Monday, 23 August 2021

Capoeira 1

It was in February of the year 1992 that I embarked on my first foreign trip by myself. Travelling from Lagos, Nigeria, I flew to Rio de Janeiro on Varig, the Brazilian airline that at the time maintained the air bridge between South America and and the African continent. 

The flight was full, with lots of Igbo traders from Nigeria travelling to Brazil to purchase merchandise (most of them travelling onward from Rio to the commercial capital Sao Paolo). There was also a whole troupe of Orisha practitioners in full traditional regalia, which highlighted to me the deep connections between Nigeria and Brazil. 'Orisha' is a traditional religion of the Yoruba people, while 'Candomblé' and 'Santeria' are versions of the same religion practiced by Afro-Brazilians with Yoruba ancestry. The two sides have maintained links across the Atlantic, I had heard visits between them were common. The Yoruba sea goddess 'Yemoja' is known as 'Yemanja' or 'Iemanja' in Brazil. There were several others too on this flight who seemed like tourists or diplomats or whatever. 

This was the first time I was travelling abroad alone, but there were other firsts. It was the first time I was to cross the Atlantic ocean; the first time I would visit a country where they spoke a language I did not know, the first time I was to see with my own eyes the delights of Rio de Janeiro that the Brazilian tourism promotion programme - 'Fantástico - O Show da Vida' had bombarded us with through our TV screens for years. It was the first time that I would visit a country where I knew no one. It was an adventure, I was excited, even as I anticipated the challenges that all those firsts would present. There might have been some nervousness too, but I was curious and adventurous. I might have even desired the challenge. 

As it turned out this visit to Rio de Janeiro was to become among the most enjoyable, most exciting and most frenetic two-weeks of my life. An 'unforgettable experience' in every sense of that much used term. That I am writing about it now nearly three decades later is a testament to this. 

My trip coincided with the preparations for the annual Rio Carnival, or 'Carnaval', which was set to commence on the week of my departure from Rio. No this seeming coincidence was not intentional, it was a genuine coincidence. But it was auspicious. It made for a vibrance in the city that was constant, all day and all night throughout my stay there, one that defines my entire memory of this brief visit to Rio and made it an extremely pleasurable experience.

During the day there was the sightseeing and the wandering around town, the shopping for souvenirs, the sampling of street food; getting mistaken for an American by the very friendly Brazilian people because I spoke English; enjoying the looks of surprise when they learnt that I am in fact Nigerian; having them practice on me what little English they had, as they tried to impress me by showing me how much they knew about the Nigerian national football team.

Getting myself lost in the city afterwards and in the process seeing places I would not otherwise have seen; entering the less well-trodden parts of town, parts certainly not visited by tourists - yes, I entered a favela and I fit right in, feeling very brave, even as my credentials as a Lagosian came to bear.

Then finding my way back by public transport to the rented apartment that I was sharing with two others in an apartment block on the Avenida Copacabana beachfront; flatmates who were Nigeria Airways pilots and who were in Brazil for their flight simulator training. My flatmates would attend for their flight simulator training at night so I was always alone in the apartment at night time. During the day as my flatmates slept, I was out in town. So essentially this whole adventure was one that I undertook and experienced alone and all by myself. That is until Mateo came along.

There were samba groups out on the streets at night, the various samba schools practicing their samba routines for 'Carnaval', especially on the Avenida Copacabana (where my apartment was) and Praia de Copacabana, (Copacabana Beach), which together with Praia de Ipanema and the adjoining streets and boulevards was where everything happened, or so it seemed to me.

In the evening the usually busy avenue in front of my apartment building would be closed to traffic then shortly fill up again with people, many of them in carnival costumes. The loud music and the singing and dancing on the street would begin and on the beach across the road, the beach volleyball that was played all day never really stops. It was astonishing to see people still playing volleyball at 3am. 

Observing all this from the apartment's balcony on the sixth floor in the middle of the night, the sights and sounds were overpowering. I was drawn down from the apartment to street level again and again each night as if on auto pilot. The street and beach were floodlit, the atmosphere was electric, it was impossible to not join in with the crowd on the street while spontaneously swaying to the heady Brazilian samba rhythm, even as I wondered what the actual carnival itself would feel like seeing as this was just a practice session. It was amazing. 

A couple of nights into my visit as I joined the crowd again capoeristas appeared before me. I was mesmerised. I was seeing capoeira, this uniquely Brazilian phenomenon for the first time. I had never before even heard of it. One particular capoerista caught my attention, his charcoal skin glistening in the night light as he twisted, vaulted, kicked and cavorted, gracefully, effortlessly in an expert demonstration of capoeira. I must have been transfixed like a rabbit caught in headlights, because he, the capoerista, could not but notice that someone was staring intently at him. Until his display ended. 

To cut a long story short Mateo acknowledged me and in that friendly Brazilian way came forward and greeted me, saying words to me that I assumed was him saying hello and introducing himself to me. But in Portuguese. Responding warmly, I asked in English "what's your name?". Of course he did not understand and I too had not understood a word he had said at first.

In the Portuguese language 'What's your name'  is 'qual o seu nome', so after repeating my question a few times in English, he recognised the name/nome similarity in the two languages, understood what I meant and responded, "aah, nome", and with that huge Brazilian smile replied "meu nome é Mateo". I told him my name and painstakingly showed him how to pronounce it, something I have often had to do throughout my life. 

This was how I met Mateo. I wanted so much to tell him that I thought he was magnificent and that he was the best among the capoeristas in the group; that I myself wanted to know more about capoeira and that I wanted him to be the one to teach me. We both knew that in this brand new friendship smooth conversation would be difficult. But it didn't seem to matter and didnt deter us. 

Communication was achieved, even if less smoothly than it otherwise might have been. It was not seamless but it was easy, because we both wanted it, worked at it and shared the will and desire to achieve it. It came naturally.

Oh, I have more to tell, but I shall do so on another day. 

Adeus por agora. (Bye for now) 

Saturday, 1 September 2012


Hers is in the only name that I still remember of all the dozens of nurses who cared for me, looked after me and nursed me all those years ago when I was gravely ill and in hospital. And hers is a name that I will not forget, not ever.

For Miwako, I would likely have been just another one of the many patients that she had the job of caring for, but for me she wasn't just another nurse, she was different, special, unique. She was my Japanese angel, the one who lit up the room each morning when she entered to wake me, clean me up, change the sheets, tidy up, serve my breakfast and feed me, while soothing and encouraging me at the same time with her soft, sweet voice, her calm, warm demeanour. 

Then she would prepare me for the day's interminable prodding and probing by the hordes of doctors, consultants, specialists  many of whom would end up sticking one tube or other into almost every available orifice in my by then withered and very ill body. Before the annoying phlebotomists who would routinely turn up with enormous needles to prick my arms and burrow into my emaciated flesh in their daily quest for blood samples, an act in which they persisted until my veins almost totally collapsed in protest. The word 'miserable' does not sufficiently describe how I felt during this very grim episode in my life, a trying time, an episode that lasted for months. 

But through all of this, there was Miwako. She was by no means the only nurse who worked on this hospital ward and the nurses worked in shifts too. So there were long periods when she was not there on the ward with me; periods when I longed dearly to see her and have her by my bedside, handling me gently as was her way. Even on the mornings when she arrived on the ward (she seemed only to work the day shift, for I have no recollection of having her around during those long, lonely, awful nights), she would enter my room in the midst of a group of nurses with whom she was meant to work together as a team. But even when she was with her colleagues Miwako stood out. She was radiant and she shone. On seeing her, my hitherto crestfallen spirit would lift in an instant. It would seem to me that it was just Miwako and me in the room, as if none of the other nurses even mattered. 

Then Miwako would smile at me and in my mind, which obviously was by then quite delirious through illness, I would have extraordinary visions of strolling through the park hand in hand with a fragrant Miwako, singing sweet songs to her, telling her how good she had been to me. Before I would be rudely brought down to earth and back to the reality on the ward, when I was abruptly shuffled from one end of the bed to the other by the nurses in their bid to change the sheets. But thankfully Miwako would still be there in the room with me, fussing about, tending to my every need. By her just being there, strangely, I would feel reassured that I was going to get better, that I would get over this terrible illness and that everything would be alright in the end. 

Everything did turn out alright in the end, thanks to the expertise of the doctors in whose care I was and thanks to the excellent nursing care that I received. Ten years on, I do not remember the names of any of the doctors, save for the consultant with whom I was required to maintain follow-up sessions after my discharge. I suppose it is a testament to how much of a good nurse Miwako is (or was to me) that I still remember her and still do think of her as often as I do.

I have been back to the ward recently to express my gratitude to the nurses, but the staff were almost all new faces. I would have loved very much for Miwako to know just how much the kindness she showed meant to me and how much it contributed to my recovery. I don't know if she'll ever get to read this, or even if she will remember me at all. All the same, to all those Miwakos out there who touch people's lives in a special way, thank you.  

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Monday, 31 October 2011

Le cygne (The Swan): Camille Saint-Saens

I couldn't think of a better way to end the month. I adore Saint-Saens' music, being as influenced as he was by two of my favourite composers, Sebastian Bach and Amadeus Mozart. Saint-Saens famously wrote,
"What gives Sebastian Bach and Mozart a place apart is that these two great expressive composers never sacrificed form to expression. As high as their expression may soar, their musical form remains supreme and all-sufficient".
Camille Saint-Saens (9 October 1835 – 16 December 1921), was a French late-Romantic composer and he is known especially for his 'Carnival of the Animals', a musical suite of fourteen movements, most of which relate to various members of the animal kingdom, from the Lion and the Tortoise, to birds, (Aviary) and fish, (Aquarium). Le cygne (or The Swan in English) is the 13th movement and is the most famous movement of the suite. Enjoy..

Monday, 27 December 2010

Lean tidings at Christmastime..

The forecasts are for weak disposable income growth in this country for the coming year and possibly beyond. The true effects of fiscal tightening are expected to become more apparent going forward. But for me its as if my disposable income has been in the grip of decline for several months already as I find that I'm just not able to do the sorts of things that I used to do before.

About a week before Christmas I caught myself carefully examining every single detail appearing on the receipt the checkout lady at the supermarket handed to me. I mean this is something that under normal circumstances I would scowl and swear under my breath if the person before me in the checkout queue was standing there wasting everyone's time by closely inspecting their receipt. After all, the items they'd just placed in their shopping bags were items that they'd picked themselves from the shelves. But on this day I saw that I'd spent at least one-third more than I thought the shopping should cost and I thought perhaps there might be some mistake or something. But no, there was no mistake at all. It seems that all that talk on the news about rising prices of food and other household products is true after all.

Ah yes, Christmas.. that time of year again. Alarming as this may seem to some, I have spent nearly every Christmas over the last two decades alone. Well, its not because I want to be alone, its usually been because everyone I know always has somewhere else they want to be (or have to be) at Christmas. Sometimes, one or other of my siblings is feeling rich enough to make the long trip to London to spend Christmas and that has been lovely when it has happened. For some odd reason though, I on my part am reluctant to impose myself on others at Christmastime, when you know that what people really want to do is to be with their husband or wife and their children. Of course I've been invited several times to different people's homes, but having consistently been politely declined in the past, those invites have become less and less frequent.

So for me Christmas has evolved into ME time, a time when I can selfishly, shamelessly and mindlessly indulge myself prodigiously in vices of all hues, ranging from chocolate to pornography; a time when I can treat myself to an expensive item (or two); a time for toying with the idea of whether I should splash out on the TAG Heuer or the Longines and maybe fantasise about that Patek Philippe I've been ogling for months. And then of course the wardrobe is due for its yearly update and characteristically I would tease myself by flirting with the idea of purchasing a couple of bespoke suits from an insanely expensive gentleman's outfitters, knowing full well that this is way beyond my means. Eventually I would settle for some middle of the road off-the-rack suit or two from a reasonably respectable men's clothing store.

This was just to give you an idea of what Christmas and the prelude to it have been like in the past, at least until the Christmas of 2009. Christmas 2010, however, has been decidedly different. Which brings us back at where this post started, the hike in the cost of living. I mean this year has shot past and I've found myself so busy with seeing to the day-to-day that by the middle of December, I was wishing it was possible to have the Christmas postponed for another couple of weeks, as I was simply not in the position that I'm accustomed to being when this time of year comes around. 

Christmas has now come and gone and like most people I have celebrated it in the best way that I was able to. No, I did not acquire any luxury items for myself (for obvious reasons) but I did receive a few gifts from others, notably, a gaudy ornamental mug and a fruit bowl. In keeping with the low key, I too handed out numerous greeting cards, a couple of cosmetics gift packs and some handkerchiefs. Somewhat embarrassing 
really, but nothing compared to what is portended for the lean times ahead. Today I took the car out for a good shine and polish since for the time being and indeed for the foreseeable future, a car upgrade is completely ruled out.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Zimbabwe's blood diamonds

Zimbabwe is supposedly enjoying political stability under the coalition government formed in 2008. However, according to the UK's Channel 4's Unreported World programme, which Channel 4 describes as a "critically acclaimed foreign affairs series offering an insight into the lives of people in some of the most neglected parts of the planet", the reports from Zimbabwe are of a country still "gripped by terror and violence."

Reporter Ramita Navai and Alex Nott filmed undercover to investigate claims that gems from one of the world's biggest diamond fields are being used by Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF party to entrench their hold on power by buying the military's loyalty. (Navai is the same reporter whose story on the escalating violence in South Sudan I wrote about on this blog in November of last year). The current reports from Zimbabwe are against the backdrop of human rights abuses, which victims say are being perpetrated by the military and the police.

Filming covertly and secretly, (footage that was broadcast during the programme Friday evening), the team discovered a climate of fear reminiscent of the pre-coalition Mugabe years. Almost everyone Navai and Nott met was too terrified to talk about the diamond fields, including several members of the MDC party, which forms part of the coalition government. We see some people speak out, albeit at great personal risk. They detail stories of beatings, killings and rape connected to the diamond area. There were suggestions that powerful individuals within the government oversee and control these activities.

A military insider told the Unreported World team about how different Zimbabwean Army units are allowed to rotate through the fields to make profits from the diamonds in exchange for loyalty to president Mugabe. The serving officer claimed that syndicates of civilians are used by soldiers to mine illegally and they then sell the gems to middlemen. (In June last year, Human Rights Watch reporting on the same issue wrote about forced labour, torture and military massacres in the Marange district in Eastern Zimbabwe where the diamond fields are located. Click here for the HRW report).

The team followed the diamond trail, showing how smugglers move precious stones from the Marange fields across the border to the boom-town of Manica in neighbouring Mozambique. Filming secretly, they showed how the stones are purchased no questions asked, by Arabic speaking buyers who claim to be Lebanese. We are then informed that Manica, once a sleepy rural Mozambique village, is now buzzing with diamond buyers from around the world chasing after the flush of Marange diamonds from across the border. Its impossible to track the diamonds once they have been purchased from the smugglers, usually for meagre sums. From Manica the diamonds are absorbed into the international market and sold in upmarket and high street stores across the world.

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) a UN-backed industry watchdog has been tasked with ending the sale of conflict diamonds. Its function is to ensure that diamonds are not used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments. It is thought however that this definition is narrow and doubts have been expressed as to the effectiveness of the KPCS, as in this BBC report of June this year. For sure, the KPCS has not prevented the reported widespread looting and human rights abuses connected to Marange and there is the suggestion that it has failed to deal with the unfolding crisis.

Next month in Tel Aviv, Israel, the members of the KPCS meet for their annual summit to decide what to do next. The State of Israel is the current Chair. The Unreported World reporters indicated that at the time of filming, there were fears that the situation in Zimbabwe could precipitate the end of the Kimberley Process itself, as internal politics and in-fighting about how the watchdog should proceed may tear it apart. (This caught my attention and is something I will be investigating further).

vast natural resources found in the Marange district of Zimbabwe could potentially change the fortunes of a country whose economy has hit hard times. These reports however, despite the coalition government, confirm that Zimbabwe is a country still plagued by corruption and violence, a serious warning of what is to come ahead of the 2011 elections.

For those in the UK, Unreported World series 10 episode 15 'Zimbabwe's Blood Diamonds' is available on the Channel 4 website for the next 29 days. Click here to watch.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Westerners no longer swallow my story, says Kagame

In this video posted on YouTube by Olivier Nyirubugara a Rwandan journalist and PhD student in The Netherlands, we hear Rwanda's President Paul Kagame commenting on the increasing divergence of views between his administration and its Western partners, formerly known to be "unconditional supporters".

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Time out..

This has got to be one of my favourite songs ever.. Dire Straits, sax and guitar at their very best. 

My youth was marked with splendid music, quite unlike the Lady Gagas and the Nicki Minajs that today's youth must endure. Mark Knopfler was a huge figure for me in those days and my copy of the album 'Brothers in Arms' in which this track featured was one of my most treasured possessions for a long time. Sheer brilliance this..

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Moving on..

I like the word GENTRIFY. I was sorely tempted to use it in the title of this post, but I thought it might be giving too much away too soon. Let me start by offering my apologies to you guys for having been uncharacteristically silent on this blog for a while now. There is a good reason for this however, and it is this: I've been in the process of finding a new place to live. And finally this weekend, I am giving up my flat in London for a place in suburban Essex, a place that was once a little village, but which has now been swallowed up by the conurbation that is Greater London, but by gosh what a difference 20 miles makes. 

Okay, the new place is exactly that, New! Its a newly built development, very modern on the inside with an attempt on the outside to ape the traditional English look, mock Tudor and all. Those who know me will agree that I've often whined about the fact that for the last five years I've lived in a flat, without a garden, indeed one with no outdoor space at all. And guess what, I'm moving into a new place, which is not only a flat, its a smaller flat than the one I'm leaving behind, also with no outdoor space and no garden! Worse still, the ground surrounding the building is completely concreted over. But it is located in a very lovely area indeed.

It has not been easy for me to justify the cost of living in the crowded, grotty, noisy, unfriendly part of inner-London that I have called home for many years now. I had a spell in leafy Surrey some years ago, but that was the accommodation provided for the staff of a hospital that was my then employer under which auspices I lived the life of suburbia without actually meriting it. It was at this hospital that I did my moonlighting while studying during the day. Now I am making the move to the suburbs under my own steam and it turns out it is not the financial nightmare that I assumed it might be (although I still have to factor-in travel costs, since henceforth commuting shall become a part of daily life), but I still do think that I'm getting value for money.

Property in inner-London is outrageously expensive. The property market there is attractive to people from all over the world, hence ordinary men and women like us find that we are having to compete with Sheikhs from the Gulf States for the same property. The nosedive in value of the UK's Pound Sterling brought on by the recession has not helped either, because suddenly London property is even more attractive to foreign property investors than before.

Okay I know this seems a bit exaggerated, but when the Sheikhs and Russian oligarchs buy up all of the very expensive houses, the not so rich then compete for the not very expensive ones. Then those like us who are on the lower rungs must be content with what property remains, but there are millions of us. So we have overcrowding, astronomic property prices and exorbitant rents. But then there is always the option of moving further out of London and having carefully considered it, living in inner-London for me is really not worth all that cash I've been throwing at it.

So I've taken this option and I'll be moving over the next few days. It might be a while before I get the internet connected, so I'll likely be scarce around here. But don't worry about me because I'll be busy taking in the fresh air and enjoying my new surroundings, the plush carpets and the recessed lighting throughout the flat, which I admit was the clincher for me. I said its a smaller flat than the one I currently live in, but small has its advantages too. Firstly, its easier to keep clean and there aren't too many nooks and crannies for things to get lost in.

My experience of moving house is that you never realise just how much stuff you own until you are moving house and have to pack your stuff. The prospect of packing my stuff together has been so scary that I've avoided doing it until now that there's no more time left. Fortunately my nephew has offered to come and help me out, but its a bank holiday weekend and he has insisted that he must go out on Friday night and Saturday night as well. So he'll probably be so hungover on Sunday that he won't be of that much help to me in the end. I really should be getting on with it.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Rudisha smashes the world record..

Today in Berlin.. Another clean sweep for Kenya..
More here..

After the race, David Lekuta Rudisha (a more up-to-date profile here) is quoted as saying:

"Last year I had a bad time in Berlin. The weather was not very good, and I did not make it into the final.

"So I did not want to talk too much about the world record before the race. But today I knew it is my day. I trained very hard, the weather was good. I told the pacemaker to run the first lap under 49 seconds. He did a great job.

"The last 200 metres I had to push very hard. But I saw the clock. 1:41,09 at the end, fantastic. I am very happy to be the fastest 800 metres runner in the world. The crowd was fantastic."

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Out of Africa...The incredible fashion show inspired by Mother Nature

An amazing fashion show inspired by Mother Nature. I came across this 2008 posting on the Daily Mail online website. The models are said to be of the Surma and Mursi people of the Omo Valley in East Africa, (see here too). The story in the Mail reads:

"With colourful make-up of bright yellows, startling whites and rich earth-reds, flamboyant accessories and extraordinarily elaborate decorations, you'd be forgiven for thinking that these images originated in the fevered mind of some leading fashionista. Yet far from the catwalks of New York, London or Paris, these looks are the sole creation of the Surma and Mursi tribes of East Africa's Omo Valley.

Inspired by the wild trees, exotic flowers and lush vegetation of the area bordering Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan, these tribal people have created looks that put the most outlandish creations of Western catwalk couturiers to shame."
Read more

"...a leaf or root is transformed into an accessory..
Instead of a scarf, a necklace of banana leaves is draped around a neck.
In place of a hat a tuft of grass is jauntily positioned.
A garland of flowers, a veil of seed-pods, buffalo horn, a crown of melons, feathers, stems and stalks-
Mother Nature has provided a fully stocked wardrobe.
Like a dressing-up chest brimming over with costumes and make-up (paint created with pigments from powdered stone), the natural environment is the source of this glorious jungle pantomime.."

"Although the origins of this astonishing tradition have been lost over the years - the Surma and Mursi spend much of their time engaged in tribal and guerilla warfare - their homeland is a hotbed of the arms and ivory trades. Fifteen tribes have lived in this region since time immemorial, and many use zebra skins for leggings, snail shells for necklaces and clay to stick their wonderful designs to their heads. As they paint each other's bodies and make bold decisions about their outfits (all without the aid of mirrors) it seems that the only thing that motivates them is the sheer fun of creating their looks and showing them off to other members of the tribe. As a celebration of themselves and of their stunning environment, this is truly an African fashion parade like no other." Marcus Dunk

Pictures by Hans Silvester (Rapho/Camera Press) from the book Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa by Hans Silvester, published by Thames and Hudson, £19.95

Poetic and rather evocative, but I do not like the word "tribe" and never use it, since I think of it as a word devised by Europe to describe peoples they thought were less 'civilised' than they were. The word carries with is a connotation of primitiveness and applies only in relation to the 'native' peoples of Australia and the Polynesia islands, parts of south Asia, Africa, parts of South and Central America and the indigenous populations of North America.

It angers me to see that many of us in modern times have embraced the word and refer to our various ethnic groups, indigenous societies, indigenous nations, kingdoms and fiefdoms as tribes, without thinking about the implications of the use of the word. The word appears in the Mail's description of the fashion event and I needed to express my view. Please pardon me for digressing. See here too.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Trip to Nigeria 1951

From a handwritten diary. Click here for a photo of a page of the handwritten manuscript. I attempted to obtain copyright permission, but my email bounced back. I hope I don't get into trouble for using it, but this is a historical treasure-trove, too precious to be hidden away. Reading it gave me tremendous enjoyment. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did..

Trip to Nigeria 1951

A Diary by A. Margaret Jefferies (1912-1992)

The Journey. 1951 Saturday July 21st.

Arrived at Airways Terminal Victoria at mid-day, checked in and had lunch on premises:-

Chilled Melon
Roast chicken, new potatoes and peas.
Neapolitan ice.

2:00 Boarded coach for Heath Row airport. Passed through customs and were on board B.O.A.C. Hermes “Hours” by 3:00.

Just as we were comfortably settled we were told there was a slight mechanical defect which must be seen to before taking off, so we disembarked and a coach took us back to “Departures” where cups of tea were served.

Passengers who went to greet friends in Spectators' Enclosure saw the Duke of Edinburgh arrive, met by Prince Charles.

Re-embarked, but found two passengers missing and had to wait while they were rounded up. They had been watching the unloading of Prince Philip's luggage which filled 2 vans so evidently he exceeded the regulation 66 lbs.

Took off about 1.5 hours behind schedule. Fastened seat belts for take-off and stewardess distributed barley sugar and later, when we were airborne, iced lemon squash.

Passed over Epsom and crossed coast just east of Brighton which we identified by its two piers.

Reached French Coast near Dieppe. Very good visibility all the way over France. Picked out rivers Seine and Rhone looking rather like wide satin hair ribbon. Saw Marseilles to east as we crossed the Mediterranean coast.

Flew over a corner of Sardinia, but clouds obscured it. On to N. Africa as sun was setting in spectacular shades of electric blue, green, and flame.

Flight very smooth indeed. Less sick-making than a motor coach. Seats well sprung, upholstered in blue, mine immediately behind wings, travelling backwards and facing passengers seated behind us, across a fixed table. Other seats faced back of seats in front and had folding tables. Powder room at tail of aircraft had cleansing lotion, make-up base, colognes, hand lotion etc. provided for our use, Elizabeth Arden.

Afternoon tea was served and cigarettes distributed by stewards at intervals.

Dinner, preceded by sherry, was served after dark.

Cold soup
Egg mayonnaise
Chop with new potatoes and peas
Strawberries and cream
Cheese and biscuits
Fruit dessert

Wine was served with the meal.

Landed at Castel Benito Airport, Tripoli, about 10:30.

Italian and Arab waiters served tea, biscuits, and wine.

Took off after an hour's stop for refuelling for hop over desert to Kano. Take-offs and landings much smoother thanI had imagined; we felt no discomfort from change in altitude, though some passengers yawned widely or swallowed violently to relieve ear pressures.

Lights were extinguished in aircraft for night flight but most people slept little owing to sitting-up posture and vibration.

Morning tea dispensed at 4:45. Landed at Kano Northern Nigeria for breakfast at 5:30. Black stewards waited on us with more zeal than efficiency. Had not realised that black men's hands have pink palms and finger tips and that the soles of their feet are pink.

After breakfast, sun had risen. Bright morning with cool breeze. Rest House had some attractive flower beds with zinnias and petunias as well as native plants and shrubs. One shrub had vivid flame red flowers and looked rather like a Christmas tree with bright red luggage labels tied all over it.

Took off at 7:20. Visibility good at first. Saw Niger and its confluence with Kaduna river then clouds thickened. Clear over Lagos Airport and we landed with no delay, ¾ hour ahead of schedule. We had flown at about 12,000 to 13,000 feet, but pressure inside aircraft was no more than 3,500 feet.

1951, Sunday July 22. Arrival.

T. had set out in good time to meet me and arrived just as the aircraft taxied in. He filled in an immigration form for me to save time so that I got well to the front of the queue through the Customs. The African Customs man looked suspiciously at my travelling case and made me open it for inspection. He showed great interest in the contents of my bottles and jars and seemed to suspect that the Cosmedia lotion might be whiskey. I was tempted to offer him a taste.

The steward boy, Ronson, and the new car (Vanguard Estate) were awaiting me.

It was a 16 mile drive from the Airport right through the town of Lagos.

Arriving at 22 Cameron Road, Ikoyi, we found a reception committee lined up to welcome us. It consisted of Godwin, a steward boy at the Rest House, his wife and three picaninnies. They live in part of our boys' quarters as the Rest House does not provide quarters for the boys there.
Ronson made us coffee and beamingly produced a bunch of bananas as his dash (i.e. free gift) for me. He was resplendent in the new uniform he had ordered for my arrival – white drill with brass buttons. He is well under 5 feet and not unlike a chimp to look at.

The staff off duty. Ronson, Sammy.

The Drive through Lagos.

African pedestrians expect to receive audible warning of the approach of a car, so we proceeded, hooting loud and long. They hop and skip nimbly out of the way without dislodging the loads on their heads, and with an alacrity which is refreshing after the stolid indifference of English jay-walkers.

It seemed to be a feast day and the citizens of Lagos were out in their best bibs and tuckers, highly coloured and of infinite variety.

The men wear loose cotton robes called RIGAS. Some of these are in most beautiful colouring and patterns. They may have matching cotton trousers, or white ones dazzling enough to serve as a Persil advertisement. With these garments the appropriate headgear seemed to be either a red or black fez, or a sort of Victorian smoking cap embroidered in gold or silver thread. One or two had large coloured umbrellas, a really important man has a servant to hold his umbrella over him.

The women are fond of blue. The local indigo dyes give a very pleasant shade. They wear loose shapeless blouses, and a length of material wrapped round a la sarong. Whole families will dress alike. Bright head scarves are made into intricately draped head-dresses. Yoruba women wear high crowned straw hats that can be adapted to carry their personal effects when necessary.

Their skill at carrying loads on their heads is incredible to a European. We passed women balancing bottles, oil drums, folded umbrellas, palm fruit, bowls, baskets, and bags. One African belle was dressed in a fashionable European frock, navy wedge-heeled shoes and a perfectly matching handbag, which she carried on her head with the handles drooping artistically over one ear.

The roads were narrow and busy. Besides the pedestrians, there were droves of shiny bicycles, very solid, upright, and respectable like English policemen ride. A three speed gear and a chain case are essential for snob appeal rather than practical use, T. says.

We passed lorries loaded with Africans bearing inscriptions such as “Help us, O God”. These are known locally as “mammy wagons” and seem to be the equivalent of Green Line buses. The passengers are said to be adept at getting in and out in a hurry if the pious mottoes prove ineffective and they just get ditched, so the injury rate per accident is negligible. T. says the worst drivers in Lagos, however, are the Europeans.

We stopped at Government House to sign the Governor's book, which is the practice of all new arrivals from the U.K. . A magnificent sentry saluted us as we entered.

The House, 22 Cameron Road, Ikoyi.

Stands in about an acre of compound, which consists mostly of grass, trees, and bushes. The soil is almost pure sand. We have an avocado pear tree, mangoes, breadfruit, flame of the forest, magnolias and hibiscus.

The front door opens into a hall with red tiled floor, leading to dining room, butler's pantry and two store rooms. There is a fridge in the passage leading to the pantry. A covered corridor leads from the pantry to the cook-house, which has an old cast-iron wood-burning range. Ronson sometimes uses it for his own cooking, but we would not relish a meal cooked there until it had had a very thorough spring-clean.

Hardwood stairs – polished and un-carpeted (there are practically no stair-carpets in Nigeria) lead to lounge with windows on three sides, wide open all day on to balcony. A large electric fan hangs from the ceiling. The floor is polished hardwood.
22 Cameron Road

There is one large bedroom and a very small dressing room. The bedroom has openings in the verandah on two sides – slotted doors – and a large built-in wardrobe in which electric lights burn all the time to keep the clothes dry and prevent mould. The mosquito net is furled up over the beds in daytime and the boy lets it down each evening before dark.

Large bathroom with electric geyser, and further on an earth closet emptied every morning. The usual offices have concrete floors like the verandah.

The government provides furniture. Mahogany dining table and chairs and sideboard, writing table, some chests of drawers, two beds, dressing table. Hardwood armchairs with drab covered cushions, a bookcase and several occasional tables.

Like most government buildings in Lagos, the house could do with a good coat of paint, but is pleasant and spacious to live in.

Cameron Road


This is the rainy season and it is cooler than England when I left. Temperatures from 75 to 80F with overcast skies, and little drop in temperature at night. There are occasional heavy showers but no continuous rain. Atmosphere is humid, and leather goods, books and papers very soon go mouldy. Characteristic smell is a combination of dampness, mould, insecticide and palm oil. It is not as unpleasant as it sounds. Mosquitos not very plentiful here at present.


Sammy keeps the garden swept and tidied, and cleans the car. He is about 18 and speaks no English except Yessir and Yessum. He seems quite a good worker and sings as he works. Sometimes his song is a rhythmic chant accompanying his raking, sometimes he sings in a choirboy falsetto and sometimes renders his own variations on “God Save the King”. His favourite working dress seems to be a ragged shirt which only hangs together by a miracle.

He cuts the grass by swishing light-heartedly at it with a home made machete, consisting of a piece of hoop-iron worn thin and sharp with some rag bound on the end to form a handle.

Music while you work.

African workmen are said to work much better to music and often chant a rhythmic accompaniment to their labours. Gangs of convicts employed to cut grass on road verges are accompanied by a man beating out a rhythm on a triangle. It has been found profitable to pay a man specially to provide music for a gang of labourers at work, as they work much more quickly.

A visit to the cinema.

Lagos cinemas are all open to the sky. In the two-and-sixes you sit up on a balcony on wicker chairs, with an awning overhead. The groundlings in the ninepennies sit on hard forms and have no shelter from the rain. Their reactions were the same as their white counterparts in England. They warned the hero of impending peril and applauded when right triumphed over wrong.

If you get bored with the show you can gaze up at the night sky overhead and try to pick out the constellations. I was told that sometimes lizards run across the screen with ludicrous effect at tense moments, but saw none at this performance. Perhaps they prefer love scenes to comedies.


On the way home we passed a Methodist funeral procession in which the clergy and choir wore cassocks and surplices. The mourners were dressed in white. Funerals here often end up like an Irish Wake in dancing and drinking. Apparently if an old person dies it is considered proper to rejoice as a thanksgiving for longevity, but if a child or very young person dies it is an occasion for mourning.

A funeral here must take place the day after death and often posters are put up announcing “A Funeral will take place tomorrow” and giving particulars to let all friends know in time.

Some coffins are elaborate but are used only for conveying the body to the grave, and then returned empty for future use.

Village fish ponds.

The staple diet of the Nigerians is gari, a kind of paste made from grated and processed roots of cassava. This contains a little protein but is mainly starchy and lacks vitamins. The people as a whole are not well-nourished. They are undersized and lots of children are rickety, and so an attempt is being made to get more animal protein into their diet. One of the ways of doing this is to help the villagers to establish their own fishponds in suitable places. With the co-operation of the District Headman two new ponds have been made under Europeans' direction at Paiye and Ballah. The object of the trip was to inspect these and survey two possible sites for new ones in other villages.

We drove out to Paiye where the District Chief, Dauda Paiye, a tall fine-looking man, received us ceremoniously. Where a European politely removes his hat, and African removes his shoes. We noticed Paiye was wearing embroidered heelless slippers. His servant removed these and he squatted down in front of us and touched the ground with his knuckles. After a few polite remarks had been exchanged he rose up, his servant put on his shoes, and he and his retinue conducted us to see the pond.

When we got back to the cars Paiye looked covetously at our Vanguards and wanted to know how much they cost. His present means of transport is a black horse with elegant trappings which was waiting for him under a tree near the Court House.

Taking ceremonious leave of Paiye we went on to Ballah village, but were disappointed to find that Dauda Ballah could not be there to receive us personally as he had gone to Ilorin to see his brother, the Emir. We left for him two enlarged photographs of himself taken on a previous trip.

We had a picnic lunch at Ballah Rest House, a very pleasant one. It was luxuriously furnished for a Bush Rest House, having an Egyptian chemille tablecloth. blue with white kittens on it, and a sofa covered with an Indian embroidered spread. The views from the verandah were pleasant and suggestive of England. The compound was very well kept with flower beds and decorative trees. Nearby was the village school, also surrounded by flower beds, and Dauda Ballah's own house, which is a little apart from the village.

Head Men.

Dauda in Hausa (Dawido in Yoruba) is our name David and means literally “King”. It is the title given to a district chief. The District Head in the Western Provinces is second only to the Emir. It is not entirely a hereditary office. The Dauda is appointed, and is approved by the British Authorities, but is a man of high birth. he receives a salary, but is personally reponsible for the welfare of his district, and the care of the poor and infirm. T. knows one chief who is an ex-tailor.

Dauda Paiye on his horse.

Dinner Party.

The day ended with dinner at the house of Mr Calder, the local fisheries officer, a retired D.O. who is Scotch and has lived in the tropics most of his life. He regaled us with his national beverage and records of Scottish dance music repeated over and over again. “This”, he said, “my friends here call real savage music.”

The dinner table was magnificent. Black stewards love an excuse to put on a good show and display their skill at folding table napkins and arranging flowers. There was a big bowl of zinnias and other red flowers in the centre, a pattern of scarlet petals all over the table among the shiny cut glass and silver, and it seemed sheer vandalism to unfold the intricate table napkin mountains and remove the scarlet blooms that crowned each one.

A white-uniformed steward waited on us wearing a magnificent sash in Ogilvie hunting tartan. He had evidently been trained never to have a guest with an empty glass.

We had a huge turkey, who we were told had died happy, as half a bottle of gin was poured down his throat before he met his end. He was accompanied by sauces and stuffings and various sorts of vegetables, and followed by jelly and strawberries (tinned of course) and cream, coffee, and liqueurs - Crème de Menthe which our host insisted we must lace with brandy. I found this improved it making it much less cloying and sickly.

At the end of the evening the cook came in to make his bow to us. He was dressed in a toga of lurid jungle print in orange and brown and black. His broad grin showed his teeth filed to sharp points and he looked as if he would be quite at home presiding over the cauldron at a feast of “long pig”. All the boys were Hausas and their master talked to them in their own language. They seemed to be trying to stem the flow of spirits. “They are always bullying me” said our host. “If I let them have their own way I should be a teetotaller”.

Mr Calder showed us a magnificent leopard skin which he had had mounted on to brown felt to make a rug. This was a parting gift to him from the Pagans of the Plateau district when he retired from being their D.O. In this last term of office before his retirement only 2 or 3 years ago, he said he had had three men hanged for cannibalism.

Jock Calder; fisheries officer, Ilorin

Besides its use by Europeans in soap manufacture, palm oil has a myriad uses for the African. It has definitely antiseptic properties. the more bush and rancid it is the better apparently, and it is used in the treatment of injuries, besides being a lubricant and a food ingredient.

We walked through the village accompanied by the usual throng of children. one of them. a cheerful little urchin of about 8 or 9 was instructed by his elders to act as guide to lead us to the fish pond. He flitted on ahead of us, the loose sleeves of his indecently short robe flapping like wings, so that he looked like a little black hobgoblin or Puck.


As well as the large pan of rice on her head nearly every woman coming to the mill carried a piccin strapped on her back. These little black babies with their woolly topknots are lovely, though to European eyes their beauty is marred by the barbarous habit of slashing their faces soon after birth in patterns according to the markings of their tribe. The little girl piccins, however tiny, wear jewellery, invariably ear rings, often necklaces and bracelets. This is the quickest way to tell girls from boys at first glance. I was told that their trinkets are often of solid gold or silver. On the arm of one small mite I noticed a man's wristwatch on a wide chromium strap. It was not only going, but told the correct time. Unlike their bigger brothers and sisters the babies seemed scared of us. I suppose it is quite natural for a white person to look like a bogey, to a black baby.

Diversions on a Journey.

Driving mile after mile through unvarying scenery can grow monotonous and we found two ways of relieving the tedium of a long journey..(1) waving to the populace who usually responded with appreciation and (2) collecting mottoes on African transport vehicles.

This page (section, ed) is reserved for our collection, English and Latin only, though no doubt the Hausa and Yoruba would be even more amusing if we knew what they meant.

Help us O God
Wait and see

The Lord is my Shepherd
Deo Gratias
Goodwill and Speed
Trust in God and do the right
Dum Spiro Spero
God is Good
In God's Care
Charity begins at home

and on Taxis

God First
Take Life Easy

and on Bicycles

Let George do it
Watch and Pray

Hope on hope ever
Ever jolly
Praise be to Allah

1951, Wednesday August 22nd. Genuine bargain.

Yesterday the Hausaman who had sold me the crocodile bag and other things at various times offered me a bag made of black and cream deerskin. Having already got the crocodile bag I was not interested, but he was nothing if not persevering.

“Madame my good customer. Yesterday I lose £7 for races. I need customer. Madame give me price.”

“No, I have plenty bags”

“Not bag like this. This good good bag. I sell cheap price”
“What do you call cheap? 15/- ?”

That put him off as I thought it would. he laughed scornfully and departed.
Today he waylaid me with the same bag as I came out of the Rest House.

“What madame's last price?”
“No. yesterday you say 15/-. Today you go up”
“Still 15/-”
“Madame, good business lady, but 15/- small small for good bag. What your last price?”

By this time we were getting into the car. He appealed to Ted.
“Sir, you give me better price”.
“15/1” said T., jokingly.
“Take it”. The bag was thrust in through the car window and T. dashed him an extra 1d for luck, making 15/2 in all.

It is beautifully made and is a much better one than the crocodile bag for which I paid £2. I have Monday's winners to thank for this bargain.

Beginning Young. Small peanut vendor giving change on Victoria Beach.

1951, Friday Aug 24th. “What is life without a wife?”

When Ronson brought my morning coffee he was obviously bursting to say something. Presently it came out.

“Please madame, in my country wife take plenty money”
“In England, too, wife take plenty money, Ronson”

But he was dead serious.

“Madame is kind. Madame speak for Master. My bride's father ask for £27. That plenty money. I only pay small small money for one time. NowI pay £18. Madame speak for Master to lend me £10, then my wife come to this Lagos. Madame come back for Master after leave and she see my wife.”

I had already gathered that he hoped to go home during Ted's next leave and return with his bride, and that before the marriage was finally achieved he had other financial obligations as well as the price agreed with the father. The bride's mother and family would expect a dash, the bride would expect at least £4 for her trousseau, and he would have to stand drinks, smokes etc. to the whole village.

I pointed out that as his bride-to-be was so very young they should not be in a hurry to get married and it would be better to save up out of his own income and start off free from debt. At this he looked very downcast but was not defeated. If he couldn't have a wife he would have a consolation prize. He changed the subject.

“I think madame go home for October. In England be plenty good shoes. Please madame send me for Christmas shoes size 6 with rubber soles like master's sandals, but shoes for tie up. I show madame.”

Fashion Note.

He trotted off to his quarters and returned and returned with a pair of brown leather walking shoes. “Like these, madame, but with rubber soles. Leather not good” As he never wears shoes except for ornament when he is all dressed up, he probably finds leather too hard and too slippery.

In off-duty hours when really dressed to kill he wears a pair of shorts in flame red moyjashel, a white shirt with the inscription “EVER JOLLY” written in blobby marking ink on the breast pocket and tennis shoes. The shoes are freshly whitened, the shorts pressed and the shirt laundered for every time of wearing.

In spite of his lack of height he walks with dignity and is able to assert himself. He has Sammy trained to spring to attention and say “Yessir” when he addresses him.

I have never seen him wearing native dress.


Gari is the “staff of life” for the W. African, like bread to the European. It is made by grating cassava (sometimes with yam). The grated cassava is left to ferment for two or three days, the moisture is pured off and the dry granules rubbed through a sieve. The sieved fu-fu is then put in a pot with a little palm oil and heated. it is eaten either as a thin gruel with water or as a thick paste made with boiling water.

Standing a little apart from the others was a house which bore a poster telling the world in Arabic. English, and Yoruba that here lived a Cairo-trained astrologer of extreme wisdom. Among others he earnestly urged “moneymen, sickmen, journeymen, men in old age, bachelors, women without issue” to consult him.

Saturday Sept 8th. Football match.

The African is just as keen a football fan as the Englishman. We saw a match today between the railway and the Public Works teams. They play in bare feet, are very quick and have wonderful control over the ball with their flexible toes. The referee was a European, Father Slattery, a Catholic missionary. The spectators are said to get very excited sometimes surging right onto the field and having to be chased by the police, but today they were no more obstreperous than an English crowd. We sat in the two-and-sixpennies and our neighbours were, of course, the well-to-do types but their shouts seemed most refined, even pedantic, compared with the remarks you would expect from an English crowd. “Well done”. “Oh, please use your head”. “Do not give him a chance now” and not one swearword, perhaps they didn't know any in English.

1951, Sunday Sept 9th. African cemetary.

I visited the Lagos cemetary expecting to see some amusing inscriptions, but found they were more restrained and dignified than in many English country churchyards. Some were in Latin, most were texts from the Bible or lines from hymns, with one or two quotations from English poets. Some of the tombs were very elaborate and had statues of the deceased. There was a life-sized nurse, seated; the head of a judge with black face and white wig; and a lifelike reproduction of John St Matthew Daniel “an industrious financier and philanthropist and devout Catholic worshipper”. He stood on a square plinth flanked on one side by a kneeling angel and on the other by his patron saint in white marble. He wore a Palm Beach suit, black shoes and a black trilby hat and carried a walking stick. His expression was benevolent and he looked a very charming old gentleman. His plinth was simply covered in lettering. The front gave his name and details of his life; one side pious quotations; the other the list of his twelve children who survived him, and on the back was the following verse:-

“Live in the present, for the One who lends
Has taken back the past he lent
With all its tears and laughter, therefore friends
Live in the present.
The present is a loan that each man spends
And a new loan receives when that is spent.
Nor can we tell when this strange present ends
And when begins, wherein the future's blest
And with the past made one: for us fate sends
No choice, but all men, well or ill content,
Live in the present.

Another man was described as “a zealous patron of the Baptist Church and sole agent for Singer Sewing Machines”. One tombstone was crowned with two blue and white roses in, I think, Italian pottery of pleasant design, and another with a charming statue of a little dog. Unfortunately the inscription on this was completely obliterated, but the owner was evidently following the old crusaders' tradition in leaving his favourite dog on his tomb.

Piccins with ram off Lagos marina waterfront.

Nigerian Politics.

Godwin has borrowed a gramophone and records and we have a free concert from the boys' quarters. One particular favourite, played over and over, was an African number with spectacular drumming and a tune even a European could recognise. I asked what it was and it turned out to be a song in praise of ZIK, Dr Azikiwi, the political leader, head of NCNC (National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons). He is an Ibo, like “the boys”, and a fierce nationalist. He wants a united Nigeria, combining all tribes, and is anti-European. The main opposition to his party comes from the ACTION GROUP of strong Yoruba influence, which is less anti-British and seems to advocate regional autonomy for Hausas, Yorubas, Ibos, and other main tribes.

1951, Tuesday Sept 18th.

Today we forgot to take a key when we went to our evening meal and had to send for Ronson to let us in. He was wearing a blue toga with red spider webs all over it, so evidently he does wear native dress when off-duty.

Our fellow men in Lagos.

The Europeans are for the most part friendly, though I am told it is possible to feel very lonely in Lagos as in all big towns. In the smaller stations the white people are only too glad to get together and make friends, according to all accounts. We find lots of the people we meet have travelled all over the place. A good many of them used to live in India. One great advantage of Rest House meals is that you meet all kinds of people and it is easy to find some with whom you have things in common. We often had people in to play bridge or just drink and talk. Lots of them liked to come in for a cup of tea last thing at night. Contrary to popular belief, the Englishman in the tropics does not live exclusively on spirits and malaria prophylactics.

As a general rule white people are either fascinated by Africa or simply loathe it. There are not many neutrals.

There is of course a certain amount of colour prejudice and the white population of Ikoyi tends to keep itself to itself and not mix with the black. I found this a pity as I should have like to have met more educated Africans. The few I did meet seemed altogether pleasant and reasonable. Collectively the European women seem rather suburban in outlook. Social climbing and keeping up with the Jones can be all-important, but individually I liked most that I met, very well.

Tropical Africa is a region for Mary, not for Martha.

I can't help thinking that it is better for themselves and for Africa, if all people with a strong unshakeable colour prejudice were to keep out. Gratuitous rudeness on the part of white people, gives the rabid nationalist a legitimate grievance and may make otherwise reasonable types into rabid nationalists themselves, thus driving yet another nail into the coffin of the poor old British Empire.

An assistant in a bookshop who had been to England, one day asked me “why is it I find that in your country English people can be so polite and charming, and in my country just the opposite?”

1951, Thursday Sept 26th. (sic, actually Sept 27th, ed) The Mountain fish.

This morning Ronson came and said “Madame, I have news. A beeg beeg fish, a mountain fish, be washed up for beach. I follow Master and madame go for see it.”

After lunch we set out for Victoria beach and found Ronson and Sammy waiting to get in the car. The Five Cowrie Creek Bridge had a quarter mile traffic jam, Africans in cars, taxis, on bicycles and on foot had turned out to see the wonderful sight from all over the town.

However, when we got there, there was almost nothing to be seen. A 50 ft whale had been washed up, but now what was left of it was drifting out to sea practically submerged. A few bold swimmers were going out with knives and cutting off bits of blubber. It made an excuse for an outing and Sammy obviously enjoyed his car ride.

1951, Saturday Sept 29th. Cup Final.

This was a great event attended by the Governor's Deputy – the G being on leave – and the local Oba, in state.

Immediately behind us sat the famous ZIK with wife, a girl friend, to whom he explained at length the finer points of the game all through the match.

It was an exciting game. When the whistle went for time the score was even, 2 all. There was a twenty minute extension during which Railway scored the winning goal. Their victory was a well-deserved triumph of brains over brawn. The Plateau team were taller and heavier and looked quite a different type, possibly Pagans. Their supporters among whom we found ourselves, looked a real tough crowd, including mining types. The audience was orderly and good-humoured, though policemen with truncheons were there in force.

Programme for Nigeria Football Association 1951 Governor's cup final

The Police band gave a good show at half-time. They looked very smart in Navy uniform with red zouave jackets and Jarbouches. They gave a display of marching and piping.

1951, Sunday Sept 30th

Visited fishing village off Victoria Beach in morning. The houses are made of palm frond ribs and thatched with palm. The sea is encroaching and the village is retreating. Some huts have been washed away in the short time I have been here.

Main street of fishing village.

Lagos, RC cathedral. Lagos has a Protestant and a Catholic cathedral. This is not the oneI went to.

Lagos Cathedral.

Went to evensong at Lagos C. of E. Cathedral. The congregation was mostly black. The choir and organist were black, and the service was conducted by an African clergyman, headmaster of the C.M.S. school. A white parson read the lessons and another black parson preached.

The cathedral is a traditional European building. The interior is light, with decorations in blue, gold, and pale green. Behind the altar is a modern carved oak figure of Christ, above which is a carved crown illuminated from the inside. There is a matching carved oak screen and a carved font.

The service was straightforward C. of E. and all in English.

1951, Friday Oct 5th.

Jose Doherty took me to meet BEN ENWONWU an African artist who lives at the other end of Cameron Road. He is a native of Onitsha and has a beard. He is planning on a one-man show for Paris, London, and the USA next year and has promised to invite me to his London show. I wished I could have afforded a picture. There were portraits of Hausas, Yorubas, and many different African types, dancers, full of movement, and scenes mostly in Benin Province. An unfinished portrait of the Oba of Benin in full regalia showed the Oba looking most shirty. Ben said he didn't approve of artists and didn't want to sit. We could well believe it from his expression.

(ed's note, see e.g.

The Battens took us to the R.E.M.E. sergeants mess at Yaba for the evening where we talked and played snooker and darts. The R.E.M.E. were excellent hosts and made us very welcome. They are pleased to have visitors. A Cockney sergeant-major made us feel at home and a Scotch sergeant-major bewailed their lack of feminine society and gave us a dissertation on spiritualism. He said it was a demoralising life for a very young man there. They seem to have fewer social contacts than the civilian expatriates.

Anengiyefa's note: I have done quite a bit of editing. To read the full diary please click here.