I was sorry to read of the death of Basil Davidson. I was an avid reader of his articles on Africa and decolonisation in newspapers and magazines in my teenage years. As the obituary relates with a distinguished war record and considerable academic achievements including 27 books on Africa he lead an impressive life.
I was inspired by him when he came to give a talk at my school when I would have been 14 or 15. In a less international world it seemed amazing that this man who strode the world was in Herefordshire. He gave a fascinating talk particularly about Portuguese decolonisation and brought moden history to life. I have thought since that I wish had his talents. Reading his obituary he left school at 16 - life is what you make it!
Racial equality is the norm now but it wasn't by any means in my youth. I remember discussing Basil Davidson's visit with my father. Dad told me how unpopular he had found it in the 1960s supporting African independence at work or in the pub. Many of his friends cleaved allegiance to white settlers especially in Northern and Southern Rhodesia based purely on skin colour. He talked about the "sins of our fathers". In recent years with the increases in overseas aid, we are perhaps repaying some of the debts on which the wealth of Britain was based.
Decades later I am grateful that Basil Davidson gave up an afternoon to explain that in Africa, there wasn't a "white man's burden", but rather as his book title puts it so well a Black Man's Burden that was the legacy of colonisation.