Mackenzie, Kenneth

Reference code(s): GB 0237 Edinburgh University Library Gen. 1871
Held at: Edinburgh University New College Library
Title: Mackenzie, Kenneth
Date(s) of contents: 1943-1971
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: 52 boxes, 13 folders, 5 volumes and 1 envelope (8 linear meters)


Name of creator(s): Mackenzie, Kenneth (1920-1971)

Administrative/Biographical history: Kenneth Mackenzie, Church of Scotland missionary and spokesman for Africa, was born in 1920 in Strathpeffer, Ross-shire. He attended Dingwall Academy (1932-1937) and then Aberdeen University (M.A. 1940). On graduation he studied theology at the Free Church College, Edinburgh then, in 1942, transferred to New College until 1944. In 1945 he was ordained for missionary service and was posted to the Blantyre mission, Nyasaland. He served at Mlanje then Zomba but in 1948 was transferred to Northern Rhodesia where he was based at Lubwa. Mackenzie returned to Scotland in 1950 spending two years in the Church of Scotland's Foreign Mission offices, then went back to Northern Rhodesia where he worked at Chitambo. While in Africa he travelled great distances often to remote areas and acquired a thorough understanding of African cultures and an affection for the Africans that he met. He played a prominent role in the transference of mission schools to the government and in the discussions leading to church union. Mackenzie also began during this period to work for firmer safeguards for African interests and to bring the potential effects of political and social changes in Africa to the attention of the church and people in Scotland. His work on the Northern Rhodesian Christian Council, for example, was concerned with raising an awareness of the need for urgent action on the proposals for a Central African Federation. Mackenzie had married Margaret Torrance in 1944 and his wife's ill health forced them to return to Scotland in 1956. He joined the staff of St Colm's College, Edinburgh as missions tutor in 1957 then, in 1968, he became minister of Restalrig Parish Church. He continued, however, to campaign for the rights of Africans and to raise awareness about the situation in Africa and its history and culture. He played a major role in organising opposition to the Central African Federation through the Scottish Council on African Questions. His detailed knowledge and first hand experience of Africa meant that he was frequently consulted, he was secretary of the General Assembly's Committee on Central Africa and served on the Church and Nation Committee. He was also one of the founders of an active anti-apartheid movement in Scotland and developed close friendships with many African leaders including Kenneth Kaunda. Throughout his life Mackenzie tried to ensure that he was as informed as possible about the situation in Africa and collected a large amount of information, press cuttings and pamphlets as well as generating correspondence, press interviews, articles and broadcasts himself. Amidst his concern about humanitarian and political issues he did not lose his sense of the importance of theological concerns as his work in the parish of Restalrig demonstrated. Mackenzie died in Edinburgh on 17 February 1971 aged just fifty.

Custodial history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Presented to the University of Edinburgh by Mrs Margaret Mackenzie in 1971.


Scope and content/abstract: The papers consist of material relating to Africa collected by Mackenzie during his life. The majority of this dates from after Mackenzie returned to Scotland. It includes press cuttings, pamphlets, articles, minutes of meetings, circulars, addresses and other printed items as well as some correspondence. The material relates to Central Africa (1958-1964), Rhodesia (c 1965-1970), South Africa, and other African countries and their relationships with Europe; to bodies such as the Scottish Council for African Questions, the African Student Christian Seminar, the United Nations, the International Labour Office, the Church and Nation Committee, the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, the anti-apartheid movement, and the church; to issues such as apartheid and race relations, arms for Africa, and African independence; to literature on Africa; and to government policy including copies of Hansard and Colonial Office papers. The collection also includes printed books including the New Testament and grammars in Nyanja (or Chinyanja or the Mang'anja language) and Chibemba and biographical and pictorial material on Mackenzie.

System of arrangement: The material is arranged in files grouped by subject, the arrangement seems to reflect the way that Mackenzie stored the papers.


Language: English , Nyanja and Chibemba.

Conditions governing access: Contact the repository for details.

Conditions governing reproduction: Contact the repository for details.

Finding aids: Alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives. The collection is mentioned in the Edinburgh University Library subject checklist (C3) Manuscripts on Africa. Handlist H64 gives details of the contents of each box.



Archivist's note: Compiled by Caroline Brown, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives.

Note: The biographical history was compiled using the following material: (1) biographical material in the collection (Gen. 1871 64-65). (2) Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology N.M. de S. Cameron (ed.) (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1993).

Date(s) of descriptions: 7 July 2000

Anti-apartheid movements
Bemba language
Central African Federation
Nyanja language
Politics and government
Social Conditions

Personal names
Mackenzie | Kenneth | 1920-1971

Corporate names
Church and Nation Committee
Church of Scotland | General Assembly | Committee on African Questions
Scottish Council on African Questions

South Africa
Southern Rhodesia