…..'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'…..

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menory Lane - Nigerian Nibbles

I pick up the mini-biography with the big upheaval of overseas living. (The label Mac History is the one to click if you want to catch up.)

Benin City was our destination, in the Edo province.

The company father worked for was Balfour Beatty, which had then been absorbed by British Insulated Cable Company (BICC...as an aside I learned only this month that Balfour Beatty was again the main name and BICC is now defunct).  There were BICC stations at various parts of the large country. There was major electrification going on for villages and remote towns.  Whilst we did travel a bit to other areas, we were mainly centred on the stretch of the line for which dad was responsible.  This ran from Benin City up to Okene (about three quarters of the way towards the town of Lokoja you see on above map).

Majority of the ground that had to be broken consisted of laterite and there was, of course, plenty of greenery to be moved aside.

This photo shows a site visit looking along a swath of cleared 'bush'.  Peugeot tended to be the vehicle of choice.  It was famous for surviving many a Dakar...

In the shot you see Mac2 closest to camera, to the far left is mother and father then Mac3 and Mac1; then other BICC members.  It was Christmas holidays for the girls. I digress.  My aim today is to set the scene.  Back in Benin, when the parents, Mac3 and myself first arrived in late September 1975, we initially lived in an established bungalow whilst a larger house was built in the compound behind it.

Don't recall the bloke on the left, but that's the parents and Mac3 looking well chuffed with himself. See that tree behind mum?

... well it made use of itself in the following manner...

In the background (grainily!) you can spot pineapples and banana plants. Below are before and after shots of No. 1 Oguolo Avenue; the new 'boss house' (once we moved there, the old bungalow became the office).

Front aspect...

Rear aspect...

Mother, with the able assistance of John the gardener, flattened and planted the entire compound and we enjoyed many fruits and vegetables from it.

Benin City has a significant history, being the centre of a large kingdom and with earthworks which have been likened in their importance to the Great Wall of China. The head of kingdom is called Oba (in the linked article this is often mis-typed as obo)...more on that in due course.

One of the wonderful crafts of the area are the bronzes.  Still operational, rarely are there truly fine examples now made; mostly it is for the tourist market.  

That should keep you busy for a while...


  1. You have lived in many places have these places changed much since you were there, I bet they are so different now.

  2. My hubby and I are great fans of the Dakar but were sorry to see it move to South America although we understand why.

    I too am intrigued by all the places you have lived. This looks like a great adventure to me.

  3. I'm wondering if you have been back to Nigeria in recent years? (I meet plenty of people in Aberdeen who have worked there in the oil industry. Sadly, few have good things to say about the place.)

  4. Hari Om
    Bertie/Gail - few had good to say about it then, as well...

    SQ - the rally is quite the feat of driving; but S America is just not the same...

    Merle - well...the basics never change...

  5. Hi Yam. At last I am able to view your posts but will have to go through them slowly. I had to arrive here via your comment on my post as otherwise they won't open for me. Don't know why.
    This is so interesting to read about life in Nigeria and I look forward to reading more about it as I can when I try and catch up.
    My first husband's sister and her husband lived in Nigeria many years ago when they were in the Australian Embassy there. She unfortunately was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to be flown to London which cut short their time in that country. I must ask her what her memories of Nigeria are. It would have been back in the 1970s I would think.

  6. Hari OM
    Thank you Mimisie!! As you'll gather it was the 1970s we were there also. It certainly would be interesting to compare notes.

    Not sure what is awry with your opening of the blogs; when you click on my name in the comments on your own blog, it should open on the Google page which shows all posts from this side and then you can browse them and drop into the ones which appeal most. ...there is so much I still have to learn about the interwebbles as well so don't worry! YAM xx


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