Sunday, 11 November 2018

The Reckoning - Colin Morris

I first came to know about Colin Morris when he interviewed my father for a BBC programme in 1993. I wasn't in Zambia at the time, and was lying half-awake in the small hours of the morning listening to the world service on my earphones, so it was a bit of a shock when my father's voice was suddenly in my ear. I'm including some excerpts from that radio programme, The Reckoning, in this post.

The programme came in three parts, of about 40 minutes each.  It starts at Lubwa Mission, founded by the Church of Scotland at the turn of the century, near Chinsali. Here Morris reminisces about his time there. He speaks to an aging Noah Chulu, visits the burial site where Dr Brown, David Kaunda and Paul Mushindu are buried. We are told that Mushindu never wore shoes because a missionary once told him to take his shoes off before coming into their house, and he decided then that he would thereafter go barefoot. Mr Moywa shows Morris around the decaying Lubwa hospital. He also speaks to Kenneth Kaunda, graduate of Lubwa school, who laughs about David Brown telling a Roman Catholic priest off for straying into a Church of Scotland area.

Morris was closely associated with Merfyn Temple, who was one of the first people my parents met when they arrived in Zambia in 1967. In fact Merfyn immediately told my parents they should leave, as he intended to do, and as all missionaries should do, he felt. Morris revisits this question in The Reckoning as he returns to Zambia to ask what the impact of missionaries was in Zambia before independence and after.

Here is a selection of recordings from the programmes, including several mentioning the Lumpa Church affair.


1 Godfrey Sikazwe talking about Lubwa Mission

2 Merfyn Temple on why missionaries should leave

3 Flexson Muzinga (Livingstone Museum)

4 Jack Kyle

5 Sikota and Arthur Wina

6 Kenneth Kaunda

7 Margaret Senogles on an attack on the Chingola Free Church

8 Lumpa Church (Alice Lenshina)

9 Robert Kaunda on Alice Lenshina

10 Fergus McFerguson on Alice Lenshina


Morris says 'I received from Africa much more than I gave and learned much more than I taught'. Likewise it is interesting to contrast the humility and warmth of Kenneth Kaunda in speaking about Colin Morris with Sikota Wina's combative stance.

Names in The Reckoning (BBC radio programme)

 Some of the following are mentioned in passing. Others (*) are interviewed.

Baker, Colonel (fired red cartridge, Lumpa)
Brown, Dr David (Lubwa)
Chikani, Frank
Chulu, Noah (Revd)*
Dandala, Mvumi (Methodist, South Africa)
De Jong, Dennis (RC bishop of Ndola)
Dil, Pierre (Revd; Dean of Anglican cathedral at the time) *
Gore-Brown, Stewart
Hannah, John (megaphone, tried to get Lumpa to put down arms) *
Kaunda, David  (one of the founders of Lubwa)
Kaunda, Kenneth *
Kaunda, Robert (elder brother of KK, deacon in Lumpa church)
Kyle, Jack (Irish rugby player) *
Mason, Cedric (Methodist minister)
Mazubere, Crispin (bishop of Methodist Church, Zimbabwe)
McFerguson, Fergus
Milingo, Archbishop RC church
Mishundu, Paul b.1895 (graves at Lubwa)
Moywa, Mr. (Clinical officer, Lubwa hospital) *
Mulenga, Alice Lenshina
Musunsa, Doyce
Muzinga, Flexson (Livingstone Museum) *
Mwape, Jackson
Nolan, Albert (Provincial of Dominican order in South Africa)
Ogden, Val (Revd; St Andrew's Church, Ndola) *
Senegoles, Howarth (?)
Senogoles, Margaret
Sikazwe, John
Sikazwe, Godfrey (Revd, UCZ) *
Siwale, Donald (father of Euwan; his mother hid him in a tree to protect him from Arab slave traders)
Siwale, Euwan
Temple, Merfyn *
Todd, Garfield
Todd, Judith
Whitehead, Dennis (Revd; Livingstone) *
Wilkie, James (Africa secretary, Church of Scotland)*
Wina, Arthur *
Wina, Sikota *

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Spark in the stubble - Colin Morris of Zambia


Leslie Charlton's book (Epworth Press, 1969) is focussed on the independence struggle and the early years afterwards, and tells us about Morris and his influence at that time from the pulpit of the Methodist Chingola Free Church, and during his brief political career. The title is taken from a verse in the book of Wisdom: "In the time of their visitation, they shall shine and run to and fro like sparks in the stubble".  Apt.

Morris had arrived in Zambia in 1956, when the independence movement was taking off. At Oxford University he had met African political activists, and had already formed strong opinions before he arrived in South Africa, as we are told, clutching Trevor Huddleston's banned book, "Naught for your comfort". But his preconceptions were quickly shattered as he found most of the white people he associated with moderate and reasonable. It was some time before his anger was reawakened by inequalities in treatment of African miners and he fully committed to a political stand on the need for independence.

'Turbulent priests': Michael Scott, Colin Morris and Merfyn Temple
Morris seems to have picked up many nicknames that highlight his influence at the time: "the fighting parson", "Rhodesia's Trevor Huddleston",  "the turbulent priest", "the best hated man in central Africa". We are left in no doubt of his commitment to the cause of African self government, although he stopped short of standing for UNIP (which Kenneth Kaunda offered to him), as he alternately emptied and filled his church, dealt with hecklers and fended off attacks on the church itself.

The book includes a good account of the Lenshina uprising, including a personal account from Revd Paul Mushindo on the birth of the Lumpa sect.  He says:

It was on 18th September 1953. Alice Lenshina Mulenga Lubusha of Kasomo Village, Chief Nkula's area, gave birth to a child and became fainted, which shows immorality according to Bemba custom.

The news went abroad that she was dead. In three days time she rose up again. This untrue rumour attracted many people to her. For about two to five days Alice was being treated for her fainting by people who know the African medicine for such occasions. Then she came to Lubwa to look for [me] for advice as to how to rejoin the United Church of Central Africa in Rhodesia.

... being a full church member she had the right to hold church services. But being an illiterate woman she preached what she had been taught.... but with it she emphasized that she rose up from the dead; and God has sent her to save people from their sins.... Then in her preachings she used their superstitions. She said that God had sent her to save people from dying the death caused by buloshi. (witchcraft)

Lumpa 'Passport' with a Chinsali District stamp
Although initially the Lumpa church was not an issue for UNIP, in fact it was 'regarded as a spiritual arm of nationalism', Alice made a political error in telling her people to support the ANC. This, combined with her breaking away to form her own villages without permission and assaults on local people (who also attacked Lumpa members), eventually led to the catastrophic attack on the church. The impressive structure they built (without any European assistance) now lies in ruins.

Morris and other ministers were involved in trying to resolve the issue before the attack took place. Officially, 704 were killed, according to BBC documentary 'The Reckoning', which I'll blog on later.  Many carried 'passports' promising to turn bullets to water. (See also here for an article by John Hannah, District Officer of the area at the time.)

It is notable also that Colin Morris insists we just don't know whether Alice rose from the dead or not. We must assume it could have happened, he says.

There are many interesting stories in this book, but I will end with a quote about Morris: 'He tore up the rule book and put his foot through the stained-glass windows to let into his church the harsh light of an underprivileged world'. I wonder if the day of the turbulent priests has gone. I would like to think not.

Colin Morris passed away on May 22nd, 2018.  He was awarded the Companion Order of Freedom by Kenneth Kaunda.

Names in the book 'spark in the stubble'

Acheson, Dennis
Barnes, Jonathan (church treasurer)
Barton, Frank
Benson, Arthur (Sir)
Bolink, Peter
Bulawayo, Fines
Burton, Lillian
Castle, Barbara (UK labour party)
Catto, Charles (Revd; Chingola FC; president UCZ)
Chabukasanshya, Clement (RC)
Chembe, Francis
Chitambala, Frank
Clayton, Eric (Bancroft Mine chairman)
Collins, John (Canon)
ffoulkes, Maurice (church secretary)
Fleming, James (mayor)
Foy, Whitfield, Rev (Salisbury, Rhodesia)
Franklin, Harry
Frazer, Donald (Dr)
Frazer, George
Gilchrist, Tom
Gondwe, Alfred
Gray, Douglas, Chipembi Girls School founder, and Chingola Free Church minister
Greenfield, Julian (Salisbury)
Hanna, John (District Officer during Lumpa crisis)
Hess, Ian (editor Central African Examiner)
Hewitt, George (Canon)
Hincks, William
Ibiam, Francis (Sir; Nigerian doctor)
Kapwepwe, Simon
Katilungu, Lawrence
Lehmann, Dorothea
MacCleod (colonial secretary; Lancaster House conference)
Macpherson, F. (Revd)
Magnus, Val (UFP Party; defeated Morris in election)
Mataka, Filemon
Matthews, J.L. (Revd) Len
McKenzie, William (Bill)
Moffat, John (Sir; Central Africa Party)
Mukondo, Samson
Mulenga, Alice Lenshina
Mulford, David
Musakala, G. (Revd)
Mushindo, Paul (Revd)
Musunsa, Doyce (UCZ)
Mutemba, Andrew
Mwape, Jackson (president UCZ)
Nightingale, Edward G. (Revd)
Nkumbula, Harry
Reeves, Ambrose
Rogers, Edward (Revd)
Scott, Alexander (Constitution Party)
Short, Arthur
Soper, Lord
Taylor, John
Temple, Merfyn
Todd, Garfield
Welensky, Roy
Whelan (Justice)
Wilkinson, Oliver Green
Williams, Thomas (Sir)
Wina, Arthur
Wina, Sikota

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