Page 4, 23rd June 1978

23rd June 1978
Page 4
Page 4, 23rd June 1978 — White men in Africa

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Locations: Costermansville


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White men in Africa

Your strictures on the Congo and her former Belgian rulers, in Charterhouse Chronicle. saddened me. They seemed unjust and uncharitable.

Of course we all remember about the "Belgian Atrocities" under King Leopold II. But those conditions were certainly not applicable after the Belgian state took over.

Living in Kenya during the Fifties one learnt of the admirable efforts being made by the Belgian government to prepare the country for independence — a policy of economic advance before political advance, raising the standard of living in housing, wages, education etc. And when one realises the primitiveness of tribes that were to make use of the one man one vote system one wondered if the Belgian idea might be the saner.

But after the war the colonial powers were rushed into granting independence, by Amercian pressure, often before the country was ready.

Sweeping condemnation demands a refutation if one feels one can suggest it, and even a word of praise where possible — or just to give another point of view?

Making a journey into the Congo from Uganda, down a long isolated trek to Costermansville, I was very struck at seeing a Red Cross sign at 10 mile intervals; these I learned betoken a small local dispensary, run by a native medical orderly, an effort in medical care unparalleled in Uganda or Kenya. And 1 shall be eternally grateful for the night's shelter given me on the interesting if awesome journey, by the large and excellent hospital, for whites and natives, encountered halfway, en route.

Yes, I have happy memories of the Belgian Congo. Catherine Dickson London. I am at present engaged on a

study of Church-State relations in the making of Zimbabwe and therefore fascinated by Mr Makoni's and Mr Nyamayi's spontaneous gesture of support for the Jesuits in their country, and, indeed, their wealth of detail. May I invite them through your columns to get in touch with me?

I should like to add to their list of

Jesuit achievements the work of Father Dieter Scholz SJ in the Justice and Peace Commission, an oversight which is quite understandable in so short a letter. Rev Dr 0. Niederberger, in his excellent Mambo Press monograph "The African Clergy in the Catholic Church of Rhodesia" has an illuminating discussion of Jesuit policies towards an indigenous clergy, which would supplement their comments. Finally I noticed in the article they refer to that the number of Zimbabwean Sisters is given as 450. The figure is now nearer 580 so I assume this must be a misprint.

Perhaps some Jesuit opinion on this interesting article will be forthcoming? Ian Linden

8 Walcote ParAde.


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