This is a fascinating account in diary form of Margery Perham's experiences as she
makes her way through British and French Colonial West Africa in a quest to study at
first hand the so-called 'native administration' in those territories.
The year was 1931 and her reception by Government officials and, sometimes, the
traditional rulers, varied from polite tolerance to scarcely veiled resentment against
the intrusion of a female upon what was then a strictly male preserve.
Undeterred by this she proceeded to carry out her strenuous programme. She
visited Muslim Emirates, courts. Church missions, prisons, schools, secretariats, and
interviewed officials, sometimes asking awkward questions with penetrating frankness.
all the time observing and recording her impressions.
Her diary is laced with a wealth of invaluable information and anecdote. From the
dramatic historical background to the ancient kingdom of Bornu: a detailed account
of a discussion she had with the French Governor of Yaounde on the interesting
contrast between the French and British attitude to Colonial administration, she
brings us down to earth with a delightful entry on the doubtful merits of her newly
hired driver."... l am writing up this diary as I sit by the side of the road during a
halt. Already I think I have made a bad bargain in the driver who will be my
fellow-travelier throughout this long and difficult journey. Before we started I asked him if he had packed a spare tyre and some plugs. He said 'Yes', Now I know the
answer should have been 'No'. As a fellow-traveller his habits are not endearing; as a
mechanic I fear I do not yet know the worst".
Margery Perham is such a perceptive chronicler. She recounts her experiences and
impressions in a fresh, hot-off-the-grid style. She informs. She entertains. She holds
your attention. You feel you must stay to find out what happens next.