Emmanuel Evans-Anfom – ‘To the Thirsty Land: Autobiography of a Patriot’

Emmanuel Evans-Anfom, To the Thirsty Land: Autobiography of a Patriot (Achimota, 2003), pp.98-104.

Physician and professor Emmanuel Evans-Anfom was one of a number of Ghanaian students who arrived in Edinburgh after wartime travel bans were lifted in 1942. He went on to captain the university hockey team between 1944 and 1946 (and was succeeded by another Ghanaian, JM Kwarshie Quartey). Evans-Anfom was also president for the Student Christian Movement in 1946. He was named Edinburgh alumni of the year in 1996 for “his major contribution to the development of medicine in the Congo and to medical education in Ghana”.

To meet us on the platform was Mr Theodore Clerk, the first Gold Coaster to qualify as an architect. He had just completed his course in Architecture and was doing a post-graduate course for the Diploma in Town Planning. Theodore took us to the Colonial Students’ Hostel at 36 Hope Terrace. This was a three storey building with basement rooms. This was where we were to stay temporarily whilst we looked for lodgings and whilst awaiting the opening of the new academic year of the Medical School.

Apart from the residential accommodation at the hostel, there were a small restaurant, dining-room and sporting facilities like a billiards room, a library, and a reading room with newspapers. It was really a place where even non-resident colonial students, that is students from different countries in the British Empire as it was then, could come for relaxation and even highly subsidised meals […] It was an opportunity to meet students from other parts of the British Empire: from West Africa, Nigerians, Sierra Leonians, Gambians, and, of course, students from the Caribbean. There were also some Indian students […]

I was particularly interested in meeting students from the Caribbean. In those days one referred to these students as West Indians but, as we know, the Caribbean is made up of many islands and countries. For example, there were the Gordons from Trinidad [the children of Clara and Edgar Gordon], Davies from the Bahamas, Parnell from Jamaica, Andrews from Bermuda, and so on. It was a good opportunity for West Indian students also to meet students from West Africa. One had the impression that these West Indian exhibited airs of superiority but when they came into contact with students from West Africa they found we were all educated and in some cases better than themselves. Then of course, there students from India, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and other far Eastern countries. The interaction with these people helped to broaden one’s mind. I think it was good for them also to know about us and about the conditions in West Africa […]

Then there was the African Association with membership comprising students from all African Countries, mostly West Africa, that is, Nigerians, Gold Coasters, Sierra Leonians and one or two from the Gambia, which met once a month to discuss issues concerning Africa in general and, as I recall, looking ahead to the time when our countries would become independent from colonial rule and the contributions we would make.