“An extraordinary account of an idealistic young couple changing the world in newly-independent Nigeria in the early 1960s. The Introduction and Afterword frame the experience in terms of the motivations, hopes, and longer-term careers of these extraordinary young people. The letters to home, accompanied by a wealth of photographs, offer an immediate response to the experience of living in a very different culture and environment, of the swirling ideological currents in a young country casting off imperialism, but being enmeshed in cold-war rivalries of the international system.
The insights into international aid, diplomatic, and non-governmental programs, organizations, rivalries, and effectiveness are insightful and immediate.
The other side is the intensely personal discoveries of a new and unfamiliar culture. The interplay between the various expatriate communities is fascinating, and the clash of cultures between Colonial Civil Servants, international actors, foundations, and the arrival of the Peace Corps is described in immediate detail. Finally, the impact of this experience on this vibrant young couple, culminating in the birth of their first child, is related beautifully in these Letters from Nigeria.
This book should be must reading for those of us who shared in the excitement of trying to facilitate development in the newly-independent countries in those heady days. It should also be must reading for the next generation of young people who want to be involved and make a difference in the developing world. The frequently frustrating conflict between aspirations and hopes and reality are laid bare, yet an underlying optimism and belief that progress has been made persists.
I couldn’t put the book down until the very last paragraph.”
—John R. Harris, Professor of Economics and former Director of the African Studies Center at Boston University.