THE kind Sisters at Elizabethville gave us ample provisions for
our six hour journey to Ndola in Northern Rhodesia, but all
the same the journey was not very comfortable, because the train
of one coach including the engine, had windows which for the most
part would not open, and we were glad to leave it at Ndola. The
White Fathers have no missions within miles of this place, so that
it was a pleasant surprise to see a White Father at the Station
to meet us. He explained that three of the White Father Vicariates
of Northern Rhodesia use Ndola as a provisioning centre, and when
they come here to "shop" they stay at the Franciscan mission,
where he had been warned of our coming.
went through the town visiting the shops where the influence of
South Africa was evidenced by the assistants who spoke Afrikaans
rather than English; that I was told, would not be the only sign
of Afrikander infiltration which I should encounter.
There were both American and Italian Franciscans at the mission.
When we left we said "au revoir" and not "goodbye",
because we should be returning before long, and then we started
on our journey to Fort Rosebery where we were welcomed by Monsignor
The next day, Sunday, July 21st, was a quiet day for me. I was taken
for a few hours to the mission of Kabunda, about twelve miles out
of the town. We went through a garden of oranges and, believe it
or not, strawberries, as well as other fruit. The mission church,
built by Brother Celestine in 1939, holds seven hundred people
easily and one thousand packed and it cost only £450. It is
built of brick, but clay and lime were used for cement.
We went across to the convent school to visit the White Sisters.
They were building new dormitories for the boarding school, and
expected to receive one hundred and forty girls two months later.
School girls were making bricks, gardening, and being generally
helpful. I must say that there is nothing in the missions more promising
to see than the co-operation of the Africans themselves, men, women
and children, in this kind of work.
The nuns gave us tea with homemade bread, and entertained us with
the story of a python fifteen feet long that they had killed in
their garden a few days previously. I half expected snake steaks
In the evening, sitting pleasantly in deck-chairs on the verandah,
I had a long chat with Mgr. Pailloux. Our conversation was useful
to me as a background for my coming visit to this country. He thought
that the gravest problem was that of malnutrition. The Copper Belt,
it seems absorbs between forty and seventy per cent of the men from
the villages: these men leave their wives and children at home,
with few men to cultivate the land. The result is that there is
not enough food for the people. The children come to school hungry,
and when they reach the higher classes at least, they just cannot
study. Education facilities without food are useless.
Secondary education both for want of money and of teachers, is well
behind the normal standard. Most of the teachers in the country
come from this area, but they are directed to the Copper Belt, and
the country districts have no secondary schools. As far as Catholic
schools are concerned, the Prefect Apostolic thought that the only
solution of the problem was for Religious teaching Orders to come
out to Africa. But that is more easily said than done. There are
no funds available on-the-spot, and everything has to be started
from scratch, and in the bush. The situation, therefore, is not
As I came out of the house next afternoon, I saw a great cloud of
dust, out of which presently emerged a Volkswagen with two Sisters
of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood, whose headquarters
are at Guildford, in Surrey. The van pulled up and after a word
of greeting the Sisters cornered the Father Steward with: "Father,
we must see you about a roof." In a few minutes two White Sisters
rolled up, and they, too, wanted something concerning buildings
from the Father Steward. A boy brought tea for us all, and I listened
with interest, to a "builders" conference. Talking about
roofs, I asked if there were bats in the ceilings here. "No,
Father, not now," I was told. "There were some up to last
week, when Father Superior went to look for them. The ceiling collapsed
and he came down with a beam, plaster, and bats all over him. We
smoked the rest of them out."
the Guildford nuns drove off. They were returning to Kasaba, about
seventy five miles away near Lake Bangweolo where they have a general
hospital, and a leper settlement with a hundred patients. The White
Sisters had come from Lubwe which is right on the Lake, about forty
miles from Fort Rosebery where they were developing a clinic into
a hospital. They also have a school with one thousand children.
I listened to some talk today about Kawamba, one hundred miles to
the north. It is the centre of an area containing one of the world's
highest proportions of blind. The Prefect Apostolic wants to open
a hospital up that way. The blindness could often be prevented,
I am told, for it is caused by the use of native drugs and dirt.
There appears to be no limit to the goodness and devotedness of
the nuns here (as, indeed, everywhere else). One of the Guildford
nuns who could get no transport walked twenty miles to attend to
a priest with a poisoned leg: but for her, he would certainly have
lost that leg, if not his life.
A White Father and a Brother were going by boat to Twingi in the
south and when Father Carriere took them to the lake side,
I went along with them for the trip. They had collected a ton or
two of cement, a couple of hunting guns, two bicycles, and a motor
cycle. On the way we broke in to the Forest Commissioner's house
through a window. My companions were astonished at my surprise!
Apparently the Commissioner knows us well and would expect us to
use his house and anything in it, in his absence. We found our lunch
there, made ourselves comfortable to eat it, cleaned up and then
left everything as it was before. At the lake side we loaded the
little whaler, started the outboard motor, and waved "goodbye"
to the two missionaries as they set off on their twelve-hour journey
The word "Twingi", by the way, means "mosquitoes",
which gave sense to the Brother's words: Twingi has three
thousand Christians and many mosquitoes". The missionaries
would tie up for the night somewhere and continue their journey
in the morning. They seemed to think nothing of it. As they left,
a lovely motor launch purred in and we greeted the Protestant missionaries
just back from a tour of their own missions on the lake.
Father Carriere, the Secretary of Education for this Vicariate,
had much travelling to do along the river, and so a man named Peter
Mwali made a canoe for him. With some companions Mwali cut down
a tree which took three men with outstretched hands to encircle
it, and from the tree they dug out a grand boat. The hippos, however,
attacked the canoe on its first trip. They bit it and tried to drag
it under the water. As that failed one of them made a rush at it
and in consequence one man's leg was crushed and another man was
thrown into the water amongst the hippos. Presently, to their horror,
the men in the boat saw his head, which they thought had been severed
from his body, floating behind them with the stream. It was some
time before they realised that the head still had a body attached
to it; they hauled him aboard, and except for the marks of five
hippo teeth, he was none the worse for his exciting adventure.
On the way back to Fort Rosebery we stopped at Kabanga where Father
Carriere said he had a "school palaver". Here we found
a teacher waiting for his school. Kabanga had quite a nice little
church, and Father Carriere asked why it could not be used for a
school as well; a bush-chapel-school being a very common thing in
the missions. But the people, who had built the church themselves,
were greatly upset by this proposal. "But, Father, that is
our church! We shall build a school as well." Father Carriere
agreed to let them build a school with mud bricks, and it
was to be ready in a few weeks. I am sure Father Carriere was right
to encourage them in spite of the extra expense and the few weeks
The White Fathers have only a small mission in the town of Fort
Rosebery; when I remarked on this I was reminded that this "shyness"
for towns is common amongst us. A mission was first established
at Kabanda ten miles away, and another at Chilubula, a small place
outside the township of Kasama and I have seen the same thing elsewhere.
The result has been that other sects often have strongholds right
in the heart of almost Catholic areas. The explanation might be
that the White Fathers were out here before white men had towns,
and they naturally went to the native centres. When the towns came
they did not move into them quickly enough nor in sufficient strength:
perhaps not foreseeing that these towns would become not only centres
for Europeans but also for Africans.
At the mission I met Father Marsan, a Canadian of 75 years
of age, who was one of the first missionaries out here. He still
goes on "trek" on a push-bike and is still full of enthusiasm.
He loves his Africans and they would do anything for him.
We said "goodbye" to Fort Rosebery at half past eight
in the morning, but we were still leaving at a quarter past nine.
It was engine trouble ! Later we did leave for Kasama Vicariate
and in particular for the mission of Chilubula, which is a couple
of hundred miles to the north-east of Lake Bangweolo. On our way
we met a poor African teacher with his wife, family and baggage,
waiting at the roadside. They had been waiting a week for a lift,
but they showed no signs of impatience when they saw clearly for
themselves that we were very "full up" already. Nevertheless,
that family haunted me for days, as I wondered if they were still
there waiting at the side of the road.
We stopped at the great Mission of Ipusukilo. It was an encouraging
sight. Out of a population of 21,000 people, 12,000 were Catholics,
and only 37 villages out of 237 in the confines of the "parish"
(seventy by sixty miles) had still to be evangelised.
The mission employs no less than 91 catechists, and the White Sisters
are there too with their maternity hospital, schools, homecraft
school, and a teaching centre for midwives. We met another admirable
veteran Brother Celestine, the great builder of missions.
I have written "veteran" although he is only 56 years
of age; but let that honourable word stand. He had just returned
from a two-days journey of two hundred and ten miles, on a bicycle!
The toughness of some of these missionaries and their devotedness
We went for the night to Lubushi, which is the Regional senior seminary
for Northern Rhodesia. Our conversation was for the most part about
education. It was pleasant for me to hear Father Reuter, W.F.,
who is a German, speaking highly of the tolerance of British officials
for missionaries who are foreigners. He was confirming what I had
already heard from Mgr. Pailloux, who is a Frenchman, and from Bishop
Daubechies, who is a Belgian. Of course, Government needs the
missionaries, who help it greatly in its job of educating children;
but it is much in the interest of the Church that we do so, and
the way in which Government puts up with our shortcomings regarding
English and University degrees is remarkable. From our viewpoint,
it is also important that we should be so well qualified that we
shall always be needed, and here in particular is emphasised our
growing need of proper Teaching Orders.
At present, the gravest danger to Catholic schools here does not
come from Government but from the local African chiefs who want
to control the schools themselves: and they cannot do this while
the schools are in the hands of the missions. A bush school, however,
is the affair of the chief, and for that reason some of them would
like to see nothing but bush schools while the missions want proper
The Bishop of Kasama told me he needed some qualified men to take
over a training college for teachers. Government is ready to provide
the cost of the buildings. I promised to pass on the call to the
Religious teaching Orders at home.
We went to Chilubula, some 300 miles to the north east of
Fort Rosebery. This mission was built by Bishop Dupont, W.F.,
the famous King of the Brigands. It stands like a fort on a hill,
and it was here that Bishop Dupont lived for a time with his 3,000
warriors of the Babemba around him. They made him King, a dignity
he accepted to prevent the traditional massacres that took place
on the death of a sovereign, it being customary in those days to
put to death all people close to the deceased King.
The mission has thirteen thousand Christians, of whom many were
absent in the mines. There are nine schools of different kinds with
one thousand five hundred children. The White Sisters and some African
nuns called Sisters of the Infant Jesus were at work in this mission.
Good progress was still being made for there are two thousand catechumens
I got some interesting sidelights on missionary expenditure. The
catechists alone of the Vicariate of Fort Rosebery cost the Bishop
£2,000 a year: they are, of course, worth much more, but that
is a very large sum of money indeed for a Bishop to find in these
parts. Then I saw a bush chapel at Kasama which cost £40 to
put up. It had a room to accommodate the priest on safari. The people
built this chapel with their own hands. The visiting priest, of
course, brings his bed and altar.
The Bishops told me they were reluctant to send African students
to England for higher education, for it seems that many Africans
are influenced when there by Communists, and they are not always
better men by any means when they return. Those who do come compare
notes with those who go to France and Germany, and find that while
Africans are received in the homes of the people in the latter countries,
English homes for the most part are closed to them. What our Bishops
prefer is to have their students take a university degree in Africa,
say at Makerere in Uganda, and then come to England after that for
post-graduate courses. Otherwise, they say, they mature far from
their own country and its problems, and on their return they are
not able to make practical application of what they have learned
One is always meeting the problem of inter-racial relations in Rhodesia.
Here, for instance, I saw that one vital element of it is feminine.
Generally speaking, African women are not well educated and so they
cannot meet white women on anything like an equal basis socially.
The African home has little inducement for a white woman to visit.
If she does she would probably think of it as a sort of "slumming",
to help the poor African: and that is just what the African most
resents. Perhaps the greatest opponent of closer interracial relations
is the white woman. Often her only contact with
the Africans is in the kitchen with the boy". Her children
are brought up in this blackboy" atmosphere and that
does not appear to be satisfactory.
My last talk at Chilubula was with Father Davoust, over eighty
years of age, who came out here in 1901. When I first saw him here
he was on a motor cycle ! There is something about these old missionaries
really old ones I mean that is absolutely out of this
world. Father Davoust's memory is as fresh as a boy's, and he re-lived
for me his days with the legendary Bishop Dupont, who built this
mission with walls like a fortress.
We were lucky to get on a plane without reserving seats at Kasama
to fly back south to Ndola. I had a good view of the countryside
of Bangweolo and saw what a terribly poor country it was. Here and
there a few villages dotted among a wilderness of swamps. We bumped
a good deal and I almost lost my record of not losing"
a meal. Sitting opposite was a weather-beaten white man with his
arm in a sling. I began to sympathise with him, but he grinned and
said: "I am very lucky to be alive; I had a car accident on
a safari holiday. You shouldn't sympathise with me: congratulate
me." Another example of relativity !
Back at Ndola I said Mass in the Dominican Convent, and saw the
German Sisters. They have three schools: one for European children,
one for African children and one for half-castes. Life is very complicated
After breakfast, Brother Kenneth, O.S.P., took us to see
St. Francis College for European boys. The 480 boys were all on
holiday. The college was still under construction and on the site
was a small hut where Brother Silvester lived with a priest companion.
One night, recently, he dreamed that he was in hell! He woke up
"on fire" as he thought and found himself covered with
red ants which were making a mass attack on the house. He jumped
up and fled, tearing off his clothes as he ran and yelling to his
companion for help. The other soon followed, also yelling wildly.
Not long after that the house was again attacked by ants while the
priest was out saying Mass. When he got back all that was left of
his pet monkey was bare bones.
"There is one good thing about ants," he said, "they
also clean up all the rats and bats in the place."
At Kitwe Father Lewis, a "stick of dynamite" from
Malta, took me round the mines' township. Every time we stopped
crowds of Africans surrounded us. This priest had eight thousand
Christians to look after, most of them coming from the White Fathers'
missions of Rhodesia; that is why they were so interested in me,
conspicuous as a White Father by the rosary round my neck. They
all wanted news of their villages and homes, which, alas, I was
unable to give them. It seemed a pity the White Fathers could not
arrange a regular visit to these exile parishioners from their own
missions. (Note: The White Fathers have since opened a Reception
Centre in Ndola.)
We visited the hospital with its three doctors and the centre for
African girls training for State Registration. It was a contrast
with what I had seen in the Congo and the matron was justifiably
proud of her trainees. There was a small baby in an oxygen tent
struggling for his life and I baptised him John. The Maternity Section
is popular now but it was not always so. The African women mistrusted
this "new-fangled" white business: no one would be the
first ! Eventually, however, some brave woman was persuaded to have
her baby there, fortunately successfully, and after that the good
news spread. The hospital recently organised an anti-T.B. campaign,
but it was stopped through the intervention of "African Congress",
I was told. It seemed very stupid, but everything so quickly takes
on a "colour-slant" in these parts, and provides easy
fuel for an anti-campaign of some sort.
The social centre run by an English lady with some African helpers,
was on a modest scale compared with those I had seen in the Congo,
but it is certainly doing fine work. The mines have no schools of
their own, nor are there any mission schools: only Government"
schools are permitted here, but Ministers of Religion are encouraged
to teach religion in them, and the Fathers say it works well.
A strike, organised by Europeans was in progress. The African workers
were getting a strike allowance. I went to the beer garden where
men were queueing with buckets for native beer. Father Lewis told
me that the profit went to provide a library, the reading room of
which I found well stocked with papers and reviews and a good number
of readers. There was also a huge sports stadium. I left Kitwe with
a last look at an unusual sight: three churches standing side by
side, Catholic, Anglican and Methodist.
At the mine centre of Mufulera, not very far from Kitwe, Father
Bonaventure, O.S.F., was doing his best for the 11,000 Catholics
in his charge. He could easily find all his parishioners' houses,
for each had a little white cross over the door. This is something
that could be useful and delightful in our own land. The homes were
simple, but those I visited, at any rate, were very clean and tidy,
and many had nice gardens with trees and a lawn. There was a shower-bath
in each house and the whole thing struck me as dignified and "human",
allowing a man to be truly at home.
Father Bonaventure had organised his 11,000 Christians well. He
had three centres, each of which was in the charge of a catechist.
Catholic Action with the Young Christian Workers, the Children of
Mary and the Legion of Mary are all doing fine work. Still with
all this help, poor Father Bonaventure had a lot more work than
should fall to the lot of anyone man, however devoted. All over
Africa I had seen priests overworked. There is only one solution:
At Ndola an African could build his own house, but here at Mufulera
a man could own his house but not build it. Building was going on
everywhere, and there were all the signs of expectation of a prosperous
future. I chatted with some of the Europeans on strike, and their
views on the African were not without interest: they were coloured,
of course, by their own interests, like the views of so many people.
The miners I spoke to said in substance that they didn't mind (!)
an African as long as he was clean and "kept his place".
But they did not believe in training Africans for superior positions
as the Mining Companies were trying to do, and as Government did.
They said it was a plot to get cheap labour higher up the scale.
"It takes me five years apprenticeship to get recognition as
an electrician, but an African can get recognition out here in eighteen
months, and then do the job cheaper than I can," said one.
All the miners to whom I spoke turned out to be South Africans.
The manager of a big store said: "I've seen plenty of strikes:
this one won't last long. The men get such high wages that they
can afford to have a "rest" now and again. Most of them
would like to work all the time, but they are led by a few hotheads."
I was told that there was no "fighting fund", either.
While in Rhodesia one cannot avoid seeing and hearing about the
problem of interracial relations. There is a Catholic church, as
well as others, in each African township: and there is a white man's
town and an African's town. We have to send a white priest every
morning to the African's church to say Mass for the white priest
is not permitted to sleep in the African's town. And if an African
priest were in our community in the white man's town, he should
go back to the African town to sleep.
This sort of thing takes your breath away when you meet it for the
first time. The law is that no white man may live in the African's
town, and, no doubt, it is thought that an exception even for a
doctor or a priest would be dangerous! The Belgians had the same
rule, ostensibly for the "protection" of the African,
but they make these exceptions for doctors, priests, and social
workers. It certainly seems more sensible. In Rhodesia an African
priest living in some of our missions would, strictly speaking,
be breaking the law.
The colour-bar problem is not as simple on the spot as it sometimes
appears to be in the minds of people at home. Strictly speaking,
social-bar denies rights and legitimate opportunities to Africans
to develop themselves on the sole grounds of colour and race. This
real colour- bar certainly exists and one feels its influence steadily
increasing as one nears South Africa. Nevertheless what is sometimes
called a colour-bar is in fact a social-bar or a class-bar
and the Africans practise these among themselves as much as anybody.
One tribe will have nothing to do with another, one class despises
a lower one, and so on. Leaders of anti-White movements, however,
easily attribute everything they dislike to "colour-bar"
in order to bolster up their contentions that all Europeans are
leagued against the Africans and do not sincerely wish to help them
in any way.
The Copper Companies declared their conviction that satisfactory
industrial relations would never be established until Africans were
given the chance to hold positions of higher responsibility. That
was in 1948 and there is a gleam of hope in the fact that an African
middle class is slowly being formed, which might bridge the gap
between white and black. There is so much to be done before a settled
and happy relationship can be established. The African himself needs
to work more; he needs to take more pride in his job and in the
land; he must make more effort to develop natural resources by abandoning
old, bad, traditional methods. Parents need to take more interest
in their children's education, and so on.
Some African leaders are very immature and irresponsible and are
not anxious to have their people work to improve their standards,
but only to clamour for a higher political status. On the other
hand, there is certainly room for more secondary education, better
agricultural methods and planning, and the training of Africans
in agricultural and technical schools. Apart from the mines the
main wealth of the African lies in the land and in cattle. I have
always wondered why agricultural training even of a most elementary
standard has never been widely developed in Africa. To complete
the picture, there is also a wide field of strongly entrenched European
interest which will resist all efforts to remove its privileges.
There is, however, much to be said for the liberal methods of British
Government. The different approach is particularly striking when
one has just come from Belgian governed territory. We do treat the
African man as a man and try to train him gradually to hold wider
responsibility. To drop everything, even his food, into his lap
may indeed provide him with more things now, but it will not help
him to become a better or more capable man. The deep unrest of the
Congo is ample proof that material goods do not satisfy man's aspirations.
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