Fourah Bay College

Fourah Bay College is a public university in the neighbourhood of Mount Aureol in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Founded on 18 February 1827, it is the first western-style university built in Sub-Saharan Africa and, furthermore, the first university-level institution in Africa. It is a constituent college of the University of Sierra Leone (USL) and was formerly affiliated with Durham University (1876–1967).[1]

Fourah Bay College
FBC shield.svg
Latin: Collegium Fourah Bay
EstablishedFebruary 18, 1827; 196 years ago (1827-02-18)
Students3,465 total
8°28′37.9″N 13°13′16.3″W / 8.477194°N 13.221194°W / 8.477194; -13.221194Coordinates: 8°28′37.9″N 13°13′16.3″W / 8.477194°N 13.221194°W / 8.477194; -13.221194
CampusFreetown campus (urban)
AffiliationsUniversity of Sierra Leone



The college was established in February 1827 as an Anglican missionary school by the Church Missionary Society with support from Charles MacCarthy, the governor of Sierra Leone. Samuel Ajayi Crowther was the first student to be enrolled at Fourah Bay.[2] Fourah Bay College soon became a magnet for Sierra Leone Creoles and other Africans seeking higher education in British West Africa. These included Nigerians, Ghanaians, Ivorians and many more, especially in the fields of theology and education. It was the first western-style university in West Africa. Under colonialism, Freetown was known as the "Athens of Africa" due to the large number of excellent schools in Freetown and surrounding areas.

The first black principal of the university was an African-American missionary, Reverend Edward Jones from South Carolina, United States. Lamina Sankoh was a prominent early academic; Francis Heiser was principal from 1920 to 1922. Davidson Nicol was the first Sierra Leonean principal in 1966. In 1985 unrest broke out in Fourah Bay College following a purge of those suspected of militancy inspired by Gaddafi's Green Book, and retaliatory violence and arrests ensued.[3]

Old Fourah Bay College BuildingEdit

Fourah Bay College (Old building, 1930s)
The old building of Fourah Bay College

Governor William Fergusson laid the foundation stone of the original Fourah Bay College building when construction started in 1845, with construction supervised by Edward Jones, who became the institution's first principal. The original Fourah Bay College building remained in regular use until World War II when the college was temporarily moved outside Freetown. After the war it became the headquarters of Sierra Leone Government Railway and later as a Magistrate court. The building was proclaimed a National Monument in 1955. The building ceased to be in use in early 1990, and caught fire in 1999.[4]



  • Faculty of Arts
  • Faculty of Engineering
  • Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Faculty of Law
  • Faculty of Applied Accounting


Institute of Adult Education and Extra-Mural StudiesEdit

Institute of African StudiesEdit

Work began on the building of the Institute of African Studies in 1966 with half the £40,000 being provided by the UK Technical Assistance Programme. The first Director was Michael Crowder with J. G. Edowu-Hyde as secretary. The journal Sierra Leone Studies was also relaunched at this time.[5]

Institute of Marine Biology and OceanographyEdit

Institute of Population StudiesEdit

Institute of Library, Information and Communication StudiesEdit


As of 1998/1999, the student enrollment was around 2,000 in four faculties and five institutes. It had consistently expanded in the 10 previous years.

Notable alumniEdit

See also Category:Fourah Bay College alumni


  1. ^ "About Us". Fourah Bay College. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  2. ^ Kopytoff, Jean Herskovits. A Preface to Modern Nigeria: The "Sierra Leonians" in Yoruba, 1830–1890. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 35.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Old Fourah Bay College Building". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  5. ^ Crowder, Michael (1966). "Institute of African Studies, Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone". The Journal of Modern Sierra Leone Studies. 4 (1): 95–6. JSTOR 159418.
  6. ^ Brockliss, L. W. B. (2016). The University of Oxford: A History. Oxford University Press. p. 410. ISBN 9780199243563.
  7. ^ "Irene Ighodaro". Young Historians Project. Retrieved 3 April 2022.
  8. ^ Neville Shrimpton, Thomas Decker and The Death of Boss Coker (1987)
  9. ^ Fyle, Magbaily (2006). Historical Dictionary of Sierra Leone. Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press. p. 57.
  10. ^ africanvoice (2017-10-26). "The Krios of Sierra Leone – Pioneers throughout Africa - African Voice Newspaper". African Voice Newspaper. Retrieved 2018-06-28.
  11. ^ Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood, The London Gazette, June 06, 1969; retrieved September 26, 2016
  12. ^ Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions (1998), by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  13. ^ Africa Who's Who, London: Africa Journal for Africa Books Ltd, 1981, p. 537.
  14. ^ "A review of Porter's Creoledom".
  15. ^ "Interview with Rosolu John Bankole Thompson, March 21, 2014". Kentucky Oral History. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  16. ^ "Akintola Wyse: A Brief Biography".

External linksEdit