My Africa


83 pages
ISBN 0-921633-69-6
DDC 966.9'03'092





Illustrations by John Grayson
Reviewed by Ashley Thomson

Ashley Thomson is a full librarian at Laurentian University and co-editor or co-author of nine books, most recently Margaret Atwood: A Reference Guide, 1988-2005.


In My Africa, Grayson, an academic doctor born in 1919, reminisces about
his life in Africa between 1955, when he assumed the headship of a new
medical school in Ibadan, Nigeria, and 1967, when he left the country.
The book is based on a diary he kept during that time, and its style
reflects these origins. The text is somewhat idiosyncratic and reflects
subjects that interested the author; references cry out for further
explanation (e.g., the Elliot Commission); the illustrations are
uncaptioned and appear to bear little relation to the adjacent text; the
editing is a bit slap-dash; and there is no map or index to assist the
persistent reader. At first blush, then, My Africa reads like a volume
prepared for family members under pressure before it becomes too late.

And yet, whatever its origins, the book will bear interest for curious
outsiders because of the insights it provides into a courageous,
inventive, and above all tolerant human being operating in a culture
very different from his own. The chapter titled “Tunji at the Gates of
Paradise”—albeit a jarring insert in his narrative—is almost worth
the price of the volume. Dr. Grayson’s reflections on that changing
culture—particularly his concerns about population control—are also
worthy of wide consideration.


Grayson, John., “My Africa,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024,