Inside the City Walls - its a picture
Follow the Blue Lights is travel writing in progress. Each post is a portrait of a place or of people, present or past. Although each post is a self contained account..all the accounts taken together, I hope, will amount to a creation that is greater than the sum of the individual parts.

In 2010 I retired from hospital medicine and travelled to Nigeria. A country which has periodically seen four generations of my family over a timespan of nearly one hundred years. Chimamanda Adichie, author of Half of a Yellow Sun has rightly said that our lives and cultures consist of many overlapping stories. In fact everyone has their own story. This is partly the account of a European family as Nigeria was hurried to Independence in the ten or fifteen short years after the War. It is about prolonged family separations, boarding schools and the excitement of travel to remote tropical destinations.

With family established in Nigeria once again, some fifty years after independence, there was an unexpected opportunity for travel to the North in reasonable safety. So I was able to revisit the places of my childhood and also reflect on the lives of my parents. Also, in considering why we were there in the first place, it was important to think about the very earliest encounters between Europeans and the civilisations of sub Saharan Africa.

In many ways it is a personal search for a reconciliation with the past.

Geoff Sharwood-Smith

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