Africanus Horton

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Africanus Horton
Africanus Horton.jpg
Africanus Horton
Born James Beale Horton
Gloucester Village, Sierra Leone
Died 1883
Nationality Sierra Leonean
Period 19th Century
Literary movement African Nationalism, Pan-Africanism

Africanus Horton (1835–1883), also known as James Beale, was a Creole African nationalist writer and an esteemed medical surgeon in the British Army from Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Africanus Horton was a surgeon, scientist, soldier, and a political thinker who worked toward African independence a century before it occurred.

Born as James Beale Horton, the son of an Igbo recaptive slave he was educated at the CMS Grammar School and at the Fourah Bay Institution (later Fourah Bay College).[1] In 1855, he received a War Office scholarship to study medicine in Great Britain. He studied at King's College London and Edinburgh University, qualifying as a medical doctor in 1859. While a student, he took the name "Africanus" as an emblem of pride in his African homeland.[2]

In his varied career, he served as a physician, an officer in the British Army, a banker, and a mining entrepreneur. In addition, he wrote a number of books and essays, the most widely remembered of which is his 1868 Vindication of the African Race, an answer to the white racist authors emerging in Europe. His writings look ahead to African self-government, anticipating many events of the 1950s and 1960s, and Horton is often seen as one of the founders of African nationalism.

He wrote a book entitled West African Countries and Peoples (1868). A crater on Mercury is named after him.

Personal life[edit]

Horton married on two different occasions while living in Freetown; he first married Fanny Marietta Pratt, daughter of the prominent Pratt family of Igbo origin. Marietta died at age twenty two and Horton then on May 29, 1875, went on to marry Selina Beatrice Elliot (1851–1910) daughter of John Bucknor Elliot who was the manager of the Western Area of Freetown. The Elliots were a Nova Scotian settler family of African-American descent.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Edwards, Paul; Paul Geoffrey Edwards; David Dabydeen (1991). Black Writers in Britain, 1760-1890: An Anthology. Edinburgh University Press. p. 185. ISBN 0-7486-0327-1. 
  2. ^ Nwauwa, Apollos (1999). "Far Ahead of his Time: James Africanus Horton's Initiatives for a West African University and his Frustration". Cahiers d'Études Africaines 39 (153): 107–121. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Oxford Biography Index Number 101061022
  • Fyfe, Christopher. Africanus Horton Centenary'African Affairs, London: (1983); 82: 565
  • "Africanus Horton: The Dawn of Nationalism in Modern Africa". Extracts from the Political, Educational and Scientific Writings of J.A.B. Horton M.D., 1835-1883 by Davidson Nicol, London: Longman Inc, 1969.