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
Share #curiousedinburgh:
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).
Share #curiousedinburgh: