Christ's College

Dr Davidson Nicol


Davidson was born in 1924 in Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone. His family belonged to the Creole minority who were an educated and elite ex-slave community. He attended primary school in Nigeria and in 1946 graduated with first class honours from Christ's College. He earned his PhD in 1958 and then proceeded to study for a medical degree at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary, Univeristy of London's medical school. Following the completion of his studies, he lectured at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria.

Davidson was the first black African to graduate with First Class Honours from the University of Cambridge and he was also the first black African elected as a Fellow of a Cambridge college. He significantly contributed to medical science when he was the first to analyse the breakdown of insulin in the human body, a discovery which was a breakthrough for the treatment of diabetes.

Beginning in 1960, Davidson was the first native principal of the prestigious Fourah Bay College in Freetown as well as a member of the Public Service Commission. He continued his administrative career at the university level in Sierra Leone as first the chairman (1964-69) then as Vice-Chancellor at the University of Sierra Leone (1966-69).

In 1969 he became the Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the United Nations, which he served as until 1971. In that year, he became the High Commissioner to the United Kingdon, which ended in 1972. He then became the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations under Austrian Kurt Waldheim, which he served as until 1982. While serving as Under-Secretary-General, he also served as head of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research.

Davidson lived in Thornton Road, Cambridge for many years frequently visiting Christ's and was made a disintinguished Honorary Fellow, meanwhile serving from 1987 until retiring in 1991 as a visiting professor of International Studies at the University of California (1987-88) and the University of South Carolina (1990-91). He retired in 1991 at the age of 67 to Cambridge, where he died three years later at the age of 70.

Published work:

Africa, A Subjective View, 1964

Two African Tales, 1965

The Truly Married Woman, and Other Stories, 1965

Creative Women, 1982

Republished from Christ's College website

Chief Hope Harriman The late Chief Hope Harriman (1933 - 2012) a renowned philanthropist, studied at the Government College, Ibadan and was at the Christ’s College, Cambridge between 1955 and 1958.

Read more at:

Professor Samuel Adedapo Olaitan (Sam Olaitan)

Sam Olaitan was born on 10 September 1932 to Venerable Daniel Ademola Olaitan (1898-1970), a priest serving in Igbara-Oke.

He started his education at Emmanuel School, Isonyin and in January 1944, he proceeded to the prestigious King’s College, Lagos for his secondary education as a scholar. His father helped several children in Isonyin to gain entrance to secondary schools by providing them free tuition and it is said today that through his efforts, it has been possible for every household in Isonyin to boast of at least one high school graduate.

After completing his secondary education, Olaitan went to the University College, Ibadan, which was linked to the University of London, which meant all graduands were officially awarded their degree (as per colonial custom) through the accreditation of that institution. In 1953/4, he was the University prize winner in Chemistry for the best performance. He obtained a BSc in zoology and completed his studies at Ibadan in 1957 with a BSc in Chemistry.

His exemplary academic career at Ibadan won him a Federal Government scholarship to study at Christ’s College, Cambridge, to which he ‘came up’ in December 1957. He was awarded his PhD in biochemistry on July 10, 1961. (The photograph, sourced from the University of Cambridge’s Biochemistry department archive, indicates Olaitan on the day of his graduation.)

Upon returning to Nigeria in January 1962, he became a Senior Research Officer at the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), where he stayed until May 1962. Thereafter, he became a Lecturer in biochemistry at the University of Lagos Medical School (now known as the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, CMUL). He rose to the position of Associate Professor in September 1974 and then moved to the University of Benin, where he was appointed to the Professorial Chair in Biochemistry.

In the same year, he became the Dean of the Faculty of Science and retired voluntarily in November 1978.
(Image source:*