The focus for this month’s Global Regional Activity Briefing was Africa, and the International Heritage Project was delighted to support the event with a display of items from the Library’s heritage collections.
The University of Glasgow started to welcome its first African students from the middle of the nineteenth century. Our first was Tiyo Soga, the son of a Xhosa-speaking chief from South Africa. He first came to Glasgow in 1846 to study for ordination, and matriculated at the University in November 1851, attending classes in Greek and Latin.
Soga’s connection with Glasgow began back in South Africa as a student of Lovedale College, which was built by the Glasgow Missionary Society in 1824. The first principal of the College, Reverend William Govan, accompanied Soga to Glasgow in 1846. Ten years later Tiyo Soga became the first black South African to be ordained in the United Presbyterian Church. Our display included a copy of John A Chalmers book Tiyo Soga : a page of South African mission work published in Edinburgh in 1878, which carries Soga’s photograph and signature.
From Archive Services we had the final year dinner book for 1913-1918 MB ChB students, which includes the photographs of the University’s first Nigerian students, James Churchill Vaughan and Isaac Lapido Oluwole, who graduated with medical degrees in 1918.
James Churchill Vaughan (top left) was born in Lagos on 30th May 1893, the son of James Wilson Vaughan. On his return to Nigeria in the early 1920s he set up his own private clinic and introduced a scheme of free medical services for the destitute. He became a vocal critic of the British Colonial Administration and took an active part in several nationalist organisations in Nigeria and Ghana. In 1934 he founded his own political party the Lagos Youth Movement with other leading activists – Dr Kofo Aboyomi, H O Daniel, Ernest Ikoli, and Samuel Musanya. This party was very popular, attracting members from all over Nigeria and soon became the centre of Nigerian political life.
Isaac Lapido Oluwole (bottom right) was born around 1892, the son of Isaac Oluwole a Nigerian Anglican bishop of Sierra Leonean and Egba heritage. After graduation Oluwole returned to Nigeria as the first African Medical Officer of Health in the Lagos colony. He pioneered school health services with school inspections and the vaccination of children in their schools, and started the first Nigerian School of Hygiene at Yaba, Lagos in 1920.
Another early African graduate was Silas Modiri Molema who became a key political figure in South Africa in the twentieth century. He also studied medicine at the University of Glasgow, as demonstrated by his Matriculation slip from 1914-1915. Molema came to Glasgow at the age of 24 in 1912 and graduated MB ChB in 1919
During his studies, Molema became President of the African Races Association of Glasgow (ARA) in 1917, contributing to the debate on the future of South Africa and Race relations.
He also found time to publish his first work The Bantu Past and Present: an ethnographical & historical study of the native races of South Africa (Edinburgh, 1920), which he dedicated to ‘Scotland – the Country and its People.’
Increased research activity led to great interest in Glasgow as a place of study for Africans, and between 1880 and 1965, 1,046 students born in Africa matriculated at the University. To read more about our African Alumni see the University of Glasgow’s International Story blog
The Scottish Business Archives were represented by an Ellerman Lines Ltd Brochure Special Winter Tour: South Africa, East Africa and India c1920s-1930s. Hall Line Ltd was a ship owning company who operated from Liverpool and were acquired by the Ellerman Group in 1901. This brochure entitled ‘Special Winter Tour: South Africa, East Africa and India’ is for the ship City of Nagpur which sailed to ports in Africa such as Cape Town, Durban, Zanzibar and Mombasa, c1920s-1930s. To find out more about Archive Services’ African collections please click here
From Special Collections we had on display volume 1 of Andrew Smith’s Illustrations of the zoology of South Africa: consisting chiefly of figures and descriptions of the objects of natural history collected during an expedition into the interior of South Africa, in the years 1834, 1835, and 1836; fitted out by “The Cape of Good Hope association for exploring Central Africa” (London, 1849)
Sir Andrew Smith (1797-1872) was a Scottish surgeon, explorer, ethnologist and zoologist. He is considered the father of zoology in South Africa having described many species across a wide range of groups in his major work, Illustrations of the Zoology of South Africa.
Smith was an officer in the British Royal Army stationed in South Africa, and in the 1820s and 1830s he made some of the first zoological expeditions into the interior of southern Africa. In 1836 he met the young Charles Darwin when the Beagle landed at the Cape of Good Hope. Upon his return to England, Smith published an illustrated set on the zoology of South Africa, which appeared in five volumes between 1838 and 1849. The lithographs served as an introduction for many people to the fauna of the African savannas, and the images are quite memorable.