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Africanus Horton (1835-1883), also known as James Beale, was a Creole writer and folklorist from Freetown, Sierra Leonemarker.

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 Collegemarker).In 1853, he received a War Office scholarship to study medicine in Great Britain. He studied at King's College Londonmarker 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

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 titled West African Countries and Peoples (1868).

Personal life

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 Freetownmarker. The Elliots were a Nova Scotian settler family of African American descent.


Further reading

  • 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

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