The end of empire, a romantic story and the social life and culture of an elite British colony - these are the fascinating themes to emerge from this unique collection of letters and diary entries. It is an inside story of Northern Nigeria's independence and of a clash of cultures. Tim Johnston's family was rich in patrician imperial tradition; his father and two uncles were in the 'heaven-born' Indian Civil Service and Tim spent his early years in the Punjab. After his degree at Oxford and the Oxford Colonial Administrative Service course he joined the British Colonial Service in Northern Nigeria. Berrice came from a very different background - a broken home and work in a dress-shop at the age of 14. War service provided a powerful and romantic link: Tim became a war hero and decorated fighter pilot, Berrice joined the ATS and they were married in 1942. Tim returned to Northern Nigeria after the war and was marked as a high flyer. He served a successful apprenticeship as cadet, District Officer and Permanent Secretary to the first Premier of Northern Nigeria, the redoubtable Ahmadu Bello, ultimately becoming Deputy Governor - vital roles in the path to independence. But Berrice could never adjust to the role of 'senior wife' in the social life of the colony. Her inner feelings of self-doubt could lead to aloofness, even a 'frostiness'. She confessed to Lady Sharwood-Smith, the Governor's wife, 'I am not naturally a very social person'. Carolyn Johnston has woven together a series of delightful and revealing letters and diary entries from her parents which show both the social tensions of colonial life and illuminate Northern Nigeria on the brink of independence. 'Harmattan, A Wind of Change' is a rich treasure-house for scholars studying the end of empire and for readers who want to know about the personal impact of empire.
Harmattan, A Wind of Change
Life and Letters from Northern Nigeria at the End of Empire