DR. BANDA—REALIST OR BETRAYER OF AFRICA?
Banda by Philip Short (Routledge & Kegan Paul /3.50) Philip Short's long-awaited biography of Dr. Banda of Malawi (formerly Nyasaland). which Longman s were apparently deterred from publishing, has finally been brought to us by Routledge & Kegan Paul.
It is unfortunate that the book will probably not be read, officially at least. in Malawi, for it contains the story of their most famous son and surely one of the most remarkable men of Africa — one whose life has reflected the struggle of the Malawian people to free themselves from political and economic domination.
Dr. Banda, seemingly, is either loved or hated. To some his maverick policies of dialogue and friendship with South Africa represent sanity and hope; to others, ironically his former adulators. the cynical betrayal of the cause of Black Africa.
His assumption of absolute rule in the cause of economic necessity, justified by many as an unfortunate but necessary cost of economic development, to others represents the suppression of inalienable rights and a further betrayal of the liberation struggle.
Within these minefields the author has trodden cautiously and presented to us a fair and revealing picture of his subject which in the end leaves the reader to the freedom of sharp preciudice.
he author does not dwell on the possible consequence of Banda's passing. Unfortunately this cannot be ignored, certainly not by the Malawian people themselves — or indeed by any, especially the British, who have interests in Southern Africa.
Malawi, at present. the author argues', largely because of Dr. Banda, is stubbornly neutral in the liberation struggle which ferments along the Zambezi. Yet strategically it is extremely important, both to the freedom fighters of Frelimo and to the white alliance of Fors tugal, Rhodesia and South Africa.
For Malawi points into the very heart of Mozambique, and if the status quo were disturbed by Dr. Banda's passing then many would argue that the inevitable and total confrontation of black and white in that troubled area will be that much nearer.
Whackiness with creaks
American children often
seem verbally more sophisticated than ours, and their books reflect it, The teenager was an American phenomenon, after all — born there, and spreading out to the rest of the world.
Before, there was an inbetween period between childhood and adult life that no one knew quite what to do with. And so the teenage novel developed faster there than elsewhere and is more of a selfcontained genre. The best of their teenage novels have, to English eyes at least, a pleasant whackiness and tremendous high spirits; and Mary Rodgers' Freaky Friday (Hamish Hamilton, £1.40) is one of the best I have seen for some time.
Annabel Andrews, aged 13, wakes up one morning to find she's turned into her mother. All is explained on the last pages and the plot has a few creaks on the way, but it's a splendidly fast and funny book all the same,