Published: 06:00, 19 August 2020
| Updated: 07:38, 19 August 2020
In the decades following the Second World War, thousands of west Africans came to the UK to study - but for many of their children life centred around rural Kent.
This was an after effect of British imperial administrators leaving countries such as Nigeria with government systems with few skilled leaders.
So men began venturing to Britain to gain qualifications, and then use their new-found skills and knowledge to better manage the government and economy back in their home country.
Women soon followed, taking advantage of the work and education on offer.
As is still the case for modern-day students, budgets were small, with the scholars' families usually sending just enough money to survive. This was fine when just looking after themselves, but it got a little more complicated when they had babies.
With no extended family to turn to for child care, students' children would often be placed in the care of white, working-class families for a short period of time, usually until the mother's course was complete or work was found.
Placements were made through word of mouth or advertisements in shop windows and newspapers.
Parents detailed their preferences, specifying, for example, that the foster mother should not have her own babies, or should reside in a rural area.
Hundreds of west African children were privately fostered in Britain each year, with parents paying up to £3 a week for care.
With the African student population concentrated in London, children were typically fostered by private households in the Home Counties, such as Kent.
By 1964, 768 African children were fostered here, according to the Journal of Modern History.
Ibironke John was one of them.
Ms John, now 58, spent three years with her foster carer in Hollingbourne before being taken back to London by her Nigerian parents.
She still cherishes the memories of a simple, country life in this little village, just outside Maidstone.
Ms John was born in Hackey in 1961, the first child of Adewole, who read law, and Victoria, a trainee nurse.
With little means to survive on small student budgets sent by their parents, Ms John was packed off from the busy streets of east London to the rolling hills of Kent when she was just three years old, taken in by a lady she only knew as Nana.
"Everything I experienced in Hackney was the opposite of what I experienced in Kent - in Kent I was flying high..."
All of Ms John's memories of her time here are filled with warmth and comfort.
She said: "Nana had her little garden where she would grow gooseberries and she'd make lovely puddings. But most importantly, she made it home. Her warmth made me feel very comfortable."
Ms John mainly remembers spending her days cycling along the train side and playing games with the other foster children she shared the house with.
"I felt as if the world was my oyster - I had a sense of freedom and openness," she said.
Every so often, her parents would visit, but Ms John admits she preferred the company of Nana.
"I felt protected and covered by her," she said.
One day - which Ms John has never forgotten - her parents arrived unannounced to take her back to London. She saw Nana only once after that, but has kept the memories very dear to her.
Sadly, Ms John never settled with her parents, finding it hard to form a close relationship with them, even many years after returning home.
She said: "Everything I experienced in Hackney was the opposite of what I experienced in Kent - in Kent I was flying high.
"I withdrew socially - I wasn't close to my parents- I felt resentment. I wouldn't play with toys and was just waiting for the day I would see Nana again."
When she was 14, Ms John's family moved back to Nigeria, where she studied sociology at university and began working in youth services.
Later, she moved back to England to complete a masters in social care at Durham University and now lives in Peterborough and has three grown-up children.
She has never attempted to get back in touch with Nana as an adult.
Although the number of west African families finding foster carers for their children began dwindling in the 1970s, it is still seen as a very feasible option for migrant families today.
Private fostering arrangements, as opposed to those run by the local authority, allows temporary child care while the parents find work and establish their roots.
But because it happens outside regulations, to this day, it is unknown exactly how many west African children are spending their early years with foster carers, or whether the conditions or hosts are up to scratch. However, as Ms John's experience proves, some cherish their time at their temporary home, and still hold the memories dear.