Chief Elwyn Williams has written authoritatively in this very comprehensive story of
his life and work in Nigeria, West Africa. He worked there for 27 years arriving for
the first time in 1957. The book is also a very comprehensive account of the history of
Nigeria during this time - covering events in detail from the end of the Colonial period
to Independence and giving the reader remarkable insights into life as a Banker there as
well as covering the many difficulties that followed upon Independence.
We get an insight into the Biafran War and hear about the prominent personalities
that Chief Williams met.
He is very frank about his bachelor life and loves.
After working in Lagos, Ibadan and Shagamu he was posted to Oshogbo - very much
a married man's station. By this time he was married and he and his wife very soon had
two lovely children. His interests were diverse and he was outstanding in football and
worked hard to promote it. He set up a new football club and later became a registered
referee for the game. Very often he was the first white person out in the field organising
or taking part in things and very many Nigerian organisations and artists owe much to
his enthusiasm. He has a great empathy with people everywhere.
Whilst in Oshogbo, his knowledge of the local people by his association with the
town's Football Club, enabled him to save the King of Oshogbo's life. For his efforts
and in recognition of his work and interests in the town he received from the King a
Chieftainship title (equivalent to a knighthood in UK).
His banking life alone is a full story and he reminds us about the part played by
women in trading. In most cases they carried figures in their heads and some of them
became very rich. His account of the prominent role played by women in trading makes
Chief Williams relates some very entertaining stories of day to day life - read about
the parrot curry and about how he himself became the victim of juju - an event which
ended with the tables being turned upon the one who wished him ill!
The writer became intimately involved with the rituals, rites and ceremonies of the
local people. He absorbed the Yoruba language which was a great help in his particular
work and he became tight friends with very many well-known Nigerians, being trusted
by them and receiving their help whenever it was needed. He travelled widely, visiting
the North and the East and other West African countries and we learn much about the oil
situation from all sides. He escaped ambush on the roads and was shot once by a policeman
whose rifle went off accidentally whilst a large amount of money was being transferred
from a Bank to road transport.
Chief Williams' book has many fascinating passages for those who have been there
and for those who do not know that great country it opens their eyes as to every aspect of
life out there.