The British Empire Library

Stepping Stones: Memoirs of Colonial Nigeria 1907-1960

by Sylvia Leith-Ross

Courtesy of OSPA

Review by D.L.
The author conducts us through a span of over sixty years. Looking back from the vantage point of the year 1907. at the outset of British rule in Nigeria, to Independence in I960, and beyond into post-independent Nigeria.

Sylvia Leith-Ross went out to Nigeria as a young bride to join her husband in 1907. Within a year her husband. Arthur Leith-Ross, died of blaclcwater fever, and she was left a widow at the age of twenty-five.

From the beginning she formed a deep attachment to Nigeria and its people. Over the years she returned again and again, each time for periods of three or four years; always with a specific project to carry out. taking her to various parts of the country.

We see through her eyes life in the primitive conditions of the early pioneering days. The endurance; the idealism; the challenge to and the courage of those first government officials who had somehow "to run a roadless, partly mapless country of ten or more million inhabitants of different races, religions, languages and customs."

Bearing in mind her long and very close association with the country, the author's sympathetic and realistic assessment of the changed Nigeria is of immense interest and value.

There is a moving passage in which, at the age of seventy-six, she reflects upon all that has happened to Nigeria within her own long experience, and she wonders, as she sits working in the Nigerian Museum at Jos.

1 feel the last word in this review must be left with Sylvia Leith-Ross: "For those of us who have wanted to understand, we remember them - the people of Nigeria - so vividly because through them for an unforgettable moment we touched the Africa we longed to know."

British Empire Book
Sylvia Leith-Ross
Peter Owen


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