The Africa Bureau

Location: London, United Kingdom

The Africa Bureau was launched in July 1952. Earlier that year, Reverend Guthrie Michael Scott and several friends decided that there was a need for an organization to advise and support Africans who wished to oppose by constitutional means political decisions affecting their lives and futures imposed by alien governments. An initial scheme comprised one body to raise and disburse funds and another to educate public opinion and give guidance, etc. to Africans; however, the ultimate outcome was a single institution known as the Africa Bureau, directed by an executive committee and honorary director (Michael Scott), with a financial sub-committee and paid secretary. Two separate trust funds were established, one to handle money for the St. Faith's Mission, Rhodesia (later called the African Development Trust), the other mainly to provide educational bursaries for Africans (the Protectorates Trust). Neither was administered by the Bureau, but members of its Executive Committee became trustees. For a while, the Bureau's activities were dominated by the proposed federation of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland. Gradually, however, problems in other parts of Africa attracted its interest. It assisted Tshekedi Khama (the uncle of Seretse Khama) in his appeal against exile from Bechuanaland, which led into investigating land-holding, livestock difficulties, and mineral concession problems in the three High Commission territories and the threat of the territories' transfer to the Union of South Africa. In South Africa, the Bureau gave monetary support to African schools and organized a campaign to boycott sports and cultural events where racial discrimination was practiced. Regarding problems in East Africa, its chief link was Colin Legun, a member of its Executive Committee, whose observations included the Mau Mau emergency, the constitutional controversy in Buganda, and the granting of independence to the four British territories. The Bureau's mode of operation changed as new demands were made upon it. Originally it had aimed at advising Africans on their problems, obtaining the advice of experts, representing them on international bodies and encouraging them to exert pressure on governments. Following the achievement of independence by many African states, however, a section of the Bureau emerged as a research group supported by foreign donations for specific projects or publications. This research included investigations into the efficacy of sanctions against Rhodesia and the effect of external investment in South Africa and Namibia. The Bureau moved from an initial dependence on individual benefactions to a more professional approach to fund-raising. During the 1970s, the Executive Committee decided that the Bureau had outlived its original purpose and that further aid to developing countries should be the responsibility of other, differently conceived organizations, and the Bureau closed in 1978.

Organizational Archive

Title: Africa Bureau and related organizations
Time Span: 1952 - 1978
Media: 327 boxes
Description: Papers including administration and research, and correspondence. Publications and related papers, research materials, anniversary addresses, annual reports, papers relating to the Information Digest, Africa Digest, Africa Bureau Fact Sheets, etc., publications assisted by the Bureau, papers relating to sales of publications, papers relating to abortive publications, photographs and maps, etc., [1946-1977]. Financial records, including papers relating to financial policy, accounts, correspondence, bank statements, bills and receipts, records relating to investments and fund-raising, 1951-1979. Study projects on external investment in South Africa and South-West Africa (Namibia), mass removals of population in South Africa, the ceasefire of 1974 and its aftermath in Southern Sudan, etc., [1968-1976]. Reports, correspondence, printed material, press statements, memoranda, statements, etc. relating to South West Africa, [1919-1978]. Legislation, correspondence, reports, memoranda, newspaper cuttings relating to various topics, South Africa, 1909-1978. Statements, correspondence, memoranda, petitions, printed material, newspaper cuttings, etc. relating to the High Commission Territories (Basutoland/Lesotho, Bechuanaland/Botswana, Swaziland), 1934-1973. Correspondence, statements, printed material, petitions, reports, minutes, newspaper cuttings, etc. relating to various topics, Central Africa (Central African Federation, Nyasaland/Malawi, Northern Rhodesia/Zambia, Southern Rhodesia/Rhodesia/Zimbabwe), 1890-1979. Statements, correspondence, memoranda, papers of political parties and pressure groups, newspaper cuttings, etc. relating to various topics, East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika/Tanzania, Zanzibar, Somaliland), 1944-1975. Correspondence, newspaper cuttings, background material, etc. relating to other African territories and Africa in general, 1941-1970s. Conference papers, correspondence, press releases, information papers and background material, etc. relating to international conferences and organizations, 1949-1974. Correspondence, minutes, financial records, etc. relating to trusts, [1951]-1977. To download s PDF of the Finding Aid click here. The Finding Aid is available through Archives Hub, type "Africa Bureau" in search box.

Housed At: University of Oxford, Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies
Location: Rhodes House, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3RG, United Kingdom
Restrictions: Some restrictions apply. For details, contact reference librarian.
Phone: +44 (0)1865 277150
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