Diary of British Expat-Margaret Jefferies on a trip to Nigeria in 1951
This Diary written by the wife of a British Expatriate travelling from London to Lagos for the first time,narrates and details her experience and fascination with the different culture she encounters,and most importantly gives a glimpse into life in 1950s Nigeria.Please read the first part of her Diary after the cut…
The Journey. 1951 Saturday July 21st.
Arrived at Airways Terminal Victoria at mid-day, checked in and had lunch on premises:-
Roast chicken, new potatoes and peas.
2:00 Boarded coach for Heath Row airport. Passed through customs and were on board B.O.A.C. Hermes “Hours” by 3:00.
Just as we were comfortably settled we were told there was a slight mechanical defect which must be seen to before taking off, so we disembarked and a coach took us back to “Departures” where cups of tea were served.
Passengers who went to greet friends in Spectators' Enclosure saw the Duke of Edinburgh arrive, met by Prince Charles.
Re-embarked, but found two passengers missing and had to wait while they were rounded up. They had been watching the unloading of Prince Philip's luggage which filled 2 vans so evidently he exceeded the regulation 66 lbs.
Took off about 1.5 hours behind schedule. Fastened seat belts for take-off and stewardess distributed barley sugar and later, when we were airborne, iced lemon squash.
Passed over Epsom and crossed coast just east of Brighton which we identified by its two piers.
Reached French Coast near Dieppe. Very good visibility all the way over France. Picked out rivers Seine and Rhone looking rather like wide satin hair ribbon. Saw Marseilles to east as we crossed the Mediterranean coast.
Flew over a corner of Sardinia, but clouds obscured it. On to N. Africa as sun was setting in spectacular shades of electric blue, green, and flame.
Flight very smooth indeed. Less sick-making than a motor coach. Seats well sprung, upholstered in blue, mine immediately behind wings, travelling backwards and facing passengers seated behind us, across a fixed table. Other seats faced back of seats in front and had folding tables. Powder room at tail of aircraft had cleansing lotion, make-up base, colognes, hand lotion etc. provided for our use, Elizabeth Arden.
Afternoon tea was served and cigarettes distributed by stewards at intervals.
Dinner, preceded by sherry, was served after dark.
Chop with new potatoes and peas
Strawberries and cream
Cheese and biscuits
Wine was served with the meal.
Landed at Castel Benito Airport, Tripoli, about 10:30.
Italian and Arab waiters served tea, biscuits, and wine.
Took off after an hour's stop for refuelling for hop over desert to Kano. Take-offs and landings much smoother thanI had imagined; we felt no discomfort from change in altitude, though some passengers yawned widely or swallowed violently to relieve ear pressures.
Lights were extinguished in aircraft for night flight but most people slept little owing to sitting-up posture and vibration.
Morning tea dispensed at 4:45. Landed at Kano Northern Nigeria for breakfast at 5:30. Black stewards waited on us with more zeal than efficiency. Had not realised that black men's hands have pink palms and finger tips and that the soles of their feet are pink.
After breakfast, sun had risen. Bright morning with cool breeze. Rest House had some attractive flower beds with zinnias and petunias as well as native plants and shrubs. One shrub had vivid flame red flowers and looked rather like a Christmas tree with bright red luggage labels tied all over it.
Took off at 7:20. Visibility good at first. Saw Niger and its confluence with Kaduna river then clouds thickened. Clear over Lagos Airport and we landed with no delay, ¾ hour ahead of schedule. We had flown at about 12,000 to 13,000 feet, but pressure inside aircraft was no more than 3,500 feet.
1951, Sunday July 22. Arrival.
T. had set out in good time to meet me and arrived just as the aircraft taxied in. He filled in an immigration form for me to save time so that I got well to the front of the queue through the Customs. The African Customs man looked suspiciously at my travelling case and made me open it for inspection. He showed great interest in the contents of my bottles and jars and seemed to suspect that the Cosmedia lotion might be whiskey. I was tempted to offer him a taste.
The steward boy, Ronson, and the new car (Vanguard Estate) were awaiting me.
It was a 16 mile drive from the Airport right through the town of Lagos.
Arriving at 22 Cameron Road, Ikoyi, we found a reception committee lined up to welcome us. It consisted of Godwin, a steward boy at the Rest House, his wife and three picaninnies. They live in part of our boys' quarters as the Rest House does not provide quarters for the boys there.
Ronson made us coffee and beamingly produced a bunch of bananas as his dash (i.e. free gift) for me. He was resplendent in the new uniform he had ordered for my arrival – white drill with brass buttons. He is well under 5 feet and not unlike a chimp to look at.
To be continued tommorrow…Eryptick.net
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