Some years ago I inexpertly scanned a lot of my dad’s slides, particularly from their/our time in Nigeria (1950s to early 60s) and have been part of a ‘Nigerian Nostalgia’ group on Facebook, sharing some of these. The images tend to arouse some interest, ranging from ‘they didn’t have colour then, though?’ (which makes me feel ancient and has me heading straight into lecture mode!) to amazement at some of the realities of the past (no mobile phones really blows the minds of the younger generation). I have only ‘snapshot’ memories really, being quite young when we left, so I remember places and people, but not the overall geography of a place or the full context, so it’s interesting for me to fill in some of those gaps.
A kind young man in the online group, Nengak Daniel, who was going to visit the Jos area over the Christmas period offered to take some photos for anyone interested while there, so I shot in with a request for a quickie tour of the school compound at Kuru, where my dad was principal and we lived ca 1959 – Jan 63. (You may recall the name from some sad stories of conflict in more recent years.) It was a peaceful place as I recalled. and I was thrilled to see pictures from around the area to fill in the gaps between our literal snapshots and my ‘snapshot memories’. It’s also enabled me to confirm I’d found the right building on Google Earth – I do like a geolocation!
Nengak even found our old house for me. I thought I’d post a 60-years-on shot back in the Facebook group with his permission. It’s not a great photo-collage (cobbled together on the phone!) and it will mean little to you, I suppose, but it’s surprising how potent I found this little picture and how it and the other images triggered memories and emotions. My mum is on the top picture, with her treasured Morning Glory, ever the gardener. The garden is a bit of a victim of time and changing priorities, but the house remains; like me, showing its age, not in pristine condition, but still standing and doing the job.
What am I trying to say with this? I suppose, don’t ever say ‘just a record shot’,, as so many photographers do. Sometimes that record can mean a great deal to a viewer and move them as much or more than a piece of art – even 60 years on!