A view of the library at Kamuzu Academy, which was modeled on the Library of Congress. via

I was still in the sixth form when I first heard of Kamuzu Academy. My Greek teacher had read about a school in the African bush where pupils in boaters and Eton collars sweated over Homer and Virgil in the glare of the tropical sun. The school, he told us, was the obsession of Malawi’s dictator, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda. Banda wanted his country’s most gifted children to learn Latin and Greek as a preparation for political leadership. Equipped with the lessons and ideals of antiquity, they would one day govern with wisdom and moderation. Plato’s ideal Republic would be reborn in central Africa.

The idea appealed to me, but I did not think...


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