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Nigerian Medical History: See the first Muslim Doctor in Nigeria

While Islamic or Arabic Education was nearly the only relish of most Muslim Children in the early days through teaching of the Holy Q’uran and the Sunnah of the noble Prophet in haddith, the introduction of western education was an afterthought. Hence, the exploits of first Muslim who became a good example for others to follow, by acquiring education that will be useful to mankind like medicine, worth extolling.

As we must have known or read, the first Nigerian Doctors in medical history were two – Williams Davies & James Africanus Horton. The first (Williams) being a Nigerian of Yoruba decent born in Sieria-leone, while the other (James Horton) was of Ibo/Igbo decent. Williams and James gained the Membership of the Royal Colleges of Surgeon (M.R.C.S) in 1858 and while Williams Davies moved to St. Andrews University to become an M.D by examination in October 1858, Africanus James got his from Edinburgh in August 1859 by thesis. He added the name Africanus to his name by adding it to his thesis title page to show his West African Origin, a development that was hailed by many of his contemporaries and has been added to his name.

First Nigerian Doctors - Medical history

By September 1858, both Williams Davies and Africanus James Horton got enlisted and commissioned into the British Army and worked for 20yrs in former Gold Coast in Ghana and Sierra-leone before retiring. It was recorded that, while Williams was a quiet man, Africanus was outspoken and wrote many scholarly contributions to medical history, hence why he was named after a road inside the University College Ibadan around the computer centre.

However, even though both Williams and Africanus were Nigerians, they didn’t practice in Nigeria, hence a man named Dr. Nathaniel King became the first indigenous Nigerian Medical doctor. King was also born incidentally in Sierra-leone, in 1847 moved to Abeokuta Nigeria in 1850 with his Father, Rev. Thomas King – A catechist with the Church Missionary Society (C.M.S) who was reported to have assisted Rev. Ajayi Crowther in the translation of Bible from English to Yoruba.

Young Nathaniel was selected by one Dr. A.A Harrison as one of the 4 bright boys qualified for medical training at Abeokuta in 1861 and by 1866, he was at Fourah Bay College for Medical Preliminary Studies. He later moved to get his M.R.C.S at King’s College London in 1874 just like Williams & Africanus by sponsorship through the Church missionary Society. Nathaniel later got his M.D in 1876 at Edinburgh.

First Nigerian Doctors - Nathaniel King
Dr. Nathaniel king

Immediately after studies, Nathianel returned to Lagos Nigeria and worked as a Medical Assistant and sometimes act as “Locum” at the Colonial Hospital Lagos and was heavily reputable in history of Nigerian Modern Medicine Practice.

Dr. Nathaniel King was succeeded two other Nigerian decent Surgeons in 1889 namely Obadiah Johnson and Jones Randle who were brought to Nigeria by the colonial medical Service through Gov Moloney. Both had just gotten their medical degrees at Edinburgh in 1886 and 1888.

Sadly, Dr. Nathaniel King died in 1884 at the young age of 37.

Now to the first Muslim Medical Doctor. One would have expected that the first Muslim Medical doctor in Nigeria should probably be a Northerner, but because of early exposure to western Education in western Nigeria, the first Muslim medical doctor happens to be a Lagosian by the name Abdul-Hamid Saka Tinubu.

First Muslim Doctor in Nigeria

Hamid Saka Tinubu was born on February 1901 to a prominent Lagos merchant, Alhaji Saka Tinubu, and by age 22, he was already in University of Glasgow where he graduated before his 28th birthday. He returned to Lagos for full medical practice and was also a great Lagos sportsman prominent for aerobic exercise and long walk of 10miles daily until his late 70’s.

Dr. Abdul-Hamid married Alhaja Wulemotu Agbeke Tinubu in early 1930’s and the marriage produced children including Alhaja Wusamot Adedoyin Adegoke (Nee Saka Tinubu), who until her retirement was a London and Lagos foremost Educationist having taught in many schools in London for years before returning to Ansarudeen High School, Surulere Lagos & New Era Girls School Lagos, where she worked for over 3 decades before retiring in 1991 as a school Principal.

Dr. Abdul-hamid Saka was named after a popular Street in Victoria Island (V.I) Lagos as Saka Tinubu street.

In his memory, the first Muslim community founded secondary secondary school by the Ahmadiyah Movement in Islam Nigeria, was named after him as Saka Tinubu memorial High school, later Anwarul Islam College Agege, Lagos.

The school was founded by a group of Lagos elite Muslims like Jibril Martin, Alhaji B. D. Oshodi, Alhaji N. B. Kenku, Alhaji Issa Williams, Alhaji R. B. Fanimokun, Alhaji R. A. Allison and many others.

It is also important to state that the first Northern Nigerian Medical Doctor is Dr R.A.B Dikko born in Wussasa of Zaria Emirate in 1912, became the first medical doctor from the entire Northern Nigeria in 1930’s after schooling at the King’s College Lagos and the University of Birmingham. He was sponsored by the Christian Missionary through Walter miller who came to his village to establish a missionary church. Dikko was later a Northern Politician as he was a founding member of the first Northern Nigeria Political party, the Jamiyah Mutaeen Arewa later Northern Peoples Congress.

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