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Kaunda's Gaoler. (Books).


[pounds sterling]24.50 The Radcliffe Press

ISBN 1-86064-862-2

In 1943, Cyril Greenall was a I lieutenant in the British army's Bomb Disposal Squad when he received a letter from the War Office offering demobilisation if he was prepared to join the Colonial Service. Thus began a career spanning 25 years in Northern Rhodesia and post-independence Zambia.

The first years as a cadet and subsequently a District Commissioner were spent on various outstations in the bush of the Northern Province. Latter he was transferred to the Copper Belt and for a while his next-door neighbour was Roy Welensky, later to come to prominence as a leader of the Central African Federation (CAF). Essentially, the Federation's concept was to combine the large supply of cheap labour in Nyasaland (Malawi), the plentiful mineral resources of Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), with the capital, coal and technological know-how of Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).

This book recounts the personal side of life in a relatively remote part of Africa, and tells the history of those times. The formation of the CAF was made against an initially muted opposition expressed by the nascent nationalist groups. They saw the move as means by which a growing white settler population could consolidate their own political control and maintain European dominance, and before long the African nationalist politicians became steadily more vociferous in the face of this attempt to impose white hegemony.


At the same time as the first major crisis over the Federation proposals, Greenall was the DC in Kabompo in the North Western Province. It was here that the colonial administration deemed a suitable and secure place to detain Kenneth Kaunda, a leading figure in the formation of the Zambia African National Congress, which had almost immediately been banned by invoking emergency legislation.

While the moderate African National Congress' (ANC) Harry Nkumbula agreed to participate in Federal elections scheduled for March 1959, more militant nationalist politicians, including Kaunda, (who had himself once belonged to the ANC) established the United National Independence Party (UNIP) in 1959 to lead a series of mass actions in its strongholds of the Copperbelt, Luapala, Northern and Eastern Provinces. They were agitating for the ending of the federation and full independence.

Kaunda was detained by the colonial administration and, along with two other political activists, transferred to Greenall's care along with the injunction: "For God's sake don't lose them."

For most of the detention a relationship existed that Greenall describes as "distant but cordial". Shortly after Kaunda's release in 1960, and prior to the negotiations that eventually led to Zambia's independence in 1964, Kaunda sent Greenall a copy of his book with a personal dedication. They were to meet again several times on a friendly basis in the time remaining before independence, and subsequently in the newly emerging state where Greenall remained for a number of years to assist in the development of Zambia's administration.

The book's title is misleading for two reasons. Firstly, Kaunda was never in fact jailed, but rather restricted to a district of no less than some 10,000 sq miles. Secondly, the portion of this book that deals with Kaunda as a political restrictee is comparatively modest. The book is really much more general, the memoirs of a colonial officer liberally sprinkled with personal anecdotes.

The author makes use of his late wife's letters to friends and family in the UK as a means of refreshing his own memory. He also credits the use of an unpublished manuscript on Bemba tribal customs, given to him by a priest who taught him the Bemba language, as "an invaluable source" to help him describe some of the details of the ceremonies he witnessed.
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Publication:African Business
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 2003
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