News Article

Honouring King's College London's Black Alumni

In celebration of Black History Month, we shine a spotlight on the remarkable contributions of King's College London's black alumni. These inspiring individuals have excelled in various fields, leaving an enduring legacy. Join us in celebrating their achievements and the role King's had in shaping their success. From scholars to artists, scientists, and advocates, these alumni represent a rich tapestry of black excellence. This article delves into their stories and celebrates King's enduring connection to black history.

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is an actor and filmmaker in Los Angeles. He earned an LLM Master of Laws at King's, delving into criminal law and justice. His journey began in a designer clothing shop, leading him to Hollywood, where he entered the world of acting in 1995's "Congo."

Transitioning to directing, his autobiographical film "Farming" won acclaim, reflecting his upbringing. Born to Nigerian immigrants, his early life was marked by foster care, racism, and adversity. He turned things around after moving to a new family and school.

Adewale's journey from adversity to success is a source of inspiration. He values education as the key to his transformation, reflecting on the positive impact of his time at King's. In 2020, he was honoured as the Alumnus of the Year in the King's Distinguished Alumni Awards.

Dr. Kenneth Onwuka Dike (PhD History, 1950)

Born in 1917, he is celebrated as the 'Father of West African Historiography' for his immense contributions to the study of African culture and history. Dike's journey began in Sierra Leone, where he pursued a BA in English, Geography, and Latin. However, it was at King's that he made history as the first African to complete professional training in Western historical scholarship.

Upon obtaining his PhD, Dike returned to Nigeria and played a pivotal role in decolonising the country's history and his commitment to African historical studies was unwavering, leading him to establish the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ibadan. He championed research in various languages and played a crucial role in the First International Congress of Africanists in Ghana.

His impressive accomplishments were acknowledged with numerous honours, including his election as Chairman of the Association of Commonwealth Universities in 1965.

Comfort Momoh MBE

Comfort is a prominent women's health campaigner, who graduated from the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing & Midwifery at King's College London in 2002. Her dedication to combating female genital mutilation (FGM) has earned her recognition and awards.

During her career as a midwife at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, Comfort established one of the country's first FGM clinics in 1997. She later transitioned into a public health specialist role and received an MBE in 2008 for her outstanding contributions to women's health.

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Comfort moved to the UK in 1981 to pursue nursing training. Her work on FGM began while at North Middlesex Hospital, leading to her in-depth research and international involvement.

Comfort's pioneering efforts led to the establishment of the African Well Women’s Clinic, providing support and surgical reversal of FGM for around 300 women annually. She has been a driving force in organisations like Black Women’s Health and Family Support and EURONET.

Desmond Tutu

(Theology, 1965; MTh, 1966) (1931-2021) was a Nobel Peace laureate and former Archbishop of South Africa. He studied theology at King’s College London in the 1960s and was a Fellow of the College.

Before his theological studies, Desmond was a teacher in South Africa. He completed both bachelor's and master's degrees at King’s. In 1972, he returned to England as the Assistant Director of a Theological Institute in London.

Throughout his career, he held various significant positions, becoming the first black Dean of St. Mary's Cathedral in Johannesburg, Bishop of Lesotho, General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches, Bishop of Johannesburg, and finally, Archbishop of Cape Town, the highest position in southern Africa's Anglican hierarchy.

Desmond vocally opposed the regime during Nelson Mandela's imprisonment. He was honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his efforts in ending apartheid.

Reflecting on his time at King’s, Desmond said: ‘I have wonderful, happy memories. My experience was one of great encouragement and support in my academic studies and an acceptance and warmth from my fellow students. Study opened a whole new world to me. I was excited by the accessibility of books, the freedom to question and to debate and the opportunity to listen to the wisdom of minds whose experience and learning left me eager to discover more.’

Sylvia Wynter, MA (Modern Languages, 1949; MA Spanish 1953)

Sylvia is a distinguished Caribbean artist, writer, and intellectual renowned for her contributions to Black Studies and postcolonial scholarship. Born in Cuba in 1928, she later moved to Jamaica and attended St Andrew High School for Girls. Her academic journey was supported by the Jamaica Centenary Scholarship, which allowed her to study Spanish at King’s College.

After Jamaican independence in 1962, she became a Spanish literature lecturer at the University of the West Indies, significantly influencing the nation's intellectual and artistic development. She produced works on Jamaican history and traditions and created influential essays for the Jamaica Journal.

Sylvia received an honorary doctorate from the University of West Indies in 2009 and was awarded the Order of Jamaica in 2010. She remains a Professor Emerita at Stanford University. Fun fact: Sylvia was a keen dancer whilst at King’s and originally pursued a career as a dancer and an actress!


These stories underscore the transformative power of education and the enduring connection between King's College London and black history. The legacies they have built and continue to serve as a testament to the enduring strength of diversity and the ability of education to transcend boundaries and inspire change. We can’t wait to see what the next generation of King’s students achieve.

Don’t forget to have a look at our events running across Black History Month


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