A Copper in Calabar

ISBN 1-84683-128-8
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by Harry Brun
Experiences of a Student Soldier and Policeman in South and West Africa 1920s-1950s

In this enjoyable memoir, Harry Brun recalls his youthful years, from childhood in South Africa in the 1920s and 30s, via his experiences in the South African armed forces in World War II, to his ten-year sojourn in Nigeria in the 1940s/50s, first as a Colonial Police officer and subsequently as an oil company employee.

Much of the narrative focuses on his experiences with the Nigeria Police in the postwar years when his duties covered a wide variety of activities from seemingly mundane tasks such as examining drivers on their eligibility for a licence (which could prove surprisingly hazardous) to much more serious work, such as investigating gruesome murders carried out by sinister characters known as “Leopard Men” supposedly using witchcraft or “Ju-Ju”.

With an excellent eye for detail, he describes his many escapades in the line of duty and provides an enlightening insight into the latter years of British Colonial rule in Africa and particularly into conditions prevailing in Nigeria at the time and his commentary is now of considerable historical interest.

There is much good humour too, as he divulges some of the more bizarre episodes and oddball characters he encountered, which make for particularly enjoyable reading.

His recollections of his experiences in the oil industry, in the years immediately prior to Nigeria’s independence from Great Britain, are equally illuminating and of similar historical interest.

details: softback | 140 x 205 mm | 250 pages | photos
genre: military/ police memoir | real-life adventure
themes: South Africa in the 1920s/30s  | South African Army in World War II | Police work in Nigeria 1940s/50s
readership: historians / general readers