Nathaniel King

Nathaniel King, doctor in a photo with missionaries
Nathaniel King . Photo: Rare Books, Inc., New Jersey

Nathaniel King was the first Nigerian to practice modern medicine in his own country. Nathaniel was born 14 July 1847 in Freetown to a Yoruba Clergyman, Rev.Thomas King, who together with Ajayi Crowther, translated several catechisms and portions of the Bible into Nigerian dialects. Nathaniel King returned with his missionary father to Abeokuta where he received some training in medicine from Dr. A.A Harrison at the Abeokuta Theological Institution in 1861. He was one of the four promising native youths selected to be trained in in Harrison’s “Abeokuta Medical School” which was short-lived. One student got dismissed, and two were sent off as teachers.

In the case of Nathaniel, the Church Missionary Society sent him, upon his mentor, Harrison’s death, to Sierra Leone in preparation for a career in medicine. Nathaniel graduated from Kings’ College London in 1874. He thereafter studied in Edinburg before returning to Lagos in 1878 to serve as the medical attendant to the agents of the Church Missionary Society. An early death in 12 June 1884 allowed him only a feeble chance to express his immense brilliance. King participated in the memorable activities of the time that led to improved sanitation of Lagos.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer