We are the Black Cantabs.

The Black Cantabs Research Society is a counter-history project, designed to uncover and preserve the legacies of Black alumni of the University of Cambridge.

Our mission is to critically intervene in the constructed narrative of Cambridge, and to place Black students in the institution’s past, present, and future.

Founded in 2015, we have compiled an archive of over 50 prominent Black alumni, to ensure their stories are known and celebrated.

Our Research

Watch co-founder Njoki Wamai and Surer Mohamed discuss the work of the Black Cantabs Research Society, the incredible contributions of Black alumni and the personal significance of uncovering their histories.

History Makers

Find out about the groundbreaking “History Makers” Exhibition which told the stories of 15 prominent alumni across the 260 years of Black students and graduates at the University of Cambridge.

Black Cantabs Timeline

Learn about the history of Black Cantabs, from the first students to graduate from the University of Cambridge, to the present day.

Alexander Crummell (Queens 1853)

Alexander Crummell was an African-American Episcopalian minister, scholar, and educator, and was the first known Black person to get a degree from Cambridge University. Crummell was a key figure in the struggle for Black people’s rights in the United States,…

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Alinah Kelo Segobye (Selwyn ’88)

Alinah Kelo Segobye is an archaeologist, social development activist, and African futures thinker and practitioner. Segobye’s research interests include southern African archaeology, indigenous knowledge systems, heritage studies, and HIV/AIDS. “A deep rooted passion for the [African] continent’s development agenda both…

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Archibald Boyce Monwabisi Mafeje (Kings ’64)

Archibald Boyce Monwabisi Mafeje (March 30, 1936 – March 28, 2007), also known as Archie Mafeje, was a South African social scientist and Pan-African activist.  An anthropologist by training, Mafeje became a prominent scholar internationally. Throughout his career, he contested…

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Efua Theodora Sutherland (Homerton ’50)

Efua Theodora Sutherland (née Morgue) was a Ghanaian educationalist, playwright, director, poet, children’s author, and cultural activist.  Born 27 June 1924 on the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana), Sutherland grew up in a Ghanian royal family. Her mother, Harriet Efua Maria…

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Errollyn Wallen CBE (College ‘##)

Errollyn Wallen CBE is a Belize-born British composer, librettist, and singer-songwriter recognized as a “renaissance woman of contemporary music.”  Wallen was born on April 10, 1958, and she moved to London with her family when she was just two years…

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Thomas Risley Odhiambo (Queens ’65)

Thomas Risley Odhiambo was a Kenyan entomologist and environmental activist who dedicated his life to scientific development in the African continent.  Born in Mombasa, Kenya, on February 4, 1931, Odhiambo came from a humble background, where he was the first…

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Patricia Cumper MBE (Girton ’73)

Patricia Cumper, MBE, FRSA, is an award-winning playwright, director, theatre producer, radio drama writer, arts administrator, and an advocate for the arts. Cumper was born in Jamaica to English and Jamaican parents. Before beginning her writing pursuits, Cumper was a…

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Our Archive

Our inaugural year saw the society unearth the records of over 40 eminent black alumni, whom went on to play prominent roles all over the world.

Join us

Our objective is for current and former students of the University of Cambridge to write the black students of this institution back into its history, and to publish these findings to an online archive. This serves two purposes; celebrating and normalising diversity; and a means for current, prospective, and past members of University, the contemporary Black Cantabs, to form a strong and connected community – ‘a global Black Cantab network’ of alumni, stretching from one of the recorded first, Alexander Crummell, to the present.