“How do you do, which one of you is my father?” A young Yoruba girl sent off by her rich Nigerian family to a posh English boarding school at six meets her father and uncle five years later and can’t recognise them anymore. She has succeeded in becoming properly English. Her black skin, however, will forever reveal her background and ensure that the British will continue to regard her as coming from the “darkest Africa”.
Simi Bedford’s novel Yoruba girl dancing was an immediate success when it was published in 1992. “She captures you early and doesn’t let go,” says one reviewer. There is little doubt that the novel partly reflects the author’s own life. Like her main protagonist, she spent her early childhood in Nigeria, but was sent to boarding school in England at six. She later went back to Africa searching for her roots, only to discover that she was no longer a Yoruba girl dancing. Simi returned to England, became Mrs. Bedford, and raised three children. In 1998, she learnt Acem Meditation in London, on the recommendation of a friend. It was a remarkable experience.