Page 2, 2nd December 1949

2nd December 1949
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Page 2, 2nd December 1949 — CATHOLIC MISSIONS
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CATHOLIC MISSIONS

Undesirable Customs

SIR,-1 was interested in

Bernard Keelan'e " Tropical and Topical." particularly his reference to the mission Fathers' " vision of raising up a new Christian continent to the glory of God."

The following observations, on which I hope to see your readers' comments. are prompted by information recently gleaned from friends I have made among the many native Africans who are here as University students or industrial apprentices.

1 hese African friends are desout Catholics, educated and intelligent, with balanced and critical mindsthey form, I imagine, a good crosssection of educated African youth, some being State-sponsored. others having come here under their own steam. They are not ungrateful for the benefits they have received under white rule. but critical of the Way these benefits have been conferred and most emphatic that they are capable of ruling themselves and should be allowed to do so before more damage is done-such, for example, as the fact that, having been taught to look upon as bad all that is native African, their knowledge of their own languages and cultures is almost non-existent, because, after primary standard, their education has been purely English and European. There is still in our colonies, however, a certain amount of native " segregation " and white " superiority," and a European education does not give Africans equal opportunity with Europeans; with equal qualifications the native gets an inferior job, or lower pay in the same type of job! No wonder they feel frustrated!

But-and this is the point of this letter-the shocking fact is that this attitude is apparently accepted and encouraged by our Catholic mis

sionaries. I was told by a West African-and I have no reason to doubt his sincerity-that the front seats in the churches are reserved for white people; in some cases the natives may occupy them if they are left vacant when Mass begins. but if the church is full and Europeans come in late (as they often do) then the natives are turned out to make room for them! The same man told me that he was once refused Communion because he was wearing his native dress (a white toga arrangement-they normally wear European dress in the cities).

It seems to me that this attitude on the part of the civil and the religious authorities will. if it persists, lead to these proud And fine young people turning to Communism as a solution to their national aspirations, not beeause they, any more than the Chinese, believe in Marxism, but because the Communists apparently offer them the political and economic freedom they so much desire. CLARE HYMOM 61 Glisson Road, Cambridge.




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