1959–1963: UNIVERSITY OF GHANA
When I stepped out of the aircraft at Accra airport in September 1959 my first impression was of the rush of hot and humid air, even though it was night-time. My second impression was of the welcoming faces of Paul Baxter, accompanied by a middle-aged, genial Afro-American, St Clair Drake, a distinguished academic who was then Chairman of the Department of Sociology. These two men were major influences on me, encouraging and guiding me in my first university teaching post. Drake was one of the wisest, kindest men I had ever met: he had been the first black anthropology student at the University of Chicago, and had written one of the best early American urban studies, Black Metropolis.
I was officially ‘Lecturer and Tutor in Social Administration’ at the University of Ghana, which was located at Legon, eight miles from Accra, the capital city. My main duties involved the supervision, with my Ghanaian colleague Peter Omari, of twenty-seven men and women enrolled in the two year course in Social Administration. These students were nearly all from the middle ranks of the Ghanaian civil service, already having worked as social workers, community development officers, labour officers and the like. They included a few from neighbouring West African countries. All were a pleasure to work with, being highly motivated: success in the course entitled them to promotion to the senior ranks, with more pay, better housing and – most prized of all – eligibility for a loan to buy a motor car. My predecessor, Peter Hodge, had left detailed and candid notes, similar to the colonial ‘Handing Over Notes’ written by a District Commissioner for his successor. Peter, whom I later met in London, gave me useful advice and suggestions, which facilitated my new job.
Drake not only arranged for me to lecture to the Sociology students, but was a great help in my anxious early days of lecturing, even lending me his own lecture notes when I taught a course on ‘Urbanisation in Africa’. I introduced myself at my first lecture, nervously confessing that I was not only a South African, but had also been a colonial administrator in Tanganyika and that I had in addition, worked in African Administration in Rhodesia. I was much relieved when one student, Lily Sekyi, told me that it was a pleasant change to have someone with experience of Africa, and suggested that I get on with the lecture.
It was significant and exciting for me, as a white South African,
FRONT ROW: DWB, Maisie Birmingham (third from left), Dr Peter Omari (fourth from left) with Social Administration students. University of Ghana, 1960
to have moved to Ghana and be living in an African-ruled country, especially one that was so hospitable and welcoming to newcomers. On arrival, I had problems at the bank, trying to speed up the transfer of funds from Rhodesia. After several frustrating visits (the heat and humidity did not help), I became impatient with the cashier who had not done what he had promised to do. I upbraided him, then immediately experienced the familiar South African white liberal guilt. This was followed by the realisation that I was, after all, in an African country, and I could, without guilt, expect high standards of service. I relaxed, and the cashier and I became friends.
Drake was head of the Department of Sociology, with fifty-eight students and a faculty of ten, including both sociologists and social anthropologists, with none of the tension that often exists between these two disciplines, whose boundaries are not always clear. Drake had to balance his role as a scholar and administrator, with also being a prominent actor in African-American and African politics.
He had been active in the Pan-African Federation, and had cooperated with many leading Afro-Americans and Africans, including George Padmore, KA Busia, Mbiyu Koinange and Kwame Nkrumah, the President of Ghana. Drake had participated in the All African People’s Conference held in Accra in December 1958. It was a delicate balance for Drake, meeting conflicting demands, and avoiding, as he wrote, ‘being at Osagyefo’s beck and call, while still having friendly relations with him’. (Osagyefo – ‘Redeemer’ – was one of the titles that Nkrumah had conferred on himself.) The President wanted Drake to be rector of the new Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Training School at Winnebah, but Drake saw this as a poisoned chalice and, to escape this dilemma, he arranged to be recalled to Chicago by Roosevelt University in 1961.
One of Drake’s research projects was ‘Nudity as a social problem in Ghana’. Like many other African states, Ghana had deep cultural divisions, especially between the sophisticated south, and the more traditional peoples of the north. Many northern women wore no clothing apart from leaves suspended from bead belts. ‘Nudity in the north’ became a hot topic of discussion, being associated with a primitive way of life, inappropriate in the modern nation that Ghana aspired to be. Drake, because of his personal ties to President Nkrumah, was able to persuade the government to postpone attempts to enforce the wearing of clothing, until a survey had been conducted. The survey showed that many women would have liked clothes, but lacked money, and that water to wash clothes was often not available. A programme of adult education was introduced, using gentle persuasion to achieve the desired goals.
This was a model of successful applied anthropology, being small-scale, a good example of what was later known as ‘rapid rural appraisal’, and leading to gradual and achievable changes. A side benefit of the survey was that it introduced the twelve participating students, all of whom were from the south, to the north of Ghana, resulting in a deeper understanding of, and more sympathy with, the cultures and problems of their fellow-citizens.
Drake was also involved in a study of the resettlement of people who were being moved from their homes because of the construction of the new port and harbour of Tema. He analysed proposals for the development of a new town, and of associated problems of social class. Although small in scale, this resettlement involved many of the same problems that I later encountered in the Volta Dam resettlement. Because of his political connections, Drake’s views were considered seriously. In December 1985, I was honoured to be invited to speak on ‘ St Clair Drake: The African Years, 1954–1966’ at a special session of the American Anthropological Association honouring Drake; mine was the only white face on the panel.
Part of the Social Administration course consisted of practical work during the long vacation, so Peter Omari and I sought suitable postings for our students at prisons, hospitals, gold mines or factories, or doing supervised fieldwork. My time in Southern Rhodesia had coincided with the construction of the Kariba Dam, which resulted in the resettlement of 57 000 people. While I was in Ghana, construction started on the Akosombo Dam on Lake Volta, where over 70 000 people were due to be resettled. Godfrey Amartefio, the Resettlement Officer, arranged for eight Social Administration students to spend ten weeks doing a study of some of the areas to be resettled. I supervised them in the field, and later I edited their reports, and wrote an article about the resettlement problem (Brokensha, 1963).
This is a good example of the role of serendipity in research, for it was by chance that I became interested in resettlement. Ted Scudder and Michael Cernea, who have made the greatest contributions to the study of involuntary resettlement at dams, have always kindly referred to me a ‘pioneer’ in this field: it was just that I was in the right place at the right time. (In Chapter 17 I discuss a similar serendipity in connection with the studies of fuelwood that Bernard and I made in Kenya, in the early 1970s.)
The university had no formal Catholic chaplain, but Father Koster, a Canadian lecturer in the Physics Department, offered Sunday Mass in one of the classrooms. I attended from time to time, even though at this stage I was still not receiving communion. When the much loved Pope John XXIII died in June 1963, Agnes Klingshirn and I drove to the cathedral in Accra for the Memorial Mass. I had not abandoned my Catholic identity, but I had become a marginal figure.
OUMA IN GHANA
At the university, I was allocated a comfortable flat in Legon Hall, one of the student halls of residence, and six months after my arrival I invited Ouma, then living alone in Durban, to visit me for three months, from April to July 1960. She was popular with the students, who often popped in to say ‘Hello Mama, is everything alright?’, and she helped my prestige, because honouring a parent is considered a good action in Ghana.
Ouma accompanied me on a visit to Hohoe, eighty miles east of Accra, where we stayed with English friends who were teaching at a Catholic high school. They had a large family, including Perpetua, a little Ghanaian girl they had adopted. Most of us went to a dance in the town of Hohoe that evening, and Ouma agreed to stay at home to keep Perpetua company. During the evening, Ouma and Perpetua had long talks, with Ouma promising to make a doll for her little friend. On her return to South Africa, Ouma made an exquisite doll and posted it to me, but its importation was forbidden, because in 1960 goods from South Africa were prohibited in Ghana. Then followed a lengthy correspondence: friends at the ministries advised me whom to address, and eventually, in May 1961, nearly a year after the packet had arrived in Ghana, I appealed to the Minister of Trade, asking for special permission to import the doll, ‘to avoid disappointing an old lady and a young girl, both of whom are good friends of Ghana’, and hoping that ‘minor human considerations are still of some importance in Ghana’. Shortly afterwards the parcel reached me, and I gave it to a delighted Perpetua. I was told that this matter, which had produced a voluminous correspondence folder, eventually reached the Cabinet for a decision, and that President Nkrumah exclaimed impatiently, ‘Let the little girl have her doll so that we can get on with our business.’
During Ouma’s short visit to Ghana, one of my students invited me – ‘and please bring Mama’ – to a party in honour of his uncle, the Dormaahene, an important Ashanti chief. The party was held in one of the many outdoor nightclubs, with the chief and his retinue seated at the edge of a dancing area. After eating and drinking and listening to speeches, it was time for dancing, and the Regent invited Ouma, as the senior lady present, to dance with him. Ouma, like me, is no dancer, but in Ghana all you have to do is to shuffle around the floor, not touching your partner, and look happy. Ouma carried it off perfectly, causing Leslie Rubin (Professor of Law, whom I had last seen at Tobruk, in the Western Desert, in 1942) to ask delightedly, ‘Now what would the good ladies in Durban say to that?’
On returning to Durban in July 1960, Ouma rented a seventh-floor flat on the Esplanade, writing to me about a distressing incident in the lift. She entered the lift, which was not full, but when an African tried to enter – because the service lift was out of order – he was angrily ejected. Ouma wrote: ‘I took a deep breath and, looking straight ahead, I said “I have just come back from three months in Ghana where I stayed with my son. All the Ghanaians whom I met were invariably courteous and welcoming and now I am so ashamed of all of you, to see the way you treated that African.” No one dared to respond.’ I was so proud of the courage of my eighty-two-year-old mother.
BERNARD AT INDIANA UNIVERSITY
By one of the many serendipitous happenings in my life, Bernard joined me at Legon during my third year there, 1961/1962. I digress first to describe what had been happening to him during my first two years in Ghana.
Arriving at Indiana University (IU) in August 1959, Bernard was told that he must complete a master’s degree in education before he could go on to study for a PhD in geography. He found much of the course work, and most of the lectures, dull and uninspiring, but he steadily did whatever was required. IU is located in Bloomington, Indiana, a pleasant small midwest town; Brown County is noted for its glorious fall colours, which I had occasion to appreciate on my visits. Although snow is common in winter, it seldom gets bitterly cold and Bernard readily adapted to and appreciated his new environment.
In his first year at IU, Bernard stayed at the Graduate Residence Centre, a convenient base. In the winter of 1960 he rushed downstairs (in those days Bernard was always rushing) to do his laundry in the basement; the janitor had just washed the steps, which were still wet, and in the dark – the lamp bulb had burnt out – Bernard slipped, bumping his head on the steel steps. He managed to stagger back to his room where a friend called an ambulance to take him to the Robert Long Hospital in Indianapolis, where it was found that he had broken his neck, with two spinal vertebrae badly smashed. Bernard stayed in hospital for nearly two months, much of the time in traction, and unable to move. He made light of this period but it must have been trying, to say the least. The ward TV was on, full volume, all day and Bernard had to suffer all the advertising jingles; afterwards he would amuse our friends by his accurate rendition of the banal songs advertising cornflakes, chewing gum and so on. Bernard, as a foreign student, had all his medical treatment, including two neck operations, covered by IU’s insurance policy.
Because of his hospitalisation, I received no letter from Bernard for a long time; I was worried, and decided to telephone him, which then involved driving from Legon to the Cable and Wireless offices in Accra, booking a call, and – waiting. I always took a book to read. Eventually I got through to the Graduate Residence Centre at IU, where they transferred my call to the hospital in Indianapolis. What a thrill for me to hear Bernard’s voice – that was our first transatlantic phone conversation. It was also a thrill for the African-American nurse who answered the call and afterwards told Bernard excitedly, ‘I spoke to Africa!’
Bernard at Indiana University. 1960
Thanks to the skill of the doctors, Bernard made a good recovery and was able to resume his studies as well as his daily one mile swim. But the accident left him with several problems, some surfacing years later. These included Ménière’s disease (balance problems, tinnitus), and narcolepsy; regular visits to a neurologist continued for twenty years.
Bernard soon made good friends at IU, including many other foreign students. The Chancellor, Herman Wells, had decided that because the university was tucked away in the middle of the US, far from the rest of the world, he would have to bring the world to IU. And he did, finding generous support and attracting hundreds of foreign students. In 1960 the country was at the height of the Cold War, and the new-found interest in developing countries meant that funds for foreign studies were more freely available. Also, Africa had by this time been ‘discovered’ by the US, and IU had one of the best African Studies programmes in the country. Bernard had a keen interest in African studies, and attended seminars in political science and anthropology.
Indiana University was also noted for Russian Studies. One of Bernard’s friends was Vadim, a school administrator from the USSR. Bernard told me that Vadim’s ‘tenure of liberating non-Soviet experience was abruptly terminated’ after ‘a trio of heavily over-coated and ominously silent strangers sat conspicuous and uncomfortable in the residents’ lounge, observing everybody’. When Bernard later went to Vadim’s room to invite him for a cup of ‘proper’ tea (both Bernard and Vadim then scorning the ubiquitous tea-bags), Vadim had disappeared, never to be seen again at IU. Bernard presumed that he had been taken away because he had become too friendly with other students.
Indiana University has one of the best music departments in the US, and Bernard regularly attended not only the formal concerts and operas, but also the student recitals, and became friendly with many young singers and musicians. Several of his student friends were married and Bernard was in demand as a reliable babysitter, guaranteed to delight the children while their parents were out – as often as not gone to watch a football match. Bernard watched a few football games, observing the rituals closely, and gaining an understanding of the game, but he was never as enthusiastic about it as his American pals.
In his second year at IU, Bernard enrolled in the Department of Geography where Professor George Kimble, an eminent scholar of African geography, became his adviser. Bernard was able to move to a comfortable flat on the outskirts of the university, enjoying preparing his own meals after the bland fare at the graduate centre. His experiences as a graduate student at Indiana University increased our interest in settling in America.
Meanwhile, back in Ghana, I had a portentous conversation: one hot day, during the trying period of the harmattan, that dusty, tiring wind that blows relentlessly from the Sahara, Gail Kelly, a visiting American sociologist, suggested that we drive to Accra to try out a new air-conditioned bar. Gail introduced me to the martini cocktail, the effects of which may have influenced our conversation. She urged me to go to the US for a term, to see how I liked it, saying that she was certain that, with 1960 being ‘the Year of Africa’, I would have no difficulty in finding a temporary teaching position. I told her that I was indeed interested, but that I was not ready for New York, or any other large city, and that I would prefer a college in a small town in the West. In a happy coincidence, the next day Gail received a letter from the chairman of the Department of Sociology at Western Washington College (WWC) in Bellingham, Washington, asking her to recommend someone who could spend a year there. After some correspondence, I was invited to spend the Fall Quarter at WWC, taking leave from the University of Ghana. By another felicitous coincidence, Bernard, who had always wanted to see the west coast, had just spent the summer term teaching geography at this very college, so he not only gave me useful introductions and suggestions, but also bequeathed me his apartment, conveniently close to campus, and I needed no car.
Bernard joined me on my arrival in New York in September 1960, where we met the ethno-musicologist Willard Rhodes and his wife Lillie, who had prophetically told us, two years previously in Bulawayo, that we should and would end up teaching in the US. We spent three days at the annual conference of the African Studies Association (US) in Hartford, Connecticut, meeting several Africanists who became friends or colleagues. As a result of a paper that I gave on Christianity and Change at Larteh, I was offered a post at Duquesne University, a Catholic university in Pittsburgh. Flattering though this was, I wanted to stay in Ghana to finish my research and to complete my doctorate. However, Duquesne University did publish my conference paper – my first American publication, a great encouragement (Brokensha, 1961).
After the conference, I went to Chicago to see Drake, who arranged for me to be interviewed on radio by Studs Terkel. We talked about African writers, with my extolling the merits of the then unknown Chinua Achebe, particularly his novel, Things Fall Apart. I also spoke of Amos Tutuola’s The Palm-Wine Drinkard a very different, but also noteworthy tale (and that is the correct title). This was, as I have written above, ‘The Year of Africa’, and Studs Terkel exemplified the sympathetic observer, eager to be informed. He was a brilliant interviewer and listener, and would have made an outstanding ethnographer.
Then I followed Bernard’s footsteps, travelling by train to Bellingham. It was a marvellous trip, far superior to modern air travel. I could not have wished for a more pleasant location for my first long stay in the USA. Bellingham is a small town, situated on the coast between Seattle and Vancouver. The scenery is magnificent, with Mount Baker towering in the background, and both ‘town and gown’ were friendly. This was my first experience of lecturing to American students, and I was uncertain how effective I had been. I told an older colleague, who was also a Catholic, that it worried me that some students occasionally dozed off. ‘I would not worry, David, why I am sure that even Our Lord himself did not keep everyone awake.’ Very comforting to me.
With the prevailing interest in Africa, I was invited to talk ‘about Africa’ to twenty-seven different groups, which gave me a good insight into American society. The best listeners were invariably women; it was a joy to address, for example, the local chapter of the Association of American University Women, who would be alert, curious, reasonably well-informed and articulate. In contrast, their male peers were often bored and sleepy (after the inevitable heavy lunch), then would wake up at the end to make flowery speeches of thanks. At local high schools I found (as did Bernard in Indiana) that the students were often more intrigued by my ‘cute British accent’ than by the content of the lecture. I thoroughly enjoyed myself nevertheless, and by the end of my stay, both Bernard and I were seriously considering permanent positions in the US.
When I finished my stay at Western Washington in December 1960, I travelled across the US by train, and met Bernard at Bloomington. It was such a cold day that there were icicles on his beard when he welcomed me on the station platform. After a few days at IU, we spent ten days in New York City, in the Rhodeses’ apartment. The cold weather continued, but did not deter us from hugely enjoying our reunion, with visits to Staten Island to see my Cambridge friends Marius Bewley and Garry Mackenzie. Through them we were invited to a grand New Year’s party in a very posh apartment, where the guests included James Baldwin and Leonard Bernstein. The group was very mixed, both racially and socially, and when I later read Tom Wolfe’s satirical piece, Radical Chic, I realised that he could have been describing this party.
Early in 1961 Bernard and I had to part, when I went back to Ghana – though this turned out (more serendipity) to be a shorter time apart than we had anticipated.
Professor George Kimble, Bernard’s adviser at Indiana University, had been asked to suggest a geography lecturer at the University of Ghana for the academic year 1961/1962, to replace a faculty member who had been seconded for a year to the Census of Ghana. Kimble recommended Bernard, whose doctoral dissertation was a comparative study of the natural resources of Ghana and Zambia. Bernard was accepted by the University of Ghana, so we were able to be together for the whole academic year. We remained in touch with Professor Kimble, and later visited him two or three times in England, where he had retired to Sussex. We corresponded until his death a few years ago.
During Bernard’s time in Legon we shared a pleasant university house, which we inherited from Paul Baxter. Our lives were simplified by Willie Akpan, the Nigerian steward, who lived with his family on the property, providing a lively backdrop to our lives.
While we were living there, we engaged a stone mason to build a simple bird bath in our garden, so that we could observe the birds while we breakfasted on the verandah. Kofi worked on the bird bath for an hour each afternoon, when he had finished his regular work. Other workers passed our home, and asked Kofi what he was doing. Long explanations followed, then incredulous laughter, but the bird bath was satisfactorily completed, and served its purpose admirably.
In 1962 the University College of Ghana shed its links with the University of London and became a fully-fledged university. Professor Evans-Pritchard, who had been invited as a special guest, stayed with us when he came for the celebrations. These celebrations occurred at a time when Ghana had developed close ties with the USSR, and it was painful to see E-P and other western academics sidelined, while the dignitaries from the USSR and Eastern Europe, who had had nothing to do with the development of the University of Ghana, were treated as guests of honour.
At that time I was doing fieldwork for my PhD for three days a week in the town of Larteh – of which more in Chapter 15. I usually returned on Sunday in time for a half day at Labadi beach, and my time there resulted in two publications. The first was a brief note, Collecting Shell-fish in Ghana, for the Royal Anthropological Institute’s journal, Man. Bernard and I had observed the local Ga women and children wading in the shallow water, periodically stooping to pick up small shellfish which they had trapped in their bare toes. This activity had not been described, not even in Notes and Queries in Anthropology, and I deemed it worthy of reporting. The second article, Labadi: A Ghanaian sub-culture. Joyous confusion on a fine Sunday, was written for a South African journal, painting an idyllic – and realistic – picture of a relaxed day at the beach, free from the colour bar. I tried to show South African readers that ‘mixed bathing’, far from being a disaster, could be a relaxed and happy
experience. In the vacations I was able to spend longer periods at Larteh. This was an unorthodox way of doing fieldwork, but, by spending as much time as I could there, I was able to complete my dissertation in June 1963.
During our Sundays at Labadi beach we met our first Russians, the crew (and their families) of several Ilyushin aircraft, ordered by President Nkrumah but never flown in Ghana. One of them, who spoke good English, asked Bernard about the sea shells and the marine life, and in no time Bernard was conducting an informal seminar each Sunday, with a group of Russian men, women and children avidly listening to the interpretation of his explanations. Meanwhile, I taught several of the men how to body surf.
Our friendship led to an invitation to dinner at the Russian compound, on the other side of Accra, some twenty miles from the university. The distance would normally not have been significant, but we were seated at a long dining table with a bottle of vodka before each one of us. During dinner a woman entered with a sick child in her arms and, through the interpreter, asked if we could recommend a good doctor: their Russian doctor was unfamiliar with tropical diseases. I proudly told her that I knew the best doctor in Ghana, Dr Oku Ampofo, who had graduated from Edinburgh University. She asked me to repeat the name, then said, ‘An African! No! I will not let a black man attend to my child.’ We later encountered other instances of the gulf between Russian official rhetoric about ‘our African brothers’ and their private attitudes.
The early 1960s were heady years to be living in Ghana, especially for me and several other white South Africans who were at Legon. Ghana had gained independence in 1957, the first sub-Saharan state (after Liberia) to do so, President Nkrumah was still popular, and, as my old friend Leslie Rubin said, ‘if you sit on the terrace of the Ambassador Hotel in Accra, you will soon meet everyone who is of any importance in Africa.’
This was my real and very exciting introduction to the ‘New Africa’, in which we all had such high hopes. I now realise that our hopes were wildly idealistic and unrealistic, and much has been written about ‘what went wrong’. I revelled in the racial harmony: as Paul Baxter remarked, it was a welcome change to be invited to a party not knowing whether the other guests would be African or European – it was not significant. Differences of opinion at university committee meetings were on the basis not of colour but of outlook, the younger staff members usually opting for change, the older being more conservative.
Tim, son of Pat and Paul Baxter, and his friend Tom Kudjeo, Labadi Beach, 1961
The university was generally conservative; I give two examples. First, the Master of Legon Hall, the Rev Dr Christian Baeta, a distinguished theologian, presided over the formal Sunday evening
Invitation to the inauguration of the University of Ghana
dinners, a few of which I felt obliged to attend. We wore suits and ties, and gowns (in that tropical heat and humidity) and, after grace (recited in Latin, by a student) we were served a typical ‘English’ dinner. At the end of the meal, decanters were placed on the high table. One hapless American visitor reached for the madeira, to be gently admonished by Christian Baeta: ‘No, my dear fellow, port to the right, madeira to the left, please.’ I have seldom seen such consternation and culture shock.
The second example of the conservative university concerns New Zealander Andy Taylor, the genial Professor of Education. Andy was shocked to discover that West African children were still being taught using the British ‘Janet and John’ text books. Andy proposed that the university establish a publishing programme to correct this, having Kwesi and Efi counting yams, rather than John and Janet counting apples. He was advised to go ahead on his own, since the university did not wish to get involved in a commercial venture. With the support of Nelson publishers, Andy started the ‘New Nations English’, followed by ‘New Nations Arithmetic’ series, both of which were wildly successful: the government of Western Nigeria alone ordered more than a million copies of the first book.
In 1962, Andy and Ruby, his South African wife, invited me and other guests, including the university doctor Sandy Boyd, to Christmas lunch at their university home. After a bibulous meal, I decided to drive to Labadi beach, about eight miles away, for a refreshing swim. We had all been drinking, yet both the Taylors and the Boyds asked me to take their children, who also wanted to swim. They piled into my little Volkswagen, with no mishap, fortunately, otherwise the novels of William Boyd might never have been written. In those days no-one warned us about drinking and driving, any more than we were warned about the dangers of smoking cigarettes.
It was at the University of Ghana that I was introduced to academic conferences. Towards the end of my career I dreaded these conferences, attending them mainly to renew friendships. But my initial experiences were exhilarating, partly because I went to new and exotic locales – the University of Ibadan in Nigeria and the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute in Lusaka – and partly because they were attended by relatively few scholars. I knew many of them, and others I was happy to regard as ‘my new best friends’. Also, the topics for papers and panel discussions were ‘sensible’ in my eyes, that is they mostly addressed practical issues, rather than obscure theoretical points. At one Ibadan conference, Legon was represented by three of its faculty, all, ironically, white South Africans.
In another irony, I was invited to Korle Bu, the main hospital, to lead discussion groups on ‘African culture’ for newly-qualified Ghanaian doctors, many of whom had been trained overseas, and had had little contact with their own culture. Even during their school years, the emphasis had been on western-style education, and on improving their English, which left little time for learning in depth about their own traditions. I was a little apprehensive at first, but the young doctors readily accepted that my extensive enquiries at Larteh, and my years of study, gave me the knowledge that they lacked – despite my being a white South African.
In my last year (1962/1963) Conor Cruise O’Brien, who had recently been with the United Nations Mission in the Congo, was
Library, University of Ghana
appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University. I was invited to lunch by Conor and his wife Máire, to meet two well-known visiting anthropologists, Melville Herskovits from the US, and the leading Russian Africanist. During lunch, while these two dignitaries were pontificating, in grand and general terms, Máire turned to me, and said, ‘Do let’s hear from David, after all he is the only one doing real anthropology.’ It was initially embarrassing, but at the same time most gratifying to me: the ‘stars’ were not amused.
Conor liked to invite a few congenial friends (read ‘drinking buddies, with some appreciation of literature’) on Sunday evenings, for supper and a reading of a Shakespeare play. He and Thomas Hodgkin, the Director of African Studies, invariably took the main parts; I was quite happy with the role of an attendant lord or some such minor character.
To help me complete my dissertation, I was able to take leave from September to December 1962, to spend a term at Oxford. There I benefited from the libraries and also from advice from my anthropologist friends, including E-P and Godfrey Lienhardt, who was always trying to persuade me to join him for ‘a’ drink. Much as I found Godfrey’s conversation stimulating and challenging, I had to ensure that I had done my quota of work for the day before accepting his invitations.
I was again a member of Wadham College, though I lived at Queen Elizabeth House, a convenient and comfortable base. During this term I again swam for Oxford University (200 yards breast stroke), not in the major meets, but in ‘second league’ away matches. I was enormously pleased to represent Oxford at the age of forty, even though I knew that it was more a comment on the prevailing low standard of British university swimming than on my own prowess.
I returned to Ghana for my final term, and completed my dissertation (as described in Chapter 15) before leaving to take up a post at the University of California, Berkeley.
1966–1989: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA
I accepted a position in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) in July 1966, and spent twenty-three years there – years that were both professionally and personally satisfying and fulfilling, and nearly all shared with Bernard.
In the summer of 1966, I drove to Santa Barbara (which is on the coast, two hours drive north of Los Angeles), to meet my new colleagues and to buy a house. Charles Erasmus, the genial chairman of the department, hosted a party for me, and I was pleased, and relieved, to find that I would be working with a congenial group, including not only social (or ‘cultural’, to use the American term) anthropologists, but also physical anthropologists and archaeologists, all of whom made me welcome.
A Berkeley friend had recommended an estate agent (or ‘realtor’), Lucy, who soon found our dream home, 33 Loma Media, on the Riviera. It was exactly what we were looking for – a ranch-style (single storey) house, with a large garden and a grand view of the ocean – but there was one problem: the price exceeded by $1500 the $30 000 that Bernard and I had decided was our absolute limit. Lucy said that we must have this house, and she lent us the $1500 ‘from [her] commission’. This was one of many spontaneous gestures of friendship that we met in the USA, and we were soon able to repay kind Lucy. The house suited us admirably; we converted the garage into a large study-cum-guest room, and the back patio was ideal for our regular Sunday student parties. Bernard pointed out that, instead of the three-bridge view that we had enjoyed in Berkeley, we now had a ‘three island view’, the Channel Islands of San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz being clearly visible. When we left in 1989, we sold the house for $500 000. Our home was next to a wooded ravine, too steep to be built on, from where deer, encouraged by our salt licks and water, often visited us. Over the years we saw skunk, coyote, raccoon, and a good variety of birds, including one road-runner, which terrified our cat. Our bird-feeders attracted four different species of hummingbirds, as well as orioles. We
TOP: A visiting deer and our view over Santa Barbara ABOVE: 33 Loma Media, our home in Santa Barbara from 1966 to 1989
put in several South African plants, including bauhinia, strelitzia, erythrina and aloes. Our half-acre hillside garden was indeed ‘low maintenance’: I enjoyed the routine watering and weeding, then once or twice a year we would hire students for a general clean-up – UCSB’s office for student part-time employment sent us a succession of strong and willing young men, and a few women, who cheerfully tackled the garden tasks. We relied on Sunset Books’ invaluable California Top 10 Garden Guide, which was both comprehensive and suitable for novices.
We lived in our lovely Riviera home for twenty-three years, much longer than we lived anywhere else. We had not contemplated such a long stay, perhaps subconsciously assuming that, like most Americans, we would move on after a few years. Had I Known (a popular slogan on Ghanaian taxis) I would have planted lemon trees (for my marmalade) and avocados.
Shortly before I left Berkeley in July 1966, Ouma had returned, at her own insistence, to South Africa, but she was not managing well there: she was too frail to cope on her own, and I became increasingly concerned. In September, when I had settled in Santa Barbara and was preparing for the new academic year, I telephoned Ouma and told her that I would buy an air ticket for her to come to live with me in California, and that she should see the US consul immediately to get a visa. She and I had seldom told each other what to do, but this was an emergency and she had to listen to me. (Later she told me that she had been so overcome that she had wept.) Bernard and I drove to Los Angeles to meet her and were worried when we saw an ambulance driving to the aircraft – but happily it was not for Ouma, who stepped off the plane quite briskly. When she arrived at our home, she looked around, admired the house and view, then said that she would like a brandy and a good sleep. At the age of eighty-eight she had survived the two long flights remarkably well.
Bernard,Ouma,DWB at 33 Loma Media. 1966
Ouma was happy to be with us, coming on short outings to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden or to lunch or for drives in the vicinity. She still enjoyed our friends although she tended to retire early. Once term started I had to go to campus, but I tried to compress my activities so that I would not leave Ouma alone for too long. One day I was unaccountably restless; I could not telephone because I had told her not to answer the phone, in case she hurried and stumbled. So I drove the twelve miles home, and found that she had stepped outside and tripped on the front porch, where she was lying in the blazing sun. When I helped her up I asked her if she had been worried. ‘No,’ she replied calmly, ‘I knew you would come.’ This is the nearest that I have come to any extrasensory experience.
In November, Bernard left to see his mother, who was then living in South Africa, and there followed some strange weeks. Ouma knew that she had not long to live, and she and I talked calmly and rationally about her decline and approaching death. Here is an unfinished letter she wrote to Dad, dated 16 December:
My dear Rae,
I hope I can recover my writing even if it’s only one per day.
I was too distressed even to attempt writing to you and I felt
you must be lonesome and ill. I suddenly notice I am seeing
things the others cannot see … this getting old is a trick.
During these last weeks I would often hear Ouma moving about in the middle of the night: she was beginning to have hallucinations, several times thinking that her sisters Olive or Hilda were with her, and sometimes May was calling her. When I came in she would say, ‘Oh, dear, I’ve been imagining things again haven’t I?’ and laugh wryly. I would make us a cup of tea and she would tell me what she had seen; sometimes it was Punch, sometimes Lizzie. Once I found her sitting in her chair ‘because Lizzie was cold’, so Ouma had given her the bed. More than once in these 3 a.m. conversations, she said, ‘I’m ready to go. Is it alright if I let go?’ I would assure her that I was ready for this, and then she always added, ‘but I’ll wait until Bernard comes home. I don’t want you to be alone when I go.’ Bernard returned shortly before Christmas, and Ouma lasted until New Year’s Day 1967, when she finally gave up the ghost – I’d never appreciated the meaning of that phrase before. She was ready to die, unafraid of death and she just ‘let go’.
I missed the communal warmth that surrounded death at Larteh. At Santa Barbara many people seemed embarrassed by death. My colleagues knew that Ouma was with me and several of them had met her, but few expressed any sympathy. However I did receive many tributes from Ouma’s friends all over the world and I valued particularly this letter from Abrakwa, my (unofficially) adopted son in Ghana. (When I started fieldwork in Larteh, Ghana, the chief persuaded me to look after a fourteen-year-old orphan boy, an arrangement which worked to our mutual advantage, as I explain in Chapter 15.)
I cannot express my sorrow in this missive about grandmother’s death. It means that I will never hear of her for ever … I wish her peaceful rest … I say ‘hold your tears’ for life is just like a shadow that cannot stand in one place. Mourn not father. Who was helping you in this condition, is Mr Riley there?
When I saw Abrakwa in Ghana, eighteen months later, he told me how he heard the news of Ouma’s death: ‘A certain man had heard the news, he knew that this was a serious loss to be broken gently to me, and he said, “I have some news for you, important news.” “What is it?” I asked. “It is very sad,” he answered, “so we will go to share the news at the spirit bar.” So I bought two shillings of akpeteshie,’ (a potent local liquor, or ‘Ghana gin’) ‘and some other men bought four shillings each, then they told me, and then we drank the akpeteshie, to help the sadness.’ Ouma would have approved of this Ghanaian celebration of her life.
In 1966 UCSB was one of the newer of the nine University of California campuses, with an enrolment of about 15 000. It has a splendid location, separated from the sea by a large lagoon. Among the amenities is a swimming pool, where Bernard, when he came to
University of California, Santa Barbara
UCSB, swam his daily mile for many years. I ran around the lagoon or on the beach at lunch time, finding, like Bernard, that this was a good way of avoiding tiresome faculty meetings: some academics loved to have lunchtime meetings in the dull Faculty Club.
The UCSB grounds had been laid out by a garden planner who had introduced much South African vegetation, including Carissa edulis. This small, pretty bush with white flowers had been put in as an ornamental shrub. I remembered it by its Zulu name, amatangula. I collected a basket of berries on campus, and made several jars of jelly (like Granny had done, forty years previously), one of which I formally presented to our Chancellor, Vernon Cheadle, explaining that in Ghana one always gave the chief a gift. Vernon, himself a botanist, had been unaware of the uses of this common plant, and was delighted with my ‘tribute’.
There were occasional spiritual ‘wobbles’ for me because of living with Bernard. It did not ever occur to me to leave the Catholic Church, nor to complain, but there were definite tensions: for years I had a recurrent dream – or nightmare – where I would be at the end of a line of worshippers, approaching the altar, and the priest would sadly shake his head and turn away from me, denying me communion. This continued for nearly thirteen years, until I plucked up courage to speak about my situation to a priest. The first time was in the summer of 1967, when we were in Hawaii: learning of Dad’s death (of which more below), I asked the young Hawaiian priest to say a mass for him. I later visited this priest and spoke about my relationship with Bernard. He was sympathetic, but careful, suggesting that I discuss the situation with my parish priest. I hesitated to do this because the parish priest at the church which I attended in Santa Barbara was a conservative Spaniard. The next year, 1968, I visited Ghana, staying one night at St Augustine’s, the Benedictine school at Cape Coast. After dinner I had a long talk with the priest-headmaster. Sipping whisky on the moonlit verandah, I unburdened myself. The priest was amazed that I was torturing myself, and said, a little impatiently, but not unkindly, ‘You know that God made you; don’t you suppose that He understands you? I will give you communion tomorrow morning.’
On my return to Santa Barbara, I spoke to a new young priest, who reinforced the message I had heard in Cape Coast. Since then, I have not looked back, and have been glad to go to mass regularly, and to receive communion with an easy conscience.
A major problem, for my first year at UCSB, was that Bernard was teaching at the University of Ohio at Athens, Ohio. Then he was offered a post at Berkeley (UCB), just one year after I had left. Because UCB had one of the leading departments of geography in the United States, Bernard accepted the appointment, travelling between UCB and Santa Barbara. Although UCB was not as distant as Indiana had been, it was still a seven hour drive; Bernard gallantly drove down to our home in Santa Barbara whenever he could, and I visited him in Berkeley, when possible.
After two years of commuting, Bernard was appointed to a post in the Department of Geography at UCSB, and so was at last able to join me in Santa Barbara. I felt guilty about his sacrifice, giving up his position at a prestigious department at one of the major universities in the US, with outstanding colleagues, for a small, relatively unknown department. Bernard constantly assured me that being together in our lovely Santa Barbara home, with our fulfilling social lives, compensated for any academic disappointments. Unfortunately, the move did not work out satisfactorily: the UCSB department was heavily skewed to the then fashionable technology of remote sensing, whereas Bernard was firmly in the sub-branch of human geography, as exemplified by his distinguished mentors, George Kimble at Indiana University, and Carl Ortwin Sauer at Berkeley.
Bernard with his VW and one of our paintings. Santa Barbara,1973
In 1973 Bernard resigned from UCSB’s geography department in frustration, but by then we had decided that we must, at all costs, stay together in Santa Barbara. There was a shortage of suitable academic posts in our area at that time, so Bernard, hoping to be appointed at the UCSB library, enrolled at UCLA for a Masters degree in library science. This involved still more commuting: for one academic year Bernard made the two hour drive to Los Angeles early on Monday morning, and returned to Santa Barbara on Friday afternoon. He rented a small flat near UCLA, where I joined him sometimes when we went to a play or an opera or a concert, usually at the newly- opened Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, or the Mark Taper Forum.
By working hard, Bernard completed the two year course in one year, only to find that, by the time he graduated, even library jobs were scarce, and Bernard, with five degrees, one a PhD, was ‘over-qualified’, being seen as threatening by some senior UCSB librarians.
We looked for another university where we could both find satisfying posts, but to no avail. We knew of many other couples who had faced this cruel dilemma, which inevitably places a strain on the relationship. Bernard insisted that we stay in Santa Barbara, where I, at least, was established, and where we had a fine home. Bernard applied for posts at junior colleges, community colleges, state universities, all within commuting distance of Santa Barbara, but was constantly rejected. It was clear that, once again, he was ‘over-qualified’.
For part of this time, Bernard was engaged in processing our fieldwork from Kenya, which proved to be a (temporary) lifesaver, in that it totally engrossed both of us. But there were periods when Bernard had to apply for ‘Unemployment’ – the Social Security benefits. At times, in despair, Bernard seriously said that he might as well work as a checker at the Safeway supermarket. Looking back, the wonder to me is not that Bernard was occasionally depressed at not fulfilling his vocation as a teacher, nor ‘putting beans in the pot’, but that for nearly all that time he remained resilient and cheerful. At all times he encouraged me to continue our entertaining of friends, colleagues and students, and also to make regular trips, either to Los Angeles, or to explore Santa Barbara County. The purpose of our visits to Los Angeles was usually to see a show, or an art exhibition, but we liked to go early and visit the Saturday morning Grand Central Market, which offered an impressive variety of Mexican, Chinese and other exotic foods: Bernard was in his element, finding rare ingredients for his splendid dinners.
We enjoyed jolly picnics with our neighbours on Mount Figueroa, fifty miles away and the highest point in the county: we liked to go there once each fall, stopping to gather mistletoe in Paradise Valley, and once in the spring, when the hillsides would be covered with wild flowers – lupins, Johnny jump-ups, Indian paintbrush, buttercups, baby blue-eyes and fields of the glorious California poppies (Eschscholzia). Bernard was soon familiar with California’s flora and avifauna, and there would be frequent cries from our friends of ‘Bernard, what’s this flower?’ or ‘Is that a Californian condor?’ and so on
Bernard with California poppies. Antelope Valley, 1978
. We also enjoyed occasional long drives to Santa Barbara’s back country, especially to Soda Lake on the Carrizo plain, to see the annual visit of the magnificent Sandhill cranes.
Eventually, in 1975, Bernard found his true home in the newly-created Environmental Studies Program at UCSB, and he was able to finish his academic career in a rewarding and friendly environment, as I describe below.
THE DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY
The chairman of the Department of Anthropology at UCSB was Charles Erasmus, who, despite some eccentricities (such as signing letters to graduate students as ‘Uncle Chuckles’), established an excellent, and a remarkably harmonious department. What made it remarkable was the comparison with many other departments of anthropology where bitter feuding is common. Only three of the twenty faculty members were women.
Three ex-chairmen of the Department of Anthropology at UCSB, October 2006 Tom Harding (my successor), DWB, Chuck Erasmus (my predecessor)
Chuck Erasmus worked by a few basic principles, which I tried my best to follow when I succeeded him as chairman in 1968. These included:
- Once the required large introductory courses (on which the revenue of the department largely depended) had been allocated, faculty should be free to teach whatever interested them, rather than being assigned a topic that was regarded as important. Erasmus reasoned, correctly, that this ensured that the teaching would then be lively: he placed great emphasis on good teaching, as well as on research.
- Erasmus resisted any ideological emphasis in the department, making sure that it was hospitable to all views. Thus we became tolerant of each other’s interests. For example, I thought that one colleague was too obsessed with ‘scientific’ and numerical data, while another was too wedded to ‘armchair anthropology’. They in turn regarded my emphasis on development as marginal. We learned to live and let live, each following his or her interests and not attempting to convert others to our way of thinking.
- Faculty meetings were kept to a minimum.
- Finally, Erasmus did not allow faculty to fight over graduate students; some self-important faculty liked to have a coterie of graduate students, who would echo The Master’s views rather than branching out on their own. Chuck insisted on the rights of graduate students to choose their own dissertation committees: each graduate student had a supervisor and usually two other faculty members who served on his or her committee, which was responsible for guiding the student’s research, and, ultimately, deciding whether their dissertation met the university standards. So it was crucial for students to have good relations with their committee members.
Erasmus was supported by an enlightened university administration, this being an age of ‘scholar-administrators’. (A few years later, the trend was to appoint senior university officials more for their fund-raising and administrative skills, than for their appreciation of scholarship.) I thus had every encouragement to become an effective teacher, and to pursue research opportunities. I told Chuck that each September, before the academic year began, I would wake up, terrified, in the small hours, having dreamt that I was standing in a classroom full of students, but was unable to utter a single word, or having to speak on an entirely unfamiliar topic, or with noisy students who ignored me … When I asked Chuck whether he thought I would ever get over this, he told me that if the anxiety disappeared, my teaching ability would decline: he firmly believed in adrenalin as a spur to success.
In the summer of 1968, Erasmus and I were given a research grant to examine examples of community development in Ghana and Uganda. Chuck had completed a major book, The Common Good, which examines the bases of co-operation in various societies, and I had been involved in several community development projects, in Tanganyika, Rhodesia and Ghana. We tested hypotheses, finding out what actually worked: at that time community development was popular, though poorly understood. Our conclusions were published the following year (Brokensha & Erasmus, 1969).
We both benefited from the trip: Chuck taught me how to take more meticulous and more methodical field notes, at which he was a master, and I showed him how to relax a little, introducing him, for example, to drinking banana beer through a straw, in Uganda. When I succeeded Chuck as chairman of the Department of Anthropology in 1968, my colleague Tom Harding told me, ‘You run the department like the District Commissioner you used to be.’ I took this as a compliment, because Tom had a generally favourable view of DCs from New Guinea, where he had done his fieldwork. I did not permit long faculty meetings, setting a time limit, as well as restricting meetings to a maximum of one a week, or even fewer if possible.
DWB dribking banana beer with a local chief, Uganda, 1968
Most of my teaching was at the undergraduate level with ‘Upper Division’ students, in their third and fourth years. I begged off teaching ‘Anthro 2’, the huge introductory course (several hundred students would enrol), being happier with classes of not more than forty students. ‘Religion and Magic’ was another popular course, filling our largest lecture theatre to its capacity of eight hundred. Once, when a colleague suddenly became ill, several of us were allocated a week (three lectures) each. I dared not decline, but I dreaded the ordeal, and was uneasy, standing on a platform and hardly being able to see the students when I showed slides in the semi-dark hall. I was used to having eye contact with my students, and was disconcerted by the low mutterings, and the comings and goings. I felt that I had been a complete flop. Some years later, a young woman approached me at a conference, to congratulate me on ‘some of the best lectures I heard at UCSB’ (I had spoken about Mbeere religious and witchcraft beliefs). I walked on air, vastly relieved.
My regular courses included ‘Social Change in Africa’, and preparing for this course helped me to keep up with the ever-growing body of literature. In dealing with Christianity as an important agent of change in Africa, I declared my own Christian faith, to forestall any criticism that I was covertly biased. My colleague Barbara Voorhies urged me also to announce that I was gay, saying that I would be a good model for any gay students, but I did not follow her advice. (Our good friend, and former student, Peter Castro recently wrote to me, ‘Today there would probably be more controversy over your declaring your Christianity than in declaring yourself as gay.’)
I devoted about a third of my Selected Minorities course to apartheid in South Africa, regarding the Africans as effectively a minority – in sociological if not numerical terms. I twice invited the South African Consul to talk to my class, a risky proceeding because of the likelihood of student protests if it had become generally known, South Africa being at that time the ‘polecat of the western world’. I discussed this with the students, asking for their opinions. I explained my own view, that by listening to the ‘official’ arguments they were not endorsing apartheid; I also asked them not to announce the talk, lest the lecture be interrupted.
John Mills, the Consul, from San Francisco, was a suave and polished speaker, who gave a vigorous defence of his government’s policies. I once asked what he had thought of the students’ questions: ‘About the same as I would have had at an English-speaking university in South Africa,’ he said, ‘Stellenbosch University would have been much tougher to handle.’ This confirmed my long-held belief that,
contrary to public opinion, my own people, the South African English-speakers, were not, and today are not, the most trenchant critics of government.
John Mills was a keen cricketer and played regularly in the Bay Area. Inevitably, many of the players were ‘men of colour’, West Indians and South Asians. One Sunday, it was the Consul’s turn to invite the players home after the match. John’s home was in Twin Peaks, a select area of San Francisco. When, ahead of John, two nondescript cars arrived, filled with exuberant dark men who charged into the house, the neighbours on both sides anxiously phoned, asking ‘Mrs Mills, are you alright?’ Entertaining black guests was rare in that area.
During my Selected Minorities course, I showed films such as Last Grave at Dimbaza, exposing the horrors of apartheid. I then analysed other societies, choosing different examples – Dalit (‘untouchables’) in India; Burakumin (also ‘untouchables’) in Japan, blacks in Brazil, blacks and Asians in Britain, Australian aborigines, Inuit in Canada, Muslim minorities in the Eastern republics of the Soviet Union, Walloons in Belgium – there was no shortage of candidates. I did not discuss blacks, Hispanics or Native Americans in the USA, because other instructors were tackling these areas. I was not trying to defend South African policy, but I tried to show that South Africa was not alone in practising discrimination based on ‘race’. What differentiated South Africa was its explicit, legalised policies.
DWB. Santa Barbara, 1975
I did not believe that this was the only problem faced by South Africa. Over many years I had ongoing discussions with Leslie Rubin, who disagreed with my interpretation, insisting that the legal basis of apartheid made such a fundamental difference that righting this wrong would be sufficient. And even Nelson Mandela seemed to share his view: when Bernard and I were in Australia in 1990, shortly after Mandela’s release from prison, we watched a television interview in which an Australian aborigine, who had heard Mandela laud Australia as a free society, asked, ‘Yes, Mr Mandela, but what about us?’ Mandela replied, ‘Oh, but you have the vote.’
I tried to point out to students that a universal franchise did not necessarily guarantee true democracy, nor did it ensure that the rights of minorities would be respected. Whatever the students learned, it was a marvellous opportunity for me to educate myself, both keeping abreast with events in South Africa, and learning much about other societies.
All the societies that I studied had certain common characteristics, for example, there always seemed to be about ten to fifteen percent of the population who were what the Afrikaners call verkramptes: arch-conservatives who believed that the government was not doing enough to protect their rights, and was doing far too much for the ‘minority’. At the other end of the spectrum, at about the same percentage, the verligtes favoured radical changes, and were appalled by the discriminatory practices. In between, the majority tried to get on with their ordinary lives, avoiding any active involvement. Sometimes students would ask me what action they could take, and I would suggest that, rather than picketing the South African consulate in Los Angeles, they should participate in groups that visited inner city and other mainly minority schools, encouraging the students to come to UCSB, to help boost the embarrassingly low enrolment there of black and Hispanic students. (Hispanics – mainly Mexican-Americans – had replaced blacks as California’s largest minority group.) I also told them that they could start in their own homes, not allowing any offensive racist remarks or jokes – ‘you will lose a few friends, but it will be worth it’.
I gave students the option of participating in role playing exercises, instead of writing a test. I would write a simple scenario, with five players, each having five minutes to make an oral presentation, defending their allocated role. For example, in discussing Israel, the five roles included two Jews, one a hardline settler, the other a peacenik, two Palestinians, one a moderate Christian, the other a young radical, and a United Nations observer. A Jewish student, a dedicated Zionist, was eager to take part, which I allowed him to do on condition that he played the role of the Palestinian firebrand – which he did, brilliantly and sympathetically. Another scenario dealt with race relations in Britain; here the part of a bigoted Englishwoman was played, with uncanny and chilling reality, by one of our most liberal students. Such ‘play’ would be frowned on at some universities, but I – and the students who took part – were convinced that role playing has great educational value, and is a welcome and beneficial diversion from the routine of lectures. Active participation ensured that the students gained a more vivid understanding of the basic issues involved than if they had been merely passive listeners, no matter how effective the lecturer. Although the presentations were short, the students prepared thoroughly because they were nervous about speaking in front of their peers: these factors made the sessions memorable for them.
DWB,Tom Livingston,Marion Morrison and Bernard (without a beard).San Francisco, Christmas, 1975. Tom and Marion had been Peace Corps volunteers teaching in Ghaha in 1961-62.
Given the opportunity to try new courses, I taught ‘Colonialism: Social Aspects’, from time to time. Like my Minorities course, this was an attempt to further my own understanding of the colonial process, in which I had participated for five years in Tanganyika. I was aware that my own experience in the 1950s was atypical, because this was after the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, so there was more sensitivity, and Tanganyika was a United Nations mandate, not a colony, which meant that there was regular international monitoring, even if often of limited value. I looked at different periods, and different colonies – British, French, Portuguese, German – trying to see what common factors I could find. Teaching became much more challenging, and more enjoyable, when each year I prepared a modified version of what I had taught earlier. As the title of my course indicated, I examined the effects of colonialism on the lives of the subject peoples. The course introduced me to a wide literature, including historical accounts, sociological analyses and anguished tales from the colonised. Perhaps, as with the Minorities course, I was exorcising my personal demons – teaching as therapy?
I co-taught a course called ‘Man and Fauna’ with Phillip Walker, a physical anthropologist, and each of us learnt from the other, enjoying the experience. (The following year UCSB’s Committee on Courses decided that the course title was sexist, so it became ‘People and Fauna’). Phil was an engaging, knowledgeable, effective and good-humoured teacher. He and I struggled to overcome the prevailing ‘harmony myth’, that in pre-colonial times non-western peoples had lived in harmony with their environments, respecting fauna and flora in a mystical or spiritual manner. Alas, there are countless examples of peoples, quite apart from westerners, destroying their environment, often wantonly. Our view was that the influence on the environment of early societies, and of modern indigenous groups, has generally been minor, not because they were conservationists with a deep respect for nature, but rather because populations were small and technology simple.
When leading anthropologists visited the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford I would invite them to give a seminar to my postgraduate students at our home. Both students and speaker enjoyed these informal occasions. Visitors included Monica Wilson, Max Gluckman, Meyer Fortes and Hortense Powdermaker. I had invited Chamu Srinivas, but a disastrous fire at the Center destroyed his field notes and he was unable to come.
Bernard and I regularly entertained groups of students at Sunday lunches, the large patio at the back of our house being ideal for this sort of entertaining. To give Bernard a break, I did the catering for these occasions, having learnt a few simple dishes, such as lasagne (including a vegetarian version), which were easy to prepare for twenty-five or thirty guests. We always invited a few graduate students to come early to help us, and also to break the ice with the shy undergraduates. Some of them were initially nervous, confessing ‘this is the first time I’ve been in a professor’s home’. This reminded us of a similar statement by Africans, usually women, who visited us in James Court, Bulawayo and said, ‘This is the first time I have been in a white man’s house as a guest.’
It was while we were living here that Bernard and I agreed that all our relatives – siblings, nieces and nephews were all ‘ours’, never ‘yours’ or ‘mine’. This decision was prompted by an incident at the end of one of our student parties. Half-a-dozen of us were sitting quietly on the patio when we heard voices from our neighbour’s house further up the hillside. Mr K must have made a critical remark about Mrs K’s sister, because she raised her voice, angrily shouting, ‘Don’t talk to me about my sister! What about your fucking brother?’ – and much more in this vein. That evening Bernard and I decided that we would never get into a ‘K’ argument. We kept to this agreement.
THE ‘ BILL ALLEN AFFAIR’
The late 1960s were difficult times for North American and European universities, with increasing student rallies and protests against ‘the military–industrial complex’ and, more particularly, against the Vietnam War, which had begun informally in the 1950s, and continued (though never formally declared) until 1975. Protests occurred worldwide, but particularly in the US. Enrolled students were exempt from the draft, but they faced being called up after graduating. By the end of the war seventy thousand young Americans were living in Canada, having gone there to avoid the draft.
It was a period of unprecedented social change and turmoil: the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, the assassination of President John Kennedy in 1963, then of Robert Kennedy and of Martin Luther King, the forming of the FSM – the Free Speech Movement – at Berkeley, the anger of ‘prophets’ such as Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, Timothy O’Leary, and of demands for ‘liberation’ and rights by blacks, women, gays – and students. It was a worrying time for ‘the establishment’ – and for parents, whose values suddenly seemed to be being discarded.
The Department of Anthropology, of which I was then chairman, had appointed Bill Allen, an archaeologist, on a two year contract, specifically to teach the pre-history of South America. Allen arrived on campus as a very correct former Marine officer, wearing neat starched shirts. Soon we noticed radical changes, both in his dress and, more significantly, in his teaching. By the second year, his fury at the Vietnam War, and other demons he was fighting, made him unbalanced: for example, the books he prescribed for the South America course included The Function of the Orgasm. Allen dismissed grades as ‘capitalist emblems’, and gave nearly all his students ‘As’, often for submitting ‘projects’ such as a doll portraying a bombed Vietnamese baby.
I shared Allen’s views about the war, and we had frequently been the only anthropologists at anti-war meetings. But Allen had clearly overstepped the bounds, and the department did not renew his contract. This was the spark that set off a great surge of protests against the department, and against me in particular as its chairman. Most students – and several gullible faculty – believed that we had fired Bill Allen for his radical views. Over seven thousand signatures (representing half of the student body) were obtained on a petition demanding Allen’s reinstatement; there were suggestions that he and I should have a debate in Campbell Hall (our largest lecture hall, seating eight hundred) and that the audience, the students, should decide who was ‘right’. I declined – my taking part was out of the question. During this tense period, one of my students, a relaxed African-American, told me that Bill Allen’s ‘aides’ had advised him to bring out the fact that I was gay; which Allen, to his credit, refused to do. She laconically remarked, as she left, ‘Personally, I don’t give a shit about all this, but I thought you might want to know.’
Violence erupted at many US universities; the Bank of America branch at Isla Vista (UCSB’s student ‘ghetto’) was burnt down, sending shock waves through the national establishment. At UCSB I was the main target for protesters, being perceived as the wicked man who had fired Bill Allen, who had now become the darling not only of the radicals, but also of most students. Driving into campus, I was greeted by a huge banner saying ‘FUCK BROKENSHA’ – not a cordial welcome. The Santa Barbara Police offered to check our home periodically, an offer that we gratefully accepted. One afternoon, when we returned home from campus, Bernard and I saw a suspicious-looking brown paper bag in our mail box. For a moment, we considered calling the police, thinking that it might be a bomb. This was not paranoia, for faculty members at several American universities had been attacked, some being wounded or even killed. A janitor at our Faculty Club had been killed by a bomb, presumably not intended for him. We cautiously approached and examined the packet, which proved to contain avocados, a gift from a neighbour.
Each time I lectured, I had to be prepared for an interruption by a small group of protesters, waving placards, and demanding to be allowed to address the class. I would lie awake in the small hours, working out strategies for defusing these protests. Once, at 2 a.m., I looked up TS Eliot’s play The Family Reunion, to find Harry’s words when he sees the Eumenides:
… and this time
You cannot think that I am surprised to see you
And you shall not think that I am afraid to see you.
This time you are real, this time you are outside me
And just endurable. I know that you are ready …
Let us lose no time.
I memorised the passage and recited it when my Furies, the student protesters, invaded the classroom, telling them that they had five minutes to address the class (many of whom thought that even this short allocated time was too much). Whatever the protesters thought, my words did seem to disarm them.
I had arranged for Frank McEwen, the Director of the Rhodes National Gallery, to give an illustrated talk to my students about Shona sculpture. As we approached the lecture-room, an angry and excited crowd of students was swelling in number, having heard that a white man from Rhodesia was due to talk. Frank, no coward, reluctantly agreed that we abandon the lecture lest we provoke violence. This was not only sad, but deeply ironic, because Frank was extremely unpopular among the establishment in Rhodesia for being ‘pro-African’.
There were tense and frightening episodes, but not all was grim. Late one afternoon, I heard the familiar sounds of a group of students chanting and marching. I suggested to the Administrative Assistant that she go home, but she insisted that it was her duty and her wish to stay. Then my colleague Brian Fagan put his head round the door, and in his best British sea-dog captain manner said, ‘Call me if you need me, David: I’ll be here.’ Both knew, as I did, that the group was making its way towards me, the arch-villain of the day. About twenty students stormed into my office, boys and girls, many bare-footed, two with dogs, one with a tape-recorder, another with a movie camera. They proceeded to cross-examine me on why I had ‘fired Bill Allen’. Then Betty popped in and asked, sweetly, ‘Tea, anyone?’ At once they changed from threatening revolutionaries to the middle-class youngsters that they were, and politely accepted Betty’s invitation – and even listened to my version of the events. I weathered the storm, with unwavering support from my colleagues, and from the university administration – Chancellor Vernon Cheadle was a rock. I treasure one memento of those days: a plaque, presented to me by my colleagues, honouring me for ‘meritorious service under fire, 1968–1970’.
During this unsettled period, Ghanaian dancers performed at UCSB’s Campbell Hall. One of our postgraduate students, Paul Goranson, had taught in Ghana as a Peace Corps volunteer. He and I wished to have a party for the dancers at my home after the performance, but the BSU, the Black Students Union, had already asked to entertain the visiting Ghanaians. Delicate negotiations followed. The president of the BSU was elusive; if I were lucky, his girlfriend, who was white and very radical, would answer the telephone, but gracious she was not. Eventually I suggested that we have a combined party, at my home, which had more space than their apartment. This was agreed, but only after the BSU had vetted our guest list (not offering to reciprocate and tell me whom they would invite) and inspected the proposed venue. At the last minute I found a laconic, unsigned note in my mail box, ‘Your house is OK’.
It was a weird party, and I was relieved that Bernard was then at Berkeley: he would not have tolerated such outrageous behaviour. We had bought what was then the standard party drink: Californian wine, beer, and Coca-Cola. One BSU man rudely demanded orange juice, so Paul, ready to oblige, hurriedly drove my Volkswagen to the shops to buy some. The final insult came when BSU members announced that, having been entertained by their African brothers and sisters, they would reciprocate. They proceeded to recite ‘poems’ which were not only abysmal, but also consisted mainly of gutter language. The Ghanaian young women, mostly modest Presbyterians, who had never heard such language, were deeply embarrassed. Perhaps recognising that they had not been a great success, the BSU contingent suddenly left, the man who had demanded orange juice nonchalantly picking up a nearly full gallon bottle of wine on his way out. Tom Wolfe’s satirical Radical Chic gives a devastatingly perceptive insight into how we got into such situations, and why we tolerated such boorish behaviour.
Several African-American women students came to our home, but few men; this was simply because we asked those students who showed an interest in our classes, and who would come to see us in our ‘office hours’. Most African-American male students seemed to avoid any friendly contact with white professors. We had another Sunday afternoon student party to which I had invited Leroy, a pleasant and bright young African-American student. As the party was getting under way, I had a phone call from him: ‘Sorry, Professor, I won’t be able to make it, something has come up.’ The following day that I learnt what the ‘something’ was that had ‘come up’: Leroy and other BSU members had taken over the new $7 million computer centre, and were threatening to destroy it unless their ‘non-negotiable demands’ were met. At least this revolutionary had good manners. (A negotiated truce was reached between the university and the BSU regarding their demands.)
During these troubled years, Bernard was at UC Berkeley, but he was by no means unaffected. Berkeley was the centre for student protest, and Bernard once got caught up when the helicopters sprayed tear gas on him. Classes were frequently disrupted, and it was difficult to maintain a sober academic atmosphere. Bernard and I were so worried about events that when we spent the summer of 1969 in Hawaii, we seriously contemplated trying to find teaching positions at a community college in Maui, which seemed an oasis of calm after California. But we soon abandoned that daft idea.
When the Ohio National Guard opened fire on demonstrators at Kent State University in May 1970, killing four students and injuring nine, I knew that I had made the right decision to take a year’s leave of absence to go to Kenya, about which I write in Chapter 17.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES PROGRAM
In January 1969 an oil rig in the Santa Barbara Channel erupted, releasing 750 000 litres of crude into the harbour, coating beaches with oil, and killing thousands of seabirds. Residents were outraged: our neighbour Harriet Carter joined other matrons in organising a ‘lie-in’ on the pier, following the example of student protesters. Harriet and Vic had for years at Christmas put up on their terrace a large, illuminated sign, proclaiming NOEL. After the oil spill, this sign, visible from a distance, read GOO – GET OIL OUT – the name of a hurriedly-formed local coalition of groups protesting against loosely-regulated oil drilling operations in the channel.
A direct result of this disaster was the establishment at UCSB of a multidisciplinary Environmental Studies Program (ES), a pioneer programme in encouraging innovative approaches. The disciplines involved included not only the ‘hard sciences’ – chemistry, physics, biology – but also history, geography, law and anthropology. At first the programme attracted many ‘flower children’, those products of the crises of the late 1960s and early 1970s. They tended to arrive late for lectures, with beatific smiles, flowers in their hair, and a vague wish to save the world, but without the necessary discipline and commitment. Dan Botkin, chairman of the programme, solved that problem by introducing Compulsory Biology and Calculus as prerequisites for our ‘majors’ (students majoring in ES): this soon sorted the sheep from the goats, and, although the number of our majors dropped sharply, the quality of student work rose dramatically.
Bernard was appointed as a lecturer in the ES Program in 1975, and in 1976 I joined him, co-teaching a new course, ‘Third World Environment: Prospects and Problems’. Until this course was offered, the new programme had emphasised North America, with a few mentions of Europe and Japan; we redressed the balance. In team-teaching, Bernard and I shared the lecturing, he being concerned with the physical aspects, I with the social implications. The course had eight segments – agriculture, forestry, mining, climate, water, tourism, wildlife and urbanisation – each of which required discussion of both physical and social factors. I accepted half-time appointments in ES and the Department of Anthropology. In matters such as this, and team teaching, UCSB was more flexible and imaginative than most European universities, or, indeed, some of the more orthodox North American institutions.
This course was good for our own understanding of the current dramatic global environmental changes. Bernard and I constantly updated our reading lists, each year preparing a photocopied ‘reader’ of extracts from books, journals, newspapers and reports, always looking for topical and challenging issues. (Such photocopying was in a grey legal area, but most publishers readily gave permission for us to copy material strictly for classroom use.) We also video-taped segments from television programmes, and showed selected movies. (Even today, more than fifteen years after we last taught this course, I still find myself thinking ‘That would do well for ES130’ when I see a relevant dramatic and effective movie.)
In this course, as in my Minorities course, we used role playing; one scenario involved the proposed development – golf course, up-market resort – of a tropical island. The players were an old conservative islander, opposed to any outsiders; a young unemployed islander, eager for work opportunities; the developer; an environmentalist, concerned about the detrimental effects of the development; and a World Bank official, who had to decide whether to recommend a loan. As usual, the role playing was dramatic and moving, and afterwards the players confirmed that they had learnt much more from this exercise than they would have from merely taking notes in a lecture.
Bernard and I also took advantage of the new ‘Instructional Development Center’, which offered many aids to teaching. We had one of our lectures video-taped, then we spent an embarrassing morning watching ourselves, and being minutely criticised by five experts. Their comments were generally favourable, but they pointed out many actions and ways of presentation that could be improved. For example I was asked why I frequently looked at the back of my hand, and Bernard was advised to complete his sentences. Our critics told us that we were two of the very few faculty who had agreed to be videoed and criticised.
Bernard developed a series of eight modules for our Environment course. Copies of the modules, consisting of slides and explanations, augmented the lectures, and were available at the Instructional Development Center so that students could review the materials. This was an imaginative and productive way of using Bernard’s vast collection of slides – taken all over the world. I am happy that this course is still regularly taught: our graduate student, Manesendu Kundu, comes from India each summer session to teach it, together with another one, ‘Famine and Drought’, that I had also taught. In January 2006, Peter Castro, who had been our Teaching Assistant twenty-five years previously, emailed me:
… In preparation for my Africa class I listened to and watched Bernard’s module on climate. Although I recalled it as being very useful, I was stunned by its level of excellence … He really did a great job of introducing and explaining complex environmental information.
From student feedback, it was clear that this course was an effective learning experience. Many students went on to careers concerned with the environment, either at universities or, more often, working in public and private agencies. Shortly after we settled in South Africa, I was walking on the ‘cat walk’ below our home in Cape Town, when a young woman jogging towards me noticed my UCSB Environmental Studies sweater, looked at me, and stopped in her tracks: she had taken our course fifteen years earlier, and was on vacation from Botswana, where she was employed as a public health consultant. To our gratification, she told us that our course had set her on this career path.
Even at ES, Bernard was a temporary lecturer, on a one year contract, which had to be renewed (if approved) each year. Many universities use this exploitative system, for temporary lecturers are not only paid less than ‘regular faculty’, but they have no fringe benefits (pension, and, most important, medical aid on retirement). To add to the discrimination, lecturers have limited library privileges, and even have to park their vehicles in the most distant lots. In addition, their teaching load is usually greater. Temporary lecturers are very often better-than-average teachers, being dedicated and conscientious, and more available to students. Bernard loved the teaching, at which he was very effective, and he seldom complained about the disadvantages. We both had to work hard to keep our perspective, and not allow circumstances to overwhelm us: this was a testing time for our love, and we survived.
Thomas Hakansson from Sweden, and Cees Post from the Netherlands, both anthropology graduate students who had been our Teaching Assistants in the ES course in 1980, nominated Bernard and me for UCSB’s annual Distinguished Teaching Award. I was delighted to be told that I had been given the award, but dismayed to learn that Bernard, being a temporary lecturer, was not eligible. I wanted to decline the award, but Bernard persuaded me to accept it, saying, ‘You and I know that it was really for both of us, and that is what matters.’
Undergraduate courses could be given in three different styles: three 50-minute sessions, two 75-minute sessions or one marathon class, nearly three hours, with a break in the middle. Bernard and I, whether teaching separately or jointly, chose the first option, on the grounds that it was easier on us, and on the students, and that it was pedagogically the most effective. We also liked the 8 a.m. to 8.50 a.m. period, because this ensured that we attracted serious students, and also because there was less competition at that early hour, so we could be allocated a classroom with the best audio-visual equipment. I had a busy time in my last two years at UCSB, with teaching commitments in two departments, and also being chairman (I never learnt to say chairperson) of ES. I decided, reluctantly, to hold one of my classes in the ‘once a week’ mode, on a Monday evening. Even with a break, and sometimes showing slides or a short movie, it was a challenge to hold students’ attention for three hours. I soon learnt a stratagem: I fasted from Sunday evening to Tuesday morning, which heightened my awareness, keeping me alert for my Monday evening class. This discipline was, I think, beneficial to me generally and I still occasionally use it.
THE SOCIAL PROCESS RESEARCH INSTITUTE
I was Director of the Social Process Research Institute (SPRI) from 1975 until 1982, when I relinquished it, following the reasonable recommendation that directors of Research Institutes should hand over to another person after seven years – a ‘sunset clause’. SPRI was one of several research institutes at UCSB, its main purpose being to facilitate the securing and administration of funds to enable faculty to carry out research. Working at SPRI widened my horizons by introducing me to areas of research with which I was not familiar. Pat Griffith, whom I had known when she was a secretary in the Department of Anthropology, was the capable and cheerful administrator, and has remained a close friend. She not only facilitated my duties, but provided a sunny atmosphere, SPRI being one of the happiest places on campus.
Our biggest fundraiser at SPRI was the Contract Archaeology Unit, under the leadership of the able and enterprising Pandora Snethkamp. Pandora took advantage of federal government regulations dealing with the excavation of sites which had significance for Native Americans – a powerful political force – and successfully put in a series of funding proposals, totalling more than $2 million. Nearly all our graduate students, both archaeologists and cultural anthropologists, took part in the digs, their earnings making a major contribution to the funding of our graduate education.
THE EDUCATION ABROAD PROGRAM
One day in September 1983 I caught the bus to campus. (Bernard and I each had a car, but we did not take them both onto campus at the same time – partly because we taught in Environmental Studies and wished to set an example.) On this particular morning I sat next to Adil Yakub, a Palestinian Professor of Mathematics who worked half-time in the Education Abroad Program (EAP), which is administered at the Santa Barbara campus. Adil told me that
Bernard in conversation with Pat Griffith at 33 Loma Media, 1980
several directorships of EAP programmes were due to be filled for the following academic year, saying to me, ‘You would be ideal for London, you must apply for that post.’
That evening I told Bernard about this conversation, making light of Adil’s conviction that I would be given the job. Bernard said, seriously, ‘Apply; you’ll get it, and then we can spend two years in Britain.’ To humour him I agreed, despite being convinced that I had no chance of being selected. According to cynical academics, this is such a plum job that it is given as a favour by the UC President to one of his cronies. I was delighted to prove this assumption false. Our experiences with EAP are described in Chapter 14.
In addition to the usual academic writing, much of it based on our fieldwork in Ghana, Bernard and I, sometimes jointly, wrote ‘ Letters to the Editor’, in most cases to the Los Angeles Times, and were delighted when our letters were published. These letters were generally written in response to ill-considered stereotypes of Africa, depicting the continent as barbaric, corrupt and an environmental disaster. One of my letters protested at a travel writer’s description of my hometown, Durban, as a ‘surfer’s paradise’, with no mention of the then racially segregated beaches. In another letter I objected to a San Diego judge being awarded a $120 000 pension simply because he had been a prisoner of war in World War 2.
My uncompleted projects involved ‘armchair anthropology’ rather than fieldwork. In about 1979, John Povey, of the Department of English at UCLA, and I gave a graduate seminar at UCLA on ‘Anthropology and Literature in Africa’: we examined and compared the perspectives of anthropologists and novelists on a select group of topics – colonialism, education, tradition, race and ethnicity. We repeated the seminar, in an abbreviated form, at Stanford University. It was well received, but both John and I were engaged in many projects and neither of us was sufficiently disciplined to insist on seeing this through to publication.
Another project that I considered seriously, but never completed, was writing a book on ‘the passing of the old monarchs’. I thought of this first in Honolulu in 1967, when Bernard and I attended a ceremony to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Queen Liliuokalani (1838–1917) who had been appointed Queen of Hawaii in 1891, was overthrown at the instigation of the USA in 1893, and abdicated in 1895. The moving ceremony at the Royal Mausoleum was attended by Hawaiians, including some of the Queen’s maids of honour, now old ladies dressed in heavy mourning. Bernard and I, among the few haoles (non-Hawaiians) present, listened to the sad Hawaiian songs, including the Queen’s own poignant composition, Aloha Oe, ‘Farewell to Thee’. Following the ceremony, I visited the excellent Bishop Library, finding rich sources on Hawaiian history. I was struck by the comparisons with several other ‘old monarchs’: Lobengula, King of the Ndebele in Rhodesia; Prempeh, the Ashanti king in Ghana; Gcaleka, head of the Xhosa in the Cape: all were deposed or exiled by the British in the nineteenth century. I think that this is still a worthwhile project; perhaps someone else will tackle it.
I always announced my South African identity. As I have already mentioned, Bernard and I introduced into our garden many plants that were either from South Africa, or were common there. At times my identification as a South African led to embarrassing situations: visiting our friend Gunnar Oygard (whom we had met in Kenya) in Norway, we had been booked in at a pension, whose proprietor greeted me enthusiastically, ‘Welcome, my friend, I love your country, you sure know how to treat the blacks. Here, let us celebrate with a beer …’ Gunnar was mortified when I told him, saying: ‘We have only a handful of fascists in Norway, and here I find one in my own backyard!’
In years of teaching in California, I only once encountered prejudice against me as a white South African. An African-American graduate student sent me his doctoral dissertation. It was weak, but it had already been bound – contrary to instructions – and he urged me to approve it quickly so that he could accept a university position. I refused to be browbeaten, and after securing agreement from the other members of his dissertation committee, I returned it with seven pages of specific criticisms. The student was unhappy and told fellow students that my action was because of my South African racism. This accusation stung, and I was pleased when I was told that his peers had simply dismissed the accusation.
A few years ago I read Academic Outlaws, a book which detailed homophobia at US universities, and described widespread discrimination. This may have been true of small colleges in the South, but it certainly did not apply at UCSB. On one occasion, together with other heads of departments, I was invited to the Chancellor’s home to meet an important visitor. The invitation said ‘bring spouses’ so I telephoned Mary Cheadle, the wife of the Chancellor, explaining that I lived with Bernard, and asking if I might bring him. ‘Certainly,’ she replied, ‘he would be welcome.’ Thereafter, Mary Cheadle would call me to tell me to be sure to bring Bernard, who was especially welcome because he knew how to engage lonely or ill-at-ease guests (usually women) in conversation. These attitudes are worth mentioning now, when there is such widespread anti-Americanism, and a prevalence of stereotypes of Americans as narrow, bigoted fundamentalists. Not in our experience!
OUR ART COLLECTION
In 1966 the United Nations had imposed sanctions on Rhodesia because of the ‘ Unilateral Declaration of Independence’ the previous year. In 1968 they imposed a total trade boycott, although the United Kingdom and France specifically exempted art works by Africans. On 29 July 1968 the US president, Lyndon B Johnson, signed an executive order ‘prohibiting the importation of any commodities or products originating in Rhodesia’. Unaware of this order, I had bought our sculptures on 9 August 1968. They were packed and shipped off to California by the Rhodes National Gallery.
I accepted the sculptures in November 1968 at San Pedro, the harbour for Los Angeles, where they were admitted duty-free as works of art. What I did not realise was that in the accompanying documents, the Rhodes National Gallery had stated that the sculptures were products of Mozambique; in my innocence I signed the invoice declaring all the details to be correct, thus committing perjury.
We were proud of our collection, and Bernard added to it on his 1970 visit to Vukutu, at Nyanga, in the Eastern Highlands of Rhodesia, where Frank McEwen, weary of pressure on him and the sculptors in Salisbury, had established a rural refuge, with the help of the sculptor Sylvester Mubayi. He encouraged artists to settle there, to get away from the commercial influence of the cities. Frank wrote that Vukutu was ‘an ancient sanctuary of great beauty and complete isolation, surrounded by sculpture-like rocks … [where] our best artists came to live in an art community … here they produced their finest work away from the encroaching tourist trade.’ (It was Frank who coined the expression ‘airport art’.) Here many sculptors, both masters and apprentices, settled near Frank’s home.
We displayed our sculptures in our home in Santa Barbara and were happy to talk about them to students and other visitors. One of our friends asked if he could bring a colleague, a blind African-American teacher, to ‘see’ our collection. Puzzled, we agreed, soon discovering that the blind man, who knew about African art, could indeed ‘see’ with his fingers: it was thrilling to watch his face light up as we explained the sculptures and he explored the pieces with his fingers: he made us appreciate just how tactile the sculptures were. We regarded ourselves as trustees for this collection and hoped that they would end up in a reputable museum. In 1974 the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago organised a major exhibition of contemporary African art, and asked to borrow eleven of our sculptures: we readily agreed, and they were included in the exhibition � clearly identified as Rhodesian art.
In March 1975, I had a visit from Joseph Charles, a special agent of the US Treasury, and two of his colleagues, inquiring about my Rhodesian sculptures. By this time I knew about the executive order prohibiting trade with Rhodesia, and, realising that this could be a complicated case, I consulted Carroll, a lawyer friend, who said that while he could not give me such advice, he knew that his fifteen-year-old son would say, ‘Boy, you’d better disappear those sculptures.’ Carroll doubted if the agents would ‘resort to cowboy tactics’, but advised us to be prepared. So we moved our Rhodesian sculptures to the cellar of our neighbours, Vic and Harriet Carter. I had periodic visits from Agent Charles, pressing me to show him the sculptures, while I referred him to our lawyer, a Los Angeles attorney specialising in customs litigation.
I had recently assumed the directorship of UCSB’s Social Process Research Institute (SPRI), which had an unhappy history of conflict and disputes. Seeking to restore harmony, I invited all involved, more than thirty people, to our home for a ‘TGIF’ (Thank God It’s Friday) party, at 5 p.m. on Friday 8 August 1975. At 3 p.m., I was in the garden, dressed in T-shirt, shorts and sandals, making sure that it was looking at its best for our guests, when four large cars drove up our drive, and out stepped ten agents of the US Treasury, led by Joseph Charles. They were hostile, and refused to show me their search warrant, or allow me to contact our attorney. While Charles and some of the agents questioned me about the sculptures, others entered the house, threatening to arrest both Bernard and our house guest, David Arnold, who had, ironically, asked if he could spend a ‘quiet weekend’ with us, after some harrowing weeks dealing with Vietnamese and Hmong refugees in San Diego County. (David was with UNHCR – the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and this was in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.)
Harriet and Vic Carter c 1975
My hands were handcuffed behind my back, and I was put in one of the cars, accompanied by Agent Charles, who said I should have listened to him, and done what he told me, because he knew the law, adding that now I was going to face trouble in the courts. I reminded him (he was a black man) that I was from South Africa, explaining that when he said ‘I know the law’, it was for me a chilling reminder of what South African policemen used to say to black people. We never spoke again after that. I was taken to a US magistrate, where the charge was that I had ‘knowingly received, concealed and facilitated the transportation of approximately 32 Rhodesian statues and carvings, which said merchandise, as the defendant then and there well knew, theretofore smuggled, imported and brought into the United States contrary to law from Rhodesia, a foreign country’. The magistrate was puzzled and courteous, readily releasing me on my own recognizance, in the amount of $5000.
Before being allowed to go home, I was taken to the Santa Barbara County Jail, to be booked and fingerprinted, a procedure which took four hours. I was put in a cell, where my cell-mate, also dressed in T-shirt and shorts, asked if I too had been arrested on the beach. Santa Barbara had a remote beach where for years nude sun-bathing and swimming had been allowed. A zealous official, deciding that this was indecent and illegal, had sent a posse of police to make arrests. My cell-mate and his girlfriend (who had been ‘searched’ by a grinning policeman, infuriating her partner) had been arrested and brought to jail. In the adjacent cell, separated only by wire mesh, was a young Mexican-American man who had knocked down a child, when he was driving, crying, over and over again,
‘I didn’t mean to do it, I didn’t see her, I didn’t fucking mean to do it.’
A notice in my cell announced that each prisoner was entitled to make two telephone calls, but when I asked the guard, he curtly told me to wait, because he was busy. Earlier this guard had laboriously written my particulars, and when he asked his colleague how to spell ‘professor’, he must have seen the look of weary disdain on my face. (Bernard used to tell me that I could not hide my feelings, and that my face always revealed what I was thinking.) When a new guard took over, I was allowed to make a call, and I tried to phone Bernard, knowing that he would be frantic with worry, but the line was engaged – our guest was making some important United Nations calls. So I called our neighbour Harriet, asking her to tell Bernard that I was alright and that I hoped to be home shortly. Some agents were still questioning Bernard and searching our home, so resourceful Harriet wrote a message, tucked it in that evening’s Santa Barbara News-Press, walked over and told Bernard that there was an interesting item in the newspaper.
I was eventually released and driven home, arriving about 8.30 p.m., by which time nearly all our guests had gone. After my arrest, Bernard, who knew few of the SPRI folk, asked my colleague Manuel Carlos to come quickly and take charge of the party, which was, apparently, a great success. Colleagues who had barely spoken to each other for ages were now eagerly discussing the high drama, a friend even facetiously suggesting that I must have engineered my arrest, because it worked like magic in restoring harmony. Guests had been so concerned about me that they put aside their petty quarrels.
After I had been taken away, the agents continued searching the house, and asked why we had so many books about South Africa, and what Bernard thought of South Africa. Then one agent gleefully spotted Prehistoric Rock Art of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and wanted to confiscate it as incriminating evidence. Bernard had some difficulty persuading him that this book had nothing to do with the disputed contemporary sculptures.
As soon as I could, I saw UCSB Vice-Chancellor Alexander, to tell him that I faced a charge of perjury. This could have had serious consequences for me, because I was not then a US citizen, so I faced possible deportation as well as other penalties. Alex was shocked by my tale, vowing to do all he could to help me: his Greek fighting spirit was up, and he would have taken on the whole US Treasury on my behalf: what a fine ally! We were referred to Michael Nasatir, yet another specialist lawyer in Los Angeles. On hearing my story, he told us that he had been considering taking a break from the law, but now he was determined to stay on and fight my case, and that he would win – which he did, two years later. I told him that I was surprised by my treatment, as a middle-aged, white, respectable professor, and asked what would have happened had I been a poor black man. Nasatir said that I would have been badly beaten up and taken to prison.
At Nasatir’s suggestion, I asked friends to send letters of support, attesting that I was known as a person of integrity, and that it was common practice for anthropologists to collect African art and crafts. Nasatir later confirmed that these letters played an important part in my defence. Friends, colleagues, former students all rallied round, sending in fifty letters, describing me in extravagant terms: I did not recognise myself in their depiction of me as a saintly, if absent-minded, scholar. I particularly treasure a letter from St Clair Drake, head of my department at the University of Ghana. He wrote:
As a 64-year-old citizen of the United States, a Black one, who has lived through a lot of police brutality (and insensitivity), I must state that I was both shocked and ashamed when I read about the indignities visited upon Professor David Brokensha. Even if the search was ‘legal’, why did they have to handcuff him? … The bill to punish Rhodesia obviously wasn’t meant to keep out the artistic productions of the very Africans that the racist Ian Smith was persecuting. Britain and France had specifically excluded art objects … And to think that a Black agent has been made a tool in all of this. It’s disgusting … It is inconceivable that David Brokensha had any other motive in mind than showing the American public what things of beauty Africans have made … That he assembled a collection of art objects is not at all unusual. I don’t know any academics that don’t bring home some carvings, masks, statues, beads. The only difference is that he has an aesthetic sense that guides his choice, that many of us lack … I don’t know what the Government wants to do with the pieces … instead of trying to take the stuff away from David, the National Endowment for the Arts ought to be subsidizing his educational use of it.
I assisted Nasatir in preparing the case, assembling evidence that these sculptures were indeed ‘works of art’, and not ‘commodities or products’; this led to a fascinating search down the by-ways of art history and legal definitions. Eventually, after two years, a Californian Federal Judge heard the case, US Treasury vs David Brokensha; I did not appear in court, being represented by Nasatir. The judge, in a fifty page summary judgement, completely exonerated me, referring to me with embarrassing praise, and severely criticising the US Treasury and its agents. Friends expressed disappointment that costs ($8000 – a lot at that time) were not awarded in my favour, but I was thankful to be cleared, and grateful to my learned counsel.
It was while we were at Santa Barbara in 1986, that my brother Paul died, aged 65. He had been staying with his daughter, Judy, in Durban, while waiting for permission to return to Zimbabwe (there were complications, because he had briefly been a senator in Ian Smith’s government). Paul used to run each day, at dawn, on the Country Club beach, and on 21 November he had a massive heart attack, dying immediately. We were all shocked, and I found then that I had never fully realised how close Paul and I had been, despite our political differences. However, in time we accepted that there are many worse ways to leave this world than running on a beach at dawn – this was particularly so in Paul’s case as his glaucoma would shortly have led to his becoming blind.
Paul. Salisbury (Harare), 1979
On the eve of my retirement from UCSB, Susan Mies, the administrative assistant in the Department of Anthropology, asked me if I would like a retirement party. I agreed enthusiastically, making two conditions – no presents, and no speeches. Ignoring my request, Susan asked Bernard what I would like as a farewell present. He suggested the Times World Atlas. I treasure this gift, presented to me at the party, and inscribed, in Charles Erasmus’ elegant hand-writing:
June 10, 1989. As you use this Atlas in your travels during retirement, we hope it will remind you of your Santa Barbara colleagues, who cherish our years of friendship and who will miss your genial company.
Thomas Harding, Charles Erasmus, Juan Palerm, Manuel Carlos, Brian Fagan, Don Brown, Elman Service, Don Symons, Barbara Voorhies, Napoleon Chagnon, Albert Spaulding.
The atlas has indeed been used constantly.
At the party, which was held in a county park, Mike Jochim, the current chairman, announced: ‘There will be no speeches because David does not want any. However, had I made a speech, I would have said …’ and then he said some kind words about me, leaving me both embarrassed and gratified.
TOP: DWB, Bernard and Mr Kundu (father of our student Manesendu Kundu) in conversation at our Environmental Studies joint retirement party. June 1989 ABOVE LEFT: Bernard watching DWB in action at his Department of Anthropology retirement party ABOVE RIGHT: DWB receives the Times World Atlas from his colleagues
Our ES colleagues gave us a joint farewell party, presenting us with a bronze sculpture of dolphins (they were frequently seen in the ocean near Santa Barbara) inscribed, on the base:
David and Bernard
A gift both handsome and appreciated.
I had enjoyed the company of my colleagues during my twenty-three years at UCSB, which had treated me handsomely. I had had splendid opportunities for research, and also for innovative and rewarding teaching; I had been invited to give two commencement addresses, to the social science students, in 1980 and in 1989. At one of these I said that graduation was a rite of passage, and compared the ceremony to the Mbeere initiation ceremonies, which marked the transition to adulthood.
All commencement speeches are obliged to include some moral exhortation, so I told the students this Mbeere riddle:
| Gwai Nda
||Catch this riddle
||I’ve caught it
| Utonga utathiraga
||Wealth which is never exhausted
| No ngoro ya mundu
||Is the thought in the heart of a person
| Rugano rukithira
||The story is ended
My most gratifying souvenir of UCSB was my Festschrift, edited by two students (Chaiken & Fleuret, 1990). Near the end of our time at UCSB, Miriam Chaiken called, early one morning, to ask if I would ‘mind’ if she and Anne Fleuret edited a Festschrift for me. When I told Bernard, who was still in bed, he was so pleased for me that he wept, and hugged me proudly, pointing out that I was the only UCSB anthropology professor to be so honoured. Apart from contributions from faculty colleagues and graduate students, this book included two prefaces, one by my colleague Ted Scudder, The Making of an Applied Anthropologist, and one by Bernard, The Participant Observer Observed: A Companion’s Reflections. The latter started ‘DWB first swam, quite literally, into my ken at the Tanga Yacht Club in July 1954, when our paths (or perhaps more accurately our wakes) crossed during our colonial service experience, when we overlapped for the first time.’ Both Bernard’s light-hearted but loving tribute and Ted Scudder’s professional assessment moved me deeply.
Just a few weeks after our retirement, I had my annual medical check-up, which was usually followed, a few days afterwards, by a telephone message from the clinic to tell me: ‘Dr Donner says that all is well’. This time I had an ominous message, ‘Dr Donner wants to see you.’ The diagnosis was that I had prostate cancer, about which I knew virtually nothing.
I did not like the oncologist, firstly because he said I would have to have surgery, leaving me no options, and secondly because he groaned when I told him that I was gay, and told me that I would have to save my own blood for the operation. (Why did I tell him?
Sale of 33 Loma Media. DWB, July 1989 Town, 1998. Leslie Ruben at his second wedding. Kalk Bay, Cape Town, 1998
Probably because Aids and gay men were almost synonymous in 1989, and I did not want him to accuse me of hiding anything.)
After the debacle with my broken ankle, I decided that I would no longer follow the docile ‘Yes, doctor’ pattern. My graduate student Manesendu Kundu came providentially into the picture, knowing that we were busy packing up, and asked what he could do to help us. There was no Google in those days, so I asked him to check Medlar and see what he could find about the treatment of prostate cancer. Mane searched diligently, finding about ten thousand entries, half of them in English, and thirty of those (which he printed out) dealing with different therapies, and accessible to a layperson. We decided that we would postpone any decision until we were in London at the end of the year.
Once again, Leslie Rubin, with his fourteen years seniority over me, proved a good friend: having himself recently had radiotherapy for prostate cancer, Leslie was able to reassure me that it was not a major problem.
We had a busy time sorting out, giving away, packing up, saying goodbye, before we left California in December 1989, for England, and a new phase in our lives. The years in England are described in Chapter 19.
TRAVELS FROM CALIFORNIA
During our years at Santa Barbara, we seized all opportunities for travel, both within and outside the United States.
Shortly after moving to Santa Barbara, we were encouraged by my UCB colleague, Dora Seu, to spend the summer of 1967 in Hawaii. With Dora’s help we arranged to exchange houses and cars with a University of Hawaii couple who lived in Manoa Valley, Honolulu. This was the first of several house exchanges, all which proved very satisfactory. In a way we held each other hostage, treating our borrowed home with the sort of care we hoped was being used in our own.
Dora put us in touch with her Chinese-American family – her brother Songdai and sisters Elsie and Hazel, all of whom were hospitable and also instrumental in our taking full advantage of our six week stay. We visited not only the big island, Hawaii, and Maui and Kauai, but also Molokai where we stayed with Elsie’s friends and saw the colony which Father Damien (1840–1889) had established for the treatment of leprosy. We explored the countryside – the sugar-cane plantations where I enquired informally into the working conditions of farm labourers, noticing that they were much better off than their Californian counterparts. We both enjoyed the lovely beaches, the rugged coastline and the mountains. We joined a group of walkers who were given permission to enter the military reserves on Sundays. Initially we, like many others, had been critical of the military setting aside so much land, but we learnt to see it as an environmentally beneficial action that conserved thousands of acres in a pristine condition, with limited access and no development.
We had two projects in Hawaii: first we enrolled at the then popular Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics, to increase our reading speeds. I found this course useful when I returned to UCSB: I would spend Monday evenings in the library, examining ten or fifteen books which I evaluated by reading the introduction and conclusion, and skimming a few chapters. This enabled me to classify each book: as one that I would read later, or as one that I could recommend to students for specific topics, or as a book that had no immediate relevance for me. This system increased my confidence, leaving me less overwhelmed by the sheer volume of new and interesting books which came to my attention.
DWB on Makauri beach, Oahu. Hawaii, August 1967
Our second project was less serious: Bernard and I were both good body surfers but had not attempted surfboards. We each hired a surfboard, which we kept in a locker at the beach – in 1967 the boards were much heavier than they are today. After one hour’s lesson, we felt confident that we could manage on our own. We would drive down to Waikiki beach in our borrowed VW Beetle every day at dawn, when we had the beach almost to ourselves. It was an exhilarating experience and a good start to each day, and by the end of our stay we were adequate surfers.
While we were in Honolulu, in August 1967, an early morning telephone call turned out to be a cable from Paul, saying that Dad had died. This was not unexpected: Dad had been frail for some years, and had been plagued by a succession of illnesses, so his death was, I knew, a blessed release. However, I was restless, and I asked myself what Dad would have appreciated my doing – something special in his memory. Bernard asked me what Dad liked, and I said ‘Brandy … and pretty girls’. So off we went to the terrace at the grand Haleakala Hotel at Waikiki beach, where we enjoyed a cognac, and watched the pretty girls on the beach walkway. Then
Bernard at Molokai. Hawaii, 1967 DWB on Waikiki beach. Hawaii, 1967
a young Hawaiian woman sang some of the melancholy, beautiful old Hawaiian songs – I felt it was a good and satisfactory send-off for my father.
On our trips to Kenya, which is halfway round the world from California, we were able to arrange detours (at our own expense) to visit countries that we had not seen. On our first trip, we stopped for about a week each in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Brazil, in each case spending a day or two in the capital, to get our bearings and to see whatever museums, art galleries, cathedrals and botanic gardens took our interest. We then selected a small non-tourist town as a base from which to explore the countryside. We had the help of our professional colleagues who knew the country and also, through our Peace Corps connections, we sometimes asked Peace Corps volunteers (PCVs) to help.
The Andean countries, Bolivia and Ecuador, provided us with grand spectacles, such as Cotopaxi and other volcanoes. We had a hair-raising drive in a taxi to Coroico, in the lowland forest, and
Bolivian women going to market. La Paz, 1970
rented a car to drive in the high Altiplano to the Inca ruins at Tiahuanaca, on the southern margin of Lake Titicaca. An American Protestant missionary, asked by Bernard if his mission was involved in agricultural development, replied loftily, ‘Oh, no, we only plant in the fields of the Lord’ – unconsciously echoing Peter Matthiessen’s satirical novel, At Play in the Fields of the Lord.
We were (perhaps naively) surprised by the poverty, and by the subservience of the Indians and the arrogance of the dominant ‘whites’, recalling, uneasily, attitudes in apartheid South Africa. For example, in La Paz we saw an Indian man walking uphill, carrying on his head a huge load of firewood; a group of white schoolchildren, standing and joking on the pavement, did not move, forcing the man to stagger uneasily onto the busy road. This could be ascribed to the self-centredness of youth as much as to racial attitudes, but the man seemed to accept it as normal. At the time of writing this account, I watched on TV, with pleasure and some anxiety, the inauguration of the first indigenous Bolivian president, Evo Morales.
In Brazil we rode the little diesel train, the Motoriz, south from Rio to Mangaratiba on the Baia da Ilha Grande, where three PCVs had been instructed to meet us. As it was lunchtime they invited us to the rather grotty station café and offered us cachaca, the fiery local spirit. After downing two of these they suggested that we sample the weird-looking dish of the day. Clearly this was a challenge, which apparently we passed successfully; afterwards, they could not have been friendlier or more helpful. All three volunteers had been in Brazil for a year and were well informed on the fishing and agricultural activities of the local people, as well having a good grasp of the national scene.
We returned to Rio on the Motoriz. On the journey down Bernard had seen what he recognised as a Zeppelin airship hangar, similar to one he had seen in England, both dating from the 1930s. To take a good photograph Bernard stood up for some minutes, waiting for the ideal opportunity. Shortly before we arrived in Rio, a man sitting behind us tapped Bernard on the shoulder, produced a card declaring that he was a major in Army Intelligence and told us that we were under arrest for taking photographs of military installations. We were due to fly out that evening, so we were alarmed at being taken to a prison. All our guards were uniformly civil and it was an interesting sociological experience: at first we were guarded by ordinary soldiers who were distinctly black; as the morning wore on we were shifted to other cells and our guards became increasingly higher in rank and lighter in complexion. After four hours of incarceration, we were taken to the office of a colonel who would not have been out of place at Sandhurst. Apologising profusely – ‘All a frightful mistake, my dear chaps’ – he returned Bernard’s camera, offered us coffee and wished us well. We were in time to catch our flight.
On our return journeys from Kenya, we fitted in short visits to Mauritius, the Seychelles, Australia, Indonesia and Japan, expanding our horizons, and enabling us to gather information, photographs and impressions to use in our university classes.
My Cambridge friend Julius Lister was attached to the British Council in Israel in the 1950s. When I went to Ghana in 1959, Julius suggested that I contact Jim Parker, who had been at the British Embassy in Israel and was then posted in Ghana. Thus began a long friendship with Jim and his wife Deirdre. Bernard and I enjoyed the novelty of diplomatic parties, and Deirdre said we provided leavening among the staid guests. After postings to Eastern Nigeria, South Africa and Fiji, Jim was appointed Governor of the Falkland Islands. In 1978 Deirdre suggested that we visit them, which we did at the end of that year, spending a fascinating time in what was then – shortly before the Falklands War – a relatively unknown part of the world.
To reach the Falkland Islands we first called at Buenos Aires to ask permission to visit – not the Falkland Islands – but Islas Malvinas, as the Argentinian government called them. We flew to Stanley, the capital, in an Argentine air force aircraft, and spent three weeks there, over Christmas. Jim arranged for us to fly to New Island, a bird sanctuary where we were able to see, as well as fantastic bird life, the sad relics of the whaling and sealing industry of the nineteenth century. We were particularly interested in the marvellous marine bird life; Bernard had bought supplementary camera lenses, which proved unnecessary. The penguins and albatross were so tame that we could walk among them: I have a photograph of Bernard sitting on a clump of tussock grass, changing his film while three jackass penguins gaze inquisitively at him.
The islands, which reminded us of Caithness in Scotland, were inhabited by only two thousand settlers. I wished that I had had more time to make a study of this very unusual society. We stayed at Government House, a rambling Edwardian home, where we met a succession of interesting visitors – British members of parliament, scientists from the British Antarctic Survey, and journalists. We felt that we had stepped back into another century and were dismayed when that way of life was irreparably damaged in the war. During our stay, an Argentine naval vessel made a courtesy call, resulting in a friendly football match between the Argentinians and a team
No need for a long-range attachment. Falklands, December 1977
from the small (forty-strong) group of British troops. It was a hot day and after the match most of the players removed their shirts; it was not clear to the spectators who was who – nor did it seem to matter. Although there had been some sabre-rattling, we had no inkling that war would break out the following year. Having seen the imperturbable Jim Parker in action in several countries, Bernard and I wondered, perhaps fancifully, whether the war might have been averted had he stayed on as governor; but it does seem that Margaret Thatcher was determined on a war.
Bernard and I made several visits to Mexico, my first being with Paul Goranson and other student volunteers who drove to Tijuana at weekends to help build a clinic. I am glad that we stayed in one of the poorer parts of that sprawling ‘tourist trap’ city, for I have only fond memories of our hospitable, dignified host family. Later, Bernard and I met Alfonso Gonzales, the compadre of our UCSB colleague Manuel Carlos. Alfonso and his family showed us their country home, and took us one evening to be serenaded by mariachis at Plaza Garibaldi. (Mariachis are Mexican musical groups, performing in the style and dress of the state of Jalisco. They should include two violins, two trumpets, a Spanish guitar and other stringed instruments.) Whenever I hear the haunting song Guadalajara I think of that night, with Alfonso’s beautiful young daughter, Lupita, also entranced by the music. My colleague, Juan Vicente Palerm, invited Bernard and me to give a joint presentation on our Kenya study at his old university, Universidad Iberomericana Mexico. We enjoyed an unexpected bonus when a friendly young American woman, who had married and settled in Mexico, invited us to join her on a Sunday boat trip at the Xochimilco Floating Gardens. We made the short train journey from Mexico City and then cruised slowly along the canals, stopping to buy cerveza (beer) from a passing vendor, admiring the ingenious centuries-old structures and the abundant yields of the gardens, and enjoying the happy carnival atmosphere. This experience was useful for our Environmental Studies course, for we were always looking for examples of true indigenous development which had not relied on outside interventions – and the gardens were spectacularly successful. We also saw one of the richest tropical markets we had ever seen, with a staggering variety and quantity of arts and crafts, as well as fruit, vegetable, flowers, many unfamiliar, even to Bernard.
Lupita Gonzales. Tenancingo, 1970
On another visit to Mexico, we were escorted by Mike Scott, a UCSB graduate student who was doing his research in the state of Oaxaca. Mike was fluent in Spanish, knew the region well, and had
The floating gardens at Xochimilco. Mexico, 1987
boundless enthusiasm, showing us so much in the few days that we spent with him. This included an ingenious and indigenous deep well, operated by a donkey walking in a circle, fields of crops, and poor and rich housing. We also saw Diego Riviera’s grand murals, and we ate the best Mexican food we’d had, mostly at truckers’ roadside cafés.
Bernard and I were able to visit several other anthropologists in their fieldwork locations – in Germany, Ghana, Kenya and Brazil, as well as on this trip to Mexico – always learning an enormous amount in a short time.
In 1980, following a visit to Kenya, Bernard and I flew to Nigeria, where I had been invited by the British architect Robin Atkinson to advise on housing and resettlement at the new federal capital, Abuja. Robin and I had worked together in the 1960s on resettlement at Kainji Dam in Nigeria, where I had been impressed by his concern for indigenous architectural values and knowledge.
In Nairobi we had been told that we would not need a visa for Nigeria, but on arrival at Lagos we learnt that the rules had changed. We were interrogated by an aggressive young army officer, who seemed affronted when he learnt that we lived in the United States; then when he saw that I had been born in South Africa, his aggression increased. This was one of the very few occasions in all my years in independent Africa that my South African background was held against me. I asked if I could telephone Atkinson, but it was a Sunday and he was not available. After sitting on a bench at the airport for seven hours, we were put aboard the next plane for Rome. We had planned to spend ten days in Nigeria and were booked to go on to Rome, where we had an appointment with Mike Arnold at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization – I had been engaged on an FAO contract in Kenya. When we reached Rome – ten days early – we found that Arnold was away, so we telephoned our Bulawayo friend Arline Miller in Jerusalem. For some years Arline had been urging us to visit Israel, so I asked if we could come that day. Without a pause, she gave us directions of how to get the sharuf (the communal taxi) from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and we arrived in time for lunch.
Arline and her husband Zalie enabled us to make the maximum use of our ten days in Israel, where we visited kibbutzim, old crusader castles, the Dead Sea and the Negev. We also spent a day at Safed art colony. Arline also made sure that we saw the Hebrew Museum and the heartbreaking Holocaust memorial. Bernard and I were thrilled to see biblical places: Cana, Galilee, Bethlehem … Talking to sociologists at the Hebrew University, I was struck by the many studies being done concerning relations between Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews (respectively from central or eastern Europe, and from the Mediterranean), with little attention paid to the Palestinians in Israel. I was reminded of South Africa where, at least when I was a boy, much more (white) attention was focused on relations between Afrikaners and English speakers, with the majority Africans being largely ignored.
We spent a day at a moshav shitufi, a collective settlement which specialised in growing roses for export to Europe. When we mentioned that we had been in Kenya, which also exported roses, our hitherto friendly host became guarded and suspicious, not wishing to impart any information to possible competitors.
On the strength of our joint fieldwork in Kenya, and resulting publications, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations invited Bernard and me to an ‘International expert consultation on Forestry for Food Security’, in Bangalore in February 1988. Bernard had been stationed in South Asia from 1944 to 1948 with British Army Intelligence, and was eager to return to places he had known, and I was willing to accompany him wherever he wished to go. We were able to take a term’s leave from UCSB, and spend two months touring Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka.
Because we knew little about the situation in these countries, and because we wished to maximise our time, we arranged our itinerary through the well-known travel agents Cox & Kings. When we arrived in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, we were met by our driver, Ahmed, who was both an excellent guide and a wise cautioner: many areas were off limits, and some actions were best avoided.
Our first stop was the hill station of Moree, where it was snowing. When we complained of the cold, the manager of the government rest house sent his ‘boy’ (in fact, an old man) to make a fire in our room, and sold us a bottle of Pakistan whisky (which had a strange taste) – after we had undertaken not to give the liquor to any Muslims. Here, as elsewhere, Bernard visited his old army barracks, which usually still served military purposes. Invariably, the new officers were at first incredulous that Bernard had been there so many years before, and were most welcoming.
Although I was by then accustomed to Bernard’s prodigious memory, I was still amazed by his recognition of places and buildings that he had last seen forty years before. We drove by the huge Tarbela Dam, where Alexander the Great had passed in 327 BC, and we were shown ruins dating from that period. Peshawar was surrounded by endless camps, with refugees from Afghanistan – the Russian invasion, started in 1979, was then in its final days, and had resulted in massive population relocation. We were not allowed to go very far along the road to the north-west frontier.
We flew from Pakistan to Delhi, where we joined the thousands in the streets, happily and noisily celebrating Republic Day. Later, Bernard astounded our hotel staff when he told them that he had attended India’s first Independence Day parade, forty years before, in 1948.
Arriving by train in Calcutta (now Kolkata), we were relieved to see the smiling face of Mr Kundu, father of our UCSB student Manesendu, welcoming us on the platform. Once again, Bernard wanted to see familiar landmarks, including the main railway station – he had spent a frightening forty-eight hours on its roof in 1947, during the terrible riots which followed the partition of India and Pakistan.
We travelled by train to Darjeeling (Bernard’s British army intelligence unit was of course constantly on the move). Bernard had told me about getting up early to see the dawn over Kanchenjunga, enthusing about the banks of rhododendrons en route. But the flowers had been replaced by houses, and by a nine hole golf course, mainly used by Japanese tourists, and when we arrived at the viewing point, the smog had almost obscured the peaks. But we stayed at a charming imperial relic, the Windamere Hotel [sic], enjoying the fires in the lounges and our bedroom.
We were greatly saddened, at Darjeeling, to see the pitiful refugees, from Tibet and other places. While we were there I went to mass, said in Hindi. Later on I heard mass in Urdu, Kannada and Bengali; I did not understand the sermons, of course, but I was able to follow the liturgy. Although I was usually the only white person in the church, I always felt relaxed and at home.
Our last stop in India was Madras (Chennai), where we visited an ashram, and also saw sites associated with St Thomas (‘doubting Thomas’) who is said to have brought Christianity to the subcontinent.
During the war, Bernard had also been stationed in Ceylon ( Sri Lanka), so we flew to Colombo, where we were looked after by more ex-UCSB students, Sasanka Perera and his vivacious and talented wife Anoli, who was also an accomplished artist.
DWB with Manesendu Kundu’s family. Calcutta, 1988
Bernard was able to find his old base, HMS Anderson, now converted to a secondary school. We made excursions along the coast to Lavinia and Galle – which were later devastated by the 2004 tsunami. Then we travelled by train to Kandy, to see the famous Buddhist ‘Temple of the Tooth’ and the magnificent Peradeniya botanic gardens.
This was the end of retracing Bernard’s forty-year-old footsteps, and we flew from Colombo to Trivandrum (now Thiruvanathpuram) in the south of India, to join the other delegates, from twenty different countries, for a week of well-organised but frustrating ‘rural development tourism’ – to use Robert Chambers’ satirical term. Frustrating because all our stops – in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka – were carefully stage-managed, and we had no time for informal enquiries or careful observation. A highlight, however, was a visit in the Nilgiri Hills, to a community of Todas, well known in ethnographic literature for their nature worshipping and their unusual marriage practices. One old man, obviously the leader, was treated with great respect by the others, but we were addressed by a charming and impressive woman, who spoke perfect English. She had represented the Todas at international conferences, but I could not help wondering how genuinely Toda she was, after years at Baptist schools: this is a common dilemma for indigenous peoples, who need a literate and sophisticated person to speak on their behalf.
The conference tour (we travelled everywhere by bus) took us to Mysore, where we stayed in the Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel, formerly the Maharajah of Mysore’s extravagant home. It was built in 1931 so that the Maharajah could entertain important visitors in a fitting manner. After Mysore, we passed through the location of Malgudi, the imagined town in RK Narayan’s novels and short stories, and passed close to the site of The Remembered Village, the 1948 ethnographic study written by my friend from Oxford days, Chamu Srinivas.
Our last stop was Bangalore, the location of the conference. At times, we were struck by the irony of delegates earnestly discussing poverty while staying at a luxury five-star hotel. Yet it was time well-spent, for an exchange of information, and for meeting old friends and making new ones – particularly a bright young Indian sociologist-historian, Ramachandra Guha, whom we invited to UCSB as a Regent’s Lecturer the following year. He was immensely popular with both staff and students.
After the conference we stayed on for a few days in Bangalore. It had been the favourite of all Bernard’s stations, and we were happy to have time to explore and revisit his old camps. We went by taxi up to the Nandi Hills, to see Cubbon House (now Nehru House) and a beautiful Hindu shrine. Both places were familiar to me from drawings on our wall at home – sketches which Bernard had done in 1945, when he was nineteen years old.
We had been invited by the World Bank to look at ‘some problems of common property resources, with special reference to forestry projects’ after the conference. This gave us a wonderful opportunity to tour Karnataka State for a fortnight, in the company of two knowledgeable and congenial forestry officials. At first they ‘nannied us to death’ (to use Bernard’s phrase) but we soon persuaded them to allow us to see what we wished to. This tour gave us excellent insights into rural life, useful for our UCSB courses – supplemented as usual by Bernard’s colour slides.
Those two months in South Asia provided us with many new and exciting experiences, as well as allowing to meet a wide range of people, and giving us rewarding glimpses into a variety of lives.
Bernard and I generally preferred to travel on our own and to avoid group travel but we did have two good tours, the first being to Costa Rica in late 1980, when we joined a small group organised by UCLA. There were only fifteen others and we had two outstanding leaders – Mildred Matthias, Professor of Botany at UCLA, whom we knew from her work in Tanzania, and Alexander Skutch (‘Don Alexandro’), an American who had first gone to Costa Rica in the 1920s as a young graduate student, had married there and stayed on to become the country’s leading ornithologist. With Don Alexandro we saw a brilliant sample of colourful toucans, parrots and many other tropical birds. It was a carefully planned tour, including the main ecological regions: the coast, the rain forest and the mountains.
Towards the end of this tour, to avoid a heavy tropical rain shower, I foolishly ran from the dining room to our cabin, slipped, and broke my ankle. I was obviously in pain, so the camp owner called the local curandera (traditional healer). She was convinced it was only a sprain and started to massage my ankle but desisted when I screamed in pain. Then followed a miserable day on a boat on the river, trying to get comfortable on a bench of Coca-Cola boxes while the tropical rain continued to pour down. I met my saviour at the next stop when a large American appeared, looked at me, said, ‘Oh, you poor bastard,’ offered me his flask of rum, and radioed a Costa Rican friend to come in his aircraft and fly me, and Bernard, to hospital in San José, the capital. I was wheeled to the airstrip in a wheelbarrow and within an hour we were airborne, lifting off just above the flooding waters.
I was well looked after at the Catholic hospital, where my ankle was set. We could not take our booked flight home and, as it was Christmas season, we could get no flights to California until the New Year, so we stayed for two weeks at a pleasant guest house in the suburbs of San José. I asked Bernard to find some English novels to keep me occupied and he found a treasure trove of Trollope, AJ Cronin, Galsworthy – all were much appreciated. I was quite content with my books, and Bernard was free to explore the city, becoming quite at home in the public transport system. One complication was that we were due to start teaching our joint Environmental Studies course, so we telephoned Peter Castro, our teaching assistant, and asked him to take over, which he did willingly and efficiently, until our return.
When we got back to California I had my ankle checked – as the young Costa Rican surgeon had recommended – at our clinic. The American surgeon told me that my ankle would have to be re-broken and re-set. The operation was performed by a new young surgeon, who later incautiously told me – when it became clear that I would be left with permanent if mild oedema – that he wished he had opposed the senior surgeon, and declined to break my ankle and reset it. I wondered whether the senior surgeon had simply assumed that the surgery was probably botched because it had been done by a Latin-American.
Our second group tour took us to Alaska, in September 1987. We had long wished to visit there but were apprehensive about driving – the long bumpy roads would have been too much for Bernard because of balance problems arising from his Ménière’s disease. Wishing to see something of the coastal towns, we joined a small cruise ship, setting off from Vancouver, and spending most of the days in one of the small towns – Ketchikan, Wrangell, Skagway, Haines and Sitka – while the ship lay at anchor.
At Skagway, we took a small railway to White Pass, where the paths still showed footprints of the gold rush folk who had joined the Klondike gold rush in 1898. We spent the best part of a day in each town, where Bernard and I would hire a ‘Rent-a-Wreck’ (usually a rather battered but serviceable VW Beetle, a bargain at five dollars a day), which enabled us to explore a little of the hinterland. We admired the glaciers, and saw huge flocks of American eagles feeding on migrating salmon.
Bernard, Denise Castro in Nthia Injeru, Peter Casro, DWB (note leg in cast) on our patio at Santa Barbara, 1981
The cruise was unusual, having a string quartet on board, as well as qualified and entertaining lecturers on geology, history, anthropology and geography. We had been advised by friends who often went on cruises to ensure that we had compatible table companions, so I approached the Chief Steward as soon as we were on board, and he put us with a bright young couple, thus avoiding the contingent of tiresome American widows who spoke endlessly and in great clinical detail about their – and their late husbands’ – ailments.
After this trip, we read about what we had seen. For many countries, including Alaska and Hawaii, James Mitchener’s books provided an excellent introduction, after which we could go on to more scholarly works in the areas of our respective interests.
In addition to the destinations mentioned above, we visited a number of other countries – sometimes for work, sometimes for pleasure, often for both – including many countries in Africa, as well as Singapore, Hong Kong and Norway. When we were away, we usually invited one or two graduate students to look after the house, water the garden and keep our cat Moshi (Swahili for ‘smoke’) company. Moshi, who was half wild bob-cat, was large, friendly and self-possessed. It was easy to persuade students to move from their small apartments into our hillside home, where they could enjoy the view, the space and the quiet.
DWB at the Victoria Falls, 1981
1984–1986: BRITAIN EDUCATION ABROAD PROGRAM
THE ARCHITECTURAL BOARD OF REVIEW
Our friend and neighbour Dwight Gilmour died in 1979, leaving the bulk of his estate to us. He had told us that he hoped this would encourage us to travel more: he loved hearing about our trips abroad, having been an inveterate traveller in his younger days.
The main value of the estate was in two plots of land, one of which had two houses on it, the other being vacant. This was where we decided to build our dream home, and a few years later we enlisted the help of Graham Kaye-Eddie, a South African architect living in California, who designed a wonderful home for us. It was to be on three levels, each about thirty feet square, the whole supported by steel poles which would make the structure earthquake-proof. (Because the roads were steep and winding, the steel poles would have to be brought in by helicopter.) Knowing that we travelled a good deal, Graham designed the lower storey to be a self-contained guest apartment that could be used by our house-sitter when we were away. The top level, which would be our living quarters, would command a three hundred and sixty degree view. We took Graham’s innovative plans to building contractors and building suppliers for estimates, which created much interest and admiration.
Dwight Gilmour, our benefacctor, c 1960
The Santa Barbara Architectural Board of Review, which examined all building plans before they went on to the City Planner for final approval, consisted of conservative Santa Barbara architects, for whom Graham’s innovative design was too radical. One member plaintively asked us if we would build in the more traditional Santa Barbara style, meaning the prevalent ‘mock Spanish’. The meeting was adjourned without a final decision, but we were discouraged, and it was shortly after this that I had the fateful conversation which drastically altered our future.
THE EDUCATION ABROAD PROGRAM
I described in Chapter 12 how in September 1983 I sat next to Adil Yakub on the bus to campus and had a conversation which resulted in my being appointed to one of the directorships of EAP programmes for the following academic year.
The University of California has for many years organised a student exchange programme, under which nearly two thousand students spend their Junior year abroad, mainly at universities in Europe, but with growing numbers in Latin America, Australia, Asia and Africa. Smaller numbers of foreign students spend a year at the UC campuses.
The largest and most popular programme is in the United Kingdom and Ireland, with about a hundred and sixty UC students going each year to one of sixteen universities in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. (The numbers of students and participating universities have since increased.) The programme is run by a Director and an Associate Director, each appointed for two years, assisted by a British administrator, all based in London.
The post of Director is much sought after for many reasons. The Californian students are too busy either enjoying themselves or studying, and getting acculturated, to need much attention. While it is by no means a sinecure, the duties are considerably less than those a UC professor would normally carry out, and no teaching is involved. The London location is very desirable, and regular visits are made each term to the various universities, providing a pleasant diversion and an opportunity to see more of Britain. In addition, one’s salary is tax free – a stay of more than seventeen months abroad exempts the taxpayer from paying US taxes. And finally, the tiresome chore of translating British numerical grade symbols into American letter symbols is done by the Associate Director.
I took over as the Director of EAP in the United Kingdom in July 1984. Bernard was able to take leave without pay, so as to join me. Neither he nor I had spent more than a few days at a time in Britain since 1955, so we were out of touch with the contemporary situation This two year period gave us an opportunity to get to know the country again: we travelled a lot, visiting the various EAP universities and on our own trips, both within Britain and to ‘the Continent’. What we saw, we liked, and we decided that we would settle in London when we retired a few years later. Had I not had that talk with Adil on the bus to the UCSB campus, none of this would have happened.
Bernard and DWB outside 1, Kennington Palace Court, 1990
We had contacted Kim Lister in London to make preliminary enquiries about accommodation in London, in case I was selected, and it turned out that Kim’s elder son Martin was moving to Hong Kong and giving up his South London flat. We had visited the flat, at 1 Kennington Palace Court, Kennington, and had liked it, so when Adil, who sat on the committee which appointed the EAP directors, told us ‘take it’, we did not hesitate to do so. The 1926 flat was near the original site of Kennington Palace, built in the fourteenth century for the Black Prince (Edward, Prince of Wales). The flat was still part of the estate of the Duchy of Cornwall, so Prince Charles, the current Prince of Wales, was our landlord. It was a solid threebedroomed ground floor flat, with mahogany floors, and was conveniently located, pleasant and commodious.
The EAP office was situated in what we considered to be an ideal location – the picturesque Strutton Ground, with its daily colourful street market, between Victoria and Westminster. Anne-Marie Shawe, the administrator, who had been in her post for several years, was invaluable in guiding me in my new job, explaining essential details about the co-operating universities, and, most importantly, helping me get to know our students. Because of her youth, her administrative position, her thorough knowledge of London and of British culture, and, especially, her open outgoing nature, Anne-Marie was able to keep a close, informed and sympathetic eye on all our students. The genial Associate Director, Ron Mellor, who had been in London for a year, was a good colleague and an excellent source of information. My two years with EAP in London proved to be the least demanding since my colonial cadet course at Oxford in 1950/51, and were among the most pleasant years of my career.
The first batch of students arrived in early September, bound for Stirling University, where term started earlier than at the other institutions. There were only about twelve students, so we were able to give them a special introduction, taking them by train to Hampton Court, where we toured the palace, which Henry VIII had taken over from Cardinal Wolsey in 1529. One student, an ardent tennis player, was clearly bored by the Tudor splendours, but brightened up when we showed him the oldest tennis court still in use in the world. After the tour we hired rowing boats to take us down the Thames for lunch. I had not forgotten how to row, and showed off, egged on by Bernard, leading our little flotilla to the riverside pub.
Anne Marie Shewe, Figueroa Mountain, California, 1987
We had a busy few weeks, meeting and welcoming the other students and arranging for them to go to their respective universities, which included Birmingham, Canterbury, East Anglia, Lancaster, Leeds and Sussex in England; Aberystwyth and Lampeter in Wales; St Andrews and Stirling in Scotland; and Trinity College, Dublin in Ireland. The travel arrangements were brilliantly organised by Anne-Marie.
Anne-Marie, Ron and I visited each participating university during the first term, meeting individually with our students, and checking to see if they needed any help with academic or personal problems. We also wanted to make sure that they were making the most of their new surroundings – which all of them seemed to be doing. Bernard accompanied us on our tours and he was helpful in interviewing science students, because of his extensive scientific background, which the rest of us lacked. Nearly all our students settled down well, enjoying their year abroad, although they did find it difficult to get used to several of the cultural differences. Hardly any of them smoked, whereas many British students did, and the pubs – the favourite meeting places – were, in the 1980s, vile-smelling places, particularly in the winter months. Binge drinking, ending in getting sick, was common, a habit our young people had grown out of. However, they adapted. During my two year tenure only three students dropped out, to return to California, either from homesickness or because of inability to adapt.
DWB rowing on the Thames, September 1984
8Extensive research on foreign students shows a near universal pattern – of initial enthusiasm for the new experience, followed by reservations and criticism of the cultural differences, ending however with a more balanced understanding and an acceptance of the culture. I had experienced this myself at Cambridge in 1947.
The International Director of EAP insisted that all centres arrange a Thanksgiving party for the students. This celebration occurs on the fourth Thursday of November, a time when winter was gloomily beginning, and many students were starting to feel homesick. We invited the students to come to London, and all, except those at the most distant locations, accepted. Anne-Marie had the brilliant idea of holding the party at the Middle Temple, one of the medieval Inns of Court in central London. The administrator of the Middle Temple was initially hesitant to allow a student party, but we persuaded him that our young people would be well-behaved. At the end of the evening he danced with the attractive American girls, and told us that British students would have been much rowdier – and that cleaning up after them would have been horrific. I was proud of our Californian students.
When I first taught in California in 1963 I was struck by the difference in students. Broadly, American students were ill-prepared compared to their British counterparts, but they caught up quickly. During my two years with EAP in Britain I saw few major academic differences between our Californian students (who admittedly came from the top ten per cent) and their British counterparts. Similarly, faculty members showed a familiar range of competence, temperament and congeniality.
EAP directors were expected to form academic links in their host countries, and were encouraged to participate in seminars, and to give talks. Our friends Isaac Schapera and Ioan Lewis, both professors of social anthropology at the London School of Economics, requested that I be given the status of ‘Academic Visitor’ there, which would give me library privileges. When this request was discussed at a faculty meeting, one faculty member – so I was told – objected, not on personal grounds, but because my main interests were in development, which was still regarded, in some academic circles, as being too practical for a university. The request was approved, but I was amazed to hear of the objection, indicating a very limited view of anthropology. I never encountered such open prejudice in the USA. Some British anthropologists, mainly but not entirely those of senior status and great renown, lost no opportunity of making scornful (though usually witty) remarks about Development Anthropology. Some of them are convinced that the proper emphasis in anthropology should be on ethnography, history, structuralism, Marxism, symbolism or post-modernism, and they imply, mistakenly I believe, that this excludes an interest in the practical contemporary world.
Bernard on one of our walks near Manchester, 1985 – the letters were in place already but we thought they suited us very well.
This was a period of rediscovery for Bernard and me. We visited Manchester, where Bernard had grown up, and my ancestral Cornwall, and also Caithness in Scotland, to see my niece Deirdre and my sister-in-law Margaret Thurso, and their families. We travelled mainly by train, though sometimes we rented a car. We walked a great deal, and on Sundays often took a bus or train to the outskirts of London, where we could walk along country lanes or, better still, canal paths, ending at a good pub for lunch. We went to as many cultural events as we could – art exhibitions, plays, concerts, opera.
When we returned to California in mid-1986, we sub-let the London flat, as Martin had decided to stay in Hong Kong, and when we finally moved to England in 1989 we bought it from him.
These were two pleasant and decisive years for us. They provided us with a thorough knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages of living in Britain; we got to know contemporary London, and became aware of what Britain had to offer. By the time we returned to California in July 1986 we had made up our minds to settle in Britain on our retirement – which proved to be a wise decision.