My time volunteering

In 1962, I was flown from RAF Lyneham to Nairobi in a Comet 2 of RAF Transport Command, then by Fokker Friendship to Entebbe in Uganda. I was met there by British Council representatives and put aboard MV Victoria to Bukoba in NW Tanganyika. The final leg of the journey was by land rover to Muyenzi Camp for Rwandese refugees, 5 miles from the Burundi border.

There I was part of the camp administration, sometimes as camp commandant. I was also liaison officer with the 2nd Battalion Tanganyika Rifles by whom I was taken on border patrols checking on Rwandese refugees and members of the former Congolese Force Publique, all fleeing from the disorder expected by the imminent departure of the Belgians. For a while there was much confusion. 

After 12 months, at the end of my year's service, VSO flew me to Cape Town where I boarded Diplomat, a Harrison Line steamer bound for Liverpool docks in the UK. 

The impact of my placement

In conjunction with the Settlement Officer, John Grant, and Colonel Stockwell of the Tanganyika Rifles, I helped control ration supply, medical aid, transport for stranded people and onward transport by lorries of refugees to Bukoba to be far from the dangerous border area. 

My unforgettable moments

Orders from the Tanganyika government to bulldoze the empty huts of the refugees already transported to Bukoba. 

The impact my placement has had on me

My year with VSO generated a strong lifelong interest in East Africa, especially in Uganda. So much so that I chose to live and work in Uganda after graduating from Oxford University. I've been there for forty years and am still there, living with my wife Nassali Tamale on the banks of the Victoria Nile. I am still Deputy Headmaster at Namasagali College.

Muyenzi Refugee Camp, Tanganyika


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