This is the record of a notable conference held at Oxford in 1977, one of the
symposia organised by the University's Committee on African Studies to examine
different aspects of the economic, social and political life of Tropical Africa in the
colonial period and to consider the legacy left to African countries after independence.
The book is thus aiming at two readerships, those interested in the colonial
past as well as those involved in the post-colonial present, and in this dual objective
it succeeds splendidly.
Readerswill be delighted to come across contributions on such
themes, commonplace in the colonial life whether one was a medical officer or working
in another department, as endemic diseases like leprosy, yaws and tuberculosis,
and on epidemic threats such as sleeping sickness, malaria and yellow fever. There
are also case-studies of health and medical services in different African countries,
among them Tanzania, Nigeria and Uganda, splendidly complemented by the
personal accounts of what it was like to be a district medical officer from B. B.
Waddy and from R. L. Cheverton. The section on the organization of health
institutions includes two discussions of the Uganda experience, the Makerere and
the Mengo Medical Schools. The twenty-five papers conclude with the view from
the Colonial Office, with comparative views of the colonial legacy from those who
worked in the Congo and in French West and Equatorial Africa, and with reflections
by Dr. Adetokvmbo Lucas on "What we inherited". Of particular interest will be the names of service friends and colleagues who gave papers
or took part in the summary of discussion sessions, for instance, S. G. Browne,
L. J. Bruce-Chwatt, D. F. Clyde, A. J. Duggan, T. P. Eddy, J. Ford, M. P.
Hutchinson, T. A. M. Nash, and the veteran Cicely Williams, who first went to
Ghana as a medical officer in 1929. The remarkably thorough index, too, is guaranteed
to send many readers off on a sentimental journey, with names like Gwoza
and Girku, Buluba and Mpologoma, Itu and Abinsi.
If we cannot locate this fine tribute to Britain's medical services in colonial Africa, at least we can make sure we 'read all about it' by asking for the book from our
public library. And since books on medicine and medical history in the colonial
period are somewhat in fashion now, ask too for Hartwig and Patterson's Disease in African History (Duke University, 1978) and P. A. Twumasi's Medical Systems in Ghana (Ghana Publishing Corporation, 1981). A volume a day keeps the doctor