Professor Ray Beachey, 94, of Makerere University





Professor Ray Beachey, who died on July 10 aged 94, encouraged the hopes of a generation of East African leaders as head of History at Makerere University in Uganda during the 1950s and early 1960s.

A quiet believer in the benefits of the British Empire, he liked to refer to Makere as a crossroads of the world. His students included Benedicto Kiwanuka, Uganda's first prime minister; Yusuf Lule, the country's provisional president in 1979; and Mwai Kibaki, the current Kenyan president, all of whom had an avidity for learning that was not matched by Beachey's students in his native Canada. Among his colleagues were the writers VS Naipaul and Paul Theroux, who referred to Beachey as the "gentle Canadian" in his travelogue Dark Star Safari.

When Beachey left Uganda in 1968 he was adamant that the country was not ready for independence. Returning twice to Makerere in later years he saw how Idi Amin's distrust of learning had led to looting and the burning of books. He was badly shaken by the murder of Kiwanuka and by a meeting with a former African colleague who had been tortured by Milton Obote's forces and pleaded for the British to return....


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