Chief John West Chronicles, ‘’Nigeria, Tumultuous Years, 1958-1977,’’ a Heartwarming Tale of Transformation

  • Post last modified:June 4, 2024
  • Reading time:4 mins read

Few narratives possess the magnetic allure and firsthand insight to compellingly explain historical events when it comes to writing memoirs. Chief John West’s masterpiece, “Nigeria, Tumultuous Years, 1958-1977,” is remarkable evidence of his immersive experience as a British expatriate during a pivotal period in Nigeria’s evolution. This deeply engaging memoir is a masterwork of storytelling that offers readers a profound journey through a dynamic and transformative era.

Chief John West invites us to step into his shoes as a young man navigating the intricacies of the business world. Yet, this wasn’t just any business world. It was Nigeria, a country on the cusp of its historic transformation. The narrative unfolds with every step he took, from mingling with expatriates from diverse countries and cultures to gradually immersing himself in the Nigerian culture. Nothing less than a mosaic of tribes, languages, and traditions. It’s a journey of personal transformation, mirroring Nigeria’s transition from a colony to an independent nation.

The book’s magnetic appeal lies in Chief West’s extraordinary ability to seamlessly blend personal experiences with the broader canvas of Nigerian history. From the transition of the United Bank for Africa Ltd, a French bank, to an international and ultimately a Nigerian bank, to his tenure with the Bank of British West Africa Ltd, readers are offered a firsthand view of the dynamic Nigerian banking world and its response to the nation’s evolving political landscape.

Chief West’s defense of the work ethic of his Nigerian staff serves as a vibrant tribute to a nation he grew to deeply respect and love. The book emits positivity, depicting a Nigeria where life is far from easy, but its people are relentless in their pursuit of self-improvement.

One of the most remarkable aspects of this memoir is the fact that Chief West penned it at the age of 90, a remarkable testament to his enduring love for Nigeria and its people. His book is an individual recollection. It is a treasured contribution to understanding Nigeria’s history and a resource for those stepping into the commercial world.

Chief John West’s narrative takes us back to an era when Londoners were advised to leave the comforts of the city for the “Colonies” for a more intriguing and lucrative life. West embraced this counsel and the resulting journey, which is now chronicled in his trilogy of memoirs. His journey led him to the heart of Nigeria, Lagos, which was shrouded in mystery and uncertainty.

Chief West’s storytelling abilities shine through as he navigates life in Lagos. A city teetering on the edge of independence. The narrative traces his life’s trajectory as a bachelor, his journey into married life, and his ten-year stint managing various branches of the bank. 

Throughout the memoir, Chief West’s life discusses the continuous learning experience, an electrifying journey where every moment is a revelation. His introduction to Prince Okunade Sijuade, Ooni of Ife, was the turning point when he “came of age” in Nigeria. The meeting laid the groundwork for the lessons he’d learned that would be put into practice.

Chief West’s narrative becomes an invaluable guide for those who wish to understand the complexities of Nigeria’s history and the resilience of its people. As an expatriate who bore witness to the tumultuous years of 1958-1977, Chief John West’s memoir is outstanding. It offers a unique window into Nigeria’s history and provides an extraordinary account of his personal journey, which was deeply intertwined with the nation’s evolution.

A noteworthy mention in this celebration is the unprecedented honor bestowed upon this memoir by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who has penned the foreword. His involvement is proof of the significance of Chief John West’s work and its profound impact on Nigeria’s history and culture.

In “Nigeria, Tumultuous Years, 1958-1977,” Chief John West has gifted the world a narrative that surpasses time, culture, and borders. It showcases the enduring bonds of humanity, a story of a foreigner who became one with Nigeria and its people. This book is a literary treasure trove for those interested in Nigeria’s history, culture, and business journey.

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