African Casualties (Dependants)

Oral Answers to Questions — Nyasaland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th April 1959.

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Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow 12:00 am, 9th April 1959

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many dependants were left by the 46 Africans killed by security forces in Nyasaland.

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

Under the matrilineal system generally obtaining in Nyasaland the identification of persons claiming under African law and custom some dependence on a deceased person would involve extensive and detailed inquiries in each case. Such inquiries are beyond the capacity of the limited staff available. But I am asking the Governor whether it would be possible to state the number of widows and children, and I will write to the hon. Member when I have his reply.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that reply. Will he use what influence he has to ensure that any widows or children who are left receive something in the way of compensation by widows' allowances or children's allowances and thus make a contribution to bringing about an easement of the tension which exists in the territory at present?

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

I share the hon. Member's desire to bring about in every Possible way an easement of the tension. As he knows, it is generally accepted practice that the care of widows and children is traditionally a family and tribal responsibility, but I am asking the Governor how far he is able to check that this responsibility is being carried out and to let me know his findings.