John Begent - Stories of West Africa

Return to Begent Surname

John Begent 1925-1994
in West Africa 1949

My father John Begent was born in 1925 and educated at Kings School, Wimbledon. He served in the Royal Navy from 1944-47 on small ships in the Mediterranean clearing mines as the Allied forces liberated Greece and the Greek Islands. In 1948 he joined the British Colonial Service and found himself posted to Bekwai in the Ashanti region on Ghana (then the Gold Coast) in West Africa. As assistant District Commisioner he was responsible for administrating the local area. This was Africa in the raw, more than 50 years ago, when there were few white men and a trek into "the bush" meant a journey of days on foot with a loaded weapon and native porters to carry the luggage.

His story below of everyday life and adventure in Ashanti makes fascinating reading and was related by him in 1989 some 5 years before he died.
Introduction  Ashanti  Bekwai  The Ghost  Bungalow  Food  Reality   Trek  'Orris  African Wisdom  Wild Life  Missions   Fetish  Never a Dull Moment  


"FIRST TOUR"

(A talk given to the Women's Fellowship of St. Mary the Virgin, Ewell on 1st November 1989)

Introduction

Bear with me while I reminisce a little about my life more than 40 years ago.

While I was still in the Navy in 1946 I applied for a job in the Colonial Administrative Service and after two interviews I was eventually told that I had been selected for appointment to the Gold Coast. To my shame, I confess that I had to look in an atlas to find out where it was in Africa! In October that year I went back to Oxford for a 15 month training course, there and at London University, during which we were encouraged to see our role as preparing our colonies for eventual self-Government. No-one then could have envisaged quite how rapid the process would be, particularly in the case of the Gold Coast, which gained its independence as Ghana only ten years later and became a republic in 1960, one year before I returned to work in England. But all this was in the future. When I arrived by sea in February 1948 to take up my appointment the Gold Coast was still very much a colony under a Governor appointed by the Crown. Each of the four regions (the Colony, Ashanti, Northern Territories, and Togoland) had its own Chief Commissioner, and the regions were split into Districts under a District Commissioner, who was the local representative of the central Government. His job was to build up local government by what were known as Native Authorities under local chiefs and "elders", where the proceedings were conducted in the local language - and there were quite a number of them; the language of central government was English.

The old Colonial Service believed in keeping young officers in their place. The first day our group of new "cadets" landed in the Gold Coast we were accommodated at Sekondi, the provincial HQ. It so happened that the Chief Commissioner of the Colony, Sir Thorlief Mangin, was visiting Sekondi, so we were all invited that evening to drinks with him at the Provincial Commissioner's house. As we sat round on the stoep (an open air verandah) Sir Thorlief asked us all in turn what we had done in the war - for we had all been recruited from the Services. When it came to me I said "Royal Navy, sir". "Good" was the reply " my own service. I was at Jutland, you know. What were you in?". "Minesweepers, sir". "Good Heavens" said Sir Thorlief, "the dregs, the very dregs!" - and had nothing more to say to me. I thanked my lucky stars that I was posted to Ashanti!

Ashanti

A day's train journey took me to Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti Region. The Ashantis are a proud and warlike people who, in the days of the slave trade, made a profitable business out of raiding neighbouring tribes, and selling their prisoners into slavery to white traders on the Coast. They got quite upset when the slave trade was abolished in 1807. In the course of the 19th century they fought no less than six wars with the British - in 1824 they killed the then Governor, Sir Charles MacCarthy and it wasn't until 1873 that Lord Wolsey led an expeditionary force which, after defeating the Ashantis at the battle of Amoaful (close to Bekwai where I was posted) burned Kumasi. But that wasn't the end of the troubles. In 1900 the Governor, Sir Arnold Hodgson, was besieged in the Fort at Kumasi, and only escaped by fighting his way out by a circuitous route to the west of Bekwai, accompanied by his intrepid wife, Lady Hodgson. The Ashantis were led by the Queen Mother of Ejisu, Yaa Asantewaa, and the whole episode is known as the "Yaa Asantewa war". After that Ashanti was annexed, and brought under British rule. The language they spoke was a dialect of Twi, in which I had had lessons at the School of Oriental & African studies in London.

Women hold a very important place in Ashanti life. The society is matrilineal. Each matrilineal descent group, the "abusua", is united by having a common blood which is passed from women to their children but not from fathers to sons. Property and leadership therefore pass not from father to son but from maternal uncle to sister's son. Thus it did not follow that when a woman married she left her home. Early in marriage a man and a woman might co-habit, but the wife could also spend a lot of time elsewhere - with her mother and her sisters in the matrilineal house, travelling to trade (for trade in Ashanti was in the hands of women), or on her farm. Children were quite likely to live with their mothers' brothers from whom they could eventually inherit rights, property and duties. A woman, after marriage, might stay in her matrilineal house, visiting her husband by day or night and sending over his meals by one of the children of the house. As I soon found out, the senior woman in a village - the "obaa panin" - wielded a lot of power and influence. As my dear Margaret puts it, "the Ashantis had women's rights sewn up long before we even thought of them"!

Bekwai

A few days later I took up my duties as Assistant District Commissioner, Bekwai. The District, including its sub-district of Obuasi, formed a rectangle roughly 60 miles east to west by 45 miles north and south. There was very little flat ground - just a succession of hills and valleys. In the NE of the district was the southern shore of Lake Bosumtwe, formed from a volcanic crater. Except where cleared for farming purposes, the vegetation is mainly thick forest, rich in timber. The main economic crop is cocoa, the trees of which like the shade provided by the forest. The climate is tropical, with high humidity. From June to November there are heavy rains; the dry season lasts from January to March. The total population of the district in 1948 was 88,000. To administer the district there was a District Commissioner and two Assistant District Commissioners, one of whom was based at Obuasi, which had an important gold mine.

Encounter with a Ghost

The biggest town, and administrative centre, was Bekwai itself, with a population of 4,500 - it straggled either side of the main Kumasi-Cape Coast road. Because my bungalow wasn't quite ready I spent the first few nights in the Government Rest House, which had been the living quarters over the Bank of British West Africa when the cocoa boom in the 20's made it worthwhile having a branch there. It was here I saw, for the first and only time in my life, a ghost. Awaking in the middle of the night I became aware that standing just outside the mosquito net was a large African, wearing a singlet and purple coloured trousers with a white pin stripe. His arms were folded, and he looked down at me. Groping under my pillow for my torch I shone it, and the figure faded. I got out from under the mosquito net and looked round, but found nothing. Later I was told that I wasn't the only person who had seen that ghost; it was believed to be that of a servant who had died there 20 years earlier in suspicious circumstances.

My Bungalow and Neighbours

The Government bungalows were situated to the north of the town on a small ridge to the east of the Kumasi road . Viewed from that road they were from left to right, the District Commissioner's bungalow (built two years earlier) and occupied by the Acting D.C., Ambrose, who had won a DSO and DFC during the war as a bomber pilot - his was the only one roofed with the new fangled asbestos sheeting, all the rest having corrugated iron roofs; my own, known as the old D.C.'s bungalow, then the "Doctor's" bungalow; built the same year as mine, 1925, it was empty, as there was no doctor available - the small "hospital" in the town was run by an African Dispenser. But that bungalow had a history, for it was there that in 1927 Dr.Knowles' wife died; he was eventually tried in London for murder and convicted, but his appeal was upheld. It seems likely that what really happened was that Mrs.Knowles sat on a loaded and cocked revolver which her drunken husband had left on a chair. In getting up she was shot in the left buttock, the bullet coming out over her right hip. She didn't get any medical treatment until the next day, and died a few days later in hospital in Kumasi.

Next came the Agricultural Survey Officer's bungalow. This was of a different type from the rest, having a verandah on 3 sides which was protected by mosquito netting; the A.S.O.(as he was known), Len ,who had won an MC in Burma with the Royal West African Frontier Force, was a good friend of mine until his death in 1955 in Accra soon after he had married. Finally there was the Forestry Officer's Bungalow, appropriately enough of all wooden construction. Gerry's wife, Joyce, was the only "Government wife" on the station at the time.

There was no electricity, and we used Aladdin or Tilley lamps for lighting. For water we depended on large tanks fed by the rain falling on the roof. Care had to be exercised in the dry season. There was no WC; instead there was a "thunder box", a wooden toilet cabinet containing a metal bucket that was emptied each day by "the Tankas man", this being the local name for the sanitary man. The accompanying box of earth or shavings was topped up at the same time. We all had to take an anti-malarial drug - quinine, mepacrine or the new Paludrine which had just been introduced. You could tell who was taking mepacrine, because it gave the skin a yellow tint. Despite these precautions, and always sleeping under a mosquito net, I was twice in Kumasi hospital in my first tour with malaria.

Servants

My household consisted of a steward and a cook, who I had to pay from my own salary. Both were Frafra's, a tribe in the Northern Territories. They spoke enough Twi to shop in the local market, but our language of communication was English - of a sort. It could be very colourful; if my steward wanted to tell me he couldn't find something, he would say "I look 'em; I no see 'em". "He go, he come back" meant that someone had returned. "He no fit proper" signified that the person was quite unable to do something. To trouble was to "humbug" and to serve a meal was to "pass chop". To "pass" was a portmanteau verb. A colleague of mine was entertaining some senior ladies when his steward came to tell him that his bath was ready, saying "Massa, I go pass water for your bath".

Food, and a social gaffe

There were two other European households on the station. One was an old Coaster named Duggie. You could always tell the old coasters aboard the Elder Dempster Line ships to and from West Africa, as their breakfast consisted of nothing more than a brandy and soda, the bar being specially opened to accommodate them. Duggie was a bit of a dandy, who always wore white cotton gloves, but an unsuccessful trader. Periodically he would become bankrupt, and appeal to a pair of maiden Aunts in England for help. They always paid up - "Otherwise, dear boy, I'd have to go home, and they'd hate that!" Then there was the Cadbury and Fry Cocoa buyer, Phil, and his wife Felix, who lived in an old fashioned wooden bungalow in the town by the cocoa sheds. It was here I committed my great social gaffe. The first Sunday I was in Bekwai I was invited to lunch by Phil and Felix. The menu for such an occasion was one of three dishes - a groundnut stew, a palm oil stew or a curry. In the absence of cold stores, the choice of meat available in the market was very limited. There were no local cattle because Ashanti was within the tsetse fly belt, so any beef would be very stringy, the poor beast having walked several hundred miles from the arid pastures of the Northern Territories before being slaughtered. The local sheep were miserable creatures; much more robust were the goats, but their meat was, let us say, an acquired taste. Groundnut, palm oil and curry were three ways of making the inedible edible. They were served with rice and side dishes of nuts and fruit, and the stew usually contained local vegetables and - and this was my downfall - hard boiled eggs. In my ignorance, I did not realise that there was only one egg for each person. When the steward brought me the main dish I took not one, but two, eggs. The effect round the table was rather like one of those H.M.Bateman cartoons - "The man who..........". With every eye on me, the silence was broken by the African steward. "Put um back" he said, very firmly. Shamefacedly, I returned one of the eggs to the dish, feeling about two inches high! I never made that mistake again........

The realities of political administration

I had arrived in the Gold Coast with my head stuffed with the latest theories of administration. The reality was rather different, partly because my arrival in Bekwai co-incided with the outbreak of riots throughout the Colony and Ashanti. Although the background was political, the immediate causes were food prices in the main towns, and the unpopularity of the Government's "swollen shoot" campaign in the cocoa farming areas. "Swollen shoot" was caused by an aphid which attacked and ultimately killed the cocoa tree several years later. The only way to control the spread of the disease - and this was confirmed by United Nations experts - was to cut down and burn any diseased tree as soon as it was found. The problem was that the diseased tree continued to produce cocoa pods until it finally died, and the African farmer simply didn't see why he should be expected to forgo the profit from these pods and accept instead the Government compensation of 2/- for each diseased tree cut down. And there were an awful lot of trees involved. Later that year I set a record for Ashanti by paying out 10,000 in one day to Lakeside farmers - equivalent to 100,000 trees. The only excitement that day was when the armed policeman guarding the cash box dozed off and his finger slipped on the trigger of his rifle. The bullet just missed my head. Once it was established that no-one was hurt the waiting farmers saw the funny side of it, and fell about laughing.

Anyway, the whole of Ashanti was in a ferment. That Bekwai was the only district centre not to have riots was probably due to Ambrose's personality. Alone and unarmed, he stood in the middle of the market place when tension was high and announced that if anybody wanted to start any trouble they could come and start it with him there and then. This forthright stand won the approval of the market woman who liked a "proper man", and they made their support for him clear; taking on the D.C. was one thing, but the market women were a force to be feared. The malcontents slunk away. But Ambrose had his hands full, and the few police at his disposal were kept very busy. In some places the opportunity was used to attack unpopular chiefs. One morning Ambrose sent for me. "I've had a message from the Pekyihene (that is, the chief of Pekyi) that his subjects are trying to kill him. Go and see what you can do. I'm afraid I can only spare you one armed policeman". So off I went in a ramshackle taxi (I hadn't a car of my own yet) with the policeman sitting in the back, his rifle between his knees. Pekyi was a village some 8 miles to the north, just off the Kumasi road. Quite what I would have done if there had been a riot in progress I don't know, but fortunately by the time I got there the local "opposition" was so drunk that I had the frightened chief in the taxi and out of the village before they realised that their prey had escaped them. But his opponents "de-stooled" (i.e.dethroned) him in the end. Again I was involved, but that's another story.

A walking trek

When things began to quieten down a bit, Ambrose decided that it would be a good idea of I did a bit of "showing the flag", so he sent me off on a walking trek to hold an "estimates meeting" at Nsuaem, a village that hadn't been visited by a white man for more than two years. A ramshackle truck, hired in the kagyetia (the lorry park) and laden with my trekking gear, food for 3 days, an interpreter, two servants, and two small boys who were the sons of the Roman Catholic Catechist at my destination and who I had undertaken to deliver to their home, took 1 hour to cover 12 miles along what was optimistically referred to as the Koniyao "road". There I found nine bearers sent by the chief from Nsuaem. Everything was head loaded, and we set off in single file on the 9 mile walk. It was hard going , pushing through the undergrowth along an indistinct path, with the dense forest looming all around. It really was a novelist's idea of Africa. What impressed me most was the unearthly silence of the forest, broken only by the chatter of the bearers and the occasional cry of a bird or screech of a monkey. After 3 hours walking we reached Nsuaem, where I was greeted by the local school's drum and fife band. The mission hut had been allocated as my quarters, and my servants soon had my camp bed and canvas bath and washstand installed. For the next two and half days I was the centre of attention; endless meetings with the local chiefs, a school inspection, and dealing with requests and complaints from individuals.

For the village children my morning and evening ablutions, while water was poured over me from a bucket, were compulsive viewing. Some of the local girls evidently found my white skin fascinating, and the Native Authority policeman, armed with a cane, had to be posted to keep the curious at bay! Perhaps the most unexpected event was that each night a queue of children formed to wish me good night, being allowed in one at a time by my steward. It was good practice for my Twi. In a way, life was idyllic except for the village latrines. I insisted on new ones being dug immediately. A stream provided water for both drinking and washing, but at least the bathing place was downstream of the spot where drinking water was collected. When I left I was presented with 5 chickens and basins of eggs - and this at a time when eggs were still rationed in England. As was customary I had to make a return "dash" (i.e. gift) of money. Back at Bekwai Ambrose greeted me with "Wotcher, Livingstone". My interpreter, who was exhausted, promptly reported sick, and I had to put up with a lot of leg-pulling about being a "slave driver".

Empire Day

On Empire Day each year there was always a parade of schoolchildren and other local organisations at various centres, and the DC and I would attend at least one each, clad in very uncomfortable full dress uniforms, Wolsey Helmet, white jacket with gorgets of rank on the neck band, tight overall trousers, black boots and, of course, a sword. The children didn't mind as the rest of the day was a holiday - and the DC and I couldn't wait to get out of our uniforms and sink a beer, cooled by being wrapped in wet cloths and hung in a basket exposed to the breeze.

'Orris

After a while I bought myself a second hand car - a 1936 Canadian Ford V8 with a soft hood and a dickey seat. Having started life in Northern Nigeria, the previous owner admitted that the 86,000 miles on the clock was really 186,000; others reckoned that it could well have been 286,000! Basically it was a very simple motor car, but there were still an awful lot of things that could go wrong. To be fair, however, it had some very rough roads to travel, 90 miles of which (all earth roads) I was responsible for keeping open, using a few gangs of labourers to fill in the holes and repair the wooden bridges which were broken down with monotonous regularity by timber lorries and heavily laden trucks. The latter, known as "mammy wagons" because they carried the market women and their produce to the markets in the towns, were also used to get the sacks of cocoa to the rail head at Bekwai. I called my car 'Orris after a favourite, if unreliable, uncle. It was soon a familiar sight in the district; once a month I had to traverse all the secondary roads with money to pay the labourers who kept them open.

'Orris had transverse leaf springs, which could lead to spectacular results when a main leaf broke. On one occasion the front one snapped, with the result that the wing that side fell on the wheel, causing the car to overturn; fortunately, I wasn't going fast and the ditch contained very soft mud, but the clerk riding in the dickey seat ended up on the canvas roof. There was a gang of labourers nearby who hauled 'Orris back on to the road, and lifted the body while I inserted a block of wood between it and the axle in place of the broken spring. It was a long, uncomfortable and very slow journey back to Bekwai. Petrol came in 44 gallon drums, which were none too clean. Fuel blockages were therefore commonplace, requiring one to disconnect the fuel pipe and suck through it until a mouthful of petrol signified that the blockage had cleared. After doing this on one occasion I hadn't driven far when flames started coming under the dashboard. Baling out rapidly I was fortunate enough to find a passing labourer with a pan of earth on his head. Thrown on to the blazing engine this was sufficient to put out the fire. Subsequent inspection showed the cause to be that when servicing the carburettor a local mechanic had omitted to replace the needle valve. A partially blocked fuel pipe had limited the flow of the petrol up to then. But the clearance of the pipe meant that there was nothing to stop the carburettor from flooding, the fuel overflowing on to a hot engine. Hence the fire. 'Orris survived my first tour, at the end of which I sold him to a local Odikro, a minor chief. He had the car driven back to his village which was at the end of a track. Just before the village was a wooden bridge, which hadn't been maintained. The result was that when the car passed over, the bridge collapsed behind it. It so happened that the Odikro wasn't on good terms with his subjects, who flatly refused to rebuild the bridge. I heard later that 'Orris was last seen with long grass growing through his floor boards.

Words of wisdom

Mind you, the main roads, maintained by the Public Works Department, weren't much better, being mainly laterite, a clay with an iron hydroxide content which produces a distinctive red dust which coats and permeates everything. I once drove for hours behind a Mammy wagon in a cloud of dust that made overtaking impossible. It was customary for these trucks to bear names e.g. "Accra Boy", "Great Lover", "Elephant man", and, in some cases, epigrams. This particular lorry had inscribed across its tail board these words of wisdom "Fear Woman and Live Long", which I have ever since adopted as my rule in life.

Wild Life

Ashanti isn't famous for its wild life. There were some elephants in the north,beyond the forest line, but the largest animals I ever saw in the Bekwai district were six pairs of chimpanzees crossing a road hand in hand. Staying at a remote rest house in the west of the district I heard sounds in the night which I was subsequently told was a leopard, but I never saw one. There were plenty of birds, especially grey parrots, as well as duikas (a sort of miniature deer) and colobus monkeys - there was a colony of them opposite my bungalow - and lizards of all shapes and sizes. But the only dangerous creatures were snakes, particularly the mambas and vipers. (You can ask Margaret about the time in Kumasi in her first tour a green mamba was found on our son's pram). The nastiest snake I encountered in Bekwai was a Gaboon viper in a drain outside my bungalow. It had a plump triangular body, and looked thoroughly evil. It hadn't the speed of a mamba, but it was very poisonous. I once killed a python by running over it on a bush road with all four wheels of my car. When I encountered it the head was in the grass one side of the road and the tail still had to emerge from the grass on the other side; it measured 15ft. in length. In the Wenchi district in the north of Ashanti it was the practice in some areas for the locals to carry bricks on their heads. This was a protection against pythons which, although not poisonous, would lie along the branch of a tree and strike downwards with their heads to stun their victim before killing him by compression in its coils. The intended victim might end up with a nasty headache, but it was better than being eaten by the python.

The Missions

Nearly every town and village had a school run by one or other of the missions - English Church Mission, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Seventh Day Adventists, AME Zion, and even the Salvation Army. Educationally, they did a good job, but it must be said that the open rivalry between the different denominations in those pre-Ecumenical days did little to further the Gospel. To get the benefits of education many Africans professed Christianity, but in the rural areas there was a marked tendency for them to lapse back into pagan ways at the first opportunity, most subscribing to a belief in some Fetish i.e. an object possessed of a spirit which could benefit its adherents, usually in return for a substantial payment to its priest.

I am "put into fetish"

This leads me back to the Pekyihene who, you'll recall, I was sent to rescue soon after my arrival in Bekwai. Having failed to overthrow him by violence his opponents resorted to fair means, and had him convicted before a native court of having intercourse with a girl before her "bragoro", a nubility rite which took place after her first menstruation, and signifying that she was now marriageable. Such an offence against custom ensured that he would be de-stooled, and it was therefore no surprise that he appealed. It fell to me as a magistrate to hear the appeal. After the pleadings I adjourned the court to write my judgement. So far as I could see, it was a straightforward case. The girl, who was produced in court, was clearly nubile, but the fact remained that her bragoro rite had not been held at the time the Pekyihene had intercourse with her. I was still writing when the Chief Clerk, and court interpreter, old Mr.Ntow came to my office. He said "I think you ought to know, sir, that the Pekyihene has put you in fetish. He travelled to Wenchi (a distance of more than 100 miles) and is said to have paid 100 to a powerful fetish priest there, who has promised that one of two things will happen; either he will win his appeal, or if the judgement is going against him, the magistrate will drop dead on the spot, necessitating a re-hearing".

When I returned to the courthouse, which was packed - not for nothing was litigation described as "the Ashanti national sport" - every eye was on me. It was clear that the fetish priest's prophecy was public knowledge. I can't pretend it was a pleasant experience - however much you tell yourself that this fetish business is all nonsense, the knowledge that a lot of people are expecting you to drop dead is not conducive to one's peace of mind. When I finished reading the judgement, rejecting the appeal and upholding the finding of the native court, there was dead silence. I knew I must do something to break the tension; for a moment I was non-plussed, and then, looking straight at the Pekyihene, I said in English "Hard luck, chum! Court adjourned." Mr. Ntow came out of his trance - for he too had been staring at me - and leaped to his feet. "Court adjourned " he repeated "All stand!" There was a sound like a great sighing as those who had been holding their breath exhaled. I retired to my bungalow and had a stiff drink. The Pekyihene was duly destooled, and I never saw him again.

Never a dull moment.

So my tour of duty progressed. Sometimes life was:

- interesting as when a journalist, Oliver Woods of The Times, accompanied me on a visit to a village where the water supply had become contaminated, with the result that many of the inhabitants were suffering from guinea worm. It is no trouble for about year, but when the worm approaches the surface of the body from within it causes a local painful swelling which is usually accompanied by fever. My job was simply to add permanganate of potash crystals to the water supply to purify it. This, of course, coloured the water purple. It was therefore important for me to call for a glass and publicly drink the coloured water myself to show that it wasn't harmful. Having watched this ceremony, Oliver Woods asked if he could see a worm. The chief obliged and produced a girl who had several inches of worm protruding from one breast (these worms can grow up to 4 ft.long). My journalist friend, who had already been shaken up by the journey along some very rough roads, turned a pale shade of green; or

- exciting, as when I chased an absconding Native Authority treasurer.
He dodged into the forest, and got away; and occasionally

- entertaining. Six miles south of Bekwai there was a very friendly village named Sanfu, where Ambrose and I were always welcome on a Sunday afternoon to watch football and drink palm wine with the chief and elders.

Palm wine is made by felling a particular type of palm tree and tapping the crown i.e. the very top. When fresh the liquor is harmless - a sort of sweet cordial. But after fermenting for a few hours in the sun it can become very potent. We drank it from gourds, being careful to throw the last few drops on the ground as an offering to the earth spirits. One of the elders was a Christian, and on conversion he had taken the name of Timothy. Now an old man he had been a warrior in his young days and we heard about the Yaa Asantewa war against the "Boroni" (the white men) from the Ashanti viewpoint. Occasionally Ambrose and I joined in the football - on opposite sides of course - to the great delight of the locals, especially when he brought me down with a flying rugby tackle. A combination of the humidity, the heat and the palm wine ensured that the game was never taken too seriously!

But one thing life never was - dull. How could it be when besides being Assistant District Commissioner and a magistrate I was also a Coroner, Registrar of Marriages, the authority for licensing letter writers (important people when most of the population were illiterate) and money lenders, the administrator of petrol rationing for the district, the inspector of native authority courts, the auditor of native authority accounts etc etc ? In short, I was a regular Pooh Bah, "Lord High everything else"!

Leave

At the end of 18 months I boarded the train at Bekwai station for Takoradi to return to England by sea on leave. By now Margaret and I had been engaged for two years, which had seemed a VERY long time. But she was still waiting for me, and we were married in October 1949.

Ewell, November 1989 John Begent

Begent Family Home Pages
Front Page | Site Map | Our Family | Jokes | Calendar | Quotes | Fun Stuff | Links | Contact us | Visitors Book

Return to the top of the page