I've just discovered that Anthony Kirk-Greene - a colonial administrator who became an exacting historian of colonialism - died last month. He was 93. Tony spent the 1950s helping to govern northern Nigeria. (I seem to remember he told me he was once a district officer - a foot soldier of the colonial endeavour). After Nigeria became independent, he taught at Ahmadu Bello University. He was fluent in Hausa.
I came across Tony when he taught me for the 'Imperialism and Nationalism' special subject in the final year of my history degree at Oxford. It was the most exciting and rewarding part of my studies there. I'd never been to Africa, or indeed anywhere outside Europe - but I really took to the subject, and especially the rise of nationalism in sub-Saharan Africa.
Tony suggested that I consider doing a PhD - he wanted me to look at the rise of Nyerere's TANU in what is now Tanzania. I didn't bite - but the confidence he showed in me did encourage me to pursue postgraduate research, though in British social and political history rather than Africa during colonialism.
I do wonder whether the interest stirred and nurtured by Tony Kirk-Greene made me more open to living and working in India and to becoming immersed in its history and politics. We didn't keep in touch after I left Oxford, and it's chastening to realise that Kirk-Greene, when he was my tutor, was about ten years younger than I am now.
But let me, belatedly, say thanks to A.H.M. Kirk-Greene. I'm grateful to you!
Andrew Whitehead's blog
Welcome - read - comment - throw stones - pick up threads - and tell me how to do this better!