Crowdfund bid aims to digitise Scot’s freedom fighter archive
IT IS a tale of foreign adventure and political turmoil with enough drama to fill an action serial.
But the true tale of the Scot who fought to free the African people could remain buried in boxes without a swift cash injection.
Stirling University needs more than £4,000 in less than a month to digitise the Peter Mackay Archive, a wealth of photos and documents chronicling the birth of a number of southern African countries in the mid-20th century.
In the first initiative of its kind at the university, researchers launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the money it needs to make the internationally-important archive available to the world.
It has already received over £1,600 in pledges and Heritage Lottery Fund has agreed to provide a quarter of the funding provided it meets its target by January 24.
Mackay was born in 1926 to Scottish family with links to Doune, near Stirling, and went on to become a key figure in the independence movements of Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and Nyasaland, which is now called Malawi.
He initially served in the Scots Guards before emigrating to Southern Rhodesia in 1948, where he devoted himself to the cause of African liberation.
Natalie Sweeney, regular giving officer at University of Stirling, said: “We have Peter’s entire legacy lying here in the heart of Stirling University.
“A big part of this campaign is to make all of this information available to researchers worldwide – particularly in Africa itself. We still don’t know exactly what we have yet because there is still so much of it to go through.
“We have got newspaper articles and lots of photos – he was a great photographer – alongside a detailed account of his whole life because he was a writer and a journalist.
“Everything he did on his travels he noted down, and we need to go through the archives and extract all of the information.
“We’ve only scanned the top layer for this campaign just to give people a taster,” she said.
Following his death in 2013, Mackay’s nephew Rupert Connell transported his papers in 28 large crates, trunks and filing cabinets from Zimbabwe to the University of Stirling.
Natalie added: “This is the first crowdfunding project that we have ever done at that University of Stirling.
“We were looking for a pilot, this project came up from the archives and it was just perfect.”