Wednesday 17 August, 1960 - Ibadan

... a cloudburst - 6 1/2" of rain falling in 2 hours - the most since 1956. From the haven of the house I watched fascinated as the water poured out of the sky transforming the gravel drive into a great muddy river and overflowing the ditch which had been dug round the house to cope with such emergencies. The lawn at the back became a lake as I watched and the soft tropical vegetation bowed beneath the onslaught as lightning flashed and thunder reverberated.

... devastation in Ibadan - cars and lorries parked in low lying areas had been submerged above the roofs and water rushed through the houses and caused electrical failure. Hundreds of the crazily insecure roadside stalls were swept away and those traders who spread their wares on the ground hadn’t a chance; the calabashes, baskets and all else bouncing away along the gutters and ditches on the crest of the waves.

Around station and market. Bedlam. Weaving at station. Sheep looking like goats grazing the common. Stalls selling charcoal for cooking fires, witch doctor's section with calabash medicine phials dried rats and mud on sticks, dried vulture's heads and all the bric-a-brac. A child popped out from behind one stall with a grinning monkey skull.

... Every type of food on sale – much of it cooked; and ‘cafes’ with benches and board tables for workmen’s lunches.

Yam flour, mealies flour, purply-red cola nuts, red chillies, various beans.

Revolting looking dried meat, fried and dried fish and shrimps. Big snails all alive – oh. Big black fried caterpillars.

... Brick works en route [to university], with island palms. Wet clay was shaped in wooden moulds, then spread in a single layer on open ground to dry. Not very strong until after baking in kilns.

Tuesday 23 August 1960 - Minna

This was a different world from forest belt. Fulani herd boys in big straw hats with cotton caps underneath. Gwarri women bent under enormous cone-shaped loads of firewood splaying from gourd (sometimes mended with leather thronging) carried on one shoulder and appearing to be in danger of sliding on to the baby carried below. No good posture engendered here as with those who carry loads on their heads.

From my chair I watched one of Hussan’s wives pounding corn in a pestle and morta and later sieving it. (She also winnowed by letting it fall from one calabash to another).


At 11:45 I went across to the agricultural College to talk to 31 students (all male) about my route round the world and Australia and New Zealand.

... Soon after a student appeared with a monitor lizard one and a quarter feet long, caught in a drain. These grow up to 5 ft long and enjoy eating crocodile’s eggs. Their first instinct was to kill it, but we finished instead by going to the carpenters to get a box made to keep it as a pet.

I talked to a group of six students who had chosen game reserves as their special project – on the subject of choice of site, management and reasons for having a reserve. I hope I sowed a few seeds to help destroy the utilitarian attitude that things are no use unless they can be eaten, by trying to ram home that we are higher than the other animals and need to more than sleep, eat and reproduce. They seemed very responsive and the lively discussion lasted for over an hour.

25 September 1960 - Kano

As I walked around this great Muslim city I had no notion that I should be back here as a resident twenty-one years later. The city was dressing itself for the 1960 independence ceremonies. The mosque had been built by the Ministry of Works with corrugated roof but otherwise traditional style.

There was a large square both sides of the mosque where crowds gather – and three sizable ponds where mud had been dug out to make the mud houses. The many cone-shaped dollops of mud, like chocolate coated madeleines were the bits slapped onto the growing walls by the builders. We had good views of the layout of compounds, where mud rooms had been built into walls of yards where the horses were kept.

The market place was huge, well swept between the stalls, but there were squalid drains through which fowl found their way – also three chickens resting on the back of an uncomplaining goat, sometimes de-ticking. A nice case of symbiosis.