Our visitor to West Africa (see previous Jots) in 1954 travelled by ship from Freetown to Takoradi on the Gold Coast ( now Ghana) in late February. On the 21stof this month he recorded his impressions of his fellow passengers.
Dinner time. Is the African a snub? Observations of my fellow third-class passengers reveals it—because I boarded the boat at Freetown, and they from the UK, they are aloof. A Yoruba woman boasted to me that my journey from Freetown to Takoradi was short; and that I should go to England to experience the roughness of the bay. What arrant nonsense! Afternoon of us Africans are sweating profusely. An English woman—Rev! Paterson travelling to Ashanti to stay with Prempeh, king. Gave the sermon this morning. Although I did not attend I hear that she was very frank British Colonial policy. Racial strife in South Africa. Australia’s white only policy ; the erudite class of China and India; and the teeming thousands of these two countries. After supper discussion. Mr ( blank) a law graduate returning home to Nigeria told the story of a young Nigerian doctor who returned home with an English wife. His father did not know of the marriage and therefore resented it. During the party held in the honour of the new arrival, the father refused to mix with the young couple and drank alone. Pretty soon he walked up to his daughter-in-law and called her names. Her husband held her hand. She looked pleasantly on. The doctor’s mother had taken to her grandchild. Meanwhile the news of the Doctor’s marriage spread like wild-fire. And the town resented it. But the wife proved herself capable, and with the help of her husband she won all the women, young and old, on to her side.; old men too were soon admiring her qualities. She is the most popular woman in the town –an Ebo town.
By 2ndMarch he had reached his destination. On this day we find him witnessing the usual rowdy local elections.
March 2, 1954. Municipal Elections .
I arrived on the scene at 6.30 a.m. The queue was large—polling starts at 7 a.m. Enthusiastic crowd. C.C.P. vans plough the whole area of ward 5. A van is playing Yoruba records in the Yoruba quarters ; a woman propagandist is really telling the women why they as women should vote C.C.P. The political machinery of the party is efficient—most of the men & women queuing are illiterate, esp. Hausa’s & Fantis…A C.C.P. propagandist speaking Hausa, shouting slogans …C.C.P. candidate’s name—Atta Housaine.
4 March 1954.
Went to Tarkwa today to see and collect shirts from Miss Michel, Collected £5-0-0 in cash and 14 shirts…
Dinner party tonight at Mr Dadzie’s . 10 persons were invited. A delicious meal was served.
March 16 1954.
Left Takoradi today at 3 o/c with Mr S.N. Mensah, for his farm and Timber concession; and Kumasi . Arrived at the farm at 7 o/c P.M. Had some whiskey and chicken & Rice supper . The journey was very pleasant; the woodlands; the little villages selling their wares—-Plantains & Bananas left on the stalls if not sold. The
singing of birds; and the cackyling of animals. Left the village this morning 17/3/54 for the Timber concession. It is a vast one. The £7,000 catterpillar ( U.S. make) is very useful. Mensah employs 200 workers. It is a big job. He works hard and he is well rewarded. He has a Frigidaire on the farm.
Sunday 21stMarch ’54.
Mr Blankson invited me to lunch this afternoon. We had some whiskey before meal—consisting of chicken and egg stew and rice. For sweets we had pears and cream. Later, an African woman & her husband—a Swiss speaking French (manager of C.F.A.O.) and their son came in. He wanted to take pictures of the Wesley College. Mr Blankson treated me handsomely.
Evening: We spent a pleasant time at the Hotel De Kingsway. There were many Europeans with their African wives.
Had an argument with a European clerk at the B. Bank over my traveller’s cheque. He was very rude to me; he got his deserts. Left Kumasi this afternoon for Obuasi. Got there about 6 P.M. Stayed overnight. And left the next day for Sekionde.
The Diary entries then jump to April 4th. Our diarist refers several times to Mr Mintah who seems to have been a kindly mentor to our diarist. Perhaps it was Mintah who suggested that our diarist perform various rituals to safeguard his future. On April 4thwe find the following entry:
I must notify him before my marriage.* Mavis figured so prominently in my reading. Mr Mintah said : She would stay for me …and she is truthful? Mr Mintah is really a great man.
To stabilised my savings I must get a coin from Mavis and add it to my cash for the bank. It must be from a woman.
Honey bottle—a drop in the palm to rub on the head. The honey mixture:- 1 teaspoonful 3 times a day.
* Position of Pittin hati & longitude. To inform Mintah my birth weather in the morning, afternoon or evening?
Left Oda this morning, but before doing so Mr Mintah took Mr Ansah and I to see the Regent, who gave me one guinea to buy something on the road with. He asked me to give his regards to his nephew in school in Exeter ( England). Reached Accra at 3 o/c Checked in at the Adorso hotel, James town.
In Accra 6/4/1954.
Caught a terrific fever today …It knocked me out completely. I resorted to Meppeerin tablets. Felt hot & cold during the night. Was pleasantly surprised in the morning that both my head and legs were better.
Left Accra today—in Sekondi at 8—30 p.m. Feeling much better today.
To be continued. [R.M.Healey]