Al-Mulla R (2019) Stirrings in Africa - The Peter Mackay Archive. Annual Conference of the South African Society of Archivists 2019 'Archives and Records: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow - a Celebration of Diamond Jubilees', Johannesburg, 03.07.2019-04.07.2019. https://www.saarchivist.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/SASA_programme2019-20190620.pdf
Abstract The Peter Mackay Archive is a major new resource documenting the struggle for independence in a number of Southern African countries during the 1950s and onwards through the personal experiences of a committed political activist. Peter Mackay (1926-2013) was born into a Scottish family and served in the Scots Guards before emigrating to Southern Rhodesia in 1948 where he devoted himself first to journalism and then to the cause of African liberation.
In August 2018, we were approached by the Lost History Foundation in Malawi who were researching their documentary on the Mwanza War. Because of Mackay’s close friendship with former cabinet minister Yatuta Chisiza, we were able to provide previously unseen material which provided striking context for the conflict and presented a uniquely personal view of Chisiza who has since been lost in history. The Mwanza War Documentary is now completed but the work of the Lost History Foundation is far from done. In a recent article in The Nation, project lead Paliani Chinguwo states that the Foundation wants to “… [look] at aspects of Malawi history that were distorted, concealed and misrepresented… to repair that distortion”.
This archive can provide such a detailed behind-the-scenes view of this period in political history. Peter Mackay was not only thoroughly engaged in the struggle for freedom himself but was also a trusted friend of the key players who have gone down in history for their actions. His papers reflect this unrivalled access to the people committed to and omitted from history.
This paper will look at the opportunity our archive has to help to address the problem of distorted narratives in Malawian history and potentially also further afield. This paper will also address the challenge of disseminating such crucial knowledge beyond the University of Stirling, most importantly throughout Africa.