Kate Bowell

Oct 192020
 

36 Hope Terrace, Edinburgh EH9 2AR

36 Hope Terrace
36 Hope Terrace

36 Hope Terrace contained the ‘Colonial Students’ Hostel’ in the 1940s. A “three-story building with basement rooms,” this is where many students from British colonies would stay upon their arrival in Edinburgh. Secretary of State for the Colonies Arthur Creech Jones made it clear, however, that such hostels provided only temporary accommodation, and colonial students “should live and work on the same conditions as students in this country rather than be segregated into permanent hostels of their own.” Ghanaian medical student Emmanuel Evans-Anfom stayed here when he matriculated at Edinburgh in 1941. In his memoir To the Thirsty Land: Autobiography of a Patriot, Evans-Anfom recalled, “Apart from the residential accommodation at the hostel, there were a small restaurant, dining-room and sporting facilities like a billiards room, a library, and a reading room with newspapers. It was really a place where even non-resident colonial students […] could come for relaxation and subsidized meals.” At the Colonial Students’ Hostel, Evans-Anfom met students “from West Africa, Nigerians, Sierra Leonians, Gambians, and, of course, students from the Caribbean. […] And even after we had finally got permanent lodgings we could always go back to use the facilities at 36 Hope Terrace.”

Students at Hope Terrace, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1942
Students at Hope Terrace, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1942
Students at Hope Terrace, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1942
Students at Hope Terrace, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1942
Students at Hope Terrace, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1942
Students at Hope Terrace, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1942
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Oct 192020
 

23 Marchmont Crescent, Edinburgh EH9 1HQ

23 Marchmont Crescent
23 Marchmont Crescent

In the 1960s, Kenneth Ramchand lived in a “Trinidad Boys” flat at 23 Marchmont Crescent. Ramchand completed his MA and PhD at Edinburgh, writing his thesis on Caribbean Literature. In his book of collected essays Disappointed Guests, Ramchand writes about his loneliness and experiences of racism at Edinburgh. He describes how both romantic and platonic friendships with white students were taboo, and how in his first year he had to stick “firmly to the group” of fellow West Indians. One white student could not comprehend that he did not play calypso or cricket, signaling, in Ramchand’s words, his “refusal to see the black man as a whole individual.” After leaving Edinburgh, Ramchand became the first Professor of West Indian Literature at the University of the West Indies, and published his first book, The West Indian Novel and its Background in 1970. He said: “it was influential in the creation and internationalization of an academic discipline called “West Indian Literature”; it stimulated the development of graduate studies in the Department of English of the University of the West Indies.” Ramchand has been the recipient of many awards, including the Bocas Henry Swanzy Award for Distinguished Service to Caribbean Letters (2014).

Kenneth Ramchand (left) with Surinamese writer Ismene Krishnadath
Kenneth Ramchand (left) with Surinamese writer Ismene Krishnadath
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Oct 192020
 

1 Roseneath Terrace, Edinburgh EH9 1JS

1 Roseneath Terrace
1 Roseneath Terrace

The sixth floor of 1 Roseneath Terrace was home to Eustace Akwei while he studied medicine at Edinburgh during the 1940s. Coincidentally, another Ghanaian medical student, Emmanuel Evans-Anfom, would later move into the very same room. The landlady was therefore “familiar with the ways of students from the Gold Coast” and remarked that Eustace Akwei was “a courteous and cultured gentleman”. Eustace Akwei trained to become a doctor in Edinburgh at a time when it was official policy to exclude indigenous African from practicing medicine in West Africa. From the beginning of the twentieth century to the end of 1945, the medical services in British West Africa were amalgamated and in 1902 the West African Medical Staff (WAMS) was formed. The WAMS formally rejected any physician not of “European parentage” from its ranks and was the only department in the British empire to do so. In 1955, more than half a century after this racist policy was first enacted and a decade after it was repealed, Eustace Akwei became the first Ghanaian to be appointed Chief Medical Officer in the Gold Coast. In 1958, he was one of the prominent doctors present at the inauguration of the Ghana Medical Association.

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Oct 192020
 

3 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh EH10 4HN

3 Bruntsfield Place
3 Bruntsfield Place

Theodore Clerk, the first professionally certified Ghanaian architect, lived at 3 Bruntsfield Place between 1940 and 1942. Coming from a large family of pioneering scholars and clergy, Theodore secured a government scholarship to study Architecture at Edinburgh College of Art in 1938. Whilst still a student, Clerk worked for both the Scottish National Buildings Record and the Department of Health for Scotland, undertaking measuring work and housing surveys. Upon completing his examinations in 1943, Clerk was admitted as an associate by the Royal Institute of British Architects (ARIBA) and was awarded the Rutland Prize by the Royal Scottish Academy. When Clerk returned to Ghana, he was, for a time, the only Ghanaian architect in the country. Clerk is best known for his work on the port city of Tema, the largest seaport in Ghana. Commissioned by President Kwame Nkrumah, he designed and built affordable housing for low-income dockworkers at the harbour. Clerk was also the first president of the Ghana Institute of Architects and authored its first constitution. Theodore’s sister, Matilda J. Clerk, was also a student at Edinburgh. She was the second Ghanaian female doctor and the first Ghanaian woman to be awarded a scholarship for university education abroad.

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Oct 192020
 

Lauriston Gardens, Edinburgh EH3 9HH

Lauriston Gardens
Lauriston Gardens

Herbert Christian Bankole-Bright, founder member of the National Congress of British West Africa, lived at Lauriston Gardens while he studied medicine in Edinburgh. Bankole-Bright was born in Okrika (now part of Nigeria) in 1883. He was from a “Krio” (“creole”) family; his grandfather had escaped from a recaptured slave ship in 1823, landed in Sierra Leone, and was then baptized and educated by the Church Missionary Society. His parents, Jacob Galba Bright and Letitia Bright, belonged to Freetown’s African social elite. In 1905, Bankole-Bright enrolled at the Edinburgh Royal College of Surgeons. At the time, the College was autonomous from the University of Edinburgh, but students took some courses at the University. During his five years Bankole-Bright practiced at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh. He took an active interest in politics as a student, writing letters to Keir Hardie, the founder of the Labour Party in Britain, and engaging in debates organized by the Afro-West Indian Association. He was academically successful, achieving marks between 60 and 75 in all of his final examinations. In 1927, 17 years after he had returned to Sierra Leone, Bankole-Bright was named Honorary President of the Edinburgh African Association.

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Oct 192020
 

Edinburgh College of Art, 74 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh EH3 9DF

Edinburgh College of Art
Edinburgh College of Art

Records of Finandra Nath Bose’s time at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) exist from 1908, and he was awarded his diploma in 1911. Born in Calcutta, India, Finandra Nath Bose trained as a sculptor at ECA under Percy Portsmouth. Portsmouth recalled that, “Bose excelled in small sculpture; he had a phenomenal control of minutiae […] he was an excellent craftsman, a true artist, showing delicacy and taste in everything he did.” After completing his studies at Edinburgh, Bose moved to Paris to work under Auguste Rodin. He became part of the “new sculpture movement” in Britain, whose small figurative statues focused on realism, movement, and symbolism. Bose’s sculptures can be seen in multiple locations across Scotland, including a War Memorial (1925) on the Main Street of Ormiston, East Lothian, as well as ‘St John the Baptist,’ designed for St John’s Church, Perth. He has been described as the first Indian to achieve recognition in Britain and was one of the first international artists to become a member of the Royal Scottish Academy.

Finandra Nath Bose
Finandra Nath Bose
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Oct 192020
 

Royal College of Physicians, 11 Queen Street, Edinburgh EH2 1JQ

Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians

When Kadambini Ganguly received her BA from the University of Calcutta in 1883, she became the first woman to graduate in India. This was monumental, since Calcutta Medical College had initially refused to admit her because of her gender. In 1893, she travelled to Edinburgh and studied for the Scottish Triple at the Royal College of Physicians. At the time, travelling to the UK to study was limited to a small but growing wealthy elite in India. At the college, she took courses in medicine, therapeutics, surgery, anatomy, midwifery, and medical jurisprudence. Ganguly continuously challenged society’s expectations of her. Her decision to study medicine abroad as a married woman provoked backlash from the upper-caste Bengali community, and when she received her diploma she was the only successful woman candidate in her cohort. When Ganguly returned to India, she practiced obstetrics and gynecology at Lady Dufferin Hospital in Calcutta, combining her medical work with political activism. She was one of six women delegates to the fifth session of the Indian National Congress in 1889, and organized a Women’s Conference in Calcutta in the aftermath of the 1906 partition of Bengal (which separated the majority Muslim East from the largely Hindu West).

Kadambini Ganguly
Kadambini Ganguly
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Oct 192020
 

Assembly Hall, Mound Place, Edinburgh EH1 2LX

Assembly Hall
Assembly Hall

In 1952, Assembly Hall was the location of protest meetings against the Central African Federation (CAF), where Edinburgh alumni Julius Nyerere and Hastings Banda, later Presidents of independent Tanzania and Malawi respectively, spoke. The CAF was a colonial federation of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi) between 1953 and 1963. Those in favour claimed the territories were economically interdependent and thus vulnerable individually. However, Afrikaners and Black Africans were vehemently opposed to a white minority rule of a few Europeans over millions of Africans. In Scotland, Nyerere and Banda mobilized opposition to the Federation. In February 1952, they spoke out against the Federation at Assembly Hall. The Scotsman newspaper described Banda’s claims “that the federation of these territories was not in the best interests of the people…They would lose the right to form their own Government within the Commonwealth.” Nyerere condemned the Federation as “another example of white domination over Africans.” The meeting at Assembly Hall passed a unanimous resolution against the Federation and resulted in the Scottish Council on African Questions, “set up to combat racism and colonialism in Africa.” The CAF was dissolved when Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia gained independence in 1963.

Administrative divisions of the CAF
Administrative divisions of the CAF
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Oct 192020
 

Crown Office, 25 Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1LA

25 Chambers Street, site of the former Phrenological Museum
25 Chambers Street, site of the former Phrenological Museum

25 Chambers Street used to be the site of the Edinburgh’s Phrenological Museum. Phrenology emerged in the eighteenth century and used the human skull to determine personal character and development. Throughout the nineteenth century, however, the pseudo-science became increasingly racialized and Edinburgh’s students used it to both promote and refute racist theorizations. For example, in Ethnology and Phrenology, Edinburgh graduate John William Jackson claimed that “contemplated through the medium of Comparative Anatomy, a Negro is but the embryonic, and a Mongol the infantile form of the Caucasian or perfect man.” Equally important, however, were the medical students of colour who have historically resisted these ideas and created their own counter-narratives. James ‘Africanus’ Beale Horton was born in Sierra Leone in 1835 and graduated from Edinburgh in medicine in 1859. In his book West African Countries and Peoples, Horton labelled racist phrenologists as “men of science with restricted observation.” Theophilus Scholes was born in Jamaica in 1856 and completed his medical degree at Edinburgh two years early. In Glimpses of the Ages, he attacked the claim that a “Caucasian brain” weighed 200 grams more than an “African brain,” asking “is a greater travesty of scientific research possible?”

James Africanus Beale Horton
James Africanus Beale Horton
Theophilus Scholes
Theophilus Scholes
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Oct 192020
 

Royal College of Surgeons, Nicholson Street, Edinburgh EH8 9DW

Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

In 1937, Hastings Banda, who became the first President of independent Malawi in 1966, travelled to Edinburgh to study medicine. At the time, the Royal College of Surgeons was one of Britain’s only non-university institutions providing a respected medical qualification, the Scottish Triple. Taking his final examinations in 1940, Banda passed all his courses except Surgery and Midwifery. He passed on his fifth attempt, however, and was finally awarded his diploma in July in 1941. In 1977, President Banda donated £350,000 to the College, receiving an honorary fellowship in return. A plaque commemorating Banda was erected outside, but during the campaign for multi-party democracy in the early 1990s, Banda came under widespread criticism. He was an absolute ruler who had outlawed all other political parties and owned 45% of Malawi’s GDP. Despite this, the College refused to take a political stance when asked to return Banda’s donation to Malawi. Dr. Paul Reece noted that no “donations should have been made by the President to a royal college in the UK when there are all the problems in Malawi itself. When I was there we were having adults admitted with starvation.” The College refused, but the plaque has been removed.

Hastings Banda (left) and Julius Nyerere (right).
Hastings Banda (left) and Julius Nyerere (right).
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