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The Freetown Bond

The Freetown Bond: A Life under Two Flags

ELDRED DUROSIMI JONES
with MARJORIE JONES
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 192
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt1r2gw8
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  • Book Info
    The Freetown Bond
    Book Description:

    Eldred Durosimi Jones is known internationally as being central to the establishment of the study of African writing in the new universities of Africa, Britain and North America. The annual ‘African Literature Today’ of which he was founding editor in 1968, is a key marker of this growth. In addition, his book ‘Othello's Countrymen’ introduced Africa into Shakespeare studies. Born in 1925, the account of his early years gives a vivid picture of growing up in Freetown in the latter days of British colonial rule. He was an exceptional young man who was able to take advantage of the unusual style of this city-state. He studied in two of the historic institutions of Equatorial Africa, the CMS Grammar School and Fourah Bay College to which young men flocked from all over the region earning Freetown the title 'The Athens of West Africa'. After further studies at Oxford, Eldred Jones committed himself to his own country and it was appropriate that for over thirty years he was successively Lecturer, Professor, Principal and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Fourah Bay College in Freetown, which had been set up in 1827 and was the first university college in Africa south of the Sahara. He lost his sight in his middle years and this book, like all his later written work, has been brought to the page by his wife Marjorie Jones. Her gift for story-telling about their lives as Sierra Leone was gripped by civil war has added to this highly individual book. Eldred Durosimi Jones is Emeritus Professor of English Language and Literature, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, recipient of the Royal Society of Arts Silver Medal, Honorary Fellow, Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and joint winner (with Marjorie Jones) of the African Studies Association of the UK Distinguished Africanist Award.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-054-5
    Subjects: Sociology
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Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations (pp. ix-x)
  4. Foreword (pp. xi-xiii)

    Another of those universally accepted truths seems to be that anyone who is literate and lives to be eighty must write an autobiography. My friends urged this for many years and finally with Marjorie’s help with whom I have shared almost all of my adult life – we have been married for over sixty years – I set to work. Without her help, this work could never have been undertaken. She aided my recollections by ploughing through files, recalling dates, and sat patiently at the computer while I let my memory roam over many years and many lands. My gratitude...

  5. 1 Early Childhood under the British Flag (pp. 1-25)

    In January 1986 a tenant in a house in the middle of Leah Street in the east end of Freetown, prudently gathered up the fag ends of her firewood from the communal kitchen, took them into her room and went to bed to be woken by the heat of flames which wiped out the ambience and the culture of the neighbourhood in which my childhood, youth and early manhood were moulded. Sam Metzger, the veteran journalist and editor of We Yone, a fellow eastender, chronicled the event with reference to our family. Chukwudinka Kawaley wrote from far off Bermuda lamenting...

  6. 2 Manhood’s Gleam in Boyish Eyes (pp. 26-36)

    I left the Holy Trinity School at the end of 1937 and started at the CMS Grammar School in January 1938. I believe there were entrance examinations to determine into what form boys were placed but I was admitted without an entrance examination, at least not a formal one. One day during the Christmas vacation, on the instructions of my father, I went to see the Principal of the Grammar School, the Rev. Mr P. Hycy Willson. I timidly climbed up what seemed to be an endless flight of stairs, past what I came to know later as the chapel,...

  7. 3 In the Footsteps of Ajayi Crowther (pp. 37-48)

    My first year at Fourah Bay College 1944/45 was spent in Mabang, the historic building at Cline Town having been commandeered in support of the British war effort, as were the buildings of almost all the secondary schools. The College was still a small institution whose influence throughout West Africa and beyond was out of all proportion to its size. Only 787 students had signed the register before me since Samuel Ajayi Crowther in 1827; he was Yoruba and was to become the first African bishop in the Anglican Church. Fifteen freshmen in 1944 – Sierra Leoneans, Nigerians and Ghanaians...

  8. 4 The Gleaming Spires of Oxford (pp. 49-59)

    In Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, Charles Ryder’s cousin advises his young relation against taking rooms in the quad of his college. My rooms in my second year in Corpus Christi College were in the Pelican Quad, within a few paces of the hall, chapel and junior common room but, unlike Ryder’s cousin, I never felt either besieged or misused by other undergraduates always popping in and out of my rooms, depositing their gowns after chapel and otherwise disturbing my peace. Friends did after dinner in hall occasionally drop in for coffee as I did on others in this small college...

  9. 5 Home Pastures (pp. 60-85)

    The term at Fourah Bay College was to begin in October 1953 so we had a little time to re-acclimatize, which we spent visiting relations. I squeezed in a small class for second year repeaters, one of whom I had casually met in the city and who had asked for help. My enterprise agreeably surprised Mr Grant, then head of the university department and later Principal, but it gave me a little taste of what I was to be engaged in for practically the rest of my working life.

    Fourah Bay, when I left for Oxford was already beginning to...

  10. 6 America & New Found Lands (pp. 86-107)

    In pursuance of my research into the use of Africans and black characters on the Elizabethan and Jacobean stage, I had the rare privilege to do research at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D. C. in 1960. This was America before the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the great Selma civil rights marches in Alabama in 1965. John F. Kennedy was in the thick of the campaign which was to make him the youngest President of the United States of America while also breaking a religious barrier as the first Roman Catholic to be elected to that high office....

  11. 7 West African Travels (pp. 108-124)

    Kwame Nkrumah had swept from prison in the Gold Coast to become President of independent Ghana in 1957 and inspired all British Africa to follow suit. The opportunity to visit two of our closest friends at such a time was too tempting to be resisted. In 1958 we arrived in Accra on the day Lord Listowel, the last Governor-General of the Gold Coast, was leaving in a burst of pageantry severing the final bond between Britain and its colony. The atmosphere in Ghana was electric. Nkrumah had gathered from various countries ideological allies who seemed as committed to Ghana’s development...

  12. 8 All Freetown’s a Stage (pp. 125-139)

    I always valued my connections with the town and kept up my associations all the time during my tenure at Fourah Bay College above the town on Mount Aureol. I served on the parochial committee of Holy Trinity Church under three successive vicars, during which time the old school building of my childhood with its workshop and the ancient palm tree were taken down and replaced with the new boys primary school. I played cricket and, on my retirement from the field, spent several seasons as commentator for international matches. My involvement with drama, mainly with the British Council Dramatic...

  13. 9 Books, Words, Causes (pp. 140-159)

    The history of the critical journal African Literature Today which I edited for some thirty-three years should give encouragement to scholars in universities of the developing world where access to publication is often difficult and producing a journal for international circulation almost impossible. Its story therefore, as I recounted it when I retired from the editorship, is worth repeating.

    The first number of the journal, which came out in 1968, was the result of a confluence of enthusiasms, mine for the new literature of Africa, that of Heinemann Educational Books which had the largest list of African writers, and James...

  14. 10 Twilight & Evening Bell (pp. 160-165)

    Now in our eighties, we keep telling each other that it is time we moved out of our large house into Marjorie’s dream cottage. The size and the stairs are becoming too much for us. But where, we ask, would all the books go – we still refer to them from time to time. Marjorie no longer makes clothes professionally but she still keeps in touch with her sewing machine and all the paraphernalia that go with bringing designs to life. Then there is the computer and its surrounding station, the television and music centre, all of which are spread...

  15. Appendix (pp. 166-168)
  16. Index (pp. 169-178)
  17. Back Matter (pp. 179-179)