The early 1900s saw an increased number of black cantabs from West Africa and the Caribbean join the University of Cambridge. Several West Africans came from King's College Lagos and Achimota School. Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone was no longer the only seeding ground for an African intellectual class as King's college started sending male students to British universities.

Augustus Molade Akiwumi was born Nigerian but later became a naturalised Ghanaian.He matriculated in 1912 at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, where he studied law. He later became a judge and second speaker of the Ghanaian parliament. While Molade was in Fitzwilliam, a Jamaican, David Louis Clemetson matriculated at Trinity College in 1914. Born in privilege to freed Jamaicans, he was sent to best schools in England and in 1914 he matriculated at Trinity College to study law. Eager to prove Jamaica's loyalty to King and Country, he joined the war where he died four years later in 1918 fifty two days before the war ended. Unfortunately his name is yet to be inscribed on the wall of the soldiers who fought the Great War in his Trinity College since black soldiers were not recognised as equal officers. We hope that Trinity college can inscribe his name on the wall as recognition of his sacrifice.

David Clemetson seated fourth from left. Photo credit: BBC

Victor Adedapo Kayode from Nigeria was born in 1899. He went to King's College Lagos and he tutored at Methodist High School before leaving Nigeria for Cambridge. Nnamdi Azikiwe the first president of independent Nigeria was one of those students he taught. Victor matriculated at Selwyn in 1917. He studied law becoming the top student in both first and second year tripos in his Cambridge exams and at the Middle Temple. He is considered one of the most brilliant legal minds of his time in Nigeria. He later became one of the first magistrates but unfortunately he died in 1941 at 42 years, just one year after being appointed. His son and grandson are also Black Cantabs who studied law at Selwyn and Downing colleges respectively.


Victor Adedapo Kayode. Photo Credit: Litcaf Encyclopedia

Victor could have inspired the next black cantab, Adetokunbo Ademola who also went to King's College Lagos. Having graduated from the college, he was sent to Cambridge to study medicine by his wealthy father Ademola II-the Alake of Egbaland in Abeokuta, but he rebelled and instead studied law at Selwyn where he matriculated in 1928. Adetokunbo later became the second Chief Justice of Nigeria and the first African chief justice.

Justice Adetokunbo Ademola. Photo credit:


The officer who refused to lie about being black, (BBC),

Victor Adedapo Kayode: lest legend become myth, (Vanguard Nigeria Online),

Victor Adedapo Kayode in Litcaf Enyclopedia,

Obituary: Sir Adetokunbo Ademola ( Independent Online),