19 JUNE 1953, Page 17


The Way of Michael Scott

SIR,—If I write frankly in criticism of Michael Scott, it is because I believe that he is a man with a capacity to do good in Africa, but that he has chosen methods which can only produce great evils. I do not in the first place believe that the weapons which he is wielding are Christian weapons, or that his use of them will further the cause of Christianity. Yet Africa without Christianity has no hope of casting off the chains of fear and backwardness which cramp its progress today, I cannot see how the doctrine of political non-co-operation or passive resistance can be reconciled with the teachings of Christ. A few weeks ago, Michael Scott was arrested in Portuguese East Africa in company with the Nyasa Chief, Gomani of Ncheu, who had been " deported ", by the Government for leading a movement for the non-payment of taxes. In similar circumstances when the Pharisees tried to -implicate Our Lord with the authorities by showing Him the Roman coin and asking whether it was right to pay tribute He, perceiving their wickedness answered, " Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto- God the things that are God's." Here was a point-blank refusal to use the weapon of political agitation for the furtherance of ,the Gospel's cause. This surely has some significance even toclay,k I can find no justification in the %,1edw TesiqMent for identifying organised Christian effort with pcilitical fyiloraaIism. Indeed, it was Christ's resolute determination to prevent His ministry from being exploited by the Hebrew nationalist leaders which led to His ultimate rejection by the Jews. Yet Michael Scott has identified himself with nationalist movements in Central Africa which so far from seeking to achieve racial partnership and harmony aspire to bring about the domination of the white community by the black. He surely iealises that as an ordained minister of a Christian church, he speaks not merely as an independent individual, or as a secular politician, but that he carries with him an additional authority of which he cannot divest himself even if he wishes to do so. In the eyes of thousands of Africans, for, whom the Christian missions in Africa are a vital influence as great or greater than the Government, Michael Scott is an interpreter of the Christian point of view, as well as an ally for their other aspirations. He has a moral obligation not to prostitute his office for political ends. He must ensure that his words and actions do not mislead the African Christians or retard the progress which the long years of devoted work by Christian missionaries in the field have already achieved. in spite of its economic and political backwardness, race relations in Nyasaland were, until very recently, far happier than in most other Colonial territories. In particular, confidence between the Chiefs and people on the one hand and the Administration on the other, was well established. The controversy over Federation had not destroyed this confidence which would have stood both races in good stead during the early years of the Federation experiment. Now Michael Scott's campaign of passive resistance has gravely undermined it. It is the Africans, not the Europeans, who will suffer as a result. Central African Federation is an attempt to provide an answer for the problems of a plural society which will avoid both permanent domination by a white minority after the pattern of apartheid, or the tyranny of a black majority which could only 'end in liquidation of the resident British communities. 1f this experiment is to succeed, co-operation between the races is vital. The policy of non-co-operation by the African justifies similar action by the European. There are no doubt certain elements in Central Africa only too anxious to exploit a cam- paign of African non-co-operation as a means of strengthening the European barriers against a great mass of their African fellow-citizens. Michael Scott's policy is therefore playing into the hands of those who stand for intolerance and race hatred. He is in fact the best ally they have. If, in spite of all the efforts of moderate and liberal- minded people here and in Africa to provide through Central African Federation an answer to the exponents of race domination, the experiment was to fail—if the sinister pattern of race relations, which has emerged in the Union, is reproduced in Central Africa—Michael Scott and those who support him in the United Kingdom will bear a major responsibility for the calamity which this will entail.—Yours