Alexander BOROFFKA : « Psychiatry in Nigeria (a partly annotated Bibliography) »

Wholesaler/Vertrieb : Brunswiker Universitätsbuchhandung – Medizin. 2006

With an introductory chapter on « The History of Psychiatry in Nigeria ».

Foreword by Prof. Tolani Asuni and Dr. Folahan Williams.

Alexander BOROFFKA – Dr. med (Goettingen, Germany) ; Diploma Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (Hamburg) ; Fellow, Royal College of Psychiatrists (London) ; Fellow, Medical Council of Psychiatry (Nigeria) ; WHO-Visiting Professor, Univ. Ibadan (1968-1973) ; i/c of Sub-Section Psychiatry ; Ministry for Social Affairs, Scleswig-Holstein, Germany (1973-1982).


The following references to articles, books, other publications and documents have been collected since the author took over the direction of the Yaba Mental Hospital (YMH) in Lagos, Nigeria, as Specialist Psychiatrist in April 1961 to become Senior Specialist in 1963.
1966, after handing over the YMH to his colleague, the late Dr. Abayomi A. Marinho, who had been working with him for five years in the service of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the author returned to his home country Germany to seille there for good, starting a rewarding cooperation with his colleague and friend Arno Voelkel, jointly directing the Waldhaus Klinik in Berlin. Unexpectedly, the World Health Organisation (WHO) offered him the position of Visiting Professor at Ibadan University.
He started this challenging task in September 1968, after some delay caused by an embargo because of the Civil War in Nigeria. His operational area was determined by the Regional Office of the WHO in Brazzaville that overed the whole of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Positioned at Ibadan, he had the advantages of a professor’s easy access to the University Library, the National Archives then being located in Ibadan and, not less important, to the then well stocked University Bookshop. All this printed and recorded information grew gradually into an archive of the early phases of Psychiatry in Nigeria.
Soon the author started to collect material systematically from Nigerian colleagues, whose number had increased from five in 1961 to almost hundred at the author’s last visit to Nigeria in November 2001, as well as from other members of the psychiatric team. Besides the Nigerian psychiatrists a few expatriates were still working in the field of psychiatry there. The author asked all of them for reprints of their papers, for additional information and for their memoirs. Very early he conceived the idea, on the basis of these sources, to write a History of Psychiatry.
The original plan was to include the whole of Africa, which was soon abandoned because of the immense size reducing the plan to a « History of Psychiatry » in Nigeria. After quite a number of attempts this plan could not be realised either. In the end this ambitious undertaking was therefore reduced to a bibliography, supplemented if available by annotations, traced or written by the author, preceded by a chapter on the History of Psychiatry in Nigeria.
Gradually, whilst working on it, the author decided to concentrate the chapter on the history, as well as the bibliography, on the early times focussed on the years from 1961 to 1973, during which he was working as psychiatrist in Nigeria. He included whatever he could find conceming the years before his arrivai in 1961. As material became progressively available some later publications were also included.
Being pensioned 1991 from his Government appointment in Germany, which he took up after his return to his home country, he seriously began to work on the planned project : « Psychiatry in Nigeria ». He wrote to colleagues in Nigeria asking for reprints of their papers, to which some responded. Due to the problems of communication difficulties references from the later years are very limited. Nevertheless, the material increased and, the author getting older, he reached the point were he was tempted to give up the whole project.
While in such mood the author met Dr. Dele Olajide, Consultant Psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital in London. He told him about his project and also of his intention to drop it. After Dr. Oladije had looked through the first draft of about 150 pages, he convinced the author of his bounden duty, also as a token of gratitude towards Nigeria, to complete the work. It would also serve as a memorial to ail Nigerian psychiatrists, many of the early ones having already passed away,
This encounter, as well as discussions with other Nigerian colleagues and friends, compelled the author to return to his desk and the computer. Following this decision the completed project is presented here. Nobody can have a more disquieting inkling of the shortcomings of this enterprise than the author himself. Many factors are responsible for this : difficult postal connections with Nigeria, preventing colleagues to hear of the project and to send lists of their publications ; lack of secretarial help as a pensioner and, of course, the author’s own failures as lack or lapses of memory.
A short word about the factors governing the selection of material that is included here and what had to be excluded. The basic rule was to include all publications by Nigerian or expatriate psychiatrists and other members of the psychiatric team in « Psychiatry in Nigeria », as far as it was possible to locate them. A few publications from other African countries have been included, in case they are helpful to understand the situation in Nigeria.
In addition a few publications from related fields like sociological, anthropological and philosophical sources were included because they supported the understanding of the author on problems of psychiatry in Nigeria, i.e. in a culture alien to him in the beginning.
The author wants to close these notes with two remarks. At first he wishes to apologize to ail those whose works are not included, every omission is his fault but never by intention. The second concerns the gratitude he feels to ail those, who have contributed to this task and from whom he had the privilege to learn. He takes the liberty to mention here a few for ail others, who have not have been less important and to whom he owes gratitude as well. But it would require pages to name everybody who deserves it.
Abraham A. Ordia must be mentioned first : he, then Chief Nursing Superintendent of Yaba Mental Hospital, was the author’s first teacher, supported by his able deputy and later successor J. Alabi Oyebode. Followed in the author’s mind by the first female psychiatric nurse to work in Nigeria : Irene Ogbolu starting work 1956 in Calabar, later stationed in Enugu and deceased since.
The psychiatrist colleagues, whom the author met during his first year of work in Lagos and later, have all contributed in different ways. One though, Thomas Adeoye Lambo, the first Nigerian to specialize in psychiatry, having started work in this field as early as 1954, is standing out, not the least because of his many publications by which he has made his experience widely accessible.Whilst still working on this Bibliography news reached the author that Professor Thomas Adeoye Lambo had passed away in an aeroplane on Saturday, the 13th March 2004, travelling to Geneva for health reasons. He would have been 81 years old a few days later on 29th March 2004 ; a Memorial Service in his honour took place on Sunday, 18th April 2004, at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London.
The other psychiatric colleagues are listed alphabetically : Tolani Asuni, Abayomi A. Marinho, Charles Olayeni Oshodi ; T.A.O. Otolorin and Raymond Prince from Canada, whose clinical work in Aro took place before the author’s time, but their observations and research results were available in print. When the author arrived in Nigeria, Ray Prince had returned to do research and, with Frank Speed, to make a film which stimulated the author’s own film project, realized also with Frank Speed, under the title « Management of Madness » ten years later in 1972.
In addition to those « early birds » of « Psychiatry in Nigeria » mentioned before, Bertha Johnson also deserves a special mention. She had joined Dr. Marinho and the author at the Yaba Mental Hospital in 1964. Years later she succeeded Dr. Marinho, when he retired as specialist in charge. Doctors working with the author in Ibadan followed these colleages. They are listed alphabetically : Akindele, Ayonrinde, Ebie, Odejide and Olatawura. Whilst they were still completing their training in the United Kingdom (UK), Dr. Friderun Schoenberg from Germany, replacing Dr. Oshodi who returned to the Northern part of Nigeria, arrived to support the Department at the University of Ibadan. Later Dr. Schoenberg was working at Aro Hospital and still later she was in charge of the Department of Psychiatry at the General Hospital in Makurdi. Nurses trained in Aro Hospital had instituted this hospital and an Indian doctor joined Dr. Schoenberg for a while. To Tolani Asuni Dr. Schoenberg became a valuable colleague and friend. Later, when Asuni took up another position, she became the Acting Medical Director of Aro Hospital in Abeokuta. Dr. Schoenberg has spent more years practising psychiatry in Nigerian than any other expatriate.
In addition to her contribution to « Psychiatry in Nigeria », she was immensely helpful with the first proof-reading of the manuscript of this bibliography. She was followed by Petra Collis-Sachsenberg, who has proof-read the manuscript to correct linguistic mistakes made by the German author, who had learned English as a second language relatively late in life. I am owing sincere gratitude to Joris Robben, PhD, for going over the formation of the manuscript. The Psychiatrie-Verlag, D-53111 Bonn, put the Bibliography into the Internet arranged by Karin Koch who advised AB an technical matters as did York Bieber. Thanks to them both.
Ayo Binitie having decided, after completing his training in the UK, to go to his home town Benin City has never worked with AB directly, but AB wants to mention him for reasons he would know, if he was still alife. Deputizing for many others, whom the author met as students at the University of Ibadan and at the UCH AB would like to mention Folarin Williams and Roger Makanjuola for all those whom to teach he had the privilege from 1968 to 1973. After a lecture tour through parts of Nigeria in 1985 and a number of visits to Nigeria and meetings with colleagues at international conferences, close cooperation and friendship developed with Peter Ebigbo. He was the first Nigerian Clinical Psychologist and, at one time, he was Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus ; the only psychologist in the country burdened and awarded with such a responsibility.
This list of names is much too long already. But looking at it from a different angle, it also is much too short. Thus, the author wants to end the list of those to whom he owes gratitude, by mentioning a few further names of nurses and social workers to represent dozens of nurses and social workers without whose co-operation the psychiatrist would hardly have been able to accomplish anything : Thus, I want to add the social workers Erinle, Lawani, Ojeshina and Oyeneye and, last not least, two outstanding nurses, the late Mr and Mrs T. Akinosi, on whose dedicated work the existence of the famous ARO Village had depended for many years.
When going through old documents the author came across a letter by John Colin Dixon Carothers (1905-1987), written to him on 5th Sept. 1986 as reply to an enquiry. This letter, quoted unabridged, may end this Introduction, confirming by its date AB’s statement about the time he has been working on this « projected monograph ». The late Dr.Carothers. also remembered one of AB’s opinions in regard of the frequency of depression n Africans, and comments on it.
Dr. Carothers wrote : « Dear Dr. Boroffka, I was delighted to get your letter. I remember you very well and, when any of your writings came my way, I read them with great interest. I remember particularly a comment of vours somewhere which ran more or less as follows – « I would be more inclined to believe in the commonness of depression in Africans if one occasionally saw such cases at hospital ; perhaps one is asking the wrong question, and one should ask why is depression so common in Europeans ? » This seems to me to hit the nail right on the head. – I am sorry you had such difficulty in getting hold of my writings. I am afraid my WHO monograph was not republished, being probably regarded as too racially controversial for a WHO publication, though I was never told so. In the case of my later book, The Mind of Man in Africa, my publisher Tom Stacey, unfortunately went bankrupt a few years later, so it never got reprinted. I wish your projected monograph the greatest success, and look forward with enthusiasm to its publication. If you have any questions to ask me at any lime, I should be most happy to try to answer them. Yours sincerely, Colin Carothers. »
The result of all this, as preliminary as it may be, follows these explanatory notes, « The History of Psychiatry » first, then the Biblography, four Annexes and a Closing Remark.

The Bibliography also is in the Internet and can be downlowded :

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