Review by A.H.M. Kirk-Greene
(Nigeria 1950-66, lecturer in Modern History of Africa, Oxford University)
Those of us who have enjoyed the apparent vogue of Tales Of... memoirs which has
characterized much of the retrospective writing on Empire and the Colonial Service during the past decade (Charles Allen’s trilogy, narratives by Derek Hopwood, June
Knox-Mawer and Ronnie Knox-Mawer, for starters) must be aware of what they are
getting - or rather, what they are not getting - at abargain price.
Clementina Owles is a talented, lively writer, who writes observantly and enjoyably
about places she has lived in: Growing Up Yesterday, about pre-war Italy; Salad Days
in Baghdad, about her post-war years in the Middle East; and now a dozen short
stories (I prefer to call them vignettes) about her time in post-colonial Nigeria. Good
leisure-reading, it is the kind of writing that may cause many of our readers to exclaim:
“But I did or saw or could have told that!” Probably true, as far as experience goes; but
Clementina Owles’ art in communicating and conjuring up is not a gift that I for one
find comes as readily as rich memory alone. This is a great ‘Nigerian’
stocking-filler for Xmas!