In 1965 Burris Devanney and his wife Louanne went to work in Africa on Canada’s new development assistance program. They were on-site witnesses of critical events in Africa’s turbulent history: Rhodesia’s UDI, Nigeria’s first two coups, Biafra’s secession, Gambia’s 1994 coup and Sierra Leone’s post-war recovery.
Burris taught in Nigeria at Government College; helped administer Gambia’s first technical institute; developed and managed Gambia’s first university program; founded and managed an NGO in Gambia and Sierra Leone, where an innovative nation-wide program for HIV/AIDS prevention was developed; worked as a UNESCO consultant in Malawi and with the CTF’s educational partnership program in Ghana.
He is the recipient of several prestigious awards for international development work, including the Order of The Gambia and an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Saint Mary’s University. He also holds degrees from Dalhousie and the University of Ottawa and was a wellknown high school teacher and principal in Halifax.
The Devanneys live in Halifax, Nova Scotia. They have two children and one grandchild.
Books by Burris
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African Chronicles, a stimulating, challenging two-volume memoir of one of the most turbulent periods in African history in the 1960s: v.1 Rhodesia - Zimbabwe and v.2 Nigeria- Biafra by Burris Devanney.
In 1965 newlyweds Burris & Louanne Devanney travel to an Africa of bright prospects on Canada’s new international assistance program. Their first posting is to a remote 40 year old mission station in rural Rhodesia, where they encounter the tragic absurdities of “petty apartheid”. Their second posting is to a famous secondary school in Eastern Nigeria, which is on the brink of secession and civil war. Thus begins their life-long passion for development work and for Africa. Theirs is a traveller’s tale of uncertain journeys, challenging missions, durable friendships and deadly conflicts – a montage of compelling stories chronicling the courage, resilience, tragedy and humour that distinguish the lives of individuals and of countries on the edge. Emerging from the narrative are singular perspectives on African history and the “Great Game of Development.”
The front cover is an original painting by artist J.E (Jacqui) Mitchell.
Two reviews are listed below, but many more are listed at www.africanchronicles.net
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After their early experiences in Africa detailed in this memoir, Burris and Louanne Devanney were responsible for establishing and managing one of the more successful NGOs in The Gambia, including the formation of as university program in that country (with Saint Mary's University in Halifax, NS). They also expanded educational opportunities for public education, health ( e.g., AIDS, malaria) and other training opportunities, such as police and government services. In all, close to 1000 high school and university students, health workers, educators and police from Nova Scotia went to The Gambia to help build that country. For his work, Devanney was awarded the Order of The Gambia (officer status) as well as an honourary doctorate from SMU.
African Chronicles is a gripping story of adventure and discovery – and a well-researched must-read for anyone who wants to understand why Africa is still held in the doldrums of poverty years after colonialism has ended. – Julius H. E. Uzoaba, Ph.D. (Edinburg), Ottawa, Canada
A proverbial “page-turner” . . . We are treated to the inside story of young Canadian innocents who carefully chronicled kindness and cruelty, luck and learning, impertinence and fear, as they mapped their first steps on a lifetime relationship with Africa. . . . Just a mighty good read! – Barbara MacDonald Moore, Director, International Programs, Canadian Teachers’ Federation, Ottawa, Canada.