Academic journal article African Research & Documentation

Five Years in the White Man's Grave: An Education Officer in Nigeria, 1928-33

Academic journal article African Research & Documentation

Five Years in the White Man's Grave: An Education Officer in Nigeria, 1928-33

Article excerpt

Five Years in The White Man's Grave: an education officer in Nigeria, 1928-33; by Geoffrey Webb. Oakham: Legini Press [2008]. 80pp. No ISBN given. £8.95 plus postage and packing (£1.50 UK, £3.50 Europe, £5.50 rest of world)

Available from Legini Press, 29 Well Street, Langham, Oakham, Rutland. LE15 7JS. «www.leginipress.co.uk»

Geoffrey Webb (1896-1981) survived the battle of Jutland and spent five years teaching and coaching cricket before accepting a post in Nigeria. He served three tours and became an expert on Hausa language and customs. Cricket, the Navy and sailors' welfare were his other passions and provided him with both pleasure and useful employment with naval charities until his retirement in 1961. His son, Nigel, compiled this nicely produced booklet from Geoffrey Webb's account published in instalments in the Leicester Evening Mail in November 1936 and his photographs. Geoffrey Webb was also an accomplished artist and his fine watercolour of Mommon Bello, Chief Instructor at the Craft School, Zaria adorns the back cover. Nigel Webb and his older brother Adrian, who himself served in Northern Nigeria as an Assistant District Officer in the 1950s, have added some useful explanatory notes and a map.

The first chapter, as is customary, in Colonial Service memoirs describes "The Journey Out". Then come accounts of postings to Maiduguri and then to Zaria to supervise craft schools. Posts at Katsina, Kaduna, florin and Omu followed.

Webb comes across as a likeable, good-humoured self-confident young man who worked hard and played hard (golf, polo, tennis and especially cricket, with Webb playing for the Nigerian team against the Gold Coast). His uncle had served with Lugard, his wife was Rider Haggard's niece, and Webb has no doubt about the rightness and superiority of British rule. …

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