(With random photographs interspersed...)
Large king lizards live in garden and on balcony... When they are angry their colours get brighter... Each has his own territory and chases away intruders. Sometimes they fight, knocking each other with their tails. Some people in Abeokuta had a tame lizard which would come when they called Freddy. But one day Freddy had a fight and got killed and the victorious lizard who usurped his territory is quite untameable.
The men say the barman, Thompson, comes from a cannibal district and they wouldn't like to meet him in the Bush when he was hungry. Cannibalism is still practiced in remote districts.
I also bought a man's embroidered cap. This was a cheap one... It is made of an old sugar bag embroidered in shiny green and orange rayon. Others... bore the words “Tate and Lyle” or “Fine Sugar” revealing their origin. This adds to their value and they fetch a higher price than unstamped ones... It is not only the proletariat who like an English trademark. We met a village headman, whose white robe was draped to display a large blue stamp “20 yards. Made in England”. He probably thought this added more distinction than the beautiful hand embroidery at neck and hem.
Today I achieved a life-long ambition – to go to shop with a little black boy trotting behind to carry my purchases, a la elegant lady of Queen Anne's time.
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.
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, an 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.
The Malete policeman came and looked at my watch, set his own by it and then went to check the watches of his colleague of Elemere and the two chiefs. Having set the official time for two villages, I only hope my watch was right, but it wouldn't matter very much if it wasn't. Time is not of much account here. The opening lines of Walter de la Mare's new poem “Winged Chariot” might almost be an African's question to a European:- “Why this absurd concern with clocks my friend?"
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... 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.
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.
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.
This was a great [football match] 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.
The Photographs in order:
1 - 22 Cameron Road, Ikoyi
2 - Broad Street
3 - Marina
4 - The Creek from Obalende Bridge
5 - Victoria Beach
6 - Margaret Jeffries