OBITUARY: Richard Frost

Of the many contexts in which Richard Frost will be remembered, the most important may be his leadership from 1947 of the British Council in East Africa, particularly his endeavours in "race relations", a difficult field in which he demonstrated great resourcefulness, imagination and moral courage.

Frost's Second World War service as an intelligence officer with the Royal Air Force, his pre-war experience in historical research on the Times, and his time in the Commonwealth section of the Royal Institute of International Affairs equipped him to deal effectively with the challenges of post-war Kenya and the adjoining British territories. Arthur Creech Jones, Secretary of State for the Colonies, and Sir Philip Mitchell, a pre-eminent colonial governor of the period, were rightly agreed that questions of human relations between the white "settler" populations, the Asians from the Indian subcontinent and the majority African peoples were of supreme significance for the future of British East Africa.

The different origins and roles of the several "races" or communities in the political, economic and social life of the region made urgent the development of closer understanding between them after their direct involvement in the war, and at a time when the colonial world was expectant of early change. The expectations of each group varied but coherence and stability, and a common loyalty, were required for peaceful constitutional advance.

It is a measure of Frost's personal success that after seven years serving the whole of East Africa and his return to Britain, first to Cambridge, and then Oxford, he was invited back to Kenya in 1963-65 to be once more their own British Council Representative.

The nature and range of Frost's initiatives are portrayed in his book Race Against Time: human relations and politics in Kenya before independence (1978). It was characteristic of him that he submitted himself to the discipline of postgraduate study for a Doctor of Philosophy degree in the preparation of this valuable publication.

In a subsequent book, Enigmatic Proconsul: Sir Philip Mitchell and the twilight of empire (1992), based substantially on private papers, Frost sought to make known the achievements of Mitchell, whom he believed to have suffered unjust criticism over the advent of Mau Mau in Kenya. Certainly Mitchell's career was wide- ranging, not least during the war, when he established close rapport with American leaders - a fact commended by Frost, who himself, between the wars, had been a visiting Fellow at Harvard in 1928-29, an experience which facilitated his co-operation with US Air Force colleagues in 1939- 45. Frost, a fair-minded man, who knew at first hand the problems of real- life decision making, was a worthy champion of Mitchell.

Frost was born in 1905 and educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford. He was proud of the scholarly traditions of Westminster, and pleased to gain the Stanhope Prize at Oxford in 1927. His affection for Christ Church, cathedral as well as college, also persisted throughout his life. Besides writing an informative leaflet on Oxford he served in retirement as a voluntary guide to share the treasures of Christ Church with visitors. He was also a volunteer worker at Oxfam headquarters.

Dick Frost's regard for the individual was possibly his most important and endearing personal quality. It marked his work as an international commissioner of the Boy Scout movement with Baden-Powell, it is striking in his excellent red chalk drawings of some of his Royal Air Force comrades, now in the RAF Museum at Hendon, and it was a priceless attribute to the British Council. Africans of all political persuasions and interests responded to his direct, easy courtesy, and were grateful for his encouragement and help, as were Russian visitors who came to Oxford during the Cold War years. At his home, first in Appleton, then in north Oxford, he and his wife Tam, his partner in all endeavours, offered generous private as well as official hospitality.

Kenneth Kirkwood

Richard Aylmer Frost, public servant: born London 29 May 1905; married 1938 Alice ("Tam") Reichwald (two sons, two daughters); died Lugwardine, Herefordshire 5 March 1995.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

HR Manager - HR Generalist / Sole in HR

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - HR Generalis...

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Banking - People Change - Lond...

HR Manager - Milton Keynes - £50,000 + package

£48000 - £50000 per annum + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Shared...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home