by Hugh Macmillan for the The Society of Malawi Journal, 71, 1, 2018, pp.46-53
Landeg Ernest White, who died after a short illness at his home at Mafra, near Sintra, Portugal, on 3 December 2017, spent less than three years in Malawi between his arrival in August 1969 to teach at the new university and his deportation from the country in May 1972. It is safe to say, however, that this period was decisive for him, both personally and intellectually, and that he had an infinitely greater impact on the country than most short-term expatriates.
Landeg White was born at Taff’s Well, near Cardiff, Wales, on 20 June 1940, the day of the fall of France. He was the son of the Reverend Reginald White (1914-2003), known professionally as R.E.O. White, a Baptist minister who eventually became principal of the Scottish Baptist College. His father was a prolific author who is well known in the USA for his popular religious texts. Landeg’s mother, Gwyneth Landeg (1914-2016), was a Welsh-speaker from a coal-mining and trade union background whose father had won a gold medal for singing at the Eisteddfod. She had worked in a Dr Barnardo’s Home in London, helping to receive Jewish child refugees before the outbreak of the Second World War. Landeg’s unusual first name was his mother’s maiden name and his younger sister’s name, Glenda, was an anagram of it. The family moved around with his father’s work and Landeg attended schools on the Wirral in Cheshire, Rutherglen Academy in Scotland, and the Birkenhead Institute. He went on to do two degrees in English Literature at Liverpool University – writing a book-length MA dissertation on the hymns of Isaac Watts. He went on to take a post as a lecturer in English literature at the Trinidad campus of the University of the West Indies in 1964.