Migration and Racism: A Nigerian’s journey to Liverpool post WW2

Nigeria having being a colony of Great Britain had experienced increasing influx of British administrators, missionaries, tourists and academic researchers into the country. The influx which was even more especially after WW2 included those of sailors, missionaries, and war returnees whose presence had a great influence in the lifestyle, music, and religion of Nigerians. Most Nigerians aspired to travel abroad especially to London to experience the ‘good life’ they watch in foreign films and see the foreigners live in Nigeria. Even though the Nigeria currency was actually stronger than that of the British at that time, the standard of living in Britain was deemed higher than that of Nigeria and Britain was the place to go to be seen as very successful.

Douglas Memberre’s aspirations like many other young men aspired him to travel or live in England.  He travelled to Liverpool at the suggestion of one of his fellow young men. Douglas had hoped to enjoy a better life in the United Kingdom when he embarked on the rather difficult journey aboard MV Matawinie to Liverpool in 1942. He was however surprised  by the disappointing lifestyles he witnessed in Liverpool at the time. He never expected to see slums which reminded him of some places in Lagos Nigeria where he lived. He had also thought that he would be warmly welcomed by the people he would meet in England without any form of discrimination.

Douglas’ stories of hardship and racism in Liverpool as narrated by him typifies the experiences of many black people in UK after WW2.

He narrates experiences of difficulties and discrimination in finding a place to live


Even though Douglas  would still prefer to live in England he actually planned to go back to Nigeria but the travel plans did not go through as expected.

Douglas’s stories of discrimination and racism is strongly evidenced by the narration of his experiences of working at sea where the odd and hard job of handling the boiler was reserved for black men!


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