Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Come fly with with me to a fascinating taste of Igboland!

Welcome Wednesday has something wonderful to share today. 
My Crooked Cat friend, Jeff Gardiner, is giving us an insight into what it might have been like for his missionary characters - Lydia and Clem - in his recently published historical novel - Igboland- set in Africa in the late 1960s.

I recently read and reviewed the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. (Review on my features blog, Amazon, and Goodreads) Jeff is on tour with his newest novel so, over to Jeff now...

IGBOLAND, by Jeff Gardiner, is a tale of passion and conflict set in Nigeria during the 1960s Biafran War.

Lydia is a young English girl, newly married, who goes to live in an Igbo bush village. She has to face many difficult challenges, not least regarding her marriage and personal beliefs.
Author, Jeff Gardiner’s own parents lived in Nigeria during the Biafran War, and Jeff was born out there in Jos. Here he provides us with some of his parents’ photos of Nigeria, taken between 1964-1970, and gives us a few comments about the parallels between his parents’ inspiring experience, and the very fictional narrative of Lydia Davies, protagonist of ‘Igboland’.

This shows a typical red dusty road along a southern Nigerian village. The sun is shining and the welcome faces become a regular sight for Lydia, adapting to life in this country, thousands of miles from her West Sussex home.

Here’s a very typical sight – the bush land through which Lydia cycles to meet Kwemto.

Grace and the other Igbo women pound yams just like this lady to make fufu and other delicious dishes. Yam is the Nigerian staple diet and an important part of their culture. The yam festival is a central event in Igbo culture and described in a chapter of ‘Igboland’. They choose a King Yam and give blessings to the earth goddess, Ani.

Lydia and Clem have a few car problems in the novel. My own parents often tell stories of their Beetle, pictured here, stuck in rivers or breaking down, only for a group of locals to appear miraculously out of the bush, to help them on their way again. Mum remembers one occasion when some men appeared as from nowhere through very tall grass, with a basin of water for washing their hands, a table to put it on and chair to sit on: such kindness.

My Mum ran a simple dispensary to help locals with lesser medical issues. It is through Lydia’s little clinic that she develops her relationship with Kwemto, the Igbo doctor. As an interesting aside, Lassa Fever plays a role in the novel, and the very doctor who delivered me at my birth was an American called Jeanette Troup, who became the first white person to be recorded as dying from the newly discovered Lassa Fever.

I thought you should have a laugh and see an author photo. Here’s little Jeffy at the age of one, sitting outside in the burning West African sun, where my parents obviously abandoned me...!

‘Igboland’ was a pleasure to research and write. I learnt a great deal about the country that I consider my ‘spiritual home’. The Igbo tribe have an inspiring culture and philosophy, from which we in the west could learn a great deal. Igbo traditions and the brutality of civil war provide the backdrop for ‘Igboland’. It is a work of fiction, about imaginary characters; but the whole thing is rooted in a place and historical context that are very real.

Read ‘Igboland’ to find out what happens to Lydia and Clem when they leave their comfortable English homes to live in a place so challenging and different from anything they have ever experienced before.
For more details and photos, please visit my blog:

To purchase ‘Igboland’ visit my website:

Thank you so much for sharing this with us today, Jeff. It certainly brings the story much more to life for me having read it recently, and I'm sure your photos will entice new readers. (The cute little boy that was you just might well do it, too!) Best wishes for great success with Igboland - it's a treat to read.


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