AFRICAN ENCOUNTER by Robert Collis

AFRICAN ENCOUNTER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The author is an irish pediatrician (or ""paediatrician"" as he puts it), who accepted as invitation to help organize a pediatric clinic in Nigeria during the last few months of British rule there. Not only did he do this in the new hospital at Ibadan ""the biggest city in the whole of West Africa"", but he met many of the British and Nigerian leaders of the country and travelled over Nigeria and into the British and French Cameroons. Three impressions emerge strongly from this book. The first is the charm and challenge of Africa, and of the tribes who inhabit Nigeria: the Hausas of the North and the Yorubas and Ibos of the South. The second is the vast medical problem presented by inadequate dietary habits, particularly in childhood health and childhood mortality. And the third is the excellent job the British have done in preparing the Nigerians for self-rule, especially as contrasted to the neighboring French. The book is most interesting when it is evoking peoples and atmospheres -- the children in the clinic, the British who were determined to destroy the color barrier and did so with elegant wholeheartedness, the dedicated native nurses and doctors, and the few die-hard British in the North who insisted on referring to Africans as ""non-expatriates."" There is political and social theorizing here too; Dr. Collis believes firmly in centralized planning of agriculture to correct the gruesome deficiency diseases he has described, and has many thoughts on the proper organization of medicine in Nigeria which include a few disagreements with the theories of Dr. Schweitzer. But above all, the author recreates a country and a people that have obviously completely won his heart.

Publisher: Scribner