I would like, first of all, to express my profound sympathy to Mrs. Ida Brown and the children of my former mentor, Professor William O. Brown. Also to the Center and this our University for the loss of its founder Director of the African Studies Program and pioneer scholar in the field of African studies. I feel very honoured indeed that I have been invited to give this memorial lecture.
I first met Professor William Brown in September, 1951 when, as part of a tour of European centres of learning with programmes on Africa, he came to the Department of Social Anthropology at Edinburgh University. As the Professor and the lecturer in the Department were both away, it fell to me to show him round the Department and talk about our work; but, as I had only just been appointed to the Department, we spoke more about Africa than about the Department's programme.
This acquaintance was deepened into a lasting friendship when, in the Spring of 1953, I had the privilege of entertaining him as my house guest when he visited Sierra Leone. In the evenings we spent together in Freetown, I got to know Bill Brown; I got to know him as a man dedicated to and genuinely interested in the advancement of Africa. His was not merely an antiquarian interest; nor was he only interested in the kinship structures and anthropological tidbits of the African societies. He saw the Africans as personalities, as human beings, pursuing the same goal as others, and wanting for themselves the same rewards out of life. Those were the colonial days but, even in those days, Bill Brown was already deeply interested in the development of the African countries into viable nation states. It is not surprising, therefore, that this Center, under his leadership as its first Director, did not develop any narrow parochial interest, but studied Africa from a broader dimension, giving equal importance to historical, economic, political, as well as sociological factors in the development of Africa from traditionalism to modernity.