LAND OF OPPORTUNITY
Science men are needed by Africans
`C.H.1 Reporter GREAT opportunities in Uganda await the young Catholic graduate—especially if he is a science man—ready to go out from this country to meet a vital need for Africa's future by teaching in the University College of East Africa at Makerere on the heights overlooking Kampala.
I learnt about this last week from Fr. Paul Foster, O.P., former Prior of Haverstock Hill, who is in London for a short vacation from his duties as official Catholic chaplain to the Makerere students. who come from all over the three territories of Uganda. Kenya and Tanganyika.
" Give these lovely people an opportunity to love, teach and govern, in that order," Fr. Foster told me, "give them the chances they require for the exercise of their maturity as it develops from stage to stage, and the East Africa of tomorrow will he a force of tremendous power for good in the future history of the world."
Of the 600 students at Makerere, who are predominantly African, a third to a quarter are Catholics. But Catholics account for less than three per cent. of the teaching staff. mainly because the tutors and lecturers are drawn from Englishspeaking countries.
" Makerere." said Fr. Foster. " reflects the general tenor of Uganda in its lack of racial and religious conflicts, and this extends to our students from all three territories.
"Tribal solidarity. as opposed to antipathy, is intense, of course, and university life is showing the tribesmen how they can fuse and co-operate more freely without losing their tribal individuality.
"Among the Catholics alone we have some 32 tribes represented, each with its own language. English is used as the common tongue in university lectures."
There is no doubting that Fr. Foster has fallen in love with the peoples of East Africa. When I asked him about the Kikuyu, for instance, he replied: They arc an immensely able and charming people. exceptionally brilliant and of enormous ability."
The Baganda, he said, who are perhaps the most assertive of the peoples of Uganda, seek their rights with a critical tenacity that has left quite unspoilt the excellence of their basic relationship with the United Kingdom. Their approach is one of reasoned moderation.
" i am most anxious to appeal to young Catholic graduates to come out for. say, two to five years," Fr. Foster went on. " Thcy will 'derive invaluable experience and find their work most rewarding viewed from any angle—he it that of the teacher, the intellectual or the apostle and preferably all three.
"We can do with history and literature degrees. of course, but the crying need is for science teachers. and those qualified in agriculture and veterinary surgery.
" Another three or four Catholic teachers on the staff would he a great encouragement to the Catholic students who wonder at the pre sent disparity between Catholics and others on the teaching staff." Fr. Foster himself lectures in the history faculty.
The Church in East Africa is still mission territory, but there are Hierarchies in Uganda. Kenya and Tanganyika, and they have invited the English Dominicans to go out to supply and expand universitylevel Catholic teaching.
The idea here is to case the enormous burden of the missionary congregations who have to he all things to all men and are hard put to it to spare busy priests working over huge areas for specialised activities.
I told Fr. Foster of the view widely expressed here that African students give the impression of a precocious ability to absorb great quantities of knowledge without the ability to apply it.
"This has nothing to do with lack of mental capacity," he replied. " Opportunity and practice are the prerequisites for the application of theory, but I don't prelend that we have found the key to the solution yet. The ability is unquestionably there. How to gear it to day-to-day administration is
something that this university work is dedicated to.
" British people coming out to help must do so in the right frame of mind. We have got to tackle the job as advisers and servants of the Africans, not as officials who want to run their lives for them.
" Look on it as a penance, if you like. It is certainty a duty, And I for one find it the very reverse of penitential."
Fr. Foster also appeals very strongly to Catholics here to give some home life to African students coming to England to study. This, he says. is the most effective way of safeguarding their Faith and stemming the considerable leakage among them.
Much nonsense, he added, is talked about Africans who misconduct themselves when they come here, All races are the same. he said. when they are away from home.
It has been proved over and over again that when people from foreign countries, forced to come Engand for special reasons. are received cordially into English homes. they come to no harm and no social problem arises.