Rhodes-Livingstone entre 1938 et 1941. Les copies furent trouvée au cours d'une recherche sur la vie des anthropologues Monica Wilson, née Hunter, et de Godfrey Wilson.

The Archival Context1

The main source for the lives and careers of Monica and Godfrey Wilson is the BC880 series in the Department of Manuscripts and Archives at the University of Cape Town (UCT).2 This is a large collection of Monica's papers, and a less extensive but still considerable amount of Godfrey's. They were deposited at UCT over some time by Monica and Godfrey's sons Francis and Tim Wilson.

During research for the Wilson biography, a further cache of documents was found. They are now deposited at UCT, though at time of writing not yet catalogued. Amongst them is a box labeled "GBW" containing ten files. These concern Godfrey's fraught relationship, as Director of the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute (R-LI) with the management of Broken Hill mine, and also include drafts of some of his writings, research notes, and correspondence. One file, containing two typescript letters from Banda, each with a top copy and two carbons, is labeled "Educated Africans" in Godfrey's hand.

The first letter is from (sgd. Hastings Kamusyu Banda) [sic - typed thus, no actual signature] to Chief S.C. Mwase, P.O. Kasungu, Nyasaland, 4th September 1938, The University Union, Edinburgh, Scotland, five pp. One of the two carbons is inscribed in Godfrey's handwriting, "Copy. Confidential." This is undoubtedly one of the letters that Chief Mwase told the Northern Province Provincial Commissioner he had received from Banda before his visit to Britain in 1939.3 Two lines at the top of the letter are densely scribbled out, as they are on all six copies in the file, but the top line appears to be "The Central African Society."

The second letter is from (sgd. Hastings Kamuzyu Banda) [sic] to Ernest C. Matako, Esq., Kambiri Village, P.O. Kasungu, Nyasaland, 8th October 1938, The University Union, Edinburgh, Scotland, seven pp. The top copy is inscribed in GW's handwriting, "Copy," and one of the two carbons, in the same handwriting, "Copy. Confidential."

These are copies, not originals, of letters written by Banda. The supposition is that they were intercepted in the mail, presumably by the Nyasaland authorities, copied, and the originals sent on to their recipients. There is no way of knowing when the copies came into Godfrey's possession, but it may not have been long after the letters were written. This is because, if he was sent the original letters, they would have had to be copied and sent on promptly to their legitimate recipients to avoid raising suspicions, and because, as the War approached, Godfrey's pacifist convictions and relaxed relationships with Africans made him suspect to the mine authorities. …

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